Airlines Probably Owe You $ For Disruptions – Know your Rights

How many of us have ever been delayed for a flight by an airline for multiple hours? And by multiple hours I mean over two or three? I have been flying for over 20 years and it has happened to me more than once. The helplessness that a passenger feels in such situations can be overpowering. Maybe we, as passengers, expect everything to go right when we enter an airport.

But more often than not, they go wrong. Have you ever been denied boarding, or been, “bumped,” from a flight for reasons beyond your control? Airlines routinely overbook their flight as a regular part of business practice.
Many people cancel or change flights at the last moment, so airlines reserve the right to overbook to make sure departing flights are as full as possible.

The problem is that such calculations backfire when everyone who booked a flight shows up. Over half a million passengers were bumped or denied boarding in the United States in 2016. Most people bumped from a flight are put on, “standby,” which just means that you are put in a queue for the next available flight. I have been on standby more than once or twice.

What I didn’t know is that there are regulations in place to compensate passengers who have been bumped from a flight, delayed, or who have lost luggage.

Most Airline Passengers Don’t Know Their Rights

When you are bumped from a flight, delayed, or have your luggage lost by an airline, you are allowed compensation. Each year, about 13 million American passengers forfeit claiming about $6 billion in unclaimed compensations from airlines. Only one in ten airline passengers will actually challenge being bumped. Over 92% of airline passengers don’t know their airline rights when they travel domestically or internationally.

About 77% of passengers won’t file for compensations for a cancelled or delayed flight, even if they know they may be owed compensation. There is a lot of bureaucracy, paperwork, and stalling by airlines when it comes to compensation that deters passengers as well.

Rules and Confusion

Each American airline has their own rules concerning compensation when it comes to delayed flights, cancellations, and lost luggage. If you are flying in Europe, regulation EC 261 (sometimes EU 261) mandates that passengers are compensated for flight disruptions up to $670. Unfortunately, you have to be in transit or flying out of an EU country to take advantage of this rule.

The Montreal Convention establishes compensation parameters for passengers who are delayed and have their luggage lost or destroyed by an airline. Such compensation usually amounts to $1,752 for each checked bag. However, most airlines train their workers to lowball offers or mislead passengers about their rights. Some might even require receipts for the luggage or valuable within.

There is so much bureaucracy and stalling involved that it may be understandable why so many passengers don’t try to claim compensation, even if it is inexcusable. Always read the terms of your airline ticket or the official website of your carrier. File a claim if you think you’re entitled. If your airline won’t help or stalls you, file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

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