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Posted: 6:00 a.m. Friday, July 26, 2013

Your rights when bumped from a flight

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Atlanta airport photo
Passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

By Clark Howard

Have you ever been bumped from a flight? There are some things you should know in order to maximize your compensation.

Airlines will typically offer a guaranteed seat on any flight to the highest level members of their frequent flyer program. That means they are going to be asking for volunteers willing to give up a seat.

The offers vary by airline. If you are a volunteer, it will be free tickets or a voucher for a dollar amount like a gift certificate. But many airlines restrict the way you can redeem those vouchers. So if it's a choice between a voucher and a certificate for future travel, take the certificate.

If you are involuntarily bumped from a flight, they are required to give you cold, hard cash if you ask. It will be up to 400% of what you paid for your ticket, with a hard cap of $1,200. That's if you are forced off the flight to accommodate a frequent flier.

That's when it's a case of show me the money!

Read more about your rights as an airline passenger at the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the US Department of Transportation.

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