While summer travel is finally slowing down, fall and winter travel can come with its own challenges, especially during the holiday season. Overbooked flights, bad weather, staffing shortages, and pandemic surges have created an entirely new travel landscape that consumers must learn to navigate. To help out, the US Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Consumer Protection (OACP) has stepped in to make it easier for consumers to understand delay and cancellation policies from each United States airline with its Airline Customer Service Dashboard.
This dashboard lays out policy questions to ensure travelers have accessible information about what airlines promise they’ll cover if there’ a controllable delay or cancellation. Controllable flight cancellation or delay is when the delay or cancellation is caused by something within the airline’s control — such as maintenance issues, crew problems, cabin cleaning, and more. These services include whether the airline will rebook passengers on the same and/or different airlines at no additional cost, provides coverage for meals, covers cancellations or delays that are three or more hours, complimentary hotel accommodations, and complimentary ground transportation.
Hopefully, this easy to read information means more understanding of passenger rights and less scrolling through the fine print of every airline you fly with.
The airline dashboard makes it clear, however, that these commitments do not impact the right to a refund you already have. Airlines must provide a prompt refund if it cancels or makes a significant change to the flight, even if the ticket is non-refundable, if the passenger chooses not to accept the airline’s alternatives. If the delay or cancellation is due to something out of the airline’s control, be sure to check with the airline’s contract of carriage to you know what you qualify for.