Airlines tend to mess up more often than is acceptable, and when they do, it’s on them to fix their mistakes.
Unfortunately, most airlines will go to any extent to not take responsibility for their errors. When this happens, you need proof and patience to deal with them.
Here are things airlines are liable to compensate for, and how to file for compensation:
If Your Flight Is Delayed or Cancelled
When the gate agent announces that your flight is delayed, there is a collective groan throughout the room. Don’t fret too much, because airlines owe you some compensation for your delayed or canceled flight.
But read carefully; some of these terms are confusing.
- If your flight is canceled and airlines haven’t informed you well in advance, they are liable for compensation. They must inform you more than 15 days before the day of your scheduled flight. If you aren’t informed in that timeframe, you are entitled to a full refund or an alternate flight.
- They should give you refreshments during your wait time if there is a delay.
- Airlines should also compensate for any of the charges you have incurred at the airport during the extended wait time.
If the delay is due to reasons outside of the airline’s control, you won’t get any reimbursements. They’ll just rebook you for the next flight going to your location. Causes outside of the airlines’ control include severe weather, political disturbances, and wars.
If You’ve Missed Your Connecting Flight
Delays happen, and sometimes, they are unavoidable. If you miss a connecting flight because of a delay, then you qualify for some compensation. But, prepare yourself to enter into intense negotiations.
The most important criterion is that you’re at the airport on time. You need to check-in at least 45 minutes before the departure of your flight. If not, you won’t be able to receive compensation.
Odds are that the full amount of your entire flight won’t be reimbursed, however, you might be able to get a free hotel stay if the delay is overnight.
If Your Baggage Is Late
If you wait and wait for the baggage carousel, but you still have not gotten your bags, the airline may compensate you for the time that you’ve lost.
Approach the help desk and have them scan your tags. They can give you an estimate on the total time that you have waited.
If the wait is extensive, the airline will pay you for “reasonable expenses.” This is where the rule gets loose and arbitrary.
Keep receipts of anything you’ve bought during the period of the delay. For example, you might have purchased toiletries that you’ve lost, or food if you have been waiting long enough. You can file a claim with the receipts. It must be filed within 21 days of receiving your bag.
If The Airline Has Lost Your Bag(s)
Some airlines will pay you the value of the bag no questions asked. But, you may not get that lucky all the time.
Most often, you will have to file a claim for the contents of your bag. The airline will then decide how much they will pay based on that.
Make sure to keep receipts for anything that you’ve replaced, as these will help you when you’re filing the claim.
If Your Baggage Is Damaged
You can submit a claim for damaged luggage, but time is of the essence. You have only seven days to file the claim.
Once you fill out the damage claim form, airline employees will inspect your bag. If it can be repaired, it will be. If not, airlines will either replace the damaged bag or compensate you for it.
Try to get this done before you leave the airport, because the longer it takes, the less you’ll be compensated.
The same procedure applies to getting damaged items replaced or compensated. Airlines will not claim liability for most of the items. It is up to you to make a compelling case.
Damage to Mobility Equipment
Many wheelchair users claim that they are afraid to travel because they don’t want their wheelchair to be damaged.
Unfortunately, airlines tend to damage a lot of mobility equipment. Fortunately, though, airlines are liable to compensate 100% of the loss incurred. They also need to provide you with a replacement vehicle for the duration of the repair.
However, there are some steps before that.
Report any damage immediately, big or small. Tell the appropriate airport employee immediately and take pictures of the damage as soon as you see it. It is advised that photos and videos are taken with dates clearly visible. This can help further your case.
The attendant should provide for you, in writing, the repair they intend to do. If they don’t, ask for it.
How Travel Insurance Can Help
The content of your bags is vital for your trip. Airlines only cover a fraction of the loss you’ve incurred.
To protect yourself further, it’s best to buy travel insurance. In the weeks that it takes your airline to verify the claim, you can get part of the money back from your insurance provider, provided the situation is covered by the insurance policy you have purchased.
Travel insurance can also assist you in the form of flight delays and cancellations. Consider a situation in which you’ve booked and paid for a hotel room or an event at your destination in advance. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you could miss out on a night at the hotel, or miss the event entirely. It is unlikely that you will get refunded for these prepaid expenses, but with travel insurance, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. It is important to read any insurance policy thoroughly before making a purchase, so you have a clear understanding of what can be covered, and what is not.
Check out Insubuy to compare various travel insurance plans and decide the best option for you. The website will let you do side-by-side comparisons of different plans, and you can then make the purchase within a matter of minutes.
If You’ve Been Bumped from Your Seat
Airlines love to overbook their flights in the hope that people will cancel their trip and the airline will still get to keep their money.
Unfortunately for them, people don’t always cancel. When this happens, airlines are forced to kick people off the flight. In their terms, it’s called bumping your flight.
You are entitled to compensation if it happens to you.
If the airline can’t get you to your destination within an hour of your original arrival time, then they must pay you twice the one-way fare. Airlines tend to cap this amount at $675.
If you arrive over two hours late at your destination, you can be compensated four times the fare. The cap for this is $1350.
Note that airlines are legally obligated to give bumped passengers a written statement on why they were bumped. This should also include their criteria for choosing who gets bumped.
Be Informed About Your Rights as a Passenger
Many airlines bank on the fact that most passengers don’t know their rights. Don’t let them take advantage of you this way.
Before you plan for air travel, read up on the airline of your choice, and see what their policies are for various losses.
When you approach a customer service desk to file claims, be polite, but let them know that you know what your rights are. Otherwise, they will tend to downplay the situation to avoid paying you.
Be an informed traveler and stake your claim confidently.
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