Airline Passenger Rights to Know Before You Fly

Remember United Flight 3411?

United Airlines overbooked flight 3411, so they began asking passengers to give up their seats. Since there weren’t any volunteers, the airline began the involuntary deboarding process.

Dr. David Dao was one of the passengers United asked to deboard the flight. When he told the flight attendants he wouldn’t leave, things got physical. Security agents dragged Dr. David from the plane, knocking him unconscious, and bloodying his face.

Incidents like Dr. David’s are a rare occurrence. However, if you plan on flying, you owe it to yourself to understand airline passenger rights.

Read on to learn everything you need to know before you board your next flight.

Commercial Airline Passenger Rights

In the past, the government would regulate how much an airline could charge you, and what route the planes had to take.

However today, the government isn’t dictating what airlines charge, or how they schedule flights. What does this mean for you and your airline passenger rights? It means you have to be more proactive when you’re buying your plane ticket to get the best deal.

Here are a few of the questions you should be asking:

  • What do you care about more, price or schedule?
  • What penalties does the airline charge if you change your reservation?
  • Do you have to pay extra fees for checked bags?
  • Does the flight offer seat assignments?
  • What is the airline’s policy for flight cancellations?

When you go to buy your plane ticket, you’ll find there’s a large variety of purchasing options, and companies competing for your business. Certain airlines will want you to buy the ticket directly from them, however, you can still explore third-party reservation companies that offer exciting deals.

Conquering Cancellations and Delays

Unfortunately, you can’t turn to the airline company and ask them to guarantee their flight schedules. Mechanical issues, problems with air traffic, and problematic weather are all outside of the airline’s control.

Flight Cancellations

If the airline cancels your flight, they’re likely to rebook you on the first flight going to your original destination. However, sometimes the new flight won’t line up with your schedule.

If the new flight includes a large delay, start searching for another carrier to buy your ticket from. Next, ask the airline you booked with originally if they will endorse the new ticket.

Flight Delays

Ask the airline how delayed the flight will be. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and the airline will be able to explain what caused a delay, as well as give you an accurate updated arrival time.

Extra Long Delays

If you’re experiencing a long delay and it’s not related to the weather, you should look into switching your flight. It’s your right to ask the airline if they charge any cancellation penalty for changing your reservation.

If you do find a flight that works with your schedule for another airline, ask the original airline if they’ll endorse your new flight ticket. If you get your first airline to endorse a ticket for the new airline, you could save money by avoiding a fare collection.

All About Overbooking

Airlines often experience people not showing up for their flights. For this reason, they overbook their flights, and it’s completely legal.

If an airline overbooks, and everyone shows up, they will need to bump a passenger. The department of transportation legally requires airlines to first ask people to voluntarily give up their seats.

The airline has to offer compensation for anyone who volunteers to give up their seat. In certain cases, you can bump a passenger from a flight without them volunteering. If this happens, that passenger still has the right to get compensation.

Handling Baggage Problems

First, you’ll want to make sure that you’re giving yourself plenty of time to check-in for your flight. You never want to check-in at the last minute.

If you arrive late for the airline’s bag check-in deadline, the airline might not be liable if something happens to your luggage. If an airline’s refusing to take liability, you might need to contact an airplane accidents attorney.

When you do check in your luggage, make sure that you take off any of the hooks or straps. It’s easy for luggage attachments to wind up damaging your bag if they get caught in a machine.

When it comes time to claim your bags, double-check the tag to make sure you’re getting the right piece of luggage. Plenty of bags look the same, and you don’t want to go home and find out you have somebody else’s wardrobe for the week.

Damaged Bags

Unfortunately, sometimes when your bag arrives you’ll notice that it’s severely damaged. If your suitcase is significantly damaged, notify the airline and mediately. In many cases, the airline will pay to repair your back.

Volunteer Rights and Questions

Volunteering to give up your seat, doesn’t mean you blindly wait for the next chance to leave. Before you volunteer, ask questions to make sure it’s worth your time.

Here are the questions you should be asking:

  • What is the next flight you can confirm my seat on?
  • What airline will I be flying with?
  • What other amenities will the airline provide?

When you ask your volunteer questions, listen closely to the answer. For example, the airline agent might say that they’re putting you on a currently full standby flight. Translation, you might get stuck at the airport for a very long time.

Instead, you’ll want to make sure they’re putting you on a flight that already has available seats. You also want to double-check what amenities the airline provider will be offering.

If you have to wait overnight for your new flight, will they pay for your hotel? Make sure you fully understand the situation before you give up your seat.

Fly Like an Eagle

Now you know what to look out for when it comes to your airline passenger rights. We hope our article will help inspire you to stay up to date on all of the latest dos and don’ts of the travel world.

Whether you’re flying for work or pleasure, the more you know, the better your experience will be. Explore our site for more trip savvy tips.

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