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Airline Consumers’ Rights FAQ

Q: Is the amount an airline must offer involuntarily bumped passengers arriving on a substitute flight within 1-2 hours of the original flight still 200% of the one-way fare, with a maximum of $675, and is that the maximum the DOT requires, or the maximum that the airline will offer (200% of some flights would be way over $675)?
A: Yes, an airline must offer 200% of the one-way fare up to $675 to involuntarily bumped passengers arriving on a substitute flight within one to two hours of the planned arrival time of their original domestic flight. Airlines are to free to offer involuntarily bumped passengers more money than required.

Q: Is the amount an airline must offer involuntarily bumped passengers arriving on a substitute flight over 2 hours after their original flight still 400% of the one-way fare, for a maximum of $1,350?
A: Yes, an airline must offer 400% of the one-way fare up to $1350 to involuntarily bumped passengers arriving on a substitute flight over two hours after the planned arrival time of their original domestic flight. Airlines are free to offer involuntarily bumped passengers more money than required.

Amount of Denied Boarding CompensationDomestic Transportation

Amount of Denied Boarding Compensation – Domestic Transportation
0 to 1 hour arrival delayNo compensation.
1 to 2 hours arrival delay200% of one-way fare (but no more than $675).
Over 2 hours arrival delay400% of one-way fare (but no more than $1,350).

Amount of Denied Boarding Compensation – International Transportation

Amount of Denied Boarding Compensation – International Transportation
0 to 1 hour arrival delayNo compensation.
1 to 4 hours arrival delay200% of one-way fare (but no more than $675).
Over 4 hours arrival delay400% of one-way fare (but no more than $1,350).

Q: Is the domestic liability ceiling for permanently lost or damaged luggage regulated by DOT still $3,500?
A: Yes, the domestic baggage liability limit is $3,500 per passenger.

Q: When is the next time that inflation would adjust these prices?
A: DOT raised the denied boarding compensation amounts and the domestic baggage liability amounts in 2015 (see https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/2015-inflation-adjustments-oversales-baggage-and-civil). DOT is reviewing the denied boarding compensation and domestic baggage liability amounts to determine if another adjustment is appropriate.

Q: Is there a “point-of-no-return” mandated by DOT for airlines in regards to when they can’t “involuntarily deny boarding” to passengers any longer? That phrase makes it seem like once a passenger has boarded the plane, they are “safe” or won't be asked to involuntarily de-board. Is it at the gate? Once the passengers ticket is scanned? After the plane taxis from the gate?
A: Most involuntary denied boardings of passengers do occur in the gate area rather than on the aircraft. DOT’s oversales rule does not state a point in time at which airlines are no longer permitted to involuntarily deny boarding to a passenger.

Q: Is there any DOT regulation for kicking people off flights, not related to over-booking? I know some airlines will not allow passengers to board or will remove them from the plane for being smelly (not related to a disability or illness), not dressing properly, etc.
A: An airline can refuse to transport a passenger to the extent permitted by the airline’s contract of carriage so long as the refusal is not discriminatory. Airlines typically include language in their contract of carriage listing the various reasons that they may refuse transport or remove an individual from a flight. For example, airlines may refuse to transport an individual who appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. An airline may also refuse transport passengers for a number of other reasons including refusing to transport an individual who attempts to interfere with the duties of a flight crew member. We note that FAA regulations state that “no person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft being operated.”

Additional Background:

Air Travel Consumer Reports: These provide consumers with information so that they can make informed decisions: https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-consumer-reports.

Fly Rights: (https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights)

Oversales Page: (https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/oversales)

Updated: Tuesday, April 18, 2017
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