bumping

Our food for thought today includes whether international passengers rules should be more consistent, buying first class airline ticket perk-by-perk, and where economics should rule overbooking or customer care.

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Delta Air Lines just announced a new program where the Delta computer will ask passengers about how much they are willing to accept in the case that they need to bump someone from an overbooked flight. In effect it is a blind auction for getting voluntarily bumped or you might look at it as an airline version of The Price is Right.

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Just after the announced Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed rulemaking on denied boarding compensation among other consumer issues, the Wall Street Journal suggested that perhaps an auction of sorts be used to determine which passengers are “bumped.”

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With the airlines cutting capacity and working like mad to jam more people onto flights, the inevitable has been happening more and more — 220,000 passengers were bumped from their flights during the first quarter of 2010.

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You get the headline: “Government to raise denied boarding compensation.” And that’s it. But there’s more — so much more — when it comes to the proposed overbooking rules.

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In a dramatic effort to gather passenger comments about the newest rulemaking proposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) the government has partnered with Cornell University and created Regulationroom.org.

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After fining USAirways $140,000 back in December the Department of Transportation (DOT) is at it again fining Delta Air Lines $375,000 for not following the bumping rules. It’s nice to see DOT back wielding a big stick with the airlines.

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At this point no one who travels regularly is surprised to hear stories of overbooking, and passengers being bumped. Although in general, business and first class passengers have this problem much less frequently. As more than a few airline people have told me, “We really don’t like to upset the people paying top dollar for tickets.”

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For some passengers, the idea of being bumped is a nightmare. For others, when it means a free ticket or other compensation, it’s a dream.

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A traveler in her early twenties was flying from Washington to Chicago for an interview. We had been unable to obtain a seat assignment, however we had a confirmed reservation. The client called from the airport and asked if we could help her get on a flight later that day.

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