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6 Tips to Avoid Being Bumped From a Flight (Plus a Few Extras)

6 Tips to Avoid Being Bumped From a Flight (Plus a Few Extras)

(Kheng Guan Toh/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 12 April 2017 12:56 PM

United Airlines' decision to drag a passenger off a Sunday night flight out of Chicago has sparked a debate around the country about airline policies, passenger rights, and what you can do to avoid finding yourself in the same situation.

A little-known fact: When passengers purchase airline tickets, they agree to a "contract of carriage," which is a broad term of rules that could lead to a denial of boarding and even removal from a flight if the terms are violated or if the airline needs to free up seats, according to The Washington Post.

In fact, according to Ahmed Abdelghany, a professor of operations management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Daytona Beach, Florida, a "random" involuntary removal list is created hours before the flight just incase, and it stays at the gate until the flight takes off, USA Today reported.

Based on most airlines' contracts of carriage, those with disabilities and unaccompanied minors are the least likely to be booted. But if you don't fit into one of those categories, here are six tips to avoid being bumped:

1. Become a frequent flyer — Random involuntary removals from airlines, like what David Dao faced on United Airlines, are not so random, according to Business Insider. Those in frequent flyer programs have a solid leg up in not getting booted in the removal process.

2. Arrive early — Most carriage contracts also lean in favor of those who check-in early rather than late arrivals at the gate. United, Delta, and American all have similar policies.

3. Book a connecting flight — Rebooking passengers who have to catch a connecting flight is complex and expensive for airlines, which will make a passenger with one less desirable for bumping.

4. Buy more expensive tickets —USA Today confirmed what we all know in our hearts: Those with the lowest fare class tickets are usually the first in line to face involuntary removal. Purchasing a more expensive ticket gives you a buffer.

5. Just behave yourself — Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told The Washington Post that the flight crew must be vigilant about looking for warning signs of possible disruptive behavior that could escalate after takeoff. That means that showing up drunk, not following the rules, bad personal hygiene, etc., could make a passenger a target for removal if a situation arises.

6. Book a seat assignment — Select your seat when booking the reservation; don't wait for it to be assigned at the gate.

*PRO TIPS* — Scott McCartney, who pens The Wall Street Journal's "The Middle Seat" column, has a few last-minute tips for travelers: "Try to avoid regional jets. They have much higher rates of involuntary bumping. Avoid the last flight of the night. People are less likely to voluntarily give up seats. Buy a premium seat. You make yourself less of a target, and you might enjoy the legroom."

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United Airlines' decision to drag a passenger off a Sunday night flight out of Chicago has sparked a debate around the country about airline policies, passenger rights, and what you can do to avoid finding yourself in the same situation.
ways, avoid, bump, flight, united airlines
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2017-56-12
Wednesday, 12 April 2017 12:56 PM
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