WASHINGTON — Airlines will be required to double the maximum compensation they pay passengers involuntarily bumped from scheduled flights under measures announced Wednesday by the Department of Transportation.
Under the new rule, which takes effect next month, fliers will receive up to $400 if they're rescheduled to reach their destination within two hours of their original arrival time or four hours for international flights. The fee would increase to a maximum of $800 if passengers aren't rerouted within that time frame.
The current limits are $200 and $400.
Airlines sometimes are forced to bump passengers on oversold flights. In announcing the changes in advance of the summer travel season, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said the rule will ensure that fliers "are more fairly reimbursed for their inconvenience."
The rule also extends the scope of the bumping fee to more flights, including aircraft seating at least 30 passengers. Current bumping regulations cover aircraft with 60 or more seats.
Peters also announced measures to help curb summertime delays, particularly in the perpetually congested New York area. Airliners will be allowed to use new alternative routes to avoid severe weather; those in the New York corridor could have the option of flying into Canadian airspace if necessary.