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How to get refunds for flight delays, cancellations or lost luggage

How to get refunds for flight delays, cancellations or lost luggage

Airlines have been in the news a lot lately for losing baggage, kicking people off of flights and overbooking. If you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly during a trip, these tips will help you get you what you deserve.

Check with your credit card company

If the airline is giving you the runaround, there may be an easier way. Some credit card companies cover unexpected travel expenses if you booked using their card. To see if you have this option, check your card through the Sift app (iOS) or website. You can also call your credit card company to ask about benefits. A free hotel room to wait out your layover, reimbursed tickets and more may be in the cards.

Document everything

Remember, your phone is your best friend during trips, so be sure to use it. Before your trip, take photos of your bags and their contents, just in case your bags are damaged or lost.

If you’re denied boarding due to overbooking or are asked to disembark a flight for a bizarre reason, document everything with your phone, including:

  • Extra expenses that result from the disruption, such as fees for hotels, new tickets and meals

  • Boarding passes

  • Baggage claim tickets

  • Original booking confirmations

  • Submit a PIR (Property Irregularity Report)

A good scanning app like Abbyy Fine Scanner or Evernote Scannable or CamScanner can help you make clear, readable copies of all of your documents.

Know your flight rights

No matter what the airlines may tell you, you have the right to a timely trip and there are rules that govern this concept. For example, US law says that you’re covered when a flight is overbooked, though how much is owed to you depends on the discretion of the airline. The European law EC 261 also requires airlines to compensate within 14 days of the departure date. The Montreal Convention provides airline passengers with certain rights to compensation on international flights between more than 120 nations, including the United States and Europe. You’re covered for extra hotel night stays, canceled reservations and more.

To get compensated, talk to the airlines at the gate desk as soon as you find out your flight will be delayed or the flight has been overbooked. Airlines have built-in compensation plans for when things don’t work out like they should.

Some things they may offer are:

  • Free rental car or shuttle service

  • Free hotel stay

  • Upgrade to a first-class flight

  • A ticket refund

  • Payment for time lost

…And your luggage rights

So the airlines got you there, but not your luggage? Here’s what to expect:

· If your bags are damaged the carrier is responsible, but they will go about repairing, replacing or compensating you for the bag as they see fit. Be sure to ask for a copy of their policies upfront. No matter what, be sure not to leave the airport without filling out and turning in a Property Irregularity Report (PIR).

· If your luggage is late, the airline must provide you with up-to-date information on where your bags are. They can also replace essential items that were in your bags, like toiletries, according to National Association of Citizens Advice, to help you out until your bags show up.

· If your luggage is lost and you’re flying domestically, your airline’s liability under the US Department of Transportation regulations is thousands of dollars per passenger. You’ll need to fill out an initial lost-luggage form and a second claim in which you show proof of your loss to collect.


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