Jillian Michaels has taken to social media to decry American Airlines for sexism over having been bumped from her seat. That wouldn’t be the Occam’s Razor explanation here, of course (just like this man wasn’t denied boarding because he was overweight and this man wasn’t denied boarding because he was a Nobel laureate).
Michaels doesn’t tell us the flight, the circumstances surrounding how she was bumped, or what compensation she received. She just believes men on her flight were treated better than she was.
And she shares American’s response to her request for more compensation saying that they don’t provide the same amount to each passenger.
Her Facebook post, as of this writing, has garnered nearly 2500 comments.
On the whole they tend to be like this one — outraged at the sexism!
And while Ms. Michaels doesn’t provide us with enough information to know for certain one way or another, her explanation is among the least likely reasons she might have been offered less compensation than someone else.
- The amount of compensation for an involuntary denied boarding depends on the price of your ticket. Her ticket may have been less expensive.
- Treatment during irregular operations will vary by the status of the passenger. If elite frequent flyers were involuntarily denied boarding, and those elites were men, then those men might have been treated better than she was. Though American AAdvantage has changed its elite qualifying criteria this year, gender isn’t one of the factors.
Involuntary Denied Boarding Compensation is Set in Law
The maximum amount of involuntary denied boarding compensation is set in law at 14 CFR 250.5. The law contains a provision requiring the Department of Transportation to review the maximum compensation amount every two years, and the law also sets the formula that shall be used.
Here’s what you’re entitled to in the event of an involuntary denied boarding, which is when you have a ticket and reservation for a flight but the airline doesn’t give you a seat on the flight. It’s what they’re required to pay after offering compensation to passengers to voluntarily give up a seat, and there are no more takers.
- Nothing if you are offered transportation to your first connecting city (or final destination in the event of a non-stop) scheduled for within an hour of your original booking.
- Double your fare up to $650 if you’re rescheduled to arrive within 1-2 hours of original schedule.
- Four times your fare up to $1350 if you aren’t given transportation scheduled to arrive at either your first connection or final destination within 2 hours of schedule.
How Often This Happens, and How to Protect Yourself
In 2014 only 0.08% of passengers were involuntarily denied boarding.
The folks at the bottom of the totem poll, at risk, are those without advance seat assignments. If a flight is oversold, and so seats are available to assign, those are generally the ones who will need others to volunteer or no show in order for them to get onto a flight.
Of those without seat assignments, fare, elite status, and check-in time will determine priority to get a seat among those without a seat assignment. If it turns out the airline needs to pull someone off the plane, similar criteria are used to determine who will be taken off.
Being an airline’s frequent flyer helps. Being on an expensive ticket helps. But the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to get a seat assignment at the time you buy your tickets.