overbooking

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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The deadly storms that left large swaths of the East Coast without power just before the Fourth of July holiday provided an uncomfortable lesson to hotel guests like Ken White: Always call to confirm your reservation — especially when the place you’re visiting is reeling from a natural disaster.

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Today we take a look at rules that airlines will have to follow as well, but that only time will tell whether DOT needs more enforcement. I have included the DOT press release content after each subject.

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Once upon a time, the normal bribe to get passengers to accept “voluntary” bumping was an unrestricted voucher for a round-trip ticket for a future flight on that airline. I remember collecting two such vouchers from Delta at Atlanta as back-to-back flights to Boston were oversold and I was at the top of the bumpee list. Today, the airlines are not so generous.

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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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Chris Elliott helps a customer who was “walked” from one hotel that was overbooked to another in Valencia, Spain, and then received a bill for more than $1,000. Talk about unpleasant surprises.

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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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Occasionally, a cruise line will send a passenger or travel agent an email indicating a booked cruise is particularly full, and would they consider taking a different sailing? Usually, these offers come with a nice refund or a serious cabin upgrade. But not always.

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