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What Passengers Should Know About Their Rights Before Flying
Before you book your next flight you should educate yourself on your rights. It’s important to know what to do and what you are entitled to in various situations.
Airlines can bump you off a flight involuntarily
The Department of Transportation requires airlines to give involuntarily bumped passengers a written statement that describes their rights and explains how the carrier decides who gets on an oversold flight and who doesn’t. “Those travelers who don't get to fly are frequently entitled to [deny] boarding compensation in the form of a check or cash.”
Delayed and Canceled flights
If your flight is delayed you have the right to hop on the next flight to your destination (that is of course if there are open seats available). According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, each airline has its own policy when it comes to delayed passengers, but there are no federal requirements. “Contrary to popular belief, for domestic itineraries airlines are not required to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled,” the DOT says.
When your baggage is delayed you have a right to ask for reimbursement. But you must notify a baggage representative within four hours of arriving to your destination. Make sure you keep all of your receipts. You will most likely get money back for essential items and toiletries, but something is definitely better than nothing.
Arrive to the airport early and don’t check in at the last minute. “Even if you make the flight, your bag may not,” the DOT says. “If you miss the airline's check-in deadline, the carrier might not assume liability for your bag if it is delayed or lost.”
Changing or canceling your ticket
You can do this within 24 hours of buying your ticket without penalty (assuming you booked your ticket at least one week before departure), travelsort.com says. “You can also hold a reservation for 24 hours before paying for it.”
There are carry-on restrictions
Damage to your suitcase
If your suitcase arrives damaged, don’t be shy and simply ask the airline to pay for repairs. According to the DOT, “if it can't be fixed, they will negotiate a settlement to pay you its depreciated value.”
Compensation for voluntary bumping
The Department of Transportation requires airlines to look for people that are willing to give up their seats before bumping. If you are willing to give up your reservation you are entitled to compensation and a later flight.