(CNN)— Your flight has been cancelled. You must stay in a hotel and pay for dinner or scramble to find a rental car. What qualifications do you have?
In addition to rebooking passengers or refunding cancelled flights, American Airlines is not obligated to do too much for passengers, even if there is more than one day left for the next available flight.
Charlie Leocha, president and co-founder of Travellers United, a non-profit organization advocating consumer rights, said: “There are no real rules that allow passengers to receive any form of compensation or even overnight accommodation when they are really late.”
But DOT pointed out that airlines have their own policies. It advises passengers to ask airline staff whether they will pay for hotel rooms or meals.
The airline said in a statement: “We are working hard to serve our customers as quickly as possible, and we thank them for their patience.” “We provide customers with greater flexibility so that they can be on Southwest.com Explore the self-service rebooking options, where they can get the latest information on the status of their trip.”
Leocha said customers should ask “distressed passengers” about hotel prices. He said that airlines reached deals with nearby hotels to provide stranded guests with discounts of 30% to 50%. He said they are usually provided to elite passengers, but can also be extended to other passengers.
According to the Ministry of Transportation, airlines don’t need to rebook passengers on flights with another airline, although they do it sometimes, and it’s definitely worth asking.
Southwest Airlines does not charge a change fee, but there are usually fare differences. The airline has not yet responded to inquiries about whether the fare difference applies to this weekend’s interruption.
When an airline cancels a flight, if the passenger decides not to travel, they have the right to request a refund of the ticket money. They should insist on cash instead of vouchers.
But this is the extent of it. Going to board a cruise ship or attend a concert you would miss now? The airline is not responsible for these costs.
You may be able to get some recourse through travel insurance.
“If you book with a credit card, be sure to check whether you are covered by travel insurance, which may compensate you for additional costs, such as the cost of a hotel or a new flight home,” Feinberg suggested.
He also recommends writing to customer support afterwards to express your disappointment. Sometimes this may result in vouchers for future travel.
Every airline has a transportation contract that passengers sign when they buy a ticket. They have “force majeure” clauses that limit their liability if the service is not completed or interrupted.
Whatever the reason, it seems to be covered by a broad contract of carriage.
Above: After landing at Chicago Midway International Airport on April 6, a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 jet taxi drove to the gate. Kamil Krzaczynski/AFP/Getty Images