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Travel Rights!

There has been a lot of talk lately about airplane passengers and their rights. As those of us who fly relate our experiences going through security lines and with all those extra charges on our tickets, what are those rights?

Aside from the Constitutional Bill of Rights, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation is the one making the rules. They recently issued a new set, and here is what they say.

Problem: Your flight gets cancelled! Answer: There is no legal recourse. The airline can do whatever it feels like doing. Most will try to re-book you as soon as possible, some even on another airline. Nevertheless, there is no obligation on the airline for a free meal or hotel room.

Problem: You get bumped. Answer: If the airline gets you on another flight that arrives within an hour of the original flight schedule, you are not entitled to anything. If your reschedule gets you there within four hours, you may be entitled to as much as double your fare (maximum $650). If your reschedule gets you there more than four hours later, you are entitled to up to four times your original one-way fare to a maximum of $1,300. You are entitled to demand the payment in cash. Do not accept vouchers as vouchers have restrictions.

Problem: Excessive taxiway delay Answer: Technically you are entitled to get off the plane after three hours, but the location of the plane may make this impossible.

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becomes a three-stop on a puddle jumper. Answer: You can either accept it, ask for a refund, or try to get a different flight.

Problem: Your

Problem: You have reserved an aisle seat but wind up in a middle seat. Even worse, a big clinically obese person sits down in the aisle seat next to you. He can’t help it, but you get squashed and shoved into the person sitting in the window seat. Answer: Some airlines have a rule that a very large person must buy two seats, that rule is rarely enforced. The fact is that unless you paid extra for a specific seat, the airline has the right to seat you anywhere on the airplane. You have no recourse! If this very large person is your problem, you have three choices: you can ask for a different seat and you may be put elsewhere on the plane, even perhaps upgraded; you can ask to be put on the next flight; or you can live with it.

Problem: The airline changes the schedule and decides not to fly to your destination on the day you booked. In order for you to make the meeting, you have to fly a day earlier. Who pays for the extra night at the hotel and the meals? Answer: Tough on you. There is no recourse

Problem: The airline changes the routing, or even changes your booking so that your non-stop on a big jet

checked luggage is lost Answer: New rules require reimbursement up to $3,300 per incident on domestic travel. This does NOT

mean you automatically get the money. The airline is entitled to proof of value, less depreciation. The smart traveler makes an inventory of the items packed and their value. Actual receipts for the items packed are much better. In all fairness, the incidence of lost baggage is comparatively rare. Most travelers with this experience, get their “lost” luggage within a day or two.

Problem: You buy the wrong ticket. Answer: On some web sites, this is fairly easy. You may not notice pre- checked boxes and wind up buying two tickets when you only wanted one, or even made a mistake with the date. There are NEW regulations that give you 24 hours to correct the error. Within that time frame, you can cancel the reservation with a full refund, or change the booking. The new regulation forces the airline to hold the reservation for 24 hours before you pay. Note that this may not be true when dealing with third parties, so if you want to be safe, book directly with the airline.

R EUNION F R IENDL Y N EWS • Spring, 2012

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