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6 Passenger Airline Rights

During my 7 years of working at LaGuardia airport for a major U.S. airline, I’ve seen many cancellations, delays, and lost luggage that caused stressful and tense situations which were out of my control. It’s imperative for you to know your rights when things go wrong as there are many rules that airlines must follow from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

  1. Involuntary Bump: Most airlines overbook their flights because statistics prove that between 5% and 15% of people don’t show up for their flights. Well, what happens when everybody shows up? You get involuntarily bumped and you are entitled to receive compensation by check or cash, depending on the price of your ticket and the length of the delay.
  2. Voluntary Bump: When flights are overbooked or oversold, they will ask if anyone is interested in volunteering to give up their seat. If you are so gracious to volunteer then you are entitled to a booking on the next flight (keep in mind, it might not always be the same day), and compensation.
  3. Tarmac Delay: The days of being stuck on the tarmac for 10 hours are gone. The D.O.T states airlines can’t keep passengers on the tarmac for any more than 3 hours and that food, water and restrooms must be available. My longest tarmac delay was 2 hours due to thunderstorms at my final destination and I was good and ready to strangle my seatmates.
  4. Damaged Baggage: Mamma Mia this erks my nerves especially when an airline damaged my QVC cute luggage that is now discontinued. Once you discover that your baggage is damaged go down to baggage claim service and report it. The only 2 options will be to have the airline send it out for repairs at their expense or give you a piece of new luggage.
  5. Lost Baggage: If found, your luggage will be forwarded to your location even if you’re at a hotel. You are entitled to compensation plus basic toiletries. Simply explain your situation if you need an emergency attire for an important event and the airline can reimburse you for the clothes that you purchased.
  6. Flight Time Change: Sometimes the airlines have to make an aircraft time change for varied reasons which can affect the flight departure and arrival times. If you’re unable to find a similar time or the time change causes a significant delay in your travel plans then you can request a full refund.

While the airport can be a stressful situation, always remember to remain civilized and don’t abuse airline employees. Airline employees have no control over the weather and no control over air traffic control delays and no control over mechanical issues. Most airline employees genuinely want to help you so please be considerate of your behavior.

Have you experienced airline delays or cancellations? 

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