Know Air Travel Rights As A Passenger

  • UPDATED May 17, 2018

After being on a good luck streak, the inevitable has finally happened! You have ended up with a delayed or cancelled flight, or you have missed your connecting flight because the previous flight was deferred. No matter how much time you spend planning a perfect trip, things might still go wrong. You need to know your rights as a passenger during such situations. Here are a few tips and warnings to get you through your turbulent experience:

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If your flight does not operate as scheduled, most of the airlines, at customer’s request, refund the unused fare or they assist you in arranging transport to your destination on another one of their flights. If you opt for the latter, no additional charges are applicable for it.

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If your flight is delayed due to some manual/ mechanical/ human error, airlines may pay for your meals or a phone call. It's worth asking. If however, the flight is delayed due to bad weather or ‘acts of God’, things that are beyond their control, most of the flights don’t offer amenities.

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If due to some error caused by the airline, you miss your last possible flight for the day, the airline is liable to arrange for overnight lodging for you. This accommodation is generally situated close to the airport. The service is provided at no additional cost. Many airlines also provide for ground transportation to the overnight facility.

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Overbooking is another issue you might face while travelling. Airlines generally sell more seats on a flight to account for no-shows. It is not illegal for them to do so. In case of overbooking, if too many people show up for your flight, the airline asks for volunteers to give up their seats. Those who opt for this receive rewards from the airline. The rewards can be in the form of travel vouchers, a paid vacation or even cash. In case not enough people volunteer for this and the flight capacity gets full, the remaining passengers involuntarily become stranded at the airport. For such passengers, airlines offer a seat on the immediate next flight to the destination or refund the full amount of the ticket.

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In case your luggage does not show up, there are two possibilities- either it is delayed or it is misplaced. In case it is delayed, airlines usually agree to pay a reasonable amount to fulfil your expenses until the luggage is found. The amount paid is subject to negotiation. In case the luggage is misplaced, different airlines have different reimbursement amounts. In this scenario, if you have paid baggage fee, the airline is liable to refund this as well. If you ever face a situation where you don’t receive your luggage, beware of deadlines. If you miss the deadline to submit a report/ complaint, the airline is not liable for your lost/ delayed luggage.

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En route to your destination, if you fall ill during the flight, the cabin crew members are qualified to administer first aid. The decision to continue onwards to your destination or to divert the flight lies solely at the discretion of the crew.

Special needs should be disclosed to the airline officials before boarding the flight itself. Special needs include any special meals (like vegan) or any special seating arrangements etc. You also need to disclose if you are allergic to a particular food product. The airline is not liable to fulfil any special requests once the airplane is air bound.

Hopefully, you won’t have to face such situations during your travels, but if at all you do; now you know what to do. Happy journey.

Are you a frequent flyer? You might find these interesting and useful:
- 10 Airport Hacks That'll Make Your Flight Journey Super Easy!
- World's Best Airports- Another Reason To Fly!
- 8 Ways To Make The Most Of The Airport Layovers
- Aviophobics Beware! 11 Scary Airport Landings In The World!


Traveler, writer, reader, bathroom singer, trekker, dreamer, a superhero in the making! Trying to be a good Samaritan because we need more of those. Afraid of roller coasters and flying insects! Living life, one mistake at a time.

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