It wasn’t too many months ago that this nation went through the heights of the Coronavirus pandemic. Like so many nations around the world, international travel came to a screeching halt. Airlines sat empty on airport tarmacs and aircraft crews, baggage handlers, and service personnel sat at home, taking vacation and sick time to make up for their lost wages. The airlines furloughed, laid-off, or asked their workers to take an early retirement just so the company could stay in business. Times were bad.
But things have now changed. People have been immunized, the mask mandate has been dropped, and air travel has seen a resurgence to pre-pandemic levels. Things improved too quickly for the airlines. Customer service counter staff, TSA workers, baggage handlers, flight attendants, and even pilots were in short supply. Travelers faced long lines at check-in, lost luggage, missed or cancelled flights, and sometimes nights spent at airport terminals, often sleeping on floors. While things are on the mend, there are still many delayed or cancelled flights.
The Department of Transportation has since stepped in and made it easier for the consumer to see what the airlines may owe you if your flight doesn’t get you to your destination in a timely manner. They have developed a dashboard that shows what you are entitled to for flight disruptions within their control—with a rather lenghty link name:
There are certain amenities airlines must make available to their customers for delayed and/or cancelled flight that the service counter personnel will not offer unless you ask for them if you are on a flight that has been delayed or cancelled. However, these only apply to “controllable” cancellations or delays (mechanical issues, staffing shortages or delays in cleaning, fueling or baggage handling); delays and/or cancellations caused by weather or security concerns do not count.
Much of the information regarding what the airlines must do is included in their Contract of Carriage. This is the contract that spells out what rights you-the customer-you are entitled to. The DOT has only simplified that information and placed it on an easy to read dashboard.
The Contract of Carriage is a lengthy document that is found on the carriers web-site, and every traveler should be familiar with it. It is always recommended that you go to that section of the contract that covers cancellations, delays, and lost luggage, read what the airlines will do to remedy your loss, and even print out the pages that cover that in writing. Carry those pages with you in your travel document. Sometimes the service counter agents aren’t aware of what their responsibilities to their customers are.
But, bear in mind, this dashboard applies only to domestic carriers. International airlines have their own Contract of Carriage and those may differ considerably from those of our national airlines.
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Your Flight Delay and Cancellation Entitlements