Traveling can be stressful, especially if you are experiencing overbookings, delayed or canceled flights. When something goes wrong, what can you do? Understanding and being prepared for a situation at the airport can help make all the difference to ensure your trip runs smoothly. Passengers have rights and I am here to break them down for you.
What are my rights when my flight is delayed?
Although we all hope this never happens, it unfortunately does. If a flight is delayed 30 minutes or more, your airline is required to give a prompt notification at the boarding gate area – via the phone informational system and on their website. I recommend that you select how the airline will notify you (call, email, text) when you purchase tickets.
What are my rights when my flight is canceled?
Unfortunately, airlines are not required to compensate passengers for a canceled flight, however, most airlines will rebook you for free on their next flight to your destination as long as the flight has available seats. If your flight is canceled and you choose to cancel your entire trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused flight, a refund for any bag fee that you paid, and any extras you may have purchased, such as a seat assignment.
What are my rights when I am stuck on a plane on the tarmac?
If you find yourself stuck on the tarmac, always remember the 3-Hour Tarmac Delay Rule. This rule provides the following protections for passengers:
- The airline must return to the gate and allow passengers to deplane 3 hours after the delay, 4 hours for international flights.
- The airline must provide water and snacks after 2 hours.
- The flight crew must provide flight updates every 30 minutes.
- The airline must provide working lavatories and appropriate medical care at all times.
What are my rights when I am involuntarily bumped off my flight?
Although overbooking is not acceptable, it can happen. When it does, airlines tend to bump passengers and offer vouchers in return. However, if you are involuntarily bumped and owed compensation, the airline must pay you in cash or by check at the time and place of the denied boarding. In addition, when you are bumped from a flight, the airline must provide any passenger who requests, a written notice of the terms and conditions of the denied boarding compensation, as well as the airline’s boarding priority rules and criteria. This can be helpful to ensure you are getting what you are owed in this situation.
What If my bags are lost, delayed, or damaged?
When your baggage is lost, the airline must reimburse you for your lost bags and any fees associated with it, as long as it does not exceed their liability claim. Please remember you must submit a timely claim to start the reimbursement process as soon as it is declared permanently lost. However, keep in mind, airlines can refuse excess valuation insurance for extremely valuable or fragile items. I suggest keeping these in your carry-on when you travel to avoid this situation.
What about travelers with disabilities?
Generally, a disabled traveler does not need to notify the airline ahead of time. However, in instances where the airline must prepare for accommodations, the airline may require up to 48 hours’ notice.
What if I have to travel with a service animal?
U.S. airlines are required to allow passengers to travel with service animals in the cabin, and they cannot limit the number on any flight. Since service animals are trained to assist persons with disabilities and are not considered pets, they do not require health certificates to travel and are not required to be confined to cages or carriers in the cabin. However, animals can be banned from a flight if they pose a safety or health risk or cause significant disruption to others.