SEATTLE – Before you take to the skies, take a look at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s consumer ‘Bill of Rights’.
How long can you sit on the tarmac? What happens if an airline loses your luggage? How about the money you can get when an airline messes up?
“Now if they offer a voucher or a ticket, you have the option because of the ‘passenger bill of rights’ to say, I don’t want those, send me a check. But that came into being because of the abuses of overbooking and denied-boarding compensation and the delays and things like that,” said travel expert Steve Danishek.
The rights of passengers are at the forefront now, after viral videos were posted of security men literally dragging a passenger from an United Express flight Sunday night.
Q13 News reporter Nadia Romero's video report on this issue is above:
Danishek said the rules are clear.
“Whatever they ask you to do, you do it. There is absolutely no wiggle room on that one. Ever,” said Danishek.
That means they can bump you off your flight. In response, you can get something out of it.
“In your mind, come up with a number. Maybe it’s a thousand dollars. Maybe its $1,700. If they ask for volunteers, you can assert yourself and say, 'You stopped at a thousand dollars, but I’ll do it for $1,240,'” said Danishek.
He says forcibly removing people will always be an option, but maybe not for bumping purposes anymore.
“It’s not just United Airlines that’s learning. All the airlines are learning this,” said Danishek.
That includes Seattle-based Alaska Airlines, which issued this statement: "The United (Airlines) incident has prompted us at Alaska to review our policy and communicate with employees about this policy to ensure they are clear on how to handle this type of situation…”
Passenger Zach Smith isn’t asking for much.
“We should have the rights of relative service and decent comfort, but I’m not sure what other rights we could get into,” said Smith.
But if you feel mistreated, Danishek says, use the power of social media.
“I talked to an airline, a large one, in terms of how they respond to customer inquiries. And they respond to everyone. The only ones that they would not give things to ... is if they were nasty,” said Danishek.
So ask nicely, but ultimately…
“Will airlines change their rules and policies now? I doubt it,” said Danishek.
The terms and conditions are decided by each airline.
Danishek says it will take lawmakers updating the Passenger Bill of Rights before he believes there will be any real changes in the future.
WATCH: The full conversation from today's press conference on the passenger who was forcibly removed from the United Airlines plane.