A: Had you not booked as you did and taken out insurance, you would have had to buy a last-minute fare to the next port of call at considerable expense, and there would have been no compensation at all for your missed days, so smart move. Normally, if you're bumped from a flight like this you're entitled to compensation, with a few exceptions. According to U.S. Department of Transportation rules published on its website (http://airconsumer.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm#overbooking), the compensation maximum is $1,300 if the airline arranges substitute transportation arriving at your destination more than two hours on a domestic itinerary or four hours on an international one. And you get to keep your original ticket and use it on a future flight. But there's an unfortunate — and frankly unfair, I think — exception to the rule, especially if the delay was caused by a mechanical failure: "If the airline must substitute a smaller plane for the one it originally planned to use, the carrier isn't required to pay people who are bumped as a result. In addition, on flights using aircraft with 30 through 60 passenger seats, compensation is not required if you were bumped due to safety-related aircraft weight or balance constraints."
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George Hobica is founder of the low-airfare listing site Airfarewatchdog.com.
Have a question about air travel? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions can only be answered in this column and not individually.