Winter storms hitting Atlanta have caused several airlines to cancel their flights leaving stranded passengers wondering if they can sue the airlines.
More than 2,000 flights have been canceled due to inclement weather, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
So can frustrated fliers who were stuck in Atlanta sue the airlines?
Whether you're able to sue an airline depends on the terms of your contract when you purchased a ticket. When you buy a ticket, you're likely entering in a contract with an airline. The terms and conditions of your ticket dictate what the airline is responsible for and what you're responsible for. If the airline breaches those terms, then you may be able to sue.
For example, when you purchase a ticket with Delta, you enter into a Contract of Carriage with the airline. You agree to be bound by the terms of the contract the second you get your ticket.
When it comes to flights being cancelled due to weather conditions, Delta's Contract of Carriage states in that flight schedules aren't guaranteed and it may cancel flights at any time without being subject to any legal liability. Further, according to the contract, Delta can legally cancel reservations if it's advisable to do so under the weather conditions.
Similar types of contracts are likely used for other airlines. Since passengers agree to these terms when they buy their flight, it's unlikely that stranded passengers can sue if their flights were cancelled. And even if there was a breach of contract, it would likely be subject to arbitration.
Even if you can't sue the airline for a canceled flight, there are several things you can do to get home:
- Call the airline's hotline while you're waiting in line for the ticket counter. You may be able to reach a representative and reschedule your flight via phone before you reach the counter.
- While it's not advisable to go on an all-out rant, contacting the airline on social media websites might get you a quick and positive result.
- If your flight is cancelled, airlines will usually rebook you for the next flight out at no extra charge, according to Department of Transportation.
The one positive thing about canceled flights is that you get the opportunity to bond with fellow distressed passengers at an airport bar or restaurant.