Flying can be troubling, at least when there are delays, lost luggage, and other common hang ups. They always try to give you the least for your hassles, while making it seem like the best option that is available to you. Many clueless people just accept these offers, not knowing there are rules that are supposed to prevent the airlines from making your trip unbearable. Yes, the DOT does have standards in place, so to make you, the passenger; more aware of your rights, here are some of the things you might hear:
Lies the Airline Will Tell You (and What You Are Really Entitled to):
LIE #1: “Your Ticket is Non-Refundable.”
It may be true that when you purchased your ticket, even through a third-party, the voucher states it is non-refundable. But if the problem is the airlines fault, the truth is, they have to refund you. This is the case when a flight is canceled, severely delayed or if there is a schedule change that prevents you from getting to your destination on time (like when you miss your Cruise or an important meeting). In fact, you are entitled to a full refund, not just a voucher. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.
LIE #2: “Everyone Must Stay on the Plane During Delayed Tarmac Takeoff.”
You board the plane and then wait, and wait and wait… but after three hours, you can get off the plane. We’ve all heard stories about people being stuck in their seats for as many as eight hours on a lengthy tarmac delay, but the DOT has rules in place that allow passengers to get off after three hours (for domestic flights). Stand up for your rights if you want to get off the plane instead of sitting any more than those three hours. They are also obligated to serve snacks and beverages after two hours of sitting, so if nobody has come to offer you this service, you need to tell them you know the rules.
LIE #3: “Your Lost Baggage is Only Worth $50 Bucks”
Have you ever suffered from lost luggage? If so, you may have been offered a mere $25 – $50 per day until your bag arrived. However, the DOT states that in some cases, this is not proper compensation to salvage an important business meeting, wedding, or other special affairs. In these circumstances, the airlines may owe as much as $3,300 in liabilities for a domestic trip, just as long as you keep the receipts in order to prove that these items were essential. Upon arrival, you can get the things you need and get reimbursed (hello, Armani suit!).
LIE #4: “Sorry Your Trip Got Delayed or Canceled, Here’s a Voucher.”
A voucher is basically the airline’s equivalent of “buddy bucks.” Say no to these and understand your rights. If your flight was overbooked, the DOT entitles you to compensation of up to $1,300 unless your airline makes arrangements for you within two hours of the scheduled flight. Almost every time, they offer you travel vouchers as an alternative, and most unknowing people begrudgingly accept. Instead, you are eligible to get a check right there, on the spot. Don’t walk away with those worthless buddy bucks.
LIE #5: The Cheapest Days to Fly Are Not the Same as the Cheapest Days to Buy
If you travel a lot, you may already know that flying on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays seem to yield better rates for fares. However, these are not always the cheapest days to buy the tickets. You should start planning your flight early and you will see that the rate fluctuates, so buying early is the way to get the best rate.
LIE #6: “We Found You an Alternative Carrier, But You Pay the Difference.”
Whoa, hold up! If your flight gets canceled or delayed and your airline finds you another carrier, that’s great. However, they must pay all of the extra fees and expenses associated with the new carrier. You do not have to pay a single penny more than the original price of your ticket. Even if the only seat available is in the first class section! They might try to tell you that you have to pay the difference. But wait… you are also entitled to keep your original ticket for use at a later date! The DOT clearly states this in the compensation rules, so essentially you get to take two trips just for the aggravation of changing plans.
LIE #7: “Great News, We Made Alternative Flight Arrangements for You.”
Awesome, your airline came through and managed to get you to your original destination only an hour or two after your original scheduled arrival. So everybody drops it and no fuss is made. Hold up! You are still entitled to get cash for your inconvenience, which is something not everyone realizes. Your carrier owes you 200% of the one-way portion of your destination, with a cap of $650. So, make them pay up for your troubles.
There are a lot of hassles that we accept as passengers, without realizing that the DOT has rights in place to help people prevent these unfortunate circumstances. Now, the difficult part might be explaining to the ticket agents that you know more than they do, because it is inevitable that they will always try to offer the least amount as possible to prevent major profit loss.