Before you fly to grandma's for Thanksgiving, know your rights a - CBS46 News

Before you fly to grandma's for Thanksgiving, know your rights as a passenger

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Before you board the plane headed for grandma’s house, keep in mind, you have rights as an airline passenger.

Airlines regularly overbook flights to compensate for no-shows. If everyone shows up, someone will have to give up his or her seat.

The U.S. Department of Transportation says airlines are required to look for volunteers before bumping passengers off the flight. Airlines usually offer airline vouchers for future flights worth up to $1,300.

“If I’m on my own it’s one thing, but with these two little rascals, no way,” said John Brown of Decatur, who was traveling Wednesday with his wife and children.

If no one takes the offer, it’s up to the airline to decide who gets bumped from the flight.

Sometimes it’s based on the price of the ticket. Other times, it’s based on who was the last passenger to check in.

David Frazier remembers being bumped from a flight once.

“Took me by surprise,” he said. “Kind of threw me off my schedule a little bit, but I did get a free ticket round trip anyplace.”

Frazier said the incident prompted him to travel differently. He now schedules books flights that are scheduled to land several hours before he actually needs to be somewhere, providing a cushion in case he misses a flight or gets bumped from one.

According to the FAA, a passenger can be fined for refusing to get off a flight. The good news is if you do get booted, you might get paid.

On domestic flights, if the airline reb-ooks you to land one to two hours later than your original arrival time, the airline must cover your ticket and pay you double your one-way airfare up to $675. If the delay is more than two hours, or if the airline doesn’t make any alternative arrangements for you, you’re due four times your one-way airfare, up to $1,300.

Let’s say the airline cancels your flight. Delta, for example, with either put you on its next available flight or rebook you on another carrier. Southwest, on the other hand, only re-books passengers on the next available Southwest flight. Check specifics for the airline you’re using.

If your plane is stranded on the runway for hours on end, you have certain rights, according to the FAA. After two hours, airlines are required to offer passengers food, water and access to a working bathroom. After three hours, the plane must return to the gate. If it doesn’t, the airline could be fined up to $27,500 per passenger.

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