UNITED STATES- In recent weeks, thousands of passengers found themselves stranded at airports across the country due to staffing shortages among air traffic controllers and summer storms in the Northeast.
The primary airline affected by these challenges was United (UA). However, passengers were left confused as severe delays, and cancellations didn’t guarantee compensation from the airlines.
The Department of Transportation considers weather and air traffic control delays as events largely beyond carriers’ control, making compensation discretionary.
Guide for Getting US Flight Delay Compensation
Passengers seeking clarity on their entitlements faced ambiguity regarding flight delays. While US airlines are obligated to provide refunds for outright canceled flights, the rules surrounding delays remain vague.
The Department of Transportation’s delay and cancellation dashboard aims to assist travelers in understanding their rights but falls short of explicitly defining “significant delay.” Refunds for delays depend on several factors, such as the duration of the delay, flight length, and individual circumstances.
In contrast, Europe has more traveler-friendly regulations. European laws mandate compensation for passengers experiencing delays of three hours or more, with amounts ranging from 250 to 600 euros for long-distance flights.
In the United States, domestic flights have fewer safeguards in place, leaving it largely up to individual airlines to determine compensation after a delay.
Shaiy Howard, president, and CEO of South Florida-based travel agency Travel by Shaiy, emphasized the absence of a specific policy on compensation.
Airlines’ terms and conditions typically state that passengers are not entitled to compensation for certain delays attributed to weather conditions.
Airline Policies for Significant Delays
American Airlines (AA): Passengers can receive refunds for unused portions of their tickets if they choose not to travel due to a delay.
Depending on the cause of the delay, American Airlines’ customer service plan allows for compensation or reimbursement of delay-related hotel stays and ground transportation.
Delta Air Lines (DL): Delta commits to rebooking passengers on other Delta flights or partner airlines.
For certain causes, they provide meal vouchers for delays exceeding three hours and offer hotel accommodations and ground transportation for overnight delays.
United Airlines (UA): Like Delta, United rebooks passengers on alternative flights and provides meal vouchers for delays surpassing three hours.
They also offer hotel accommodation and ground transportation for overnight delays resulting from specific causes.
Southwest Airlines (WN): Southwest prioritizes rebooking affected passengers on their own flights and provides meal vouchers for delays lasting over three hours due to particular causes.
Hotel accommodation and ground transportation are also available for overnight delays in such cases.
JetBlue (B6): JetBlue implements an escalating compensation structure. For a departure delay of three hours or more, passengers receive a minimum of $50 in travel credits.
The credit increases by $50 for every additional hour, with a maximum credit of $200 for delays lasting six hours or more. The compensation structure adjusts when passengers are already onboard the aircraft or experience delays upon arrival.
Spirit Airlines (NK): Spirit rebooks passengers on alternative Spirit flights, offers meal vouchers for delays exceeding three hours due to specific causes, and provides hotel accommodation and ground transportation for overnight delays resulting from those causes.
Frontier Airlines (F9): Frontier rebooks passengers on other Frontier flights and offers meal vouchers for delays lasting three hours or more due to specific causes.
Alaska Airlines (AS): Alaska Airlines rebooks passengers on other Alaska flights or partner airlines, provides meal vouchers for delays surpassing three hours for specific causes, and offers hotel accommodation and ground transportation for overnight delays resulting from those causes.
Departure delays lasting three hours or more may also lead to credits, travel vouchers, or frequent flyer miles.
Hawaiian Airlines (HA): Hawaiian rebooks passengers on alternative Hawaiian flights and provides meal vouchers for delays exceeding three hours due to certain causes.
They also offer hotel accommodation and ground transportation for overnight delays in such cases.
Despite these policies, it is essential to note that each airline has its own set of terms and conditions regarding compensation for delays.
Passengers are advised to familiarize themselves with their respective carriers’ policies. Further, to ensure a smooth and informed travel experience.
In summary, recent flight delays across the US have left thousands of passengers stranded. Although airlines have discretion in compensating for such delays, they must offer refunds for outright canceled flights.
Understanding individual entitlements can be challenging due to varying airline policies. Subsequently, the Department of Transportation lacks a specific definition of “significant delay.”
Passengers should consult their airlines and review the DOT’s resources to clarify their rights and compensation options.
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