Traveling by plane? Know your rights as a passenger - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Traveling by plane? Know your rights as a passenger

Source: MGN Source: MGN
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

The video of a man who was dragged from a United Airlines plane has gained national attention and it has lead to major backlash.

When the video was first released, many asked the question of whether the airline had the right to force a passenger off a plane who did not volunteer to give up his or her seat. 

"They had the right to do it but they didn’t have the right to use excessive force," said aviation attorney and pilot Alan Armstrong. "In fine print in your contract is a clause that gives them the right to deny you access to transportation if they have a need, for example they’re overbooked or they need to re-position a crew, which was the case in this situation.”

There are several rights both passenger and airline have in regards to when a flight is delayed, canceled, and overbooked. Below are a few facts you may want to keep in mind as you plan your next getaway.

Overbooking

Contrary to popular belief, overbooking is not illegal. Most airlines overbook their scheduled flights to compensate for "no-shows." However, when an oversale occurs, the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires airlines to ask people who aren't in a hurry to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for compensation. 

DOT does require each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn't. Those travelers "bumped" to another flight are usually entitled to compensation and the amount of compensation depends on a few things.

  • If the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to get you to your final destination (including later connections) within one hour of your original scheduled arrival time, there is no compensation.
  • If the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to 200% of your one-way fare to your final destination that day, with a $675 maximum.
  • If the substitute transportation is scheduled to get you to your destination more than two hours later (four hours internationally), or if the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, the compensation doubles (400% of your one-way fare, $1350 maximum).
  • If your ticket does not show a fare (for example, a frequent-flyer award ticket or a ticket issued by a consolidator), your denied boarding compensation is based on the lowest cash, check or credit card payment charged for a ticket in the same class of service (e.g., coach, first class) on that flight.
  • You always get to keep your original ticket and use it on another flight. If you choose to make your own arrangements, you can request an "involuntary refund" for the ticket for the flight you were bumped from. The denied boarding compensation is essentially a payment for your inconvenience.
  • If you paid for optional services on your original flight (e.g., seat selection, checked baggage) and you did not receive those services on your substitute flight or were required to pay a second time, the airline that bumped you must refund those payments to you.

Delayed and cancelled flights

Airlines do not guarantee their schedules, and there are many factors that could cause a delay in arrival time. 

If the problem is with local weather or air traffic control, all flights will probably be late and there's not much you or the airline can do to speed up your departure. 

If your flight's delay is longer that you can wait, it may be best to try and arrange another flight. Keep in mind you may have to pay a cancellation penalty or higher fare for making those changes.

If you find a flight on another airline, ask the first airline if it will endorse your ticket to the new carrier; this could save you a far collection. However, there is NO rule requiring them to do this.

If your flight is cancelled, most airlines will re-book you at no additional charge on their first flight to your destination that has available space. 

There are no federal requirements regarding policies of what an airline will do for delayed passengers waiting at the airport.

Compensation is required by law on domestic trips only when you are "bumped" from a flight that is oversold. On international flights, passengers may be able to recover reimbursement for expenses resulting from a delayed or canceled flight by filing a claim with the airline. 

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