Expert opinion, Tom Godfrey: What are your rights when bumped from a flight?

Q What rights do travellers have if they get bumped from an overbooked flight within Australia?

Under Australian consumer law, airlines must provide services with due care and skill. If an airline overbooks your flight, you can seek a refund or request to be booked on the next available flight. Passengers in the US are flying high when it comes to compensation for airline mistakes. If you are involuntarily bumped off a US flight because of overbooking you're entitled to two to four times the amount of your one-way fare, capped at $1350. It's a similar story in Europe where, depending on the length of delay and distance, you're entitled to up to $905, plus meals, phone calls and accommodation. However, in Australia airlines can decide whether you get a meal voucher or just a pat on the back when flights are overbooked. You don't automatically get compensation. CHOICE believes it's time for this to change. In addition to your basic consumer rights, consumers should be given fixed-dollar compensation when a flight is overbooked, delayed or cancelled. []

Tom Godfrey is a consumer advocate and is head of media and communication at CHOICE.