Whenever a flight is canceled or delayed, it causes huge headaches for travelers, but they're not always owed the relief they think they deserve.
U.S. airlines are not required to offer compensation for delays outside their control, like severe weather or air traffic control issues. And policies vary from airline to airline when it comes to delays caused by controllable issues like maintenance problems and staffing shortages.
The Department of Transportation's interactive dashboard shows what each airline owes travelers for both cancellations and delays. Some airlines may offer additional flexibility beyond what is listed on the dashboard.
Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
Here's what air travelers should know:
What happens if you get bumped? What to know when airlines overbook flights
Cruising Altitude: Progress is not coming fast enough for disabled travelers
DOT rules require all airlines to offer customers a refund if their flights are canceled for any reason. What changes is what's offered to travelers who choose to rebook.
For example, If American, Delta, Hawaiian or United cancel a flight for controllable reasons, they're committed to:
Alaska and JetBlue offer the same, plus some additional compensation.
Allegiant, Frontier, Southwest and Spirit do not book passengers on partner airlines. Additionally Frontier does not offer hotel accommodations and related transport.
"There are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with money or other compensation when their flights are delayed," according to the Department of Transportation, but U.S. carriers have committed to various levels of compensation for significant delays. Each airline, however, defines significant delays differently.
If a flight is significantly delayed for reasons within their control, Alaska, American, Delta, Jet Blue and United offer:
Alaska and JetBlue offer the same plus some additional compensation.
Allegiant, Frontier, Hawaiian, Southwest and Spirit do not rebook travelers on partner airlines. Frontier doesn't offer hotel accommodations or related transport either.
USA TODAY broke it down by airline: If your flight is delayed, you may be eligible for compensation from your airline
If your flight is experiencing a long delay, the Transportation Department suggests asking airline staff if they will pay for meals or a hotel room.
The DOT dashboard reflects airlines' official policies, but many carriers handle compensation for delays on a case-by-case basis and may provide vouchers or other benefits in some situations that are not formally covered.
For example, according to Delta's Customer Commitment, "Delta representatives are empowered with the flexibility and discretion to issue the following forms of compensation for passenger inconvenience when individual circumstances warrant doing so: cash equivalents (e.g., gift cards), travel credits/vouchers, and/or miles for SkyMiles members."
Best travel insurance: These policies offer the best value
Travel insurance also helps with cancellations and delays. Some credit card companies will also reimburse cardholders for expenses associated with travel disruptions, when travel is booked with their cards.
Contributing: Zach Wichter, Josh Rivera, USA TODAY; Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What you're owed when your flight is canceled or delayed may be less than you think2023-05-26T15:11:19Z dg43tfdfdgfd