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Flight 159 (NCL-EWR) at the gate in Newcastle

Scott McCartney from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) wrote an excellent post titled “When United Bumped This Flier, He Fought Back” (Just Google “When United Bumped This Flier, He Fought Back” and should be able to read it without a subscription).

It’s about how one bumped passenger fought back against United Airlines. It took almost a year to settle, but he won. He did it with the help of passionate frequent flyers in the FlyerTalk.com community after he created a thread called, “Involuntary Denied Boarding on Baby’s First Flight …” The thread received over 270 posts on how best to negotiate. It’s best to read the WSJ article but here’s a small snippet:

“Mr. Jones bought two tickets to fly to Houston with his wife and 15-month-old child in October 2015 for $353 each. They had seat assignments in their confirmation. But when they checked in more than an hour before departure, they were told United’s records never showed seat assignments. The flight was overbooked and a previous flight to Houston had been canceled.

Bumping them from that flight, United issued new boarding passes without seat assignments for the next flight to Houston. But the plane left without them again. After a two-hour wait, according to filings in the court case, Mr. Jones was offered a check for $373 as full bumping compensation.

By then he had done some online research and knew DOT regulations required payment in cash of 200% of the fare, up to $675, if rebooked with only a short delay, or double that if the airline can’t get a traveler to the destination within two hours. Airlines are also required to ask for volunteers to give up seats and have to give bumped passengers a copy of the rules.

The regulations aren’t only intended to compensate for inconvenience but to discourage airlines from accepting high fares from last-minute customers and kicking low-fare passengers off fully booked flights.”

The point of this tip is that airlines pull this nonsense all the time, and they do it because they think they can get away with it. The guy in this story was rewarded for his trouble with “a judgment against United for more than $1,300 and a settlement around $2,000 after a year of effort.” You may not get the same judgment, and you may not need to fight for a year to get what you’re owed. But if you’re wronged by an airline, you don’t have to sit back and do nothing. Communities like FlyerTalk can help you fight back.




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