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Airline Passenger Rights for Bumped, Canceled or Delayed Flights

Airline Passengers Rights for Bumped, Canceled or Delayed Flights - Contract Carriage

It happens to everyone at some point. A flight is delayed, you get bumped thanks to overbooking or it gets canceled altogether. Ignorance is bliss for airlines, so knowing your rights could save you money, time and get you in first class seat on a competing carrier’s flight.

The legend of “Rule 240,” which basically stated if a flight was delayed or canceled, all U.S. airlines must offer transportation on a competitor’s next flight out, is debatable, but the main point travelers should note is that every airline addresses the issue. Policies differ from each major airlines’ contracts of carriage, so a bit of research before a flight could prove to be a time saver. (Click the links to the left of this post to Pin this post or share this quick reference resource for passenger rights.)

Keep in mind: There is no federal involvement regarding these issues, most airlines also institute exceptions (such as acts of God or weather) and these are the current policies at the time of this publication.

Here, you will find the highlights for passengers rights in bumped, canceled or or delayed flights for major airlines domestic flights…

AirTran

Per AirTran’s  Contract of Carriage:

Cancellations Beyond Airline Control“In the event of a cancellation, AirTran will rebook customers on the first available alternate flight to their destination, either direct or with connections through other airports. When a customer’s flight is canceled, AirTran will allow for the passenger to be rebooked on another flight or for a credit to be established for the total fare paid for each unused segment, or AirTran will refund the total fare paid for each unused segment.”

Cancelled Flights or Irregular Operations (Delays) – “In the event Carrier cancels or fails to operate any flight according to Carrier’s published schedule, or changes the schedule of any flight, Carrier will, at the request of a Passenger with a confirmed Ticket on such flight, take one of the following actions:

*Transport the Passenger at no additional charge on Carrier’s next flight(s) on which space is available to the Passenger’s intended destination, in accordance with Carrier’s established re-accommodation practices; or

*Refund the unused portion of the Passenger’s fare in accordance with Section 4c above.”

Involuntarily Denied Boarding Compensation for an Oversale (Overbookings) – “Compensation shall be 200% of the fare to the Passenger’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $650, if the carrier offers alternate transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the airport of the Passenger’s first stopover, or if none, the airport of the Passenger’s final destination more than one hour but less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight; and Compensation shall be 400% of the fare to the Passenger’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $1,300, if the carrier does not offer alternate transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the airport of the Passenger’s first stopover, of if none, the airport of the Passenger’s final destination less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight.

Compensation will be paid by Carrier on the day and at the place where the denied boarding occurs, except that if Carrier arranges, for the Passenger’s convenience, alternate means of transportation that departs before the payment can be made, payment will be sent by mail or other means within 24 hours after the time the denied boarding occurs.”

Allegiant

Per Allegiant’s Contract of Carriage:

Flight terminations or involuntary cancellations – “If a passenger’s scheduled transportation is cancelled, or terminated before the passenger has reached his or her final destination as a result of a flight cancellation or omission of a scheduled stop, Carrier will, at the passenger’s option, transport the passenger on another of Carrier’s flights on which space is available at no additional charge, or refund the fare for the unused transportation, or provide a credit voucher for such amount toward the purchase of future travel.”

Late or Irregular Operations and Schedule Changes (Delays) – If Carrier delays, cancels, or fails to operate any flight according to Carrier’s published schedule due to a cause beyond Carrier’s control as identified in Article 85.B below, or if Carrier voluntarily changes the schedule of any flight, Carrier will, at the request of a passenger confirmed on an affected flight:

  • transport the passenger on another of Carrier’s flights on which space is available at no additional charge; OR
  • in the case of a delay, cancellation, or failure to operate any flight due to a cause beyond Carrier’s control as identified in Article 85.B below, and provided in the case of delay that the delay is significant, refund the unused portion of the passenger’s fare in accordance with Article 90 below; OR
  • in the case of a schedule change made voluntarily by Carrier, and provided the schedule change is significant, refund the unused portion of the passenger’s fare in accordance with Article 90 below.

Except to the extent provided in Article 85.A. above, Carrier shall not be liable for any failure or delay in operating any flight due to causes beyond Carrier’s control, including but not limited to, acts of God, governmental actions, fire, weather, mechanical difficulties, Air Traffic Control, strikes or labor disputes, or inability to obtain fuel for the flight in question. Carrier shall use its best efforts to notify all affected passengers promptly of planned schedule changes and service withdrawals.

Carrier will attempt to transport passengers and their baggage promptly and as scheduled. Flight schedules, however, are subject to change without notice, and the times shown in or on Carrier’s published schedules and advertising are not guaranteed. At times, without prior notice to passengers, Carrier may need to substitute other aircraft or airlines and may change, add, or omit intermediate or connecting stops. Carrier cannot guarantee that passengers will make connections to other flights of its own or those of other airlines. In the event of flight schedule changes, Carrier will attempt to so notify affected passengers as soon as possible at the airport or enroute.

Overbooking – “Unlike most airlines, we do not overbook our flights. When you purchase an airline ticket, you are committing to us that you will fly and we are committing to you that you will have a seat. Since we don’t overbook, this means if you cancel or change your reservation close to your departure date, there is no one waiting to buy your seat. We need a minimum of 7 days to try and sell your seat to someone else. Our nonrefundable policy allows us to keep our fares low for all our passengers. However, in the event of Domestic Transportation Passengers traveling between points within the United States (including the territories and possessions) who are denied boarding involuntarily from an oversold flight are entitled to: (1) No compensation if the carrier offers alternate transportation that is planned to arrive at the passenger’s destination or first stopover not later than one hour after the planned arrival time of the passenger’s original flight; (2) 200% of the fare to the passenger’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $650, if the carrier offers alternate transportation that is planned to arrive at the passenger’s destination or first stopover more than one hour but less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the passenger’s original flight; and (3) 400% of the fare to the passenger’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $1,300, if the carrier does not offer alternate transportation that is planned to arrive at the airport of the passenger’s destination or first stopover less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the passenger’s original flight.”

American

Per American’s Contract of Carriage:

Cancellations/Delays – When cancellations and major delays are experienced, you will be rerouted on our next flight with available seats. If the delay or cancellation was caused by events within our control and we do not get you to your final destination on the expected arrival day, we will provide reasonable overnight accommodations, subject to availability.

In extreme circumstances, it is possible that a flight will cancel while on the ground in the city to which it was diverted. When this happens you will be rerouted on the next American flight with available seats, or in some circumstances on another airline or some other alternative means of transportation. If we are unable to reroute you, reasonable overnight accommodations will be provided by American, subject to availability.

Oversales (Overbookings) – American will usually deny boarding based upon check-in time, but we may also consider factors such as severe hardships, fare paid, and status within the AAdvantage program.

If you are denied boarding involuntarily, you are entitled to a payment of ‘‘denied boarding compensation’’ from the airline unless:

  • You have not fully complied with the airline’s ticketing, check-in and reconfirmation requirements, or you are not acceptable for transportation under the airline’s usual rules and practices; or
  • You are denied boarding because the flight is canceled; or
  • You are denied boarding because a smaller capacity aircraft was substituted for safety or operational reasons; or
  • On a flight operated with an aircraft having 60 or fewer seats, you are denied boarding due to safety-related weight/balance restrictions that limit payload; or
  • You are offered accommodations in a section of the aircraft other than specified in your ticket, at no extra charge (a passenger seated in a section for which a lower fare is charged must be given an appropriate refund); or
  • The airline is able to place you on another flight or flights that are planned to reach your next stopover or final destination within one hour of the planned arrival time of your original flight.

Delta

Per Delta’s Contract of Carriage:

Rule 240 is clearly stated in the contract of carriage.

Schedule Changes, Delays and Flight Cancellations – In the event of flight cancellation, diversion, delays of greater than 90 minutes, or delays that will cause a passenger to miss connections, Delta will (at passenger’s request)cancel the remaining ticket and refund the unused portion of the ticket and unused ancillary fees in the original form of payment in accordance with Rule 260 of these conditions of carriage. If the passenger does not request a refund and cancellation of the ticket, Delta will transport the passenger to the destination on Delta’s next flight on which seats are available in the class of service originally purchased. At Delta’s sole discretion and if acceptable to the passenger, Delta may arrange for the passenger to travel on another carrier or via ground transportation. If acceptable to the passenger, Delta will provide transportation in a lower class of service, in which case the passenger may be entitled to a partial refund. If space on the next available flight is available only in a higher class of service than purchased, Delta will transport the passenger on the flight, although Delta reserves the right to upgrade other passengers on the flight according to its upgrade priority policy to make space in the class of service originally purchased.

Hotels for Cancellations – If overnight accommodations are available at Delta contracted facilities, Delta will provide the passenger with a voucher for one night‘s lodging when the delay is during the period of 10:00 pm to 6:00 am. Delta will provide free public ground transportation to the hotel if the hotel does not offer such service. If accommodations are not available, Delta will provide the passenger with a voucher that may be applied to future travel on Delta equal in value to the contracted hotel rate, up to $100 USD.

Transportation For Passengers Denied Boarding (Overbooking) – Delta will provide transportation to passengers who volunteer to relinquish their seats or who are denied boarding involuntarily due to the oversale of a flight as follows:

1) Next Available Flight Delta will transport the passenger on its next flight on which space is available to the passenger’s next stopover, or if none, to the passenger’s destination, at no additional cost to the passenger.

2) Transportation on Other Airlines -At Delta’s sole discretion, Delta may instead arrange for transportation on any other carrier or combination of carriers to the passenger’s next stopover, or if none, to the passenger’s destination, at no additional cost to the passenger.

3) Overnight Stay Required – If the transportation provided to a passenger pursuant to this section requires that the
passenger stay overnight before continuing his/her travel, Delta will provide hotel accommodations to the passenger at no additional cost. If hotel accommodations are unavailable, Delta will compensate the passenger with a credit voucher valid for future purchases from Delta in an amount commensurate in value with the local average contracted hotel rate up to $100 USD, to be determined by Delta.

Compensation For Involuntary Denied Boarding – When a passenger with a confirmed reservation is involuntarily denied boarding on an oversold flight pursuant to this rule, Delta’s sole liability to the passenger shall be to provide alternative transportation as provided in paragraph D, above,and to pay denied boarding compensation, if applicable, pursuant to the terms and conditions of this rule.

Southwest

Per Southwest’s Contract of Carriage:

Cancelled Flights or Irregular Operations (Delays or Cancellations)– In the event Carrier cancels or fails to operate any flight according to Carrier’s published schedule, or changes the schedule of any flight, Carrier will, at the request of a Passenger with a confirmed Ticket on such flight, take one of the following actions:

  • Transport the Passenger at no additional charge on Carrier’s next flight(s) on which space is available to the Passenger’s intended destination, in accordance with Carrier’s established re-accommodation practices; or
  • Refund the unused portion of the Passenger’s fare in accordance with Section 4c
    above.

Involuntarily Denied Boarding Compensation for an Oversale (Overbooking) – In Accordance with 14 CFR
Part 250(c):

  • Compensation shall be 200% of the fare to the Passenger’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $650, if the carrier offers alternate transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the airport of the Passenger’s first stopover, or if none, the airport of the Passenger’s final destination more than one hour but less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger ’s original flight on a domestic itinerary and more than one hour but less than four hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight on an international itinerary; and
  • Compensation shall be 400% of the fare to the Passenger’s destination or first stopover, with a maximum of $1,300, if the carrier does not offer alternate transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the airport of the Passenger’s first stopover, of if none, the airport of the Passenger’s final destination less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight on a domestic itinerary and less than four hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight on an international itinerary.

United

Per United’s Contract of Carriage:

Delay: Change in Schedule – When a Passenger’s Ticketed flight is affected because of a Change in Schedule, UA (Unite Airlines) will, at its election, arrange one of the following:

1)Transport the Passenger on its own flights, subject to availability, to the Destination, next Stopover point, or
transfer point shown on its portion of the Ticket, without Stopover in the same class of service, at no additional
cost to the Passenger;

2)At UA’s discretion,reroute Passengers over the lines of one or more carriers in an equivalent class of service when a Change in Schedule results in the cancellation of all UA service between two cities; or

3)Advise the Passenger that the value of his or her Ticket may be applied toward future travel on United within one year from the date of issue without a change or reissue fee; or

4)If the Passenger is not transported as provided in C) 1) or 2) above and does not choose to apply the value of his or her Ticket toward future travel as provided in C) 3) above, the Passenger will be eligible for a refund upon request.

Delay, Misconnection or Cancellation – When a Passenger’s ticket is affected because of a Schedule Irregularity caused by UA United Airlines),UA will take the following measures:

  • Transport the Passenger on its own flights, subject to availability, to the Destination, next Stopover point, or transfer point shown on its portion of the Ticket, without Stopover in the same class of service, at no addi
    tional cost to the Passenger; or
  • At the Passenger’s request, provided that the tariff covering the original transportation permits
    routing via the carrier which will transport the Passenger, UA will re-accommodate the Passenger in the same class of service on the next available flight on another carrier, or combination of carriers, or at UA’s option with Passenger Agreement, via ground transportation.

b)In the event a Passenger misses an onward connecting flight on which space is reserved because the Delivering Carrier did not operate its flight due to a Schedule Irregularity or Change in Schedule, the Delivering Carrier is responsible to arrange for carriage of Passenger or to make a refund.

Compensation for Passengers Denied Boarding Involuntarily (Overbooking) – For passengers traveling in interstate transportation between points within the United States, subject to the exceptions in section d) below, UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight at the rate of 200% of the fare to the Passenger’s first Stopover or, if none, Destination, with a maximum of 650 USD if UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than one hour but less than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight. If UA offers Alternate Transportation that, at the time the arrangement is made, is planned to arrive at the Passenger’s Destination or first Stopover more than two hours after the planned arrival time of the Passenger’s original flight, UA shall pay compensation to Passengers denied boarding involuntarily from an Oversold Flight at the rate of 400% of the fare to the Passenger’s first Stopover or, if none, Destination with a maximum of 1300 USD.