Travel Rights provides the “rules of travel” for travelers to help them avoid problems and get the best possible service available with the fewest hassles.
This book outlines the basic rules, regulations, and policies that dictate how airlines, automobile rental companies, hotels, railroads, and the new sharing economy work with their customers. This is not a book about “Travel Secrets” or “Insider Tricks,” simply your travel rights.
Even seasoned travelers have been faced with travel hassles—being bumped off an airline flight, missing connections because of a late arrival, having baggage lost, or being delayed by weather. Others have been faced with rental car reservations that have disappeared or been uncertain as to whether they really needed that collision damage waiver counter personnel present when signing rental contracts.
When everything works well, business and vacation travelers return with smiles on their faces. But, when things go wrong, those smiles can change to frustrated frowns and anger.
So, be prepared when travel goes awry. It’s the travelers who know their travel rights who get to their destination — on time and with all their belongings, or who get the service or refunds they deserve.
Getting the word out
Airlines, automobile rental companies and credit card issuers all spend small fortunes attempting to let travelers know about all the deals and benefits available to them. But the information is overwhelming and it comes in scores of brochures, with credit card bills, on the back of airline tickets, in fine print on car rental agreements, with coupons in grocery stores, tucked in marketing pitches, and on Internet Web sites.
Travel Rights takes that hard-to-read information from obscure places in travel documents and makes it easy to find, easy to read and easy to use. When travelers know their travel rights, they know what they can expect from the travel industry.
What are Travel Rights?
The more specific information travelers know about this system of airline assistance, as well as the complicated airline ticketing options and scores of special passenger services, the better they can take advantage of these options when traveling.
The better rental car customers understand pricing policies, collision damage waiver regulations, driver license checks and additional charges, the easier it becomes for counter personnel to explain special deals and for travelers to clearly compare prices and services.
It is all of these travel benefits, sometimes obscure company policies, and travel related federal laws that make up a travel consumer’s travel rights. In the following pages—clearly indexed and with a simple table of contents—you will learn about Travel Rights most travelers don’t even know they have.
The lack of public information
In Europe, American travelers are often surprised to see consumer rights detailed in classy posters, plastered on walls next to boarding gates and above luggage carousels. U.S. airlines and airports are still fighting requirements to post consumer rights clearly where they can be seen and read by travelers. Travelers United continues to press for that kind of disclosure, but in the meantime, this book fills the gap of knowledge.
The federal regulation mantra
Flight attendants and airline administrators repeatedly intone the mantra “Federal Regulation.” In actuality, official regulation barely exists when it comes to customer service. Airline, rental car, rail, and hotel company policies are the real rules by which the travel industry works. Travel Rights clarifies some of these rules. Knowing them can make a big, big difference both when planning a trip and when problems arise during travels.
- What is the airline’s liability if they lose your luggage?
- What happens should you arrive in Europe without clothing for a month-long vacation?
- How much should an airline pay if a traveler is “bumped” off a flight?
- Can you be compensated if your flight is delayed?
- If your plane is delayed several hours by a mechanical problem, what do airline rules allow you?
- If you are bumped off a flight involuntarily and miss a business meeting, do you get the same treatment as a volunteer bumpee, gleeful at the idea of a free ticket?\
- When planning to travel with friends and family, and you have multiple drivers for a rental car, do you know which companies don’t charge extra for additional drivers?
- Is your credit card Collision Damage Waiver still valid for those drivers?
- What credit cards are best for travel? Do you know their real benefits? And, additional charges?
- Wonder when you have to pay sales taxes and when you don’t? Do you know that after you pay some taxes in Europe and in Canada you can get most of your money back?
- Do you know what travel information can be found on the Internet and what sites allow secure reservation systems?
Today, airline travel service is abysmal. Consolidation in the airline industry has resulted in fewer airlines and worse service as the airlines have divided up the aviation marketplace. With no real competition on many routes, knowing the rules of the air and of the road is more important than ever. Where, once airlines used to bend over backwards to keep customers satisfied, they now simply follow the rules. And, if passengers don’t know these rules they will lose out to agents who are not rewarded by providing good service, but by squeezing the maximum possible revenue from passengers while providing the least amount of customer service necessary to get a passenger from Point A to Point B.
The bottom line is that travelers need to know what their options may be. Travelers United hopes this book sheds a bit of light on the world in which we travel and makes it easier to ask knowledgeably for our travel rights.
This airline section is an amalgamation of earlier editions of Travel Rights, initially published by World Leisure Corporation; Fly-Rights: A Consumer Guide to Air Travel, published by the Department of Transportation; articles published on the Travelers United blog by Janice Hough, Ned Levi, and others; new material by Malcolm Kenton; and frequently asked questions compiled by Christopher Elliott in his book, How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler (and Save Time, Money, and Hassle), and the staff of Elliott.org.