There’s less than two weeks to go before new Federal regulations increase significantly the compensation for airline passengers who get bumped involuntarily.
The Department of Transportation has announced that on May 21, the airlines must double their maximum compensation to bumped passengers, allowing payments as high as $800, depending on the price of the ticket and the length of the delay.
With the new rule, fliers who are involuntarily bumped receive double the price they paid for the one-way leg, up to $400, if they are rescheduled to reach their destination within two hours of their original arrival time (or four hours for an international flight). If they are not rerouted within that timeframe, the payment cap jumps to $800.
The old rule, in effect since 1978, capped compensation at $400 and applied only to planes seating at least 60 people. It now applies to planes with 30 seats or more.
The payments are in addition to the value of the passenger’s ticket, which the passengers can use for an alternate flight or have refunded if not used. The new rules apply to overbooking situations, not flight cancellations.
The new measure comes after a rocky 2007 that saw passenger complaints to the DOT about baggage handling, customer service, and flight problems rise 58 percent over 2006. The biggest jump came from flight problems—delays, cancellations, and missed connections—where complaints increased more than 100 percent, from 2,162 to 4,465.