Did you know that one in every ten people that travel by plane have been bumped off a flight in the past year? People in the United States are bumped most frequently because of overbooking. Here is some information about what you can do and what you can expect if you are bumped off a flight.

There are two types of bumping; voluntary and involuntary. With voluntary bumping, the airline asks for volunteers and they give you free air miles or even a free flight coupon in return for your seat. Once you give up your seat you have to wait for the next available flight. You may be offered an alternate flight that will depart soon after your original flight, but you could wait longer. The airlines might also offer to put you on standby, which could leave you stranded at the airport for awhile.

There are some guidelines for airlines that give compensation to people who voluntarily give up their seats. Before you give up your seat there are some questions that you might want to ask of yourself and the airline.

• When will the alternate flight depart?
• If you end up waiting six hours for a flight, will you be on time to your destination?
• Is it really worth waiting in an airport for the rest of the day or staying overnight to get a free flight?
• Will the airline provide food, hotel room and ground transportation to and from the hotel? (If the airline does not offer accommodations you might end up paying for them yourself.)

There may be a negative side to giving up your seat. Since the DOT airline requirements for voluntary bumping are limited, airlines are able to negotiate with the passengers for compensation. If you are offered a free trip by the airline, make sure to ask about restrictions.

Another form of bumping is involuntary. The DOT requires airlines to compensate people who have been bumped against their will as a result of overbooking. The DOT also requires airlines to give all involuntarily bumped passengers a written statement. This will explain your passenger rights. This written statement will also explain how the airline chooses who gets bumped and who doesn't. Frequent flyers are entitled to immediate payment of denied boarding compensation. If you are not a frequent flyer there are many requirements for compensation. They are as follows:

• Compensation depends on the price of the tickets and the length of the delay.
• There is no compensation if you are scheduled to reach your destination within one hour of the original time by way of an alternate flight.
• If the alternate flight will arrive between one and two hours of the original time, you will be paid the amount equal to one-fare; the maximum is $200.
• If the delay will be more than two hours, your compensation may double to a maximum of $400. You should always keep your original ticket for use at a later date.

Even though the process of getting bumped sounds likes a good plan to get a free trip, there are a few loopholes involved. You must confirm your reservation to be eligible for compensation. You must also meet the deadline for buying your ticket and for checking in at the airline. Remember, these rules do not apply to charter flights.

If you do not want to get bumped because you need to get to your destination on time, you must arrive early and check in at your airline. Always remember to confirm your reservation so you will be eligible for compensation in case you are involuntarily bumped.

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