Flying? Get to know your traveler's rights

June 24, 2011 7:21:22 PM PDT
A computer system belonging to United Airlines crashed around the country last week, causing three thousand people to be stranded at San Francisco International Airport and many more to be stuck at airports nationwide.

Many are legally owed nothing because of the computer glitch, but that doesn't mean passengers shouldn't be compensated.

The passengers who were stuck at SFO were not happy campers, and that is not just a figure of speech. As it turns out, tey didn't have to tough it out. A comfortable, free hotel room awaited the stranded passengers, but many passengers didn't take it.

"They didn't know what their rights were, and that's why they didn't get what they should have," said travel attorney Al Anolik, who added that all of the people who were stuck at SFO qualified for a free hotel room provided by United Airlines.

United's own contract of carriage calls for the airline to supply a hotel room if certain conditions are met.

"If you were a passenger with the original flight coupon from SFO, or from whichever airport it was, you don't get a hotel," said Anolik. "Only those who are passing through who might really need a hotel after 10 p.m. at night would be eligible to get a coupon for a hotel."

If you get stranded, head to a computer and do a search for the airliner's name plus the phrase "contract of carriage." Within the contract, you will find what the airline owes under certain circumstances. Once you find what is owed, go to the airline's counter at the airport and ask about it.

If the United Airlines passengers had been bumped from an airliner that went on to fly, they would have been entitled to double the cost of their ticket up to $800.


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