If something goes wrong with your flight, you should know that you have rights as an airline passenger. Both the United States and the European Economic Community have specific rights for air travelers. This is in addition to the agreement outlined in the contract between the airline and the passenger.
Passengers should know with their rights just in case their flights are affected by delays, overbooking or cancellations among other uncertainties. Here are some of the common fundamental airline-passenger rights in the United States and Europe.
When making your flight reservation, the price you see should be the price you pay. Airlines are supposed to display a total cost of the ticket price taking into account all airline charges, user fees, and governmental taxes as a directive by the U.S. Department of Transport (DOT) and the EEC. This is true whether the prices are posted online or in any other advertisement. Failure to honor this price would result in penalties.
U.S. Air-Passenger Rights
The DOT has clear guidelines to what a passenger is entitled to should they be bumped involuntarily. This should be covered in the contracts between the airline and the passenger. In case you are bumped as a result of overbooking, your carrier should ensure that you get to your destination within one hour of your planned landing, and if they don’t, the airline should compensate you.
The compensation can be up to 400 percent of the airfare depending on the type of flight, and the time it takes the airline to arrange for your scheduled travel.
Many involuntary bumping incidences are given various offers, such as confirmed booking on the next available flight, vouchers that can amount to hundreds of dollars for future trips, and meals, among others. However, the passenger must have met the gate-arrival and check-in deadlines as outlined by the airline.
Delays and cancellations
If for one reason or another your flight is rescheduled, delayed or canceled, you have the right to compensation. It can be in the form of a reroute at no extra charges, a full refund, or a nonrefundable ticket.
However, the justification of a delay varies from one airline to another depending on their policies. It is a federal requirement that all airlines flying into the U.S., domestic and international alike, outline how to get compensated for a flight delay.
Some airlines promise to secure you a seat in the next available flight or transfer you to another airline that would ensure your arrival at your destination. The final decision to compensate passengers lies with the airline.
The DOT mandates that during a lengthy tarmac delay upon departure or arrival, the airline may not keep passenger on the plane for more than three hours for domestic or four hours for international flights respectively without allowing them to get off at their wish.
However, this is subject to safety and security considerations. After two hours of delay, you should get water and food from the airline, and get updates every 30 minutes. The airplane lavatories should be operable. Violation of this right would not lead to compensation, but the DOT will fine the airline.
Europe Air-passenger Rights: Enforcement
Studies conducted by the EEC have revealed that most airlines do not inform their passengers of their rights in case of any inconvenience caused either regarding delayed flights, cancellations or bumping. To address this issue, several online agencies offer legal assistance to passengers seeking compensation from reluctant airlines.
How to Complain to the Airlines to get Compensated
Regardless of the compensation that you are entitled to, you need to understand how to get the airline to honor them. Here are ways to complain the right way.
Be clear and courteous
There is no point in yelling your complaints to any airline official you meet. It is best to be courteous and precisely outline the issues that you have. Define your rights and clearly explain why you think you deserve to be compensated for the inconveniences caused by the airline.
Contact customer care
Sometimes the agent at the gate is not as cooperative as you would expect them to be or is just too overwhelmed by the increasing number of stranded passengers seeking compensation. The best thing to do in these circumstances is get in touch with customer service on the phone using their hotline. It will save you stress and time.
Use social media
When it is taking longer than expect to get the attention you want, it is best to use the airline’s social media platforms. Most of them respond promptly to concerns on their social media platforms since it is a public platform. Once you get their attention, be sure to define what you are concerned about clearly.
Seek further assistance
Filing and following up with complaints is not an easy thing, and if you think that your case was not well determined, you may want to seek additional help from organizations and online startups that support complainants.
In conclusion, you need to realize that as a traveler, you have rights, but unfortunately, the only person that will really fight for these rights is you. Make sure you know what you are entitled to.
How have you handled your flight compensation claims? Did you have any issues with filing the claim or receiving compensation? Tell us in the comments below.