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Travel Tip: How Much Airlines Can Offer You on Overbooked Flights

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plane2There are two lessons to be learned in the wake of the United Airlines overbooking incident.

One is all about denied boarding compensation, and it’s all about bumping.

It goes back to the days of consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who was bumped from a flight in 1975.

He sued, and the result were the denied boarding compensation rules we have today.

If your flight is oversold or overbooked, the airline must ask for volunteers.

But in the wake of the United Airlines incident, a number of airlines have announced they are giving their front line staff — counter and gate agents — the authority to go up to nearly $10,000 to induce folks to volunteer to give up their seat.

Now that travelers know the real financial limits, my guess is that no one will volunteer for a $300 voucher, and overbooked airline cabins will turn into The Price Is Right on steroids.

At the very least the inflight entertainment will begin on the ground.

The second lesson: no matter what, if a member of a flight crew asks you to fasten your seat belt, turn off your laptop, or yes, even leave the airplane, you must comply, even if you think you’re in the right, because failure to do so violates federal law.

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