Q: I was slated to fly from Boston to Rome (nonstop) to meet my friend from Indianapolis who was waitng for me there. I arrived at the airport about 2 1/2 hours ahead of my scheduled 6:15 pm take-off. After waiting for almost 2 hours in a huge line, the folks at Alitalia closed off the ticket/boarding pass gates. We were told that they would be with us shortly. After about a half hour, the staff then announced that their was no more room left on this flight! I was bewildered because I had purchased my ticket in April and here it was late June?? I was amongst about 10 or so people who were shut out of this flight because "We overbooked this flight". After unsuccessfully trying to put me on a 9:45 pm flight on Lufthansa, my options were: 1) Take a flight the next night at 6pm to Milan and then change planes after a layover to Rome; 2) Wait 2 nights and fly Boston to Rome on a similar flight. I opted for the 1st option because of my friend who was waiting for me in Rome. Alitalia then gave me a 125 euro ($168 USD) voucher to use on my next flight on Alitalia for all my troubles. They're awlful presumptuous to think that I'd ever want to fly with them again!! My question is, is this common practice for some airlines to conduct this type of business? Can they be held accountable for this?
A: Alitalia pulled a fast one here. According to Bill Mosley, aviation spokesman for the US DOT, bumping compensation rules apply to all flights originating in the US, no matter where they're headed. Those rules stipulate compensation ranging from $200 to $400 per passenger, depending on the cost of the ticket and the length of the delay. You would be entitled to the full $400, an amount which, unfortunately, has not changed in many years and is in woeful need of an adjustment for inflation (Congress is currently considering an overhaul of these rules; write your representatives and urge them to follow through). You should file a complaint with the DOT and go back to Alitalia and explain that they are not following the rules.