Airline travel: What are your rights as a traveler?

On Your Side: Airline Passenger Rights

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - As more and more people express frustration over travel delays and cancellations this spring break, we wanted to know what rights passengers have when it comes to airline travel. 

Per the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines do not guarantee their schedules -- and you should realize this when planning your trip.

There are several things that can make it impossible for flights to arrive on time. For example, bad weather or mechanical issues are considered beyond the airline's control. Each airline has its own policies about what it will do, but there are no federal requirements.

More: Man physically pulled off of United plane after it was overbooked

When it comes to overbooking, it is a common practice among the airlines. It's done every day and the DOT says it's legal. The airlines, however, must compensate you. See more at: transportation.gov/airconsumer/fly-rights

If the airline gets desperate enough, you can come out ahead. For example, airlines will offer incentives to get you off the flight. Passengers who are willing to be delayed, can get cash, free meals or multiple vouchers for future flights.

Also, something to consider, is travel insurance. If you are going out of the country, or taking an expensive trip, it often pays to have that security. 

If your flight is canceled, or you get sick, you are reimbursed.

Also consider a credit card that reimburses you for canceled flights. Often, they'll also pay for your rental car. 

Of course, the most obvious solution, is to give yourself a few days extra for travel. No one wants to have to call a client, patient, or employer and tell them, "I'm not going to be there because I'm stuck at the airport."

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