Air Travel Rights and Negotiating Tips for Expats, Business Travelers

Flight delays and cancellations are the bane of expats and business travelers. In most cases, one just feels helpless but it doesn’t have to be that way. A little knowledge goes a long way in minimizing frustration. 

For example, an American traveling to Europe would need to know EU Regulation 261/2004 for long delays and cancellations. Arriving more than 3 hours late in Europe may entitle one to compensation (anywhere from 50 to 600 euros based on a few factors, including flight distance and delay length. 

Knowing air travel rights is more important than ever. The summer of 2019 shaped up to be one of the worst for air travelers, as airlines have canceled or delayed flights and bumped passengers more than usual, according to CNBC

Negotiate with the carrier 

Foreign talents coming to the United States would need to know how they can be entitled to compensation. A USNews piece provides one of many great tips, including negotiating with the carrier, including not sign anything or accepting any offers, including future travel offers, or other freebies and discounts until all options have been vetted. The logic behind this is that one could be waiving one’s right to further compensation.

Consider investing in travel insurance

Purchasing travel insurance is either beneficial or not because every circumstance is different. A policy could prevent one from being eligible to claim compensation at a later date, so review the fine print: what’s included – and what isn’t. Still, travel insurance can be a wise move, but the global mobility manager should be providing this assistance, if not the hiring company.

Keep copies of documents

Keep copies of documents. That means the boarding pass and other travel documents, as some airlines will reject a legitimate claim for disrupted flights without those documents. So it’s crucial not to throw these documents until one is out of the airport safe and clear. Yes, keep receipts as well, as one may need it to recover expenses caused by flight delays, including missed reservations and vehicle car rentals.

Knowing air travel rights goes a long way

A canceled flight may result in a seat on the next available flight on that airline or a refund. Airlines are not reportedly obligated to compensate passengers for delays and cancellations based on federal regulations, but they can rebook passengers for no additional fee, even for nonrefundable fares – or offer a full refund, depending on the carrier, of course. Review the customer agreement or a contract of carriage for specific airline policies.

Check if credit card offers trip delay protection

Credit cards may have built-in travel benefits that allow passengers to file a claim with the airline after a delayed or canceled flight. How extensive is it? A delayed flight, such as a weather-related delay or a mechanical issue, may entitle one to compensation. 

Stay proactive

If gate agents and airport staff are busy, try calling the airline’s customer service to get rebooked on another flight. Another option is to rebook a flight with the airline directly using its affiliated app. 

Ask about meal or hotel credits

It’s possible to get a meal or hotel voucher over a severe delay of four hours or longer. 

An airline will typically cover a meal as well as transportation and lodging costs. The individual rules are specified in the carrier’s contract of carriage. 

For example, JetBlue offers customers who experience an Onboard Ground Delay on departure, except those necessitated by a security event, to compensation good for future travel on JetBlue: Delay time: Compensation amount: 3 – 4:59 hours: $100 credit 5 – 5:59 hours: $175 credit 6 or more hours: $250 credit

Use social media in a good way

Social media can be an effective platform to get the airline’s attention. Reaching out to  the social media accounts of airlines can help you rebook flights. Just keep it civil instead of using it to vent unnecessary grievances.

Download the right tools

Download a flight-tracking app like FlightAware as they give passengers the power to check if they’re eligible to receive compensation for a delay or cancellation. Missing an appointment could cost someone their job.