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Bumped from a flight? Know your rights

Thursday - 5/9/2013, 5:18pm  ET

WASHINGTON - When an airline bumps you involuntarily from an overbooked flight, they'll offer you a voucher good for future travel.

Take it if you want it. But Paul Hudson, president of Flyers Rights, wants to make sure you know you're entitled to cash - up to $1,300, depending on how long you have to wait for another flight.

"Most people don't know that," Hudson says, adding that airline vouchers come with strings attached, including limits on when you can use them. But it's knowledge that will be increasingly worth having.

Hudson says airlines have been cutting the number of planes in the sky due to consolidation, and booking more people onto each plane to make sure they're full. "With the planes more and more full now, there's going to be more involuntary bumping," Hudson says.

And airlines have recently spiked their change fees - American, Delta and United charge $200 per seat to make changes - so it's more likely that people will show up for their flight even if it's inconvenient.

The odds are higher of getting bumped for travelers with cheap seats and those who check in last.

The full list of airline passenger protections is online at the U.S. Department of Transportation website.

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