Know your rights when it comes to passenger bumping on airlines - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Know your rights when it comes to passenger bumping on airlines

WASHINGTON- You buy a ticket -- but when you show up at the airport there's no seat for you on the plane. It's happening more often lately: passengers are getting bumped because the airlines overbook flights.  

Just last week southwest airlines was fined for not following federal rules for bumping passengers.  

The DOT reports only about 1 out of every 10,000 airline passengers is bumped from a flight involuntarily, but experts say it's happening more often than it used to. Planes are flying fuller now with many airlines cutting back on flights.  

At Southwest Airlines 10,600 passengers were involuntarily bumped in 2008 -- that number climbed to more than 13,000 in 2009. In a statement Southwest says: "We do the best job we can to predict how many customers will utilize their confirmed reservations and aim to get it right 100% of the time. When that doesn't happen, we do our best to make the situation right."  

One way to protect yourself -- check-in on-line 24 hours before your flight. Also, know your rights. If you're bumped and the airline can't re-book you with-in 2 hours -- federal rules require them to pay you up to $800 in cash -- and give you a written explanation.  

Most airlines occasionally overbook flights -- but one domestic airline -- Jetblue has taken a stand -- promising never to overbook.

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