7 Things to Do When An Airline Resells Your Ticket


It is no longer uncommon for airlines to resell a confirmed seat at the last minute for a higher price, bumping the ticket holder to a later flight. The practice is legal and typically occurs when an airline has overbooked a flight.

The rules are set by the airline and are subject to change. Here’s what you can do if your airline resales your ticket without your consent:

1. If you will miss a connection because of the resale, ask whether another flight is available that can get you to your destination on time. If not, ask whether the airline will pay for meals, hotel accommodations or other expenses as compensation.

2. If you voluntarily give up your seat and take another flight, make sure you get a written statement from the airline confirming that you were bumped involuntarily with details about any compensation due.

3. Ask for cash instead of travel vouchers if possible. Some vouchers may have restrictions (such as blackout dates) or expire within a year or two; cash never expires.

4. Do not accept vouchers that are less than the full price of your original ticket unless you plan to use them soon and only fly that carrier frequently enough to use them before they expire.

5. Know in advance what kind of compensation you

The most frustrating thing that could happen to you when you fly is to get bumped from your flight. You’ve booked your ticket, packed your bags and are ready to go on vacation or an important business meeting. But when you get to the airport, an airline agent tells you that you’re no longer on the flight and that there’s nothing they can do about it.

Airlines overbook flights all the time. Sometimes, too many people show up for the flight and someone has to be left behind. Usually, airlines will try to persuade passengers to take a later flight by offering incentives such as free tickets or hotel accommodations. If they can’t get enough people to volunteer, they may resell tickets to passengers who don’t know they’re even on standby status.

If this happens to you, here are seven tips on what to do about it:

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It happens to the best of us — and has happened to me. You book a seat on an airline flight. But when you show up at the airport, you are told that your seat was resold. What can you do?

First, don’t panic. It is a rare occurrence, but it does happen and will probably happen more frequently with the current chaos in the industry. The good news is that most airlines have procedures to resolve these kinds of disputes.

1: Find out why your seat was resold. In some cases, passengers may be bumped from a flight because they were late for a reservation or were no-shows (a passenger who books a flight, but doesn’t show up). In other instances, an airline may overbook flights because some passengers who reserve seats won’t show up for the flight or will cancel their reservations before takeoff. If it turns out that you were bumped for either of these reasons, you are entitled to compensation under Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

2: Don’t go crazy at the ticket counter or gate trying to get your seat back immediately. Instead, politely ask to speak with a supervisor who can help sort out what happened and then offer alternatives so

When airlines sell more tickets than there are seats on a plane, they bump passengers involuntarily. It’s legal, but it won’t make you happy. Here’s how to avoid it.

Airlines are “overbooking” flights as a hedge against no-shows. Sometimes they end up having to bump passengers involuntarily (and give them compensation) in order to make space for others.

There is, however, a difference between the airline having oversold your flight and offering you cash or other incentives to take a later flight and the airline having sold your ticket to someone else who wants it more than you do.

If you’ve been bought out of your seat, “call the airline immediately,” says George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com, in order to try to get back onto the same flight. If that fails, ask whether there’s another carrier you can fly instead — American Airlines at least will put you on another airline if possible. Also ask what kind of compensation you’re entitled to (in general, 200 percent of what you paid for the first leg of your journey). And try not to blame the gate agent: “It’s not her fault she has nothing left.”

If you ever get bumped from an airline flight, there’s a chance you could be in for some compensation.

But what if the airline flies you to your destination on another airline? Can you still collect?

Yes. But the passenger rights group FlyersRights.org says not always.

The group said it recently surveyed hundreds of consumers who had been bumped and found that while many knew they were entitled to cash, some were unaware they could also choose a travel voucher, or a combination of the two. (Passengers can receive up to $1,350 per ticket depending on how long they are delayed.)

The survey also found that some passengers were getting shortchanged by airlines that failed to pay the full amount or didn’t offer the choice of a voucher. And some consumers are still being denied seat-change vouchers commonly issued by airlines, FlyersRights said.

The organization is now pushing for what it calls “fairness” in bumping compensation.”

From now on, airlines can resell your seat even if you have a confirmed reservation. Under the new rules, if you don’t show up or cancel within the required time limit, you may be out of luck. And that’s not all.

1. If you’re bumped involuntarily from a flight, the airline must give you an explanation in writing.

2. You will get a refund if your flight is canceled and you decide not to be rescheduled on that airline.

3. If your bags are lost, the airline must reimburse you for reasonable expenses until you’re reunited with your luggage.

4. If your bags are delayed more than 12 hours, the airline must reimburse you for reasonable expenses until they arrive.

5. The airline must provide assistance such as food, water, restroom facilities and phone calls if you’re stuck at an airport for more than two hours during a weather delay and more than four hours during any other delay in domestic U.S. flights and more than two hours in most international flights.

6. The airline must compensate passengers on overbooked flights who don’t get seats they paid for, unless it can find volunteers willing to take later flights in exchange for vouchers or other compensation (the amount varies by airline).

If you volunteer to give up your airplane seat on an overbooked flight and the airline arranges for you to travel later, you are entitled to cash compensation of up to $1,350 if the new flight arrives more than one hour after the scheduled time of arrival.

Make sure the carrier gives you a written statement describing your rights and explaining how the carrier decided on your compensation.

If your ticket was purchased with a credit card, you might be able to dispute the charge with your credit-card company if you do not receive satisfactory compensation from the airline.

Do not leave the airport without getting a copy of a form called a Passenger Itinerary Receipt, which documents that you were denied boarding involuntarily by the airline.

Keep all receipts for food, lodging and ground transportation during any unanticipated layovers.

If you are bumped involuntarily even though you have a confirmed reservation, complain to the appropriate federal agency: The Federal Aviation Administration regulates safety problems; while customer service complaints should be directed to the Department of Transportation.

If you arrive at your destination more than two hours later than originally scheduled because of being bumped from an overbooked flight, ask for compensation in addition to any denied boarding payment.


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