With delays, cancellations, and overbooked flights unavoidable, it's easy to feel helpless when you're at the mercy of an airline. But, before you go into full blown panic mode, it pays to know what rights you're entitled to as a passenger.
Everyone's biggest nightmare is being stranded in a plane that's stuck on a tarmac. According to Vox, an airline can't keep domestic passengers on a tarmac for more than three hours — and if it gets to that point, they are obliged to provide you with food and water.
In the case of overbooked flights, if you happen to find yourself on the receiving end of what's called an "involuntary deboard" (airline speak for "get the hell off our plane"), you may have some cash coming your way. How you're eventually compensated is at the airline's discretion, but if it's not cash, you may receive a travel voucher.
That's the good news.
Often times passengers have the misconception that if their flight is delayed, they're entitled to room and board courtesy of the airline. Vox insists that's not the case. As it turns out, airlines aren't legally obliged to make sure you get a hot shower and have a good sleep. However, some airlines will hook you up if you're flight is delayed, and will say so in what's called a "contract of carriage," a document that contains all the minor details concerning your flight.