It does not matter how extensive your research and planning is, things can still go wrong in an air journey. From flight delays to lost baggage, any uneven situation may arise. Therefore, it’s better to be prepared and know all your rights as a passenger.
Although most of the airlines do not share the policies and rights with their customers; however there are some specific rules set by the United States Department of Transportation which has to be followed by all the air carriers.
So, continue reading the article to know how to handle a situation the next time when you are bumped from a plane, or the airline loses your baggage.
- Flight Reservations
If you booked a ticket online and has a confirmed reservation, but the airline’s computer system does not have your name included in the passenger’s list, you are still allowed to board the flight.
As long as you did not cancel your flight ticket, no one can deny you from boarding the plane just because your reservation is not shown in the computer.
However, if you don’t come to the airport on time and also did not cancel the reservation, the airline can cancel your air ticket and continue booking new reservations. For bookings and reservations, one can visit Faremart.com which provides remarkable air travel services with excellent reviews given by all its users and travel seekers.
- Airline Refunds
The refund policy varies from airline to airline, but there are a few set regulations which every air carrier has to follow. If you have bought a nonrefundable ticket, and cancel it at the last moment, you can use it for a future trip deducting the cancellation charges.
If you bought a refundable ticket using a credit card, then the refund will be done on the same card you used to make the purchase.
- Timing of Check-In
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If you have checked-in for your flight online, but you are not present on the departure gate on time, then the airline may cancel your ticket.
Your seat would be given to someone else irrespective whether you have an advance seat assignment.
Similarly, if you are unable to check your baggage within the given time, it will be loaded on the flight, and the air carrier will not be responsible for any delay in luggage delivery.
Therefore, it is recommended to come to the airport at least two hours ahead of the departure time.
- Overbooking or Voluntary Bumping
The airlines are allowed to sell tickets more than the number of seats in the aircraft to compensate for the no-shows. However, if more people show up than the seats, then the airlines have to ask for volunteers who can give up their tickets.
The person who is bumped of the aircraft might receive rewards from the airline in the form of travel vouchers, free hotel stay, etc.
If the airline has bumped you without asking, then the air carrier has to explain in a written document, why they choose to remove you from the flight.
You can use the existing ticket from some other flight. However, if you want to make your own arrangements, ask for a full refund.
If the airline can arrange some other flight which helps you in reaching the destination within an hour of your previously scheduled time, then they do not have to give you any compensation.
However, if they fail to do so, then they might have to give you a full refund along with some perks like access to the business class lounge, free food, etc.
- Lost or Damaged Luggage
If your luggage has not arrived at the airport along with your plane, you need to file a claim.
Similarly, if your baggage is delayed, the airline has to pay you some expense until you get it back. You can negotiate a settlement for the damaged luggage or can even ask for a replacement if it’s available.
For example, if you are flying in Air Canada, and there are no details about your luggage in the Air Canada baggage information, then the airline has to pay you a reimbursement of a maximum $2500 for domestic flights.
According to the Warsaw Convention, the airline has to pay $9.07 per pound the luggage which are checked and $400.00 per passenger for unchecked baggage in an international flight.
- Delay or Cancellations
If a flight is delayed or cancelled, you first need to find the reason behind it. If the delay is due to adverse weather conditions, then the airline is not responsible, and there’s not much that they can do.
However, if the delay is due to human-made conditions such as mechanical failure, or unavailability of a pilot, then the airline has to provide some compensation to their passengers.
As a customer, you can ask for free phone calls, food, or even a hotel stay. You can also ask the air carrier to arrange seats in some other plane without any additional charge.
- Stuck on the Tarmac
In 1999, an aircraft of the Northwest Airlines was stuck at the Detroit Metro Airport for more than ten hours due to a snowstorm. The air carrier had to pay $7.1 million as compensation to the passengers. This, lead to the creation of DOT guidelines on how long someone can be forced to stay in a delayed aircraft.
According to the DOT law, no U.S domestic airlines can stay on the tarmac for more than three hours. However, there are two exceptions:
- If the pilot feels there is a security issue to deplane the passengers.
- If the air traffic control feels, moving the plane to the gate may affect operations in the airport.
During international flights, the air carrier has to set their own limits on the tarmac delays. The airline also has to offer food and water if the delay has been more than two hours.
- Disabled Passengers
According to the Air Carrier Access Act, any passenger cannot be denied boarding, or there should be any discrimination based on disability. It’s also not mandatory to show any medical documents except a few situations.
Here are some of the services Airlines has to provide to a disabled person free of cost:
- Help the person with getting on and off the flight; even this requires some special equipment.
- TTY devices at every airport to communicate with hearing-impaired passengers efficiently.
- The service animals can access to the plane’s cabin if required.
- Include wheelchairs as checked luggage, etc.
The Airline’s Rights
We have discussed the passenger’s rights, now let’s know what are some of the essential airline rights.
When there is a specific situation which is beyond the control of the airlines like inclement weather and others, then they are not entitled to pay you any compensation for that.
Here are some of the situations in which an air carrier may now allow you to board the flight:
- If the aircraft has to perform some emergency related to national defense.
- If the weather conditions are not suitable to fly.
- If the passenger denies being searched for concealed weapons.
- If you don’t have the proper documents which required to travel across countries.
- If they think you can jeopardize the safety of the flight.
That ends your list of the important rights every passenger should know about. If you are a frequent traveller, then do remember these rights as they can be beneficial for you.
If there is any problem which you are unable to solve at the airport, then write or call to the airline’s headquarters or consumer office.
There is also an official website set by the DOT to handle consumer complaints, where you can submit your query and get a response very quickly.