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Q: What rights do I have if I am involuntarily bumped from my flight?
–Bronx, New York
A: If you’re involuntarily bumped, the airline is actually required to compensate you, in accordance with federal regulations. To receive compensation, however, you have to meet the airline’s boarding requirements.
A: For U.S. flights, your inconvenience will get you a seat on the next available flight plus cash, if the airline is unable to get you to your destination within an hour of your original landing time. If the flight you’ve been rebooked on is scheduled to arrive one to two hours after the original flight, the airline must pay you the value of your one-way ticket segment, up to $200. If the new flight arrives at your destination more than two hours after the original flight, you’re due twice the value of your ticket segment, up to a maximum of $400. These payments must be in cash, not travel vouchers.
If your delay is more than a couple of hours, ask for meal vouchers, free long-distance phone cards or a pass to the airline’s airport club while you wait. If you require an overnight stay, ask the airline to pay for a hotel room.
Remember that you’re most likely to be bumped during holiday periods, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.
Mail your consumer-related concerns to Ask Your Advocate at Black Enterprise magazine, 130 Fifth Ave., 10th Floor, New York, NY 10011 or send an e-mail to brownmr@black enterprise.com.