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LED display board reading "DELAYED" in red letters
phive2015 | Adobe Stock

DOT Launches New Interactive Tool for Airline Passenger Rights

SmarterTravel

If your flight is delayed or canceled, what kind of compensation are you entitled to from the airline? It can be difficult to find out—and inconvenienced flyers often don’t get the refunds, meal vouchers, or other forms of compensation that they are entitled to. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to change that, and has just launched a new interactive tool that helps passengers find out what they are owed for flight disruptions. The tool allows you to select the airline you’re flying on and see what that carrier has committed to for compensation for controllable cancellations and delays.

Table showing commitments for controllable delays and cancelations of several major airlines from the U.S. Department of Transportation interactive tool
U.S. Department of Transportation

The tool will show if you’re entitled to any of the following:

  • Free rebooking on a new flight by the same carrier
  • Free rebooking on a new flight by another airline
  • Meal or meal/cash voucher
  • Complimentary hotel accommodations
  • Free ground transportation to/from hotel

What Is a Controllable Flight Cancellation or Delay?

The tool will only show you what is offered for a controllable flight cancellation or delay. The DOT defines a controllable disruption as, “a delay or cancellation caused by the airline. Examples include: maintenance or crew problems; cabin cleaning; baggage loading; and fueling.”

If the delay or cancellation is caused by something out of the airline’s control, such as weather, these rights do not apply. 

However, DOT reminds flyers that they are entitled to a refund (not a voucher) if an airline cancels a flight or makes a significant schedule change, regardless of the reason. “Airlines are required to provide a prompt refund to a ticketed passenger, including those with non-refundable tickets, should the passenger choose not to accept the alternative offered, such as rebooking on another flight,” according to DOT. You can read more about your right to a refund here.

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