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Old 10-20-2019, 01:44 PM
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Getting bumped off a plane question.


Mulling about the Quora website I found the item below:

Q; What would you do if you were involuntarily bumped by any airline on an overbooked flight?


Maxwell Arnold, I'm an informed passenger who knows his rights.
Updated Feb 8, 2018 ∑ Upvoted by Mac Jambo Sinclair, 20 years private pilot



That's easy. Iíd take out my printed copy of the contract of carriage (which I almost always carry with me when flying) and ask them to point out where it says they're allowed to do that. If they can.

I will make sure that they have agreed in writing (or on video) to provide me with the maximum compensation Iím entitled to.


If they canít: Then Iíve successfully intimidated them into trying that ďinvoluntaryĒ bullshit on some other poor sap.

If they try to drag me off the plane: Well, they canít exactly say I didn't warn them.



He also included a picture of a t-shirt with this on it.


I actually read my ticket contract.

I have David Dao's lawyer on speed dial.

Go ahead and bump me. I dare you



So, is there anything to this as a means of keeping from being bumped? Should I be carrying a contract copy around with me when I fly? Who is David Dao? Is the OP as full of shit as he sounds?
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:00 PM
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There's an extensive explanation here, too much to quote:

https://www.transportation.gov/indiv...ping-oversales

It's perfectly legal for them to do it so long as they have some kind of fair non-discriminatory procedure for selection. In most cases you'd be denied boarding, in which I don't think pointing at your t-shirt or producing a contract is going to get you very far. In the rare situation where they are asking you to leave the plane after boarding, they are still legally entitled to do so. Insisting that you are not going to go down easy and they will have to physically drag you off the plane might give them pause, or they might call your bluff and you could find yourself facing criminal charges.
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:01 PM
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It's just a comedy sketch, no? The contract of carriage no doubt lists the conditions and compensations for overbooking. Here's United: https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly...ml#tcm:76-6644

David Dao is the doctor who was dragged off a plane against his will (for being an entitled schmuck, IMHO): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United..._3411_incident

United apologized and changed their policies not because they were contractually obligated to, but because the video went viral, people bandwagoned and shamed United into change. Nobody likes being overbooked and removed from a flight, so they took the opportunity to protest what until then was SOP for the airlines. I think it's still SOP, really, but now they won't get TSA involved or some such if a passenger refuses to comply.

So TLDR, overbooking has happened forever, some passengers complain and whine, most get bumped anyway. But if you happen to resist and get recorded and successfully play the victim, well, you get fame and fortune and United looks bad. But it's all right there in the contract. *shrug*

Last edited by Reply; 10-20-2019 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 10-20-2019, 02:12 PM
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In the real world, they will first look for volunteers to disembark because that's cheaper than the mandatory compensation for involuntarily bumped passengers. They may have to increase from their first offer for volunteers (once I was on a Thanksgiving flight on which the offers got really tempting, though I don't remember details) but usually can get someone to volunteer.
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:12 PM
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If I were flying in Canada, the first thing I would do is to threaten to phone my friend Gabor Lucacs (see https://airpassengerrights.ca/en/abo...m/gabor-lukacs) who has spent much of his life terrorizing airlines, especially Air Canada. And he actually is a friend, although not a close one. He is a mathematician originally from Hungary who loves a good fight.

Incidentally, I once overheard a gate agent telling a would-be passenger that when they overbook, they deny boarding according to the fare you paid. The higher you paid, the less likely to get bumped.
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:17 PM
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I hold a PhD. The only time I ever use the title Dr. is when booking flights. I was told, but have no other evidence, that the airlines are reluctant to bump doctors as they may be travelling to treat someone.

I've never been bumped, but I have no idea if that is why. I do not fly often. I have been on flights where they asked for volunteers.
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:40 PM
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Nice strategic thinking, Oldguy. I wonder if they check for truthiness when I book a flight. If not, there’s nothing preventing me from trying the same gambit.

(It might get a little dicey if an actual medical emergency arises mid-flight, but the tension of takeoffs and landings only lasts for a couple of minutes each. This way, I could be on edge for the entire flight, hoping nobody has a heart attack or starts giving birth. Exhilarating!)

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 10-20-2019 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:43 PM
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In my experience, when there is a medical emergency, they make an inflight announcement asking for medical staff to volunteer to assist, rather than going through the manifest looking for names with Dr in front of them.
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:47 PM
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If a medical emergency arose when I was flying, and I was asked, I'd simply say I was a PhD not a medical doctor. There is nothing wrong with titling yourself Doctor if you hold a PhD. In fact PhDs were the original doctors. The degree is quite a bit older than the MD.
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:51 PM
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Thanks guys.

You answers are pretty much in line with what I thought.
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:53 PM
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I was told, but have no other evidence, that the airlines are reluctant to bump doctors as they may be travelling to treat someone.
It's true they don't like to bump doctors. They drag them instead
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:55 PM
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Didn't work for David Dao.

ETA: Ninjaed.

Last edited by susan; 10-20-2019 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 10-20-2019, 05:59 PM
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That’s a good point. I think I’ll stick to my current strategy of boarding the plane dressed up like Snoopy, in his WWI flying ace outfit, so they’ll know there’s someone to call on if the plane gets attacked by the Red Baron...
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Old 10-20-2019, 06:15 PM
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For anyone interested, here's the government's briefing on your overbooking compensation rights:
https://www.transportation.gov/indiv...ping-oversales

And the relevant laws:
https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?node=pt14.4.250

However, I think I was wrong about Doctor Dao: He was not denied boarding, but removed after he had already boarded. That may be different, legally:
https://www.natlawreview.com/article...tract-carriage
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Old 10-21-2019, 01:05 AM
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I believe the Dept of Transportation (not the airline) changed their policy to say that a passenger could not be removed once boarded.

Before you board, anyone is fair game depending on what the local country's compensation policy is. Be careful how you argue. Interfering with flight crew is legally risky. (I saw a fellow pulled off a plane after it had left the gate after he interrupted the safety talk twice to complain he should have been allowed to move up to first class, not the lady who got it)

I remember once (at the gate, before boarding started) the airline asked for volunteers to give up their seats. I approached the gate and said (at 6AM) "We aren't in a hurry, if you can get us into New York before 10PM that's fine by us." Our stopover in Toronto, but we didn't care what route they came up with, there were multiple options. They could not; that says something about chances for rescheduling a bumped flight.

Last edited by md2000; 10-21-2019 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:50 AM
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I hold a PhD. The only time I ever use the title Dr. is when booking flights. I was told, but have no other evidence, that the airlines are reluctant to bump doctors as they may be travelling to treat someone.
The department secretaries at one university liked to do this for us.

The only time it might have helped is when our flight got routed to another airport and the airline gave two of us a free rent-a-car to get home that night.

I then adopted it as a general rule for such situations on my own.
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Old 10-21-2019, 12:18 PM
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My father is a retired professor and he used the doctor title (or professor) when booking tickets, because he seemed to get more respect.
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Old 10-21-2019, 01:21 PM
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For anyone interested, here's the government's briefing on your overbooking compensation rights:
Just as a point of clarification -- passengers getting bumped involuntarily due to overbooking is extremely rare. In those cases the airline almost always is able to find people willing to volunteer. As I understand it the most common reason for passengers being involuntarily denied boarding is a last minute change of aircraft. Like for example, a 767 has a mechanical problem, and the airline doesn't have another 767 available. The best they can come up with is a 737. But all the passengers won't fit on the much smaller 737, so 20 people will need to be bumped. Obviously finding 20 volunteers is a pretty tall order, so most of those will be involuntary, but it's preferable to outright canceling the flight.

The Dr. Dao incident was a pretty unusual case, since they didn't ask for volunteers until after the flight had boarded. A quirk of human psychology is that once we have something in out possession we're much less likely to want to give it up. Had that asked before they boarded it's very likely someone would have volunteered.
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Old 10-21-2019, 02:14 PM
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Upthread someone linked to the Department of Transportation rules for bumping passengers and it said that if the bumping is due to a change in aircraft, the airline does not have to offer compensation to the bumped passengers. And as for the Dr. Dao incident, there were many things wrong with the way that the airline handled that, not just that they waited until after the flight had boarded.
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Old 10-21-2019, 02:30 PM
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Arguing with the airline desk staff when they screwed up my reservation once (100% their fault) is the one time of my life I ever tried the "actually, it's Dr. Squidfood" when they called me "Mr. Squidfood". It didn't win me any points but it made me fee good for a second.
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Old 10-21-2019, 02:35 PM
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Just as a point of clarification -- passengers getting bumped involuntarily due to overbooking is extremely rare. In those cases the airline almost always is able to find people willing to volunteer. As I understand it the most common reason for passengers being involuntarily denied boarding is a last minute change of aircraft. Like for example, a 767 has a mechanical problem, and the airline doesn't have another 767 available. The best they can come up with is a 737. But all the passengers won't fit on the much smaller 737, so 20 people will need to be bumped. Obviously finding 20 volunteers is a pretty tall order, so most of those will be involuntary, but it's preferable to outright canceling the flight.
Involuntary bumps are more likely to happen if the flight was generally either very inexpensive or very expensive.

The required compensation is 4x the price of your ticket up to a max of $1350. So if tickets were generally either very cheap or very expensive, then the cost to passengers might reasonably be higher than the airline has to pay, so there won't be a lot of volunteers.

I have been on a flight where they were offering $1350 in cash to people to get bumped for a day. I regret that I did not move fast enough. We would have lost a day of our vacation but also the bump would have basically paid for the whole thing.

I also volunteered to be bumped from a flight where there were two additional non-voluntary bumps, one of whom was very very mad about it and yelled at the airline employee a lot. Afterward, I spoke to her, was kind and polite, and asked if it was possible to get a first class upgrade for my bump. And it was. Be nice! You will not get anything by yelling at the desk attendant and demanding your rights.

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Old 10-21-2019, 06:58 PM
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The easiest way to avoid being bumped is to establish very high frequent flyer status with the airline you are traveling on. They don't bump customers who pay them a lot.
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:11 AM
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The easiest way to avoid being bumped is to establish very high frequent flyer status with the airline you are traveling on. They don't bump customers who pay them a lot.
"Easiest"???? So I have to fly dozens of times per year for no reason just to avoid being bumped for the once every two or three years times I fly for a purpose?
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:03 AM
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As I recall, the Dr. Dao situation was particularly galling because they wanted him removed to fly some flight crew employees to another location. that may have seemed a priority to the company, but the rest of the world didn't see it that employees get a free flight and someone gets tossed off.

Plus, they airline took a page from the police blotter handbook - smear the victim to make excessive force seem OK. As I recall, they claimed he wasn't a good doctor, had been disciplined for overprescribing restricted drugs or something - oops, wrong Dr. Dao.
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:51 AM
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"Easiest"???? So I have to fly dozens of times per year for no reason just to avoid being bumped for the once every two or three years times I fly for a purpose?
Same is true in any business

If you have to decide between two customers who do you inconvenience. The customer who uses your service monthly, or the one who uses you every few years. If it was your decision as a manager/business owner who would you pick?
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:53 AM
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As I recall, the Dr. Dao situation was particularly galling because they wanted him removed to fly some flight crew employees to another location. that may have seemed a priority to the company, but the rest of the world didn't see it that employees get a free flight and someone gets tossed off.

Plus, they airline took a page from the police blotter handbook - smear the victim to make excessive force seem OK. As I recall, they claimed he wasn't a good doctor, had been disciplined for overprescribing restricted drugs or something - oops, wrong Dr. Dao.
Dao was convicted of obtaining drugs by fraud and of trading prescriptions for sexual favors.
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Old 10-22-2019, 11:54 AM
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As I recall, the Dr. Dao situation was particularly galling because they wanted him removed to fly some flight crew employees to another location. that may have seemed a priority to the company, but the rest of the world didn't see it that employees get a free flight and someone gets tossed off.

Plus, they airline took a page from the police blotter handbook - smear the victim to make excessive force seem OK. As I recall, they claimed he wasn't a good doctor, had been disciplined for overprescribing restricted drugs or something - oops, wrong Dr. Dao.
There were lots of ways that United Airlines screwed up in the Dr Dao forcible removal situation; they first offered cash for volunteers to deplane, but stopped the offers at $800 and switched to forced bumping, and they had three people who agreed to disembark but not him. Not sure why they insisted that he and only he had to disembark. And if you read the Wikipedia article, it describes the crappy, belligerent attitude of the United supervisor.

Last edited by Dewey Finn; 10-22-2019 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 10-22-2019, 12:16 PM
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The easiest way to avoid being bumped is to establish very high frequent flyer status with the airline you are traveling on. They don't bump customers who pay them a lot.
Every airline I'm aware of, once they get down to passengers at the same fare/loyalty status rank, chooses who will get bumped by when they checked in. They're not (currently anyway) going into the granularity of individual miles traveled or anything.

So the easiest way to not get bumped is to set an alarm for 24 hours before your flight and go online and check in. There will be lots of people who check in later than you and will get bumped before you.
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Old 10-22-2019, 12:22 PM
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Every airline I'm aware of, once they get down to passengers at the same fare/loyalty status rank, chooses who will get bumped by when they checked in. They're not (currently anyway) going into the granularity of individual miles traveled or anything.

So the easiest way to not get bumped is to set an alarm for 24 hours before your flight and go online and check in. There will be lots of people who check in later than you and will get bumped before you.
If you notice I said "high frequent flyer status", not just being a member. I am global services on United. They are not going to bump me regardless.
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Old 10-22-2019, 12:24 PM
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"Easiest"???? So I have to fly dozens of times per year for no reason just to avoid being bumped for the once every two or three years times I fly for a purpose?
Not for no reason, I fly overseas approximately 5-6 times per year, and domestically about a dozen or more times a year for work and personal travel. There's a perk for being a regular customer. One of those is not having a fear of getting bumped.
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Old 10-22-2019, 12:25 PM
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Discriminating using customer status is not illegal.
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Old 10-22-2019, 01:01 PM
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In the rare situation where they are asking you to leave the plane after boarding, they are still legally entitled to do so.
The link to DOT rules just uses the phrase "denied boarding" which suggests you are prevented from boarding. Once you have boarded, they have missed their opportunity to deny boarding, and now it is forced disembarkation, kind of a different thing. Where does it state that they can force you out once you have been allowed to board, for overbooking reasons?
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:16 PM
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So drachillix and Omar Little both completely missed the point of my post. Well, okay then.
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:27 PM
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The link to DOT rules just uses the phrase "denied boarding" which suggests you are prevented from boarding. Once you have boarded, they have missed their opportunity to deny boarding, and now it is forced disembarkation, kind of a different thing. Where does it state that they can force you out once you have been allowed to board, for overbooking reasons?
You may be right, but does anyone have a clear cite that DOT make this distinction?

It's not clear from the DOT regs I linked in post #2. The article title uses the colloquial term "bumping", which it defines as voluntarily or involuntarily giving up your seat, which it then says is also known as denied boarding. It's not clear that "denied boarding" is the primary technical term, or if the definition excludes asking you to leave your seat after you have boarded.
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Old 10-22-2019, 04:45 PM
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So drachillix and Omar Little both completely missed the point of my post. Well, okay then.
I don't think they did, really. Do you know an easier way to avoid being bumped?
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:00 PM
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I don't think they did, really. Do you know an easier way to avoid being bumped?
I think his point is that doing a bunch of flying in order to achieve a high status is only practical for people who do a lot of travel already. If you donít, then it seems like one of the hardest and most expensive ways to avoid being bumped. I can think of an easier way to avoid being bumped, travel at times when the flights are less likely to be full, that is far easier than attaining high status.
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:15 PM
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You may be right, but does anyone have a clear cite that DOT make this distinction?

It's not clear from the DOT regs I linked in post #2. The article title uses the colloquial term "bumping", which it defines as voluntarily or involuntarily giving up your seat, which it then says is also known as denied boarding. It's not clear that "denied boarding" is the primary technical term, or if the definition excludes asking you to leave your seat after you have boarded.
What you linked to aren't the regs but rather a plain-English explanation of them. Reply linked to the regs in post #14. The regulations themselves repeatedly refer to a person who is "denied boarding," but the regulations don't define "denied boarding." Ordinarily, when construing an undefined term in a regulation, you go with the plain language meaning of the rule. I'm not looking to see whether the Department of Transportation has clarified whether a person who is removed from a plane after boarding has been "denied boarding" within the meaning of the rules but there are articles on the web that suggest being pulled from a plane you are already seated on is not, in fact, the same as being "denied boarding."
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:20 PM
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What you linked to aren't the regs but rather a plain-English explanation of them. Reply linked to the regs in post #14. The regulations themselves repeatedly refer to a person who is "denied boarding," but the regulations don't define "denied boarding." Ordinarily, when construing an undefined term in a regulation, you go with the plain language meaning of the rule. I'm not looking to see whether the Department of Transportation has clarified whether a person who is removed from a plane after boarding has been "denied boarding" within the meaning of the rules but there are articles on the web that suggest being pulled from a plane you are already seated on is not, in fact, the same as being "denied boarding."
Of course I agree with the plain English meaning, but it leaves open the possibility that we just haven't found the regulatory definition. After the Dao case, it would be odd if DOT haven't unambiguously clarified this point.

Last edited by Riemann; 10-22-2019 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:24 PM
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One easier way is to do what I do - fly Delta. They use a system that allows people to choose how much compensation they would require to voluntarily give up their seats, and the number of people that they bump involuntarily is only a small fraction of the number for United and American.

I have never been bumped involuntarily, but when I flew United, there were requests for volunteers on over half of all flights. Since I started flying Delta almost exclusively, I've never even heard a request for volunteers (I assume that it all takes place behind the scenes with their system).
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:36 PM
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One easier way is to do what I do - fly Delta. They use a system that allows people to choose how much compensation they would require to voluntarily give up their seats, and the number of people that they bump involuntarily is only a small fraction of the number for United and American.
Th
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:37 PM
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"Easiest"???? So I have to fly dozens of times per year for no reason just to avoid being bumped for the once every two or three years times I fly for a purpose?
The EASIEST way is to pay a little more for the flight. Upgrade to "more legroom" or for "early boarding" or something. Yeah, it will cost you more, but they rarely bump people involuntarily, and when they do, they generally start with the people who paid the least among those who have no status with the airline.
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Old 10-22-2019, 05:38 PM
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One easier way is to do what I do - fly Delta. They use a system that allows people to choose how much compensation they would require to voluntarily give up their seats, and the number of people that they bump involuntarily is only a small fraction of the number for United and American.
That article says that United Airlines is the worst for involuntary bumps and even there, the number of passengers denied boarding is eleven out of every 100,000 passengers. So it's not something I think anyone needs to worry about.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:01 PM
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That article says that United Airlines is the worst for involuntary bumps and even there, the number of passengers denied boarding is eleven out of every 100,000 passengers. So it's not something I think anyone needs to worry about.
sure more than one person in 10,000 has to worry about it which works out to about seven people a day on average. Wiki says they fly about 71,000 a day.
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Old 10-22-2019, 06:49 PM
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sure more than one person in 10,000 has to worry about it which works out to about seven people a day on average. Wiki says they fly about 71,000 a day.
That's just Denver. The entire airline flies over 400,000 people per day.
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:15 PM
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That's just Denver. The entire airline flies over 400,000 people per day.
guess I didn't read well enough
  #46  
Old 10-23-2019, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Telemark View Post
I don't think they did, really. Do you know an easier way to avoid being bumped?
Again: Do you actually think that making a bunch of extra, unneeded flights is in some way "easier"?

Good grief.
  #47  
Old 10-23-2019, 09:15 AM
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While involuntary bumping is fairly uncommon ( I’ve been on lots of flights with bumps but they always found volunteers ), having the entire flight delayed or even canceled is fairly common. Which is why I always try to schedule an extra day around anything important, even if it means arriving a day early.

Bumping really suck psychologically, it feels very personal when everyone else but you gets to go. But the actual inconvenience is no greater than the inconvenience that happens when the flight is completely canceled and there aren’t any tricks to help you there. So if you are a doctor flying to perform an important transplant surgery, I recommend allowing yourself extra time. Even a full day. I had to fly for an important meeting this summer. I booked the flight a day earlier than I needed. There was a line of storms passing through and the airline canceled the flight and told me to come back the next day. I did, and everything worked out.

Last edited by Ann Hedonia; 10-23-2019 at 09:17 AM.
  #48  
Old 10-23-2019, 09:44 AM
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The one time I go involuntarily bumped was on a flight from ORD. They would not allow me to board and basically didn't tell me anything at all until the door shut. Then they told me that I was one of the last people to check-in for the flight, so I was one of four people to get bumped. (I had actually checked-in on-line about 12 hours before the flight, so I found it very difficult to believe that I was one of "the last.") They gave me a voucher for $600, which was about 4 times the cost of that leg of my flight, shuttled me to a hotel, and gave me some vouchers for meals (after all the restaurants had closed). I got home about 14 hours after I expected to.

I wasn't happy, but I later used the voucher for a trip to Norway to see the Northern Lights.
  #49  
Old 10-23-2019, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
I think his point is that doing a bunch of flying in order to achieve a high status is only practical for people who do a lot of travel already.
And who do that travel along routes serviced by a specific airline or alliance. I had a year in which I took about 70 flights but they were with 4 different companies despite having the same origin and final destination; this was due to a combination of when we had to fly and of changes to flight schedules. Mind you, reception desk personnel in a particular hotel very close to one of London's airports ended up knowing our room preferences by heart.
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Last edited by Nava; 10-23-2019 at 09:55 AM.
  #50  
Old 10-23-2019, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ftg View Post
Again: Do you actually think that making a bunch of extra, unneeded flights is in some way "easier"?
No one said it was easy, just that of the available options that it was easier than others. You can also buy a first class ticket, that's also easier but may be just as much of an obstacle. It appears that there's no "easy" way to avoid being in the class of people that might be bumped unless you're willing to pay more money, either by upgrading your ticket or establishing high status on the airline.

Again, if there is no other alternative what do you think would an acceptable answer would be?
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