DOT makes passenger-friendly changes to compensation, involuntary bumps and more

Jan 31, 2021

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The Department of Transportation earlier this month made some passenger-friendly updates to air travel.

DOT, under the Trump administration, announced in the Federal Register that passengers may not be “involuntarily bumped” from a flight after their boarding pass “has been collected or scanned and the passenger has boarded.” The rule goes into effect on April 13, 2021.

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In 2017, Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed from United Airlines Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville after being involuntarily bumped. What followed was a viral video, a barrage of media coverage, a lawsuit and the start of a conversation on passengers’ rights that would leave a permanent mark on the airline industry.

If a flight is oversold, DOT says airlines must request volunteers — and pay them — for denied boarding before using any other boarding priority, even if the passenger isn’t aware that they’re eligible for compensation. Additionally, airlines must provide compensation “proactively” instead of waiting for passengers to request compensation if a flight is oversold.

The DOT also updated the maximum amount that U.S. and foreign airlines may pay for passengers who are bumped from the current figures of $675 and $1,350 to $775 and $1,550.

For delays of more than one hour but less than two hours for domestic flights, and one hour but less than four hours for international flights, airlines are now required to provide passengers at least 200% of the passenger’s one-way fare or $775, whichever is lower. For delays of more than two hours for domestic flights and delays of more than four hours for international flights, airlines must provide 400% of the passenger’s one-way fare or $1,550.

The rule also increased the liability limit U.S. airlines may impose for mishandled baggage from $3,500 to $3,800.

Featured photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

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