In the news recently, not one, but twice there have been incidents concerning the treatment of passengers on an air flight. First there was the passenger who was physically removed kicking and screaming from a flight, and in the latest video a woman who was having an altercation with a flight attendant regarding a baby stroller. One could argue either way in these cases, was the airlines acting inappropriately? Where the passengers being unreasonable? Well it will be for the courts to decide now, as both passengers involved have now filed lawsuits against the airlines.
So, for the rest of us, what are our rights when we’re booked on a flight? You might be surprised to find that, in the U.S., no federal law or regulation specifies what, if any, rights you have when an airline cancels your flight. With cancellations, your rights derive solely from the airlines’ contracts of carriage, plus relevant principles of general contract law. And because no federal regulations apply, those rights are not uniform but instead vary from airline to airline.
Although airlines do make an effort to get you to understand their contracts, and policies, seldom does anyone have complete understanding and we just take it for granted that we’ll be treated fairly.
As for refunds, there is an almost universal policy that regardless of cause, when an airline cancels your flight, you have a right to a full refund of the remaining value of your ticket. Refunds are in the same form as ticket purchase: cash or credit to credit card.
Seems strange that in this day and age there is no standard policy for airlines to follow regarding their passengers. I guess this is one case where we must leave fairness up to the airline. But let’s not forget, we still have the final say, we can always choose to not fly with any airline that we feel uncomfortable with.