It's the most hectic time of year for air travel. Flight delays, cancellations, and lost baggage are just a few of the obstacles travelers are sure to face this holiday season.
While it may not seem like it at times, travelers do have rights. The U.S. Department of Transportation has made sure of that by enacting new rules protecting airline passengers. Here are some of the most important rights you should know about:
Since the recession hit, airlines have been nickle-and-dimeing passengers with all kinds of hidden fees and expenses. Under the DOT's rules, airlines must now prominently disclose all optional fees on their websites. Those include baggage, meals, cancellation, modification, and upgrade fees.
Once you have a confirmed reservation, you are guaranteed a seat even if there's no record of your reservation in the airline's system. As long as you have a ticket or print-out, an agent cannot deny you boarding because of a lack of reservation in their system.
If you are bumped from your flight, however, you may have a payday coming your way. Under the rules, any passenger who is involuntarily bumped from an oversold flight is eligible for double the amount of compensation.
Being stuck on the tarmac has to be one of the worst feelings. The heat, stuffiness, and general malaise could drive even the most patient passenger mad. That's why the Department of Transportation has placed a limit on the length of a tarmac stay.
Airlines cannot keep their passengers sitting on the tarmac for more than three hours. For any delay longer than two hours, the airline must provide passengers with "adequate food and potable water." There also have to be functioning lavatories onboard, and medical attention if necessary.
Sometimes you make it to your destination but your luggage doesn't. Don't worry. The Department of Transportation has you covered. Airlines have to compensate you for the loss, damage, or delay in the delivery of any luggage. On top of that, they have to refund you any fees you may have paid for checking the bags.
If you feel as though your rights as a passenger have been violated, you can file a consumer complaint with the Department of Transportation. Bon voyage and happy holidays!
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