(NewsNation) — The summer air travel season is off to a turbulent start.
Airports across the nation have become hubs of frustration. More than 3,500 flights were canceled over the recent holiday weekend, with tens of thousands of flights delayed.
Airlines are blaming bad weather and the Federal Aviation Administration, an arm of the Transportation Department that manages the nation’s airspace, for the recent travel disruptions.
In an email to NewsNation, a spokesperson from the FAA wrote: “Airlines have been unable to bounce back when they encounter severe weather, as we saw this weekend.”
But some pilots are telling a different story, blaming airlines, instead, for the travel troubles. A pilot shortage and insufficient staffing are to blame for the airport chaos.
Another source of frustration for travelers is airlines overbooking flights.
Legally, airlines can oversell or overbook flights. In fact, they do it all the time, and the airlines are not required to tell you ahead of time if the flight is overbooked.
Passengers can ask, but usually, travelers don’t find out they’ve been bumped off a fight until it’s time to check-in.
It’s a common practice in the airline industry. Airlines prefer to keep every flight as full as possible to maximize their profit.
The airlines anticipate some passengers may cancel or reschedule their flights. Airlines say overbooking helps them cover the cost of cancellations.
But here are some tips to avoid being booted from the plane when it comes time to check in:
Check in for your flight as soon as possible. The airlines typically bump those who check in last, even if they already had a seat assignment.
Also, airlines have to ask any passengers on the scheduled flight if they’re willing to give up their seat in exchange for compensation from the airline.
If a passenger is bumped involuntarily because of overbooking, they are entitled to compensation. However, if the airline can get a passenger to their final destination within one hour of their original arrival time, they will not be compensated.
The bottom line is to read the fine print and fully understand passenger rights so the airlines can be held accountable.
Also, it’s important to know that when an airline is compensating passengers for an overbooked flight, there is no limit to the amount of money airlines can offer or the number of travel vouchers passengers can negotiate with the airline.