Airlines are overselling more than ever, making air travel more miserable than ever. The good news is that you are entitled to compensation if you get bumped and put on another flight that results in a delay of two or more hours. This Conde Nast Traveler article has tips on how to avoid getting bumped and how to maximize the compensation when you get bumped or voluntarily give up your seat to another passenger.
If you get to your destination within one hour of the scheduled arrival time, no compensation is legally required. On domestic flights, a delay of two to four hours requires the airline to give the bumped passenger 200 percent of the paid one-way fare to be refunded (some airlines cap it at $775). If the delay is longer, the required compensation jumps to 400 percent of the one-way fare (with some capping it at $1,550). International flights have similar payout amounts, but with expanded delay windows. An involuntary bump on international flights that causes a delay between one to four hours means airlines must pay passengers 200 percent of the one-way fare; delays longer than four hours require passengers to be compensated by the airline for 400 percent of the one-way fare.