COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Travel plans were disrupted for thousands of people across the country over the last few weeks.
If you were one of them, there’s a chance you could be compensated, and an interactive tool from the U.S. Department of Transportation could help you figure out if or what you’re owed.
The Airline Customer Service Dashboard is located on the department’s Aviation Consumer Protection website. It’s designed to keep you informed on the services and amenities that each of the 10 major airlines provides to customers, based on controllable delays or cancellations. Essentially, that includes a delay or cancellation caused by the airline due to such things as maintenance or crew problems, baggage loading or fueling.
If Southwest cancels a flight, for instance, the airline will rebook a passenger on another Southwest flight at no additional cost. It will not rebook a passenger on a partner airline or another airline at no additional cost.
Southwest canceled more than 16,700 flights over the last 10 days of December which began with a winter storm and grew worse when its crew-rescheduling technology broke down under the strain of reassigning thousands of pilots and flight attendants.
The Department of Transportation said airlines are required to adhere to the promises that they make, including commitments to care for customers in the event of controllable delays or cancellations. If they fail to do so, they will be held accountable.
Unlike mechanical, technical, or staffing issues, though, weather delays are deemed “out of the airline’s control,” meaning the airline is not responsible for covering additional costs. But if your flight is canceled, regardless of the reason, airlines are required to provide a refund. That is a rule set by the Transportation Department.
Last week, a malfunction in an obscure and apparently obsolete internal system called the Notice to Air Missions, or NOTAM, forced the temporary grounding of all air traffic in the United States. The move touched off a cascading snarl that resulted in the cancellation of more than 1,300 flights and the delay of 9,000 more. It was the biggest shutdown of U.S. aviation since the attacks of Sept 11, 2001.
Major airlines including Delta, American, Southwest and United waived change fees for affected flights to make it easier for passengers to change their travel plans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.