No one likes air travel, even when it means getting to see your family or flying to somewhere with warm sandy beaches.
Getting through the airport has become such a hassle in these last few years, with long security lines to wait in and crowded gates full of upset passengers.
Then, to top it all off, after all that work you can face another unwelcome surprise, like a flight cancellation or lost luggage.
We can’t solve these travel headaches, but we have a silver lining for you: you can get cold hard cash if your vacation is ruined by these nasty surprises - if you know how.
Here are five cases where you travel nightmare could turn into a windfall:
1. Getting Bumped From A Flight
Few travelers know this, but there are laws in place to protect passengers who have their plans disrupted by overbooked flights.
If your airline can’t get you to your destination within an hour of your original flight’s arrival time, you qualify for double your one-way fare.
Longer delays (how long depends on if your destination is domestic or international) can qualify you for a maximum of $1,350.
2. Giving Up Your Seat
Be careful, because while being bumped from an overbooked flight guarantees a set amount of money, giving up your seat voluntarily does not.
It’s common for airline employees to offer meal and hotel vouchers, free tickets, or payments of up to $10,000 to make space on a crowded flight.
The tricky part is that you’ll need to negotiate with the airline to see what you get. If you’re asked to volunteer your seat, check about restrictions and limits on the bonuses you’re offered before making a deal, and push your luck by asking for as much cash as they will hand over.
3. Your Flight Gets Delayed
Because the reasons for delays are often outside of an airline’s control (like stormy weather), it can be hard to make delays pay.
But listen closely for news that your vacation time was cut short by mechanical or crew problems. Like with volunteering your seat, you can haggle with the airline for vouchers and refunds when the delays are their fault.
But you’re at the mercy of the company, because there are no legal requirements to pay you - or even book you a new flight.
Find an airline employee, state your case nicely, and be prepared to speak to their manager (or take your case to their social media team) if things don’t go your way.
4. Lost Or Late Luggage
Since it’s almost always your airline’s fault when your belongings go missing, you can make a pretty penny out of these aggravating situations.
Even delayed baggage - as in bags that were not lost, but just shipped to the wrong destination - qualify to be replaced or compensated for under government regulations. The key is to submit a thorough claim with your airline the moment you realize your bags are lost.
Airlines are required to make up the cost of your bag and its contents, for a maximum of $3,500 for domestic flights or about $1,600 on an international flight. You might get more than those limits, but only if your airline is feeling generous.
It helps to carefully document the contents of your bag, save receipts for items you have to replace, and keep track any updates from the airline so your claim can be very comprehensive.
Also note that "assistive devices" (wheelchairs, hearing aids, CPAP machines, prescription medicines and devices) are covered up to their full cost on domestic flights if the airline has to replace them.
5. Just About Any Travel Headache
Airlines are required to pay out for their most common or frustrating mistakes by regulations.
But don’t forget that they are a business like any other, and the customer is always right!
If your trip hasn’t gone the way you hoped (or if you were given particularly bad service by an airline employee), don’t be shy about asking them to make things right.
And if you don’t get the response you hoped for at the counter, say thank you, walk away, and take your grievances to the airline’s social media team.
A reasonable gripe about a spoiled vacation that earns you a voucher for another flight, or a partial refund, could be well worth your time.
[H/T: Reader's Digest]