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Sunday, February 13, 2005; Page P01


Bumps in the Night

It didn't seem right to CoGo reader Ellen Siegler that she, her husband and son were offered nothing when Northwest Airlines involuntarily bumped them from a Baltimore-to-Grand Rapids, Mich., flight, making them lose an entire day with relatives over Christmas.

So when she returned to her home in Northwest Washington, Siegler did some homework. Checking the rules paid off to the tune of an $810 check from Northwest.

Here's what you too need to know: If you are involuntarily bumped from an overbooked flight, the airline is off the hook if it can get you a substitute flight scheduled to arrive at your final destination within one hour of your original flight.

But if your substitute flight is scheduled to arrive more than an hour later than the flight you were bumped from, you're entitled to a refund equal to the price of your one-way fare, up to $200, according to Department of Transportation regulations.

If a substitute flight is more than two hours later, you're entitled to double the fare you paid on a domestic flight, up to $400. The airline has more time to get you on a new outbound international flight: You get double the fare only if the new international flight is scheduled to arrive more than four hours later than the original.

The rules don't apply to charters or flights on planes that seat fewer than 61 passengers. And on inbound international flights, the rules of the country from which you are flying apply, although some carriers voluntarily follow U.S. regs.

report from electroland

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In other recent Web news:

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