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jul 13 2007

Tell the Feds your views on the bumping game

Have you ever been involuntarily bumped when a flight was oversold? Well, it's time to speak up.

The Department of Transportation is seeking comments from the public on its airline compensation rules for passengers who are involuntarily bumped.

Which of the following policies is best?

--Leave the current compensation limits in place. These limits are $200 for a short delay for rebooking (meaning two hours) and $400 for a long delay (meaning more than four hours). For more explanation of the current rules, see below.

--Boost the current compensation limits to $290 for short delays in rebooking and $580 for long delays.

--Boost the compensation limits to $400 for short delays in rebooking and $800 for long delays.

--Boost the limits to $624 for short delays in rebooking and $1,248 for longer delays

--End all limits and make compensation for short delays equal to the value of the ticket, or double the value of the ticket for long delays with the payment doubling for longer delays

Here is further explanation of the current rules.

The Department of Transportation requires compensation for passengers who relinquish seats voluntarily. There's no federal standard for that compensation--you're only guaranteed something, usually a flight voucher. For passengers who are involuntarily bumped on domestic flights, the rules are as follows: If you're on another flight within an hour, you get nothing; within two hours, the airline pays you the equivalent of your one-way fare ($200 max); more than two hours later, you get 200 percent reimbursement ($400 max). Here is the government version of its rules.

You must contact the Feds directly if you want to voice your opinion. Comments posted to this blog will not be forwarded to the government.

For step-by-step instructions in how to post your comment, read on...

Contact the Feds using this two-step process. First, find and download the proposal by clicking here (http://dms.dot.gov/search/document.cfm?documentid=125513&docketid;=9325).

Then, to submit a comment visit this webpage:

https://dms.dot.gov/submit/

The instructions on this page are somewhat misleading. You do not have to "register" to post a comment. Simply click on the "continue" button. In the field that says, "docket number", copy and paste this docket number: OST-01-9325. You will see other fields with confusing terms. Just ignore them and leave them as they are. Next, you must provide at least one of the following: Your email address, your phone number with area code, or your complete postal address. You do not have to fill out any additional information. You can leave the other fields blank. Next, click "continue." You should see a screen that says, "Comment." Type your comment in this window. Be specific in saying which of the five proposals you think is best by spelling out the proposal. For example, you might say, "I support leaving the current rules in place." or "I support raising the limits to $624 for short delays in rebooking and $1,248 for longer delays." Those are just examples. You can disagree. Feel free to word your own opinion--whatever it is.

Earlier: Tell the Feds your views on passport rules.

(Hat tip to Volker Poelzl and his new Transitions Abroad blog Wide World Cafe.)

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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