Ejected from a flight? Here’s how much the airline may owe you
(NEXSTAR) – Selling more tickets than there are seats on a plane seems like it’s illegal, but it’s not. If you find yourself on the losing end of this frustrating game of musical chairs, you may be able to demand compensation, according to the Department of Transport.
While this can be an infuriating concept for customers who have to watch the doors close without them, there’s a reason the “knock” happens, according to the DOT.
Airlines usually have a pretty good idea of how many “no-shows” they will have for scheduled flights, so they will sell too many tickets to fill the plane.
A recent TikTok viral from attorney Erika Kullberg broke the “practice of involuntary denied boarding” and demonstrated how you could be owed $1,000 for being kicked off a flight.
Kullberg, who prides himself on “reading the fine print” to help people navigate similar situations, used DOT rules for the video, but it’s also worth remembering that the compensation in his video is just the minimum required. There is no maximum that would prevent an airline from giving more to remedy a situation.
“Most of the time, airlines correctly predict ‘no-shows’ and all goes well,” according to the DOT. “But sometimes passengers are pushed around as a result of overselling practices.”
Am I liable for compensation?
Before moving passengers, an airline must first call anyone interested in voluntarily giving up their seat, usually in exchange for cash or vouchers open to negotiation.
If no one comes forward, the airline will “involuntarily deny boarding” or turn someone away so the flight can depart. You are entitled to compensation if you have been removed from an oversold flight and:
- You have a confirmed reservation
- You arrived on time
- You arrived on time at the boarding gate
- The airline cannot get you to your destination within an hour of your flight’s original arrival time
No compensation will be due to you in the following situations:
- Passengers were transferred to a smaller aircraft for safety or operational reasons
- There are weight and balance issues in an aircraft with 60 seats or less
- Be downgraded to another seat class (the airline must however reimburse the difference in price)
- If it is a charter flight contracted for a specific trip that is not part of the airline’s regular schedule
- It is a small plane (less than 30 passengers)
- The flight departs from a foreign location (the airline can still voluntarily provide compensation)
The DOT also reminds customers that being forced off a flight for intoxication, interference with the work of crew members, unruly behavior, or objectionable odors is not grounds for compensation.
How much will I get?
If you are bumped from a flight, the amount you may receive from the airline will depend on the price of your ticket, how late you arrive and whether you are flying domestic or overseas.
For domestic flights, if the delay is between one and two hours, compensation is 200% of the one-way fare. More than two hours will net you 400% of that cost, but airlines in either case can limit payout to $775 and $1,550, respectively, if the one-way fare exceeds those amounts.
For international travel, an arrival delay of one to four hours will be compensated at 200% of a one-way fare, while the 400% compensation is reserved for delays over four hours.