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A Bumpy Ride

January 25, 1998

Thanks for your column on bumping ("Just a Hop, Skip and Bump Away From Missing a Flight," Travel Insider, Jan. 4).

The reality of bumping is that it suits the convenience of the airlines, and provides a few dollars for people who want to game the system by regularly reserving space on flights that are known for overbooking. Those who pay, of course, are the poor devils who have important flight objectives. The so-called "penalties" are obviously pro-airline. They are designed to limit liability for the airline's deliberate violation of its contract to provide transportation.

There's a simple fix to involuntary bumping. First, a "first-in, first-on" rule that no passenger can be bumped by someone making a later reservation. Second, requiring that the airlines give notice to passengers who are being given "reservations" on an overbooked flight. Then the would-be passenger can make an intelligent decision as to whether or not to take a chance on the airline's guess as to how many no-shows there will be.

ARTHUR O. ARMSTRONG

Manhattan Beach

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