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Here’s what you need to know about flyer’s rights or lack thereof

Perhaps because airplanes are the fastest means of transportation, airline companies are abusing their power to a certain degree. A lot of crazy stuff has been happening lately, that might make you question flyer’s rights. The truth is, you don’t have too many of them.

A man was kicked off a plane because the airline decided one of their employees should take his seat. Labor disputes caused Spirit Airlines to cancel multiple flights due to labor disputes, stranding numerous passengers as a result. United Airlines faced a small media storm over the death of a giant rabbit during one of their flights.

What you need to know about flyer’s rights

As a paying customer, you might be terribly upset that such things can happen but maybe you should educate yourself on flyer’s rights so you know what you’re entitled to after buying a plane ticker.

It seems that flyers don’t have too many rights to begin with. Airlines have the legal right to stop you from lying even if you don’t agree. You can be removed for whatever reason regardless if it’s common sense or they’re overbooked and decided to give your seat to someone that’s ‘more important’.

You can lose your seat without breaking a sweat

what you need to know about flyer's rights

Most airline companies overbook taking “no-shows” into account so their planes fly with the least amount of empty seats (ideally none). In these situations, the Department of Transportation says airlines should ask passengers who are not pressed for time to voluntarily give up their seats and receive compensation in exchange. Even those who don’t voluntarily give up their seat are compensated in most situations.

Those who comply with the law and are denied boarding or removed from the plane against their will are eligible for another free ticket. There are, of course, some maximum delay periods set for both domestic and international flights. If the flight delay has caused you financial loss, you can always take it to the court, but it’s definitely not a guaranteed win.

And surprisingly, airlines are not obligated to compensate you for a delayed or canceled flight on domestic routes. Most companies will make sure that you get on another flight or compensate you in some way, but they’re not required to do it.

If they want you off the plane you will have to comply

Remember the doctor that was kicked off an overbooked United flight? He refused to leave the plane voluntarily something that’s illegal (even if they don’t have a good reason) and ended up being forcibly removed. So yeah, they will physically remove you from the plane if you don’t comply. And they have the right to do it.

Another interesting situation that also happened to United airlines was when some girls wearing leggings were kicked off a flight. Doesn’t that sound stupid? It does, but here’s the thing: these girls were using free employee ticket vouchers, not regular tickets and apparently these required them to fly under the airline’s company dress code that’s pretty strict. Their leggings didn’t comply with the dress code so they weren’t allowed to board the plane. Those traveling with regular tickets are obviously allowed to wear leggings. So that’s that.

The right to compensation is optional

Who on Earth is going to read all that fine print when buying a ticket? Probably no one. Which may result in us getting furious when we feel we’re treated unfairly as paying customers.

A family was booted from a Delta flight because they had a child flying in a seat that wasn’t his. The seat was actually booked for his older brother who ended up flying home on a different flight. So that seat and ticket didn’t actually belong to the child that was on the plane. Just like you can’t give your ticket to another adult, you can’t do it with a child either. When it comes to these regulations, age doesn’t matter.

In some cases, when they don’t have a valid reason to kick you off a flight you might receive compensation but only as a gesture of proper customer service. Airlines are not obligated to compensate you although most of them do care about their reputation enough to make sure customers get at least a semblance of proper service.

So yes, the way airline companies are handling things is not fair but they are legally entitled to do it this way and we can either accept the way things are and keep flying with them or stick to land and water transportation. But even those are far from perfect regarding regulations.

What do you think?

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Written by Lizzy Wilson


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