Know Your Rights

My parents flew to New Jersey this past weekend.  As a lot of you know, they are both travel agents with me.  When they returned I heard their stories of the time spent on the runway without food and water and we started questioning if Jetblue was in any way wrong ignoring their rights as passengers.  If three travel agents don’t know the answer, a lot of other people might not either.  So I did some digging.  On April 20th, 2011 here is what the government put in to effect:

Tarmac Delays: This is what most of us heard about on the news.  People stuck on planes for 5, 6, 7 hours at a time and no food or water were offered.  Bathrooms over flowing… all that horrible stuff.  Legally the airlines MUST serve food and beverage after two hours of sitting on the runway.  There is a limit of four hours being stuck on the runway also.  The airline is required to provide working lavatories as well as any medical treatment while you are waiting.

Stuff we don’t normally hear about:

Lost Baggage and Bag Fees:  If your bag is lost between checking it at the airport and the baggage carousel at the other end of your journey, the airline is REQUIRED to refund your baggage fee.  They are to compensate passengers reasonable expenses for lost, damaged or delayed baggage.  And a biggie for all of you connecting international travelers, the baggage allowance and fees are required to be the same on all legs of your journey.

Additional Fees: Finally.  We as travel agents and the airlines are required to tell you what you might be paying!  Seems like a no-brainer right?  If you are traveling by air, you’ll be able to find the fees for everything including baggage, meals, seat assignments, changes, and more!  It used to be like pulling teeth to find out what was allowed as checked bags and what they would charge if we went over the limits.  Not anymore (or not supposed to be anymore).  If you shop online for airline tickets, you may have noticed a jump in the displayed airfare prices a few months ago.  No, they didn’t all just go raise their prices.  They finally started quoting with taxes IN the price instead of letting you get to the purchase screen and suddenly magically your price jumped to almost double from taxes!  I love that change!

Bumping:  When I have time, this is my favorite thing.  I sit in an airport a little longer and then get a free flight and some meal vouchers!  The rules for this were also modified.  If you are bumped off of your flight and the expected landing time of your new flight is between 1-2 hours for domestic flights and 1-4 hours for international flights of your original time, you are entitled to up to double the cost of your original ticket (up to $650).  If your wait is longer, you are entitled to up to four times the value of your ticket ($1300).

These are the major issues covered by the Passenger’s Bill of Rights.  Learn your rights HERE .

Please remember there are exceptions to every rule, even the ones stated above.

What as the worst experience you had waiting on an airplane?

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