Protect Your Flight Rights
|Most of us who travel bunches know that if an airline messes with your flight, you don’t have to bend over and take it. At its most basic, federal law makes an airline that cancels or significantly changes your flight give you a full cash refund. It’s your basic flight rights as a passenger who trusts these airlines with your money, time and safety. But so many of you don’t have the patience and will to fight these big guns….until now. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is “proposing to codify its longstanding interpretation that it is an unfair business practice for a U.S. air carrier, a foreign air carrier, or a ticket agent to refuse to provide requested refunds to consumers when a carrier has cancelled or made a significant change to a scheduled flight to, from, or within the United States, and consumers found the alternative transportation offered by the carrier or the ticket agent to be unacceptable.”|
Ticket Type Is Irrelevant
Whether it’s basic economy or first class, refundable or non; if you’re flying from the US to Europe or an American carrier or foreign jet; it’s the airline’s fault or an act of god; you personally bought your ticket or used Expedia; if the airline sends you fine print that you are only entitled to a voucher on their airline, the Department of Transportation will put its boot right up their arse. If your airline cancels or significantly alters your flight and you want to walk away, you’re entitled to your cash back.
It’s in the language
So how does an airline get away with keeping your money? Well, basically they get to decide what’s “significant”. According to Scott’s Cheap Flights, United Airlines quietly changed their policy to claim that any delay less than 25 hours was not significant. I don’t know about you but forcing me to sit tight for over a day when I have plans on the side other, might miss a connection to Bangkok or my bus group to Jordan, or a myriad of other complications, is definitely significant.
Or what if you booked a flight and a last-minute pandemic made you feel less than secure to travel. Cough cough. Usually, you’d only get a voucher for a future flight that expired before you had a chance to use it or before the air was clear.
|Flight Times Are Changing|
What airlines have been up to lately- cancelling, rerouting, no notice, saying whoops sorry, you’re SOL, is unacceptable. Time to speak up.
You have 90 days to let the DOT know you’re not cool with what’s been going on lately and that you want change. Here is the proposal – Regulations.gov
A public comment period has just opened up to get feedback on these latest airline regulations and when the 90-day public comment period ends, what the DOT decides won’t just be a rule; it’ll most likely be law.
|Wondering What Your Flight Rights Should Be?|
Here are some the things to note:
1) Cash refunds when your flight is delayed by 3 hours (domestic) or 6 hours (international) no matter what your ticket type.
2) Meal vouchers for delays over 3 hours. Hotel vouchers when delays cause overnight stays.
3) Define “significant”. Three or more hours on a domestic flight or 6+ hours on an international flight.
4) Non-expiring vouchers. Whether it’s a pandemic, bump, cancellation or the pilots are drunk. You get a voucher that doesn’t expire. And if an airline goes belly up making the vouchers obsolete, you get a cash refund.
5) If you’re on a plane and it’s delayed takeoff for more than an hour, you get to get off and have them book you on the next available flight to your destination. No more holding passengers hostage. If it’s not until the next day that you can travel, they pay for food and hotel. If it’s on another airline, they use your money to pay for that new ticket and they cover any difference.
6) Fill in the blank. It’s your turn to speak up. Don’t waste it. Let’s make the skies friendly again.