Your Travel Rights – Know Them

Updated: Aug 2nd, 2018

Anyone who has been traveling since late 2001 knows that air travel is no longer sexy.

Travelers used to dress up in their Sunday Best, airlines used to serve snacks or food in ALL classes (for free!), delays, cancellations, and rude airline employees were all rarely-seen phenomena, there was no need for TSA or ‘pat-downs’, and getting on a plane to go somewhere was exciting.

Those days are gone forever.

Today you can count yourself lucky if the person in the row behind you doesn’t stick their bare feet on your armrest, or allow their child to continually kick the back of your seat while whining incessantly.

Add in long lines at the security checkpoints, overpriced airport and airline food, insufficient seating at many gates, flight delays and cancellations, lost baggage — and a host of many other complaints — and it’s a wonder we still travel at all.

Sigh. Unfortunately there isn’t much anyone can do about many of those problems, but what a lot of travelers DON’T know is that in the case of flight cancellations, delays, lost baggage, and seat-bumping, there IS some protection afforded by rules imposed on the airlines by the Department of Transportation, at least for US airlines and domestic flights (international flights and European airlines have their own regulations imposed by the Association of European Airlines (AEA), which are similar in nature but may differ – if you’re on an international flight or European airline, please research those regulations, some resources are listed below).

These regulations spell out exactly what an airline can — and cannot — do without compensating you for your cost, time, or inconvenience. While researching this topic, I found an excellent article on the subject, well worth your time to read. It’s written by Alan Henry, one of the classiest geeks I know (aside from moi, of course!). Alan does a great job of summarizing and explaining what your rights are.

The Air Travel Rights You Aren’t Aware of (and How to Get Them)

By Alan Henry

If you’ve ever sat in a plane on the tarmac only to have the flight cancelled, been bumped just before boarding, or landed at your destination only to be told your luggage will arrive sometime in the next 12 hours, you know how air travel can suck. In all of those cases, the airline owes you for your trouble. Sometimes it’s good customer service, and other times it’s the law. Here are some of the legal rights you may not know you have, and how to go about filing your claims or getting what’s due to you if you’ve been wronged. [Continue Reading …]

If you’re traveling within the EU or to/from the EU on a European-based air carrier, check out ClaimFlights, a site that can help you calculate compensation (and even file the claim on your behalf for a 25% fee) if your flight is delayed or cancelled, or the airline loses your luggage.

HOT OFF THE PRESS! July 2016 – The Senate recently (and overwhelmingly) passed the “Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization” bill which includes several consumer protections. Airlines now have to refund your checked bag fees if your luggage is lost or is delayed 12 hours or more for domestic flights or 15 hours or more for international flights. And airlines will also be required to ensure that children 13 years of age or younger are seated next to an adult or older child traveling with them, although Southwest Airlines successfully lobbied to allow discretion to exempt airlines that don’t offer assigned seating but do provide adjacent seating for families through other means. Be sure to thank your Senator next time you see her or him.

Have you had trouble with the airlines? Share your experience!

About Trisha Miller 46 Articles
Trisha is the Editor-in-Chief at Travel Writers Exchange, a community for travel writers & bloggers. She's also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, and a former member of the IFWTWA, serving on their Board of Directors from 2009 through 2015. When not traveling the world, Trisha occasionally guest-blogs for a number of websites, writing mainly about travel and technology, sometimes both at the same time.

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