Passenger Rights for Delayed Flights & Cancellations This Summer

The US Department of Transportation recently updated its policy on passenger rights for air travel. Anyone who’s planning on taking to the skies this summer would do well to check the website directly to see what they might be entitled to. Most of these “rights” that passengers have revolve around what they can obtain from the airline if their flight is canceled or delayed. There was also a very recent policy change at the federal level, which barred airlines from charging families an extra fee to be able to sit together on a flight. However, it has yet to come into effect. Out of the national airlines, only Alaska, American, Frontier, and JetBlue currently guarantee free joint seats for parents who travel with kids under 13 years old!

Another important thing to keep in mind is that what passengers are entitled to as compensation for canceled or delayed flights varies from airline to airline. In a sense, each carrier is able to choose its particular policy within the parameters that the DOT dictates. Low-budget carrier Frontier Airlines has one of the worst policies in the industry. That’s a real problem when you take into account the fact that it was one of the bottom three airlines in terms of cancellations and delays. This means that as a passenger, you’re more likely to suffer issues with them, and you’ll be entitled to less compensation.

Every US airline is committed to finding travelers a seat on one of their next planes to a destination if the flight they were on is canceled. This is something that they’ll do at no additional cost. There are airlines that are known for going above and beyond in this area. Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, and United also grant passengers the possibility of finding them a seat on a flight from a partner airline at no additional cost.

Three hours is usually the threshold when passengers can start asking for benefits from the airlines. Every US airline has to give passengers cash or a meal voucher if their flight is canceled or delayed for more than 3 hours. When it comes to complimentary hotel accommodations for canceled flights, every US airline, except Frontier, grants those to people who have to stay at a destination because their flight got canceled.

Alaska, JetBlue, and Southwest are the only airlines that grant passengers compensation in the form of travel vouchers if their flights are delayed for more than 3 hours. There’s essentially no airline that’s going to hand out direct cash refunds anymore. If the flight is fully canceled, though, and the passenger doesn’t want to travel anymore, they are entitled to a full refund in their original form of payment. Passengers are also entitled to full refunds if the airline alters the flight schedule considerably. That was up in the air for a while. Now, if a domestic flight gets its departure time changed by 3 hours, people can opt out and ask for a full refund. For an international flight, the change has to be 6 hours or more.

It’s not uncommon for airlines to provide passengers with lowball offers. That’s why it’s important to check the policies per airline that can be viewed directly on the official DOT site. This will grant passengers full knowledge of what they’re actually entitled to if their flights are canceled or delayed.

Mario Perez

Author: Mario Perez


Mario is a seasoned journalist who’s worked with multiple publications over the years. He has a passion for looking for that story within the story itself. When he’s not actively looking for breaking news, he enjoys playing and watching sports.

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