Airline passenger rights

By Gray Hall - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – When it comes to your rights as a passenger, it's a matter of what's holding up your flight. For instance, the snow that's grounded thousands of flights this week. The airlines can "choose" to make refunds or waive fees, but they don't "have" to.

Carriers are held accountable when it's something they can control, such as a plane needing repairs or out of service. The snow is considered an act of God, and ticket refunds are not required.

Whether it's snow during the winter or a storm during hurricane season, weather can play havoc with a trip. Travel experts say the key is planning ahead.

"Take snacks, take books, take blankets; take creature comforts in case you are to have a delay. Know the weather forecast before you leave to try to anticipate it before it happens. If you're a frequent flyer take your frequent flyer telephone number that you have because that will get you through quicker because everyone else is calling the general number," said Windy Van Curen with AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Know your rights, and check with your airline. Travel insurance is also an option, but again -- know what you're buying.

"Different travel insurance covers different things a lot of times it won't cover a flight so it's really important to know what your travel insurance does cover," said Van Curen.

And remember, delays at other airports can impact your trip. Ripple effects can be felt across the country, so if you know there are problems, such as the ones in New York, check with the airline.

For more on your rights, check out this website from the US Department of Transportation.

By the way, while runways at all three major New York airports are open, but with the backlog created by this week's snow storm, it could still take days for all the stranded passengers to get flights out.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.