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Know your rights if you miss a flight

Posted at 6:52 AM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 10:15:32-05

If you're traveling this holiday season, know your flight rights. 

If you get bumped from a flight, you could be compensated, but lawyers say it depends on whether you volunteer or not, and how much later your arrival time will be. 

Don Alvarez, a partner at Radix Law, says if they still get you to your destination within an hour, the airline doesn't owe you anything. If you're two hours late you can get 200 percent of your ticket cost back, up to about $650. If you end up arriving more than two hours after your originally scheduled time you're entitled to 400 percent of your ticket price, up to $1,375. 

Alvarez says airlines will typically start with volunteers for flight bumps but if they don't have enough, they will switch to involuntary bumps and the traveler always has a right to receive a written copy of the criteria used to pick them. 

Weather and mechanical delays do not entitle you to any form of compensation unless you purchased travel insurance ahead of time. In that case, be sure to read the fine print and verify the maximum compensation amount and if there is a set amount of time on the delay before you are eligible for food or hotel vouchers. 

If your luggage gets lost, you can also ask for money to replace some of what's in there while you wait. You have to file a claim with the airline and Alvarez says you need to be able to prove what was in your bag and its worth, so save as many receipts as you can and collect replacement estimates. It's also a good idea to take a picture of the contents of your luggage before your travel. 

You can also file a claim if your luggage is damaged and the airline will cut you a check to replace or repair it.

"A lot of things the airlines do are negotiable, like with your property damage, it's just like working with an insurance company a lot of times," said Alvarez. 

Remember, any amount of compensation is at the airline's discretion so being nice usually gets you further. 

"How many times have you been at the airport to see people really upset because something didn't go their way. Just remember the people in the airline are people too, they're handling problems all day long and they tend to try and help people who are more calm," Alvarez said.