What Airlines Won’t Tell You They Owe You For Travel Inconveniences
Travel enough and you’re bound to be a part of an airline mix-up: cancellations, lost luggage, delayed flights, you name it. Unfortunately, not every flight goes smoothly — especially during the busy holiday seasons.
But when an airline inconveniences you, there are things you can do about it about most of the time. If their mistake messes up your vacation, they may owe you some real compensation. We’ve done the research and these are the situations where the airline owes you something for the inconveniences you face. Sometimes its money, perks or even a seat on another flight. Whatever it is, be sure you know before you throw your hands in the air and give up after a frustrating flight situation. Know your options.
When Your Flight Is Delayed
Not all airlines (especially the budget ones) offer compensation. But if you ask your desk agent, some airlines offer meal vouchers and other perks for passengers of flights delayed for an hour or two (or more).
While no one wants to fly when it’s not safe, it’s still frustrating to be stuck on a plane that’s going nowhere.
When that happens there’s not a lot that airlines can do. Stewardesses have to give you food and water if your delay is up to two hours and they have to let you off if you’re going to be delayed for more than three hours.
If you have a connecting flight, most agents will try to get you another one with their airline or someone else’s to get you to your destination on time (or close to it). They also have to cover all of the costs of getting you there.
If your flight is no longer available, you have one or two options depending on the airline. Some will just put you on the next available flight or refund you the price of your ticket if you’d rather have your money back.
If flight attendants ask for volunteers to take a later flight, there can be a lot of perks if you choose to give up your seat. Anything from free meal vouchers to free hotel stays to several hundred dollars might be on the menu. And it pays to hold out. Compensation often goes up (sometimes $200 at a time) the longer they look for volunteers.
When You Get Bumped
If you don’t volunteer but get bumped anyway? The airline has to pay passengers for the inconvenience — if they can’t get you to where you’re going within an hour of when you were scheduled to arrive.
If you’re one to two hours late (or one to four hours late on an international flight), they owe you 200 percent of the one-way fare on your trip up to $650. Any later than that and they owe you 400 percent of your fare, up to $1300.
And if they change your flight to another airline, they have to cover all of the costs of getting you there.
If an airline loses your luggage, you can get up to $3,300 in compensation (up to $1,750 in some countries). But it can be hard to prove what your belongings were worth.
If you’ve shopped for the trip or bought things during the trip, be sure to keep the receipts until you get back home. If something is very valuable and you have to fly with it, declare it before you fly. Some airlines will accept responsibility for as much as $5,000.
What happens when the airline has only temporarily lost your luggage? Airlines are actually required to give you money every day that your bag is lost to help you replace your items.
You Can Collect Even If You Didn’t Know
Not every airline will tell you that you’re due money for an inconvenience, like a very long flight delay. If you didn’t get the compensation you were owed, you can go online to request your money long after your flight.
You Don’t Have to Take Vouchers
When airlines offer you compensation, most of them do it by giving you vouchers: coupons you can use with that airline for a certain amount. But in most cases they owe you actual money. You can ask for a check instead of a voucher if you’re owed one, but they will rarely ever offer it on their own.
You Might Be Able to Ask For More
This passenger said he got $800 for a last-minute voluntary bump just by asking. Other flight attendants say that if you ask for something nicely (especially when other passengers are acting a fool) you might get it — even if the airline isn’t obligated to give it to you.