Know Your Passenger Rights, Part 2

Part 2 of the three part article series covering recently updated passenger rights.  This condensed list comes from George Hobica at Air Fare Watchdog, and covers passenger rights that were recently released by the U.S. Department of Transportation. When planning your trip to Hawaii note some of these new regulations, it is always better to know your rights than to have some uninformed employee tell you that there is nothing they can do for you. Delayed FlightsScenario: You’re off to a wedding in Hawaii, an important meeting, or Uncle Sid’s funeral, but your flight is delayed for hours or canceled and you’re not going to arrive in time, so why go at all?  Recourse: Why go on a “futile” trip? Under most airlines’ contracts of carriage, under some circumstances, even if you’re flying on a non-refundable ticket, you can tell the airline to take a hike and get your money and ancillary fees back. Delta, for example, stipulates in its contract that “in the event of flight cancellation, diversion, delays of greater than 90 minutes, or delays that will cause a passenger to miss connections, Delta will (at passenger’s request) cancel the remaining ticket and refund the unused portion of the ticket.” Most airlines have a “Rule 260″ or similar in their contracts covering this situation. Canceled Flights Scenario: Your flight is canceled.  Recourse: There’s no government regulation that applies. Before airlines were deregulated, there was one, however. It was called Rule 240 and you can still see it in some airlines’ contracts of carriage, although it’s often observed more in the breach than the practice these days. It states that your original airline will attempt to rebook you on a competing airline’s next flight out if that flight will get you to your destination sooner. Additionally, some airlines, in their contracts, state that they’ll put you up in a hotel and provide meals, with stipulations. But Delta, for one, states that there’s no liability if the flight irregularity is caused by a “force majeure” (i.e., act of God) event.  
Lost luggage domestic U.S. Scenario: An airline loses your checked bags. Recourse: Recently revised U.S. D.O.T. rules require the airline to reimburse you up to $3,300 per incident but only for domestic travel. However, the airline may ask for receipts or proof of purchase for claimed items, and may depreciate the value of the suitcase and its contents.

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