Know your Rights: A Guide to Air Travel Consumer Rights

Know your Rights: A Guide to Air Travel Consumer Rights

Air travel is a common mode of transportation, and as a consumer, you have certain rights and protections. This guide will help you understand your rights as an air passenger and provide information on how to file a complaint if you encounter issues during your air travel experience.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has established the Air Passenger Bill of Rights to safeguard air travelers. For detailed information on the rights outlined below, explore the DOT's Air Consumer Website.

Note: The rights outlined below may apply specifically to the U.S. aviation industry.

What are the Rights of Air Passengers

  • Right to receive information

    • Airlines are required to provide clear information regarding flight delays, cancellations and baggage policies.

  • Right to compensation for denied boarding

    • If you are involuntarily denied boarding due to overbooking, you may be entitled to compensation.
    • Airlines are expected to ask for volunteers to give up their seats before involuntarily bumping passengers. Voluntarily giving up your seat may result in compensation, such as travel vouchers, upgrades or cash (make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the compensation offered).
    • The airline must provide written notice explaining passenger's rights if they are involuntarily bumped.
    • If compensation is available, the amount will be determined by the length of the delay and the ticket amount.
  • Compensation for Delays and/or Cancellations

    • If your flight is very late or gets canceled, you might be able to get money back or other compensation. The DOT has compiled a dashboard to provide travelers with insights into airline performance to make more informed decisions regarding their travel plans.
    • Right to Receive Baggage Compensation

      • If your baggage is lost, damaged or delayed you have a right to compensation.

        • Reporting Lost, Delayed or Damaged Baggage:
          • If your baggage is lost, delayed or damaged during a flight, report the issue to the airline as soon as possible.
          • Airlines have specific timeframes for reporting baggage problems, so it's important to notify them within that specific period.
        • Compensation for Damaged Baggage:
          • If your baggage is damaged, you may be eligible for compensation to repair or replace the damaged items.
          • The compensation amount depends on various factors, including the value of the items and any applicable limits set by the airline or international agreements.
        • Compensation for Lost Baggage:
          • If your baggage is lost, you may be entitled to compensation for the value of the lost items.
          • Airlines have varying policies and limits for lost baggage compensation, so it is essential to familiarize yourself with the specific rules of the airline you are traveling with.
        • Baggage Delivery:
          • If your baggage is delayed, airlines are generally responsible for delivering it to your location once it is found.
          • Airlines may offer reimbursement for essential items you need during the delay, such as toiletries or clothing, based on their policies.
        • Documenting Baggage Issues:
          • It is crucial to keep all documentation related to your baggage, including baggage claim tags, receipts from replacement purchases and copies of all communication with the airline.
      • Right to Accommodations for Disabled Passengers

        • Airlines must provide necessary accommodations to passengers with disabilities.

          • Individuals with disabilities may experience physical or mental impairments that affect important daily activities like walking, hearing or breathing. The disabilities can be either permanent or temporary. It is the responsibility of the airlines to provide necessary accommodations for travelers with disabilities.

        There are many important items that are not part of the Passenger Bill of Rights that you want to ensure you understand the airline's policies and rules before you book. One of those items is family seating so that a parent is guaranteed a seat with their child. The Airline Seating Dashboard, serves as a bridge to help families while the DOT works to advance rule-making to ensure that airlines are guaranteeing fee free adjacent seating for young children (under 13) and a parent or accompanying adult.

        Remember, understanding your rights as an air passenger is essential to protect yourself and ensure a smooth travel experience. In case of any issues, don't hesitate to file a complaint and seek a resolution.

        How to File a Complaint

        • Visit the DOT's Air Consumer Website
        • Click on the "File a Consumer Complaint" link to access the filing form.
        • Fill out the required information, including details of the incident, the airline involved, and any supporting documentation.
        • Submit the form. You will receive confirmation that your complaint has been received.
        • The ACPD will review your complaint and work toward a resolution with the airline. They may contact you for further information if needed.
        • Keep copies of all communication related to your complaint with either the airline or ACPD.

        In addition to the valuable information provided on the U.S. Department of Transportation website regarding air travel consumer rights, there are comprehensive FAQs that address common inquiries and concerns related to air travel. The site also lists airline customer service contacts, allowing direct communication with the airlines for specific questions or issues.

        Stay Informed About Your Rights

        The government is working to make the air travel experience better for travelers, because of the efforts they are making the information provided above is subject to change. To stay well-informed about the latest regulations, rights and policies, it is recommended that you regularly visit the DOT's website, subscribe to their newsletters or follow their social media accounts. While the industry and policy makers are taking the steps in the right direction, it will take time for such policies to be effectively implemented and honored across the airlines and travel ecosystem.

        While the policies and Passenger Bill of Rights are helpful and allow you to have better control over your travel uncertainties, they do not solve all issues you may encounter. Travel insurance can still benefit travelers and add that extra peace of mind allowing you to have an enjoyable travel experience knowing you are covered.