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Bumped off a flight? Does your Singapore travel insurance cover you
Overbooked flights can happen. And we've all seen or heard horror stories of passengers being dragged or marched off flights because there is no seat available. So what can you do and what are your rights if this ever happens to you?
Overbooked flight. Can you get compensation?
In Singapore the rules on compensation are up to the individual airlines. This means it’s particularly important to make sure your travel insurance covers such events.
For instance, Budget Direct Insurance Singapore will pay up to $500 compensation if your flight is overbooked.
Should you find yourself being forcibly removed and, heaven forbid, injured then your medical and dental costs are also covered up to $25,000.
Overbooked flights. The facts
According to the Consumers Association of Singapore there have been no complaints about overbooking here since January last year. That said, if you’re travelling further afield then it’s a very different story especially with US and European airlines.
In the US a whopping 40,629 people were involuntarily bumped off flights in 2016. This means passengers did not volunteer and were given no choice but to take a different plane than the one they’d confirmed and paid for.
What does it mean to get bumped off your flight?
You have booked your seat and it has been confirmed but the flight has been overbooked. You will most likely be told at check-in but sometimes the overbooking is only apparent once passengers are on the plane.
Airline staff must first ask for volunteers.
The airline will most likely offer incentives to entice passengers to give up their seat voluntarily. These can be anything from flight vouchers, shopping vouchers, flight upgrades or cash. Be careful and make sure you read the small print before accepting. Vouchers can come with a host of terms and conditions and if it’s cash then will this fully compensate you? Will it cover food and accommodation if needed? You’re in a good bargaining position so name a price that you think makes it worth your while. Volunteering isn’t always worth the extra bother so think twice before you do.
If you are bumped off the flight involuntarily
If you’re told you have to take a different flight then in the US you’re entitled to get up to US$1,350. There you don’t have to accept vouchers either. You can ask for cash instead and you should be able to collect it right from the airport rather than filing a claim with the airline. Although Singapore doesn’t legislate for this, it is worth knowing what other overseas airlines are prepared to do.
But do check your travel insurance policy documents and find out how much you will be compensated should this happen to you.