Consumer rights when it comes to flight delays, cancellations

flight delays
Posted at 11:30 AM, Jul 14, 2022

The cancellations and delays at airports across the country could be improved with federal action, says aviation expert and consumer advocate Bill McGee with the American Economic Liberties Project.

McGee says what’s happening at the nation’s airports this summer is inexcusable, and airlines are dealing with typical summer weather disruptions but haven’t owned up to the larger issues causing ongoing problems.

“The issue, clearly, is the airlines don’t have the capacity to operate their own schedules,” McGee said.

Pilot and crew shortages coupled with airlines running at full capacity—and mixing in summer storms--the effect is what we are seeing across the country.

With the way airlines are governed, only Congress or the Department of Transportation have the ability to do anything about it.

“Secretary Pete Buttigieg has the authority to have the airlines open up their books and take a look at scheduling and see operations records,” McGee noted.

McGee thinks fining airlines for intentionally scheduling flights they cannot operate would work to ease some of the issues at airports.

Meanwhile, consumers have only one clear-cut right when it comes to flights: if the airline cancels the flight for any reason, passengers are entitled to a full cash refund.

Keep in mind that vouchers and credits can expire before consumers get to use them.

If you are delayed repeatedly, you can ask for a cash refund, and McGee says oftentimes, social media is the best place to turn up the pressure on airlines.

Taking advantage of a reverse auction at the ticket gate to give up your seat for a later flight can pay off, McGee says.

“They announce, ‘We’re offering $2,000.’ If nobody raises their hand, it goes to $5,000 to $10,000, to whatever it takes,” he said.

If you have an upcoming trip, to avoid cancellations and delays, try and take the first flight of the day, avoid connections when possible, sign up for airline alerts, check in early for a seat assignment and avoid checking baggage if possible.