Bumping Vulnerable Passengers Or Passengers At Their Connection City Has Got To Stop. Should Common Sense Be Regulated?

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Last week I shared the story of Iberia bumping 3 minors off a flight from Madrid to Tel Aviv. They were dropped off in Miami by their grandfather to fly home to Israel and were unceremoniously bumped off the flight by Iberia.

Iberia claims they were the last to checkin, which makes no sense as they had checked into the flight in Miami the night before and their bags were checked all the way to Tel Aviv.

While in Miami, they asked Iberia for their Madrid to Tel Aviv boarding passes. Iberia said they would have to pick them up in Madrid. Several people have told me that they have experienced the same treatment with connecting flights on Iberia, and that is unacceptable. It’s enough to make me avoid flying on Iberia.

Iberia made no effort to find other passengers to volunteer their seat. After all, it’s cheaper and easier to involuntarily bump a passengers instead of finding a volunteer.

Even more conveniently for Iberia, the airport agents at the airport refused to pay the mandatory EU €600 involuntary bumping compensation fees as they were all under 18. So they were old enough to be bumped off the flight, but not old enough to get paid. Talk about taking advantage of the most vulnerable just to save a few bucks!

They handed the kids a hotel voucher and sent them off on their way, refusing to communicate the situation to the kids parents. Iberia still hasn’t compensated as required by EU and Israeli law.

And now a 77 year old woman in a wheelchair is making the news for being involuntarily bumped off a United flight at her connection city.

Her son dropped her off in Washington DC to fly to London via Newark. In Newark she was told that she was being involuntarily bumped off her flight to London. United says they offered to take her to a hotel, but she wound up staying by herself in the airport for 12 hours.

The practice of bumping passengers at their connection city needs to end. Passengers at their origin or destination city often have a place to stay or are familiar with the area. It’s simply unfair to involuntarily bump passengers at their connection city. I’ve spent a night stuck in JFK with 2 kids. It’s not fun.

It’s also unfair to bump vulnerable passengers like minors and those with limited mobility.

You would think these things are common sense that any decent person would realize. But the airlines keep on doing this time and time again. Perhaps it’s time for the DoT to regulate this?

Airlines should not be involuntarily bumping minors, passengers with limited mobility, or connecting passengers. Airlines should also be required to offer some level of reasonable compensation to find volunteers before involuntarily bumping passengers. Or perhaps involuntary bumping compensation needs to be higher in the US and in the EU to incentivize airlines to offer more to volunteers?

Agree with my take? You can file a DoT comment here, leave the airline as “other” and let them know what you think should be regulated.

Should common sense be regulated when it to airline bumping policies? Hit the comments!

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41 Comments On "Bumping Vulnerable Passengers Or Passengers At Their Connection City Has Got To Stop. Should Common Sense Be Regulated?"

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I agree that they should avoid bumping people in connection cities because of the greater burden. I do not however agree that minors / limited mobility people deserve different treatment. If you choose to send your minor child regular way (i.e. not as an unaccompanied minor) then he/she is regular passenger. Not entitled to any special benefits.

Sorry, I may sound mean and clearly minors/limited mobility people should be bumped as a last resort, but there shouldn’t be a blanket rule just because of their categorization.


I wish you never to be in a wheelchair or together with someone on a flight.


I assume you take issue with handicapped parking spots as well


@R siriosly??? You’re not just mean, you don’t have common sense!


What is the difference between an unaccompanied and an accompanied minor? As far as I know none. It is still a minor.


If the DoT does make such a regulation I can ensure that I avoid being bumped by taking a wheel chair.


Whats the Israeli law for Involuntarily bumping passengers? do they have a law similar to EU261?


Unbelievable this happens at all – what’s the United hashtag to use Dan? Lets snowball this to get more attention


This just shows that we’ve put up with say to much from the airlines. That fact that we’re even talking about the impropriety of bumping certain people means that we’ve accepted the legitimacy of bumping others. In what other industry would we accept that a reservation is meaningless?


I disagree. In which industry that you know of has so many no shows?


The no shows don’t get a refund!


Bumping is inevitable, but some airlines do it less than others. read this article to understand why bumping happens https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/04/16/1-us-airline-never-overbooks-its-flights.aspx
ultimately, without overbooking you would assume that ticket prices will rise. If you have an issue, fly an airline that has better overbooking policies.


Sure it should, it should be a huge fines for airlines from DOT, and for sure spread the news and stop flying them!!!


I did send in a complaint


According to DoT, airlines must ask for volunteers before bumping people. What I suspect happened in the wheelchair case was that the woman arrived at the gate less than 15 minutes before flight, so they gave away her seat. Not to say it’s her fault, as she was connecting and not in control, but probably not a classic bumping.


Once this regulation is enacted, since the airlines don’t have enough staff on the ground to individually handle each person in all cases, they will simply add a clause to all tickets stating that if the person is vulnerable, they are required to have an able-bodied adult escorting them. Either that or pay the unaccompanied vulnerable passenger fee for each flight on the itinerary.

Mashiach now

Dan if I’m going to Israel right before for succos and back right after succos on air berlin deal you posted do you. Think they may not fly ? And do you think they may rebook? I’m a little concerned should I book a backup ticket just in case ? Thank you for all that you do and for being very informative


I thought they cancelled all long haul flights from October.

Ani Yehudi

My 1 stop flight from TLV to NYC for Sept. 26 cancelled today. Air berlin offered to rebook me on another flight that day with 2 stopovers in Germany!


I was supposed to fly tlv-lgw via kbp (uia), and they bumped me to BA (lhr), actually, double-bumped, I was supposed to fly 5:30am, they said they were giving me 7:45am, but they didn’t ticket the reservation early enough, so I ended up flying 9:45am… I sat in the airport for over 5 hours without a boarding pass (couldn’t even go to the lounge). Am I entitled to any compensation? If yes, could someone please give me instructions?


dan if you can please answer this question about what the story is with jfk dus txl route to tlv in october for succos and back right after i booked a ticket also that you


I agree with Dan. Minors or disabled or people with limited mobility are vulnerable. Imagine the kids are thrown in a hotel, all by themselves and one of them has a medical condition that is not of any concerns if they fly as scheduled. But an interruption of the trip can cause the kid to run out of medicine which he/she can’t get because they are minors or. The grandfather put the kids on the plane with the expectation that the airline company will fly them from point A to point B in a timely fashion and not to hand them over a hotel voucher half way and tell them you go find a taxi or uber to get to your hotel which could tell them “you need a credit card to check in and only if you’re 21” and not our problem if you don’t have a cc or you’re under 21.
It’s as if the airline agent doesn’t have kids and has no clue as to what the kids have to go through while left on their own in a unfamiliar place.
I hope the hyperloop that Elon Musk hinted at will become a reality. We could then zip from point A to point B at 800 mph and reduce our reliance on airlines.


The DOT should get rid of “involuntary bumping” for anything but safety reasons. Your ticket should be a binding contract that they MUST take you if the plane flies and you are not a safety risk. If the airlines choose to overbook flights, and everyone shows up, they should be required to buy people off the flight with no limits to the $$ amount they need to pay. Let the auction begin!!


Problem solved.

PS: If the airlines claim “safety issues” and the airline cannot back-up the claim, the “involuntary bumped” passenger should get 100X the full fare ticket price plus all legal fees reimbursed … that would stop any “hanky-panky” with the claim of “safety issues”.



I totally agree with u, no reason whatsoever to let the airlines’ greed to go on unchecked. People are just so used to this situation that they think it’s legitimate, but the truth is there’s no reason to allow this to happen at all, it’s simply stealing from the clients, as simple as that.


And no need to designate anyone as “vulnerable” … sounds like liberal identity politics to me. If someone in a wheelchair cannot change flights …. they lose the opportunity to make a some $$ to volunteer to take a later flight. Although, I suspect as the $$ grow bigger you’ll see some of those “vulnerable” wheelchair persons all of a sudden become less “vulnerable” and volunteer (I know that would be the case for my “vulnerable” 85 year old mother).


OY! next time, if you are stuck in JFK let me know – id love to host you and hook YOU up (for once):)

Chaim Finson

Dan! Are starting an airline? love the graphic in this article. Also what points currency can be used on your airline? Partners? ( I need 10 for my family for Sukkos and can only spend $200 a ticket, please get back to me ASAP)


That airlines can legally overbook on the premise that people cancel is ridiculous. The airlines already charge change/cancellation fees which offset potential loss; hotels aren’t allowed to sell the same rooms to multiple people; sporting events cant double sell seats and (aside from superbowl, world series, etc..) there are always no shows.

Mark M

I made a complaint, as I believe we all should if we have time. I can only imagine how i would feel if it were my relatives or friends who got treated like this. completely unacceptable.


What does Air Canada offer/what should be requested for being bumped from toronto to TLV? Thanks