Delayed Flight? Know Your Rights

May 1, 2013

A delayed flight doesn’t have to be the end of the world. More and more, airports are becoming cities in themselves, with plenty of amenities to keep you comfortable and entertained if you have to stay longer than expected. With Thanks Again, you’ll earn more rewards points with every dollar you spend in the airport, too. Still, delays throw off your whole trip. If flight delays happen to you, it will help to know what your airline is legally obligated to do for you, what it might choose to do, and how to get the best deal you can. As for what your rights are, it matters a lot what country you’re traveling in. Laws vary by country, so check the passenger’s rights laws for any country plan to travel in. For the European Union (E.U.) and the United States (U.S.):

In the E.U.

The laws of the E.U. are some of the most passenger-friendly in the world. Airlines there are required by law to take good care of their passengers during flight delays, with more help and compensation the longer the flight is delayed. If you’re delayed:

  • More than two hours, the airline must provide two phone calls or emails, refreshments, and meals.
  • More than three hours, the airline must provide compensation of 250 to 600 euros, depending on the length of the flight.
  • More than five hours, the airline must give you the option of taking the flight when it finally does go, or getting a refund and transportation back to wherever your trip started.
  • Overnight, the airline must provide hotel accommodations and transportation between your hotel and the airport.

In the U.S.

On the other hand, airlines in the U.S. are not legally obligated to do much at all for passengers whose flights are delayed. Compensation is only legally required if your flight is cancelled completely. U.S. airlines are not required to offer you meals, accommodations, or help getting an earlier flight, either.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Airlines sometimes (though not always, and not often for discount travelers) will give passengers hotel vouchers, meal vouchers, discounts on future tickets, free phone calls, or help booking another flight when their flights are delayed. Just keep in mind that all of this is optional. If your flight is delayed in a U.S. airport, be as positive and polite as you can when dealing with airline personnel. Since most of your fellow passengers will be stressed out and angry, you’ll stand out as a wonderful customer, and you’ll be more likely to get assistance and perks.

Whether you’re on-time or delayed, be sure to use your Thanks Again registered card when you travel to earn additional frequent travel miles or points!  Enrollment only takes a few minutes and it’s secure and FREE!