Airline bumping policies: who's on first?

George Hobica, July 31, 2008
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q: Do some passengers get priority re-booking when a flight is cancelled or it's oversold? For instance, if you're the last to check in, are you at the bottom of the list for rebooking?

    A: It really depends on the airline, and these policies can change over time. It's a safe bet to say that the higher the level you've attained in the airline's frequent flyer program, or the more expensive your ticket, the higher your priority, whether it's a bumping, delay, or cancellation situation. On international flights, you're more likely to be "protected" if you have a connecting flight later in the day. And yes, if you were late to check in for your flight, or don't have a boarding pass before you get to the airport, you'll likely be the low person on the rebooking totem pole.