The One Question You Must Ask if You're Bumped From a Flight

Getting involuntarily bumped off a flight by an airline can be even more lucrative... but only if you know your rights to compensation as mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The No. 1 question that people forget to ask is: "Can I get cash instead?"

Here's the thing...

Most airlines will initially offer you an airline voucher. This is cheaper for them, and it's what you should expect if you're volunteering to give up your seat.

But if you don't have a choice in giving up your seat – an involuntary denial of boarding – ask for cash.

Here are the rules: If you give up your seat and the agent books you on a flight that arrives at your destination one to two hours late, you should receive a check for two times your one-way fare, up to a maximum of $650. And if you arrive more than two hours late, you are entitled to four times the cost of your one-way ticket, up to a maximum of $1,300.

Considering that the average cost of a one-way domestic flight in the U.S. is around $200, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, that's $400-$800 that you could pocket... just for knowing your rights.

Usually, the process to get this money is fairly straightforward. But if you run into hassles with your airline, you can file a complaint through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

Or you can use the website AirHelp...

AirHelp takes care of all the legwork for filing your claim.

While it does take 25% of any compensation you receive as a fee, this can be worth it if you don't have the time to hound the airline for your money. Or if you're just not sure if your flight qualifies.

According to the company, "Less than 1% of eligible air passengers receive the compensation that is rightfully theirs."

And there's no risk... If you don't get paid, you don't owe AirHelp anything. AirHelp isn't just for U.S. citizens. It can also help people flying in Europe.

(European readers can also use – another service that handles flight compensation for people in various countries in Europe.)