Involuntary Bumping vs Involuntary Denied Boarding by AirTran
ATLANTA, GEORGIA -- I booked flights for myself and spouse on Oct 20, 2013 from BWI to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Airtran Flight 817 depart at 9:08am on Sunday, Dec 22nd, 2013, arrive Punta Cana at 1:52pm, a four-hour flight, and returning on Dec 28th, 2013. I also purchased two advanced seating assignments for the round trip tickets. Airtran called on Oct 31st, asking if we were willing to take a later flight on Dec 22nd from BWI to Punta Cana, DR because Airtran sold us an overbooked original scheduled flight. They offered two flight options that were both incomparable and unacceptable because of the departure times, one leaving at 7:55am from BWI connecting through Atlanta with a six hours layover, and arriving Punta Cana at 8:57pm. I did not accept the offer to be put on any alternative incomparable flights. AirTran called again on Dec 19th, informed me that my flights have now changed leaving on Dec 22 from BWI at 7:55am arriving Atlanta when I stopped the caller (agent) and asked her why they are changing my flights. The agents answer was that our original scheduled flight leaving BWI at 9:08am is overbooked. I called Airtran and spoke a supervisor, Heather(agent 489), who offered a refund of two one-way tickets and fees for advanced seating assignments. Because we were not given any alternative comparable flight choice and our trip is scheduled in two days, Dec 22nd, we were forced to take FLT 133 departed BWI on Dec 22nd at 7:55am, arrived Atlanta at 9:55am, over 7 hours layover in Atlanta, departed at 5:40pm, arrived in PUJ 10pm! All day of our first day family holiday vacation wasted!
Heather informed us that the Involuntary Denied Boarding (IDB) Rule does not apply because we were involuntary removed (bumped) from our original flight 2 days prior to Dec 22; subsequently AirTran avoiding DOT rule for IDB, which is legal business practice by AirTran! Overbooking flights is also legal business practice!
http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm#overbooking DOT defines involuntary bumping. AirTran has the right to involuntary bumped lucky passengers from any of their flights any time, except that we were involuntary bumped on Dec 19, so rule does not apply to us in terms of 400% compensation; our flight was on Dec 22! What are our rights as customers and as consumers! DOT is reviewing my case!