NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07:  Cancelled flights due to a storm are viewed on a schedule board at LaGuardia Airport on November 7, 2012 in New York City. The Northeast suffered another storm today as a mix of snow, rain and high winds moved through the area, canceling flights and creating hazardous driving conditions.  Six thousand households in the area are still without power for more than nine days following Superstorm Sandy.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Four Ways to Get Compensated for Your Trip Delay

Over the years, trip delay has become a regular part of the flying experience. According to The Wall Street Journal, only 78% of flights on U.S. based airlines arrived on time in 2013. If these statistics continue, the odds are stacked against the traveler: nearly one in four travelers will experience a trip delay on a U.S. based airline this year.

Trip delays are one of the biggest frustrations travelers face every time they step foot in an airport. But did you know that you can possibly get paid as a result of a trip delay? Safeguards in both American and European regulations allow situations for travelers to get paid out as a result of a trip delay. Yet, according to a recent study completed by Reuters, only two percent of travelers seek compensation for their delayed travel.

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Long-Haul Flight Survival Tips

How do you make sure you’re not in the 98% not getting properly paid because of a trip delay? Here are four ways you can make sure you’re taken care of if your flight is going nowhere in a hurry:

1: Purchase travel insurance

Perhaps the only sure-fire way to get your money back as a result of a trip delay is to purchase a travel insurance policy. Many trip cancellation travel insurance plans offer a trip delay benefit: if your trip were to be delayed for a number of factors (including common carrier situations), you could be entitled to having your costs covered – up to the policy maximum. The downsides to these policies are in the fine print. For instance, many travel insurance policies have a trip delay minimum you may need to meet a claim is approved. This minimum “delay period” could be as few as four hours, or well over 12 hours. Additionally, some plans may only cover expenses suffered as a result of the delay, and not general compensation. Be sure you know what your trip delay benefit covers before you purchase a travel insurance policy.

2: Seek compensation from the airline

Contrary to popular belief, there are very few federal policies regarding trip delay and trip cancellation. Unless you are involuntarily displaced from a flight within the United States (see point number three), an airline is not required to give compensation for delayed or cancelled flights. However, many airlines may elect to give certain benefits to displaced travelers, such as providing free water and snacks. In a situation where a flight is overbooked, airlines may seek volunteers to give up their seats in exchange for a hotel room, travel vouchers, or some combination of the above. If your trip is delayed, be sure to ask if the airline is willing to provide you any form of assistance. While an airline is not required to assist, they may elect to do so in order to keep a happy customer.

3: File a claim with the regulatory bodies

In certain situations where travelers are displaced and delayed, airlines may be obligated to give compensation to delayed travelers. Travelers flying on an itinerary originating in Europe can receive payment from their airline if a flight is cancelled or delayed by at least three hours. For flights originating from the United States, passengers are due compensation if they are involuntarily displaced (“bumped”) from an oversold flight, and can’t get to their destination within one hour of their scheduled landing time. If you plan on using these benefits to your advantage, make sure that you know your rights and affirm them at the gate. Accepting an airline voucher (as in the situation above) immediately nullifies your ability to receive payment from the airline.

4: Use a claims service to get your money back

If you are unable to file a claim for your delayed or cancelled trip, or aren’t sure where to begin, you may want to look for help from the professionals. Services like AirHelp orRefund.me can assist you in filing claims for delayed or cancelled flights. These services can evaluate your case, file and follow through on complaints, and potentially get the compensation you may be entitled to. While these services can be great depending on your situation, they do charge a fee based on your total compensation. In the case of Refund.me, their fee is 15% of your compensation.

By knowing what you’re entitled to in the event of a trip delay or trip cancellation, you may be able to profit as a result of your unfortunate situation. Next time you’re stuck at the airport, keep these tips in mind – they could make your wait a whole lot easier.

Ed. Note: No compensation nor incentive was given to mention or link to any product or service in this article. Neither About.com nor the author endorse or guarantee any product, service, or brand mentioned in this article, unless otherwise stated. For more information, see our Ethics Policy

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