A Travel Story: Learning about the Bill of Rights for Travelers

So I recently had a trip to head out to New Jersey for meetings. I can be described as a guy who loves playing chance with life. I arrive at the airport usually with an hour to 45 minutes to spare, unless the airport has a nice American Express, Delta, or Priority Pass Lounge, in which I arrive with 2 hours to spare. So in a matter of trying to win at chance, I was rushing to get from the Southside of New York to John F. Kennedy Airport, with 3 hours to spare, and of course I arrived with 1 hour until my flight left!

But after going 27-4 in the game of chance (I have a pretty good record), a new plot twist came. I checked in my single piece of luggage, got to my gate expeditiously due to TSA Pre-Check (Highly recommend and will do another article on it), and arrived at my gate to find out that the flight was delayed.

Delays, Delays, Delays

No biggie, I am in NYC, which usually has a delay for every flight. Didn’t think much of it. So it was delayed, and then it was delayed again. No worries, delays on top of delays just mean usually more time in the airport lounge.

Well I wasn’t ready for what would happen next. We eventually boarded the plane after a 30 minute delay after the second delay. We were supposed to leave at 5:36 pm EST and arrive at 8:36 pm CST but it was 6:15 pm EST and we were just getting on the plane.

We got on board, and the plane wasn’t going anywhere. The captain came on board to tell us that the weather was supposedly bad, and that there were high winds. As puzzled passengers, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky to look at and the weather wasn’t changing that we could see. But yet, the delays proceeded to come. And come. AND COME.

Well time was passing by, and we still hadn’t left. Didn’t think much of it, but the captain continually came on to let us know that they were finally letting planes fly out in bad weather (the type of weather where at best was a light drizzle), and that planes were lining up to leave. Except, our plane wasn’t moving that fast.

The Momement I Discovered My Bill of Rights Regarding Tarmacs

Knowing your rights is always important. The Department of Transportation has a good website on all of your rights when flying. It’s always important to brush up on it or bookmark it when something happens so you can know as a savy traveler how much you can be compensated.

In my case, when you are on a tarmac for over 3 hours, the airlines has to return to a gate and give you the option to deplane the airplane. This is specifically for domestic flights, where international flights have a limit of 4 hours.

The rules also require airlines to provide adequate food and water, ensure that lavatories are working, provide you notifications regarding status of the tarmac delay and, if necessary, provide medical attention during long tarmac delays.

What Compensation Do You Receive?

Well in most cases, probably you wont receive anything for the delay other than your basic needs met. The Department of Transportation doesn’t outline specific compensation for Tarmac Delays, but all airlines believe in (read: try to , or your own definition depending on how you feel) doing what is best for their customers. If they are at fault, and you contact them regarding compensation, having status always helps your case to get a travel voucher or some sort of compensation.

If a delay leads to a cancelation, of your flight, the rules change. Also in the event you cannot get compensation from the airlines, there are credit cards that provide free trip cancellation insurance such as:

  1. Chase Hyatt Visa
  2. Chase Sapphire Preferred
  3. Chase Sapphire Reserve
  4. Chase Marriott Visa

….which gives more benefit to obtain one of the Chase Travel Rewards credit cards!

So next time you travel, make sure to review your bill of rights so that you can get the compensation you deserve. As for my story, hopefully I will get home soon!


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