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Tips for Texas Travelers on their "Flight Rights"

PHOTO: The turkey may be done, but the traveling is not, as travelers across Texas and the country board planes this weekend to fly back and forth to gatherings with friends and family. Photo credit: Prayitno/Flickr.
PHOTO: The turkey may be done, but the traveling is not, as travelers across Texas and the country board planes this weekend to fly back and forth to gatherings with friends and family. Photo credit: Prayitno/Flickr.
November 28, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas - This weekend is one of the busiest of the year at airports across the country, and while the thought of delays or lost bags may be stressful, airline passengers can take comfort in knowing they do have some protections under the law.

Abe Scarr with the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) says those boarding planes have a number of rights, although most people don't fly often enough to be aware of them.

"Whether it's the right to be reimbursed if you're bumped, or if there's something wrong with your baggage," says Scarr. "Or simply the right to complain, which actually has a lot of power to it, just by complaining to the airline and to the Department of Transportation."

Scarr says airlines are required to provide information to passengers about how to file complaints, which airlines must respond to within 60 days.

For those involuntarily bumped, Scarr says if the flight is not re-booked within two hours, a passenger is owed 200 percent of the one-way fare up to $650 dollars. Similar reimbursements are available when it comes to luggage.

"If your bag is just simply delayed, the airlines are required to reimburse you for reasonable expenses, such as toiletries or a change of clothes," says Scarr. "If they lose your bags, they're required to refund any checked baggage fees and reimburse you for the lost items up to $3,400."

Scarr adds that while tarmac delays were a big problem in the past, rules adopted in recent years now prevent passengers from being parked on planes for hours at a time.

"If you're stuck on the tarmac over a period of time, the airline is required to give you food and water and medical attention," he says. "After three hours, they either have to return you to the airport or be in the air."

According to the American Automobile Association, air travel for the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend will be at its highest level since 2007. Over 3.5 million Americans are expected to be flying around the country, raising the likelihood of significant crowds at Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston - two of the country's busiest airports.

John Michaelson/Tommy Hough, Public News Service - TX