Q. Today, a good friend who is a frequent traveler told me that there is a new law that requires airlines to compensate travelers who are bumped or delayed a significantly higher amount than in the past. He said it could go as high as $1,500 for a delay of four hours. Is this correct? If not, what are the current policies of the airlines?
A. New D.O.T. regulations, which will take at least three months to go into effect, have proposed to increase the maximum compensation for an involuntarily bumped airline passenger from the current $800 to $1,350 (the new rule also states that airlines must inform bumped passengers that they are entitled to a cash payment, not a voucher good for future travel). The maximum pay out would kick in only for a delay of over four hours. But this does not apply to flight delays. Currently there is no government-imposed penalty for delayed flights operating within or from the U.S. However, in the European Union there is. Even if you’re a foreign national, if a flight departing the E.U. is delayed due to a cause reasonably within the airline’s control, then cash payments are stipulated. The amount depends on the length of both the flight and the delay. Perhaps something like that will be proposed in the U.S. one day.