Check in Early so As Not to Anger the Gods of Being Dragged Off the Plane

Airlines have the right to kick you off an overbooked plane even if you paid for your ticket and don’t want to fly. According to United staff, the “computer” chose a man who said he was a doctor and needed to see patients in the morning to be pulled off a flight this weekend. How does the computer know which one to choose? The airline policies provide some clues.

Each airline has a “contract of carriage” which sets out the rules that you must follow. By law, if they hit you, you are entitled to a certain amount of cash compensation, unless you made a deal to take a voucher or less money. Refusing to get off the plane will not help you, as airlines can deny boarding at any time to people they think are causing problems .

United’s policies are the most vague of the four major US airlines. People with disabilities and unaccompanied minors, if possible, keep their seats. Then it’s up to the mysterious computer:

All other confirmed passengers may be prioritized based on the passenger’s fare class, itinerary, frequent flyer status and the time the passenger presents themselves for check-in without prior seat assignment.

So you’re the one who screwed up the most if you’re a flight coach, don’t participate in the frequent flyer program, and arrive late. Since they mention a route, shortening the time between flights may mean you are less likely to run into a problem, but then you risk missing flights due to delays. (You may not be able to do this either, depending on where and when you fly.) Of all these factors, early check-in is the only thing under your control that does not involve an additional cash investment in the airline.

Delta’s policy is slightly better at revealing details. If you have “Elite” status or have a First Class, Business Class or Enterprise class ticket, you will receive priority over the rest of the clubs. However, within any category, “passengers have priority first by class of service and then by check-in time”.

The American prioritizes people who face “hardships,” including children and people with disabilities. Then there are first and business class passengers and so on. As you may have guessed, to make a decision among people at each level: “Passengers of any category will be accommodated in the cabin in the order they arrive for check-in.”

The Southwest is a little different: instead of the check-in order, they use your “pick-up point” – essentially your seat in an imaginary queue for seats. Checking in early will help you get a good seat on board, so our advice still applies. The landing site is the only thing that, by the way, will save you:

The Carrier must refuse boarding in the reverse order of the order in which seating for Passengers was provided (i.e., the Last Passenger to receive a seat will be the first Passenger to be forcibly denied boarding in a resale situation), without any preference. a specific person or category of tariffs.

If you check in early, gently stepping off the plane when asked and asking for money is the best way to handle the situation. Unfortunately, there is no way to ensure that you actually get the same plane ride that you paid for. Enjoy your flight!


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