Holiday air travel: Do you know your travel rights?

A passenger walks to the airport terminal.
Photo Credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi via Pexels

With holiday travel upon us, a new survey from LegalShield reveals significant blind spots among travelers when it comes to knowing their basic rights: when asked their familiarity with basic passenger rights, 39% of survey respondents selected “what rights?”

“Our business is about educating folks on their rights, in this case, their travel rights,” said Warren Schlichting, LegalShield CEO. “We invite people to call us on almost any issue and believe knowing your rights is essential to peace of mind.”

Air Travel Disruptions and Resolution


The LegalShield survey also revealed that of those who flew in the last year, 50% faced a disruption and more than a third (37%) of those disruptions took more than three hours to resolve.

Last year’s travel chaos also made an impact in holiday air travel planning as a majority of travelers (57%) are less likely to fly because of the disruptions that plagued 2022.

From unpredictable airfares to unexpected car rental charges, this year’s holiday travel landscape is a minefield of challenges:

Financially strapped: 59% who plan to travel report feeling more financially stressed than ever about holiday travel.

Know your rights: 57% of flyers who faced a disruption in the last 12 months say they were not informed of their rights by the airline, which is a requirement.

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NOT reading the fine print: When renting a car, 1 in 4 say they don’t read the terms and conditions before signing the rental car contract, despite 32% reporting they have had an issue with a rental car previously.

Hitting the road: 82% plan to travel by car, with 57% traveling more than 100 miles.

A man works on a laptop in an airport terminal
Photo Credit: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi via Pexels

“Do not be a victim this holiday season,” urges LegalShield partner attorney Ben Farrow. “The best time to speak to an attorney is when you’re planning a trip, especially as you’re considering non-refundable airfare, reviewing the rental car agreement or signing a short-term rental contract.

Empower yourself with the knowledge and legal protection you need to take charge of any travel disruption before it happens.”

LegalShield, a champion for everyday legal needs, wants travelers to take control and protect themselves with knowledge and legal firepower.

A Guide to Basic Rights


For those undertaking air travel for the holiday season, Farrow recommends keeping in mind the following travel rights from the Department of Transportation:

  1. Federal law requires airlines to provide refunds for canceled flights, even if you booked non-refundable tickets. This includes both scheduled and non-scheduled cancellations.
  2. Airlines are liable for lost or damaged luggage up to a certain amount (usually around $3,800), but you should file a claim with the airline immediately upon discovering your luggage is missing or damaged.
  3. You may be entitled to compensation for significant delays (more than 3 hours) on domestic flights, depending on the reason for the delay and the airline’s policies.
  4. Airlines must provide you with essential amenities like meals and accommodations if your flight is canceled or delayed overnight due to their fault.
  5. You have the right to file a complaint with the Department of Transportation if you believe your rights have been violated.

“Claiming these rights can be frustrating; we help our members every day get what they deserve – from airlines, rental car companies, even vacation rentals – it’s about peace of mind and LegalShield is here to make sure those rights are protected,” added Farrow.

“I’m in the business of helping people avoid conflict, and when it comes to the holidays, we can all agree it’s best to save it for the family dinner table, not fighting airlines and rental car companies.”

Conclusion


The LegalShield air travel survey was conducted in December 2023 and surveyed 1,081 adults, ages 18 and older, who live in the United States.

The sample was balanced by age, among other demographic variables, according to the U.S. Census.

LegalShield is one of the world’s largest platforms for legal, identity, and reputation management services protecting individuals and businesses across North America.

Founded in 1972, LegalShield, and its privacy management product, IDShield, has provided individuals, families, businesses, and employers with tools and services needed to affordably live a just and secure life

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A recent survey of air travelers by LegalShield found that 39% of respondents were not aware of their basic rights as air passengers.
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