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DOT raises fees for bumping; decreases flight delays

Lately, most news about summer travel has revolved around higher prices and fewer flights due to bankruptcies and capacity cuts.

But today, the Department of Transportation threw some good news in the mix when it announced a major compensation increase for being involuntarily bumped off a flight and a new plan for combating summer travel delays.

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The new bumping rule will double the limit on compensation that airlines have to give passengers who are involuntarily bumped from their flight. The new policy goes into effect next month, and "fliers who are involuntarily bumped would receive up to $400 if they are rescheduled to reach their destination within two hours of their original arrival time or four hours for international flights, and up to $800 if they are not rerouted within that timeframe."

Presumably, since the cost to bump people off flights is going up, the perks airlines offer to potential volunteers for bumping will rise accordingly as well. And, whereas the bumping rule used to only cover flights with 60 seats or more, the DOT has expanded the rule to include planes seating 30 or more passengers. So more regional fliers will benefit.

Secretary Mary Peters also announced measures intended to cut delays this summer. They'll do that by opening alternative routes in the sky that will help airlines avoid severe weather, allowing planes to duck into Canadian airspace from the New York metropolitan area, and opening a second westbound route for planes, which will cut some delays from New York.

So while booking summer travel may still be daunting, at least flying will be a little easier and being inconvenienced will be a little more profitable.

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