Know Your Passenger Rights, Part 3

This is the third and final part of our updated passenger rights articles which were taken from George Hobica’s article. When planning your next trip to Hawaii it’s a great idea to keep these in mind so that if something unfortunate does happen on your way here at least you’ll know what your entitled to. Here’s part 1, and part 2. Delayed luggage domestic U.S.Scenario: The airline hasn’t exactly declared your bag “lost” yet but it sure didn’t arrive at the luggage carousel.  Recourse: This is somewhat of a murky area. You can’t ask the airline for lost luggage compensation until it admits that it can’t find your bag, but what if you were flying in your gym clothes and have an important business meeting that evening? In their contracts, some airlines state they will allow you to purchase reasonable replacement items, and recent U.S. D.O.T. directives have gotten tougher on airlines in such circumstances. Just be reasonable (Banana Republic, not Prada) and keep receipts.  You buy the wrong flight As long as you make the change within 24 hours, you can either cancel your non-refundable fare or rebook different dates. New U.S. D.O.T. regulations require airlines to hold a reservation for you for 24 hours without paying for the fare so that you can shop around (and correct any mistakes you might have made). Routing changes Scenario: You buy a $130 round-trip fare from New York to Denver on a nonstop flight. A few weeks before departure, the airline informs you that you’re now flying on regional jets with a connection with different departure and arrival times, even though it still flies the route nonstop (but now the nonstop fare is $700).  Recourse: You can insist on a refund of the fare, but you have no contractual or governmental right to be rebooked on the original flight. However, sometimes persistence pays off and the airline might put you back on the nonstop.  Schedule changes Scenario: You buy a ticket to Hawaii in March, and just before you’re about to take off, the airline sends you an e-mail announcing that they now fly to Hawaii 5 times a week instead of daily. So you’ll be spending an extra, unplanned hotel night plus meals at your own expense. Or your 6 a.m. departure is now leaving at 11 a.m. but that means you’re going to miss your cruise or the wedding.  Recourse: Do you have a right to ask the airline to compensate you? Unfortunately, no. And most travel insurance policies won’t cover you, either. At best, you’ll be offered a refund and told to book a last-minute flight on another airline at considerably higher cost. This is one of the most pressing areas for new airline regulation, listed in Airfarewatchdog’s 12 new airline regulations we need now.

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