This week, federal officials are anticipated to announce a plan that aims to raise the maximum amount airlines must pay passengers who get taken off an oversold flight.
Currently the price is at $400 or $800 depending on the length of the passenger’s delay. The number of passengers who get removed from their seats based on oversold flights rose in the past four years and jumped 10 percent to 762,422 in 2009, the highest total since 2002.
The numbers increased by 17 percent in this year’s first quarter. The probable inconvenience is greater now too. Planes are more crowded and airlines have been cut back, therefore, passengers who are removed from flights could wait hours or even days to find other arrangements.
The Transportation Department has been pushed by passenger-rights groups to raise the payout limits to $800 and $1,200 per traveler if the airline bumps a passenger involuntarily. The agency indicated that it plans some sort of increase adjustment in the limits, which were last raised in 2008. Officials declined to provide details.
The main problem is overbooked flights. Airlines are permitted to sell more tickets than they have seats on the assumption that some passengers won’t show up. What groups like FlyersRights want is a limit on how many extra seats airlines can sell per flight.
Industry insiders say that may be unrealistic because no- show rates vary by route, day, and even hour.