Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bumped from a flight? Your compensation just got larger

The Department of Transportation has increased the amount of compensation fliers may be entitled to if they are denied boarding.

The revisions to the DOT’s rules, which were published in the Federal Register on May 27, took effect Aug. 25 and raise the maximum denied boarding compensation (DBC) amounts that have been in effect since August 2011.

“The revision of 14 CFR [Code of Federal Regulations] part 250 provides for an inflation adjustment to the maximum DBC amounts that air carriers and foreign air carriers are required by 14 CFR 250.8 to tender to passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding,” the DOT said in its filing. “The provisions are required by current regulatory language, and require no exercise of discretion or interpretation.”

The revised rule increases the maximum DBC amounts for passengers who are denied boarding involuntarily on a domestic flight by a carrier who offers alternate transportation that is planned to arrive at the passenger’s first stopover or final destination more than one hour but less than two hours after the planned arrival time from the previous figure of $650 to $675. Passengers who are denied boarding involuntarily and offered alternate transportation that is planned to arrive more than two hours after the passenger’s original flight may be entitled to $1,350, which is an increase from the previous figure of $1,300.

“This rule will pose minor additional costs to airlines only in those instances in which carriers oversold a flight, there was not a sufficient number of passengers who volunteered to give up their seats, and the carriers failed to arrange alternative transportation for passengers denied boarding that is scheduled to transport them to the next destination within a certain number of hours,” the DOT said in its filing.

Rule revisions also raise the minimum liability limit air carriers may impose for mishandled baggage in domestic air transportation. The revisions raise the minimum limit of liability from the current amount of $3,400 to $3,500. To account for inflation, the rule also raises the maximum civil penalties that can be assessed as a result of DOT aviation enforcement actions for violations of certain economic provisions of Title 49 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations from $2,500 to $2,750.

Finally, the revised rule makes clear that the higher amounts depend on the date of the action, not the date the tickets were purchased.

“Any compensation due to passengers in instances of involuntary denied boarding, or any compensation due to domestic passengers because of loss, delay or damage to baggage, with respect to transportation taking place on or after the effective date (as opposed to tickets sold on or after the effective date) will be covered by this final rule,” the DOT said in its filing.

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