Airline Ticket Changes Compensation Guidelines

Compensation for Voluntarily Bumping

The Department of Transportation requires airlines to inform passengers of any compensation they might receive if they volunteer to be bumped off an overbooked flight, though it does not mandate what form that compensation might take. Airlines often offer a free airline ticket in compensation for being bumped voluntarily, but compensation is subject to negotiation. Passengers who volunteer to be bumped should negotiate for compensation without restrictions, such as how long a free ticket could be used.

Compensation for Involuntary Bumping

If an airline bumps you off your flight involuntarily but arranges alternate transportation that gets you to your destination within an hour of your original arrival time, you are not due any compensation. If you arrive one to two hours late, the airline must pay you the amount of your ticket, up to $400. If you arrive over two hours late, the airline must pay you double the amount of your ticket, up to $800. In addition, you will be able to use your original ticket on another flight.

Ticket Changes Due to Flight Delays and Cancellations

The Department of Transportation does not require airlines to compensate passengers if their flights are delayed or canceled for any reason. Some airlines will rebook you to another flight, endorse your ticket to another carrier's flight or pay for meals during the delay, but such compensation is up to the airline. Most airlines overbook their flights to ensure flights are full. If a flight is overbooked, passengers are asked to volunteer to change flights and are offered compensation. If not enough passengers volunteer, others may be bumped off the flight involuntarily.