Ever wondered if you are entitled to get your money back if you lose an airline ticket? Want to know what rights you have if a flight is cancelled?

We asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to tell us more about what you can expect when youíre traveling by air.

We know: Your Air Travel Flight Rights

What is an airline required to do about a delayed or cancelled flight?

There are no federal requirements that airlines must meet regarding delayed or cancelled flights. Each airline has its own policies. Itís important to know that airlines are not required to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed or cancelled.

What should I do if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, most airlines will book you on the next flight to your destination. But also try asking them to book you on another airline and see if they will endorse your ticket so it can be used on the other airline. (No airline is required to do this, however.)

Also, ask if the airline will compensate you for meals or phone calls if youíre delayed. Again, airlines are not required to do so, but some may, depending on the circumstances.

You can always write a letter to the airline about delay and cancellation problems you had, explaining your experience and asking for some sort of compensation. Often, airlines will send travel vouchers or coupons.

What if the airline overbooks the flight?

Now youíve got some leverage. Overbooking is not illegal, but the Department of Transportation requires airlines to ask for people who would like to give up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for compensation. If you are bumped against your will, you are usually entitled to compensation.

What if the airline damages my bags?

In the case of damage, they airline will probably try to repair the bag or compensate you for the damage and damage to anything inside. Even if you sign a baggage disclaimer before the flight, if the damage is caused by airline mishandling, you may be able to get compensation.

What happens when a bag is temporarily lost?

Airlines are liable for provable consequential damages up to the amount of their liability limit (see below) in connection with the delay.

Airlines will usually pay you compensation for any reasonable expense you incur while waiting for you belongings. Sometimes the airline will give you a cash advance while you are waiting for them to find and deliver your bag.

Donít assume they will pay for the delivery of the bag to you later. Ask that question up front to be sure.

What are my rights when a bag is gone for good?

Once the airline decides your bag is permanently lost, you must submit a claim to receive compensation based on the value of what you have lost. Then you begin negotiations with the airlines to determine your final compensation. Airlines consider the depreciated value of your luggage.

Is there a limit on what airlines pay for baggage problems?

Yes. If your bags are delayed, lost or damaged on a domestic trip, the airline can invoke a ceiling that limits the airlineís liability per passenger. On international flights the liability is also limited, usually as a cost per pound of the bag.

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