When Things Go Wrong – Part 2

 What Are Your Rights When Things Go Wrong At The Airport – Part 2

The other day we looked at what happens on EU flights. Today The Luxury Travel Expert ( www.luxurytravelexpert.com ) explains your rights on US flights. You can see that the EU is much more consumer friendly and has pretty explicit penalties. The US rules seem to favor the airlines and have quite a bit of potential ambiguities.

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) mandates certain air-travel rights, including passenger rights in cases of involuntary bumping or tarmac delays, but in case of a flight delay or cancellation, you will be at the mercy of your airline.

1. Bumping

When an airline bumps you involuntarily from an oversold flight, it owes you compensation:
Bumped + short delay: Bumped passengers are entitled to cash compensation equal to double the price of their tickets up to $650, if the airline is able to get them to their destination within a short period of time (i.e., within 1 to 2 hours of their originally scheduled arrival time for domestic flights and 1 to 4 hours of their originally scheduled arrival time for international flights).
Bumped + long delay: Bumped passengers are currently entitled to four times the price of their tickets, up to $1,300, if they are delayed for a lengthy period of time (i.e., over two hours after their originally scheduled arrival time for domestic flights and over 4 hours after their originally scheduled arrival time for international flights).
Inflation adjustments are made to those compensation limits every two years. Importantly, these rules do not apply when an airline bumps a traveler for any reason other than overbooking—for example, as a result of a switch to a smaller plane, for weight-and-balance issues on planes that seat 30 to 60 passengers, or if a flight is delayed or canceled.

2. Tarmac delays

The DOT rules mandate that an airline may not keep you on a plane for more than three hours (on a domestic flight) or four hours (on an international flight), with exceptions allowed only for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons.   Carriers must also provide updates to passengers every 30 minutes, and ensure that passengers stuck on the tarmac are provided adequate food and water after two hours, as well as working lavatories and any necessary medical treatment.

3. Fight delays and cancellations

If, for any reason, your flight is canceled, substantially delayed or rescheduled, you have the right to reroute at no extra cost or to receive a full refund, even on a non-refundable ticket. Airline policies vary, however, about what constitutes a “substantial” delay or schedule change.
Federal rules require that domestic airlines and foreign carriers flying into the U.S. file “Customer Service Plans,” which describe what the airline promises to do in the case of a long list of circumstances, including delays, cancellations, and diversion events, among others. Contracts and service plans generally call for meal vouchers when a delay extends over a normal meal time and for hotel accommodations in the event of an overnight delay. But implementation varies by airline.
In the event of a delay, a few airlines say that they will transfer you to another airline if that carrier can get you to your destination earlier than your original flight. A few others say they “may” transfer you, but the decision is theirs, and still other airlines only offer a seat on their own next-available flight. Neither customer-service plans nor contracts of carriage call for specific compensation when an airline fails to meet its commitment.

xoxo, Rosanna
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