Some voucher-eager travelers scheme to get bumped from flights; others downright dread it. Either way, passengers of Delta Airlines are experiencing an overhaul of the bumping game. Looming legislation expected to pass in April would, among other things, increase involuntary bumping compensation by 50 percent, which has left airlines scrambling to find ways to recoup money. As of December, online check-in and in-airport kiosks give Delta passengers a chance to name their price for being bumped from a flight. The lowest bidders are approached first, leaving some seasoned travelers who know the worth of giving up their seat concerned that naïve flyers will drastically underbid them.
Currently, involuntary bumping requires airlines to compensate passengers their original fare up to $400 if their domestic flight is arriving between one and two hours late and up to $800 (double the compensation of the original fare) if the flight is two to four hours late. These compensation maximums would increase to $650, and $1300, respectively, if proposed legislation passes. There are no regulations for voluntarily bumped passengers, but travelers may want to consider limitations put on vouchers and other potential costs (transportation, lodging) for being bumped.
Delta says they devised the system to increase the efficiency of re-booking passengers in light of a surge in overbooking, but the change comes just as regulators are preparing to make other serious changes that will protect passengers. Legislation up for vote in April would permit the cancellation of reservations within 24 hours without penalty, full disclosure of baggage fees, refunds for lost baggage, and timely notification of delayed flights.
How about you Savvy Flyers? Are you planning to bid on your next Delta flight?
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