How can consumers get compensation from airlines after the recent storms? 

After the recent storms on the East Coast, several airlines took proactive measures to assist travelers in navigating through the challenging weather conditions. 

Some airlines, including United, American Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit, and Delta, issued travel advisories to individuals affected by the winter storms. Each airline also introduced measures to facilitate rescheduling: 

  • United: Passengers could reschedule flights without incurring change fees or fare differences. However, conditions applied, including maintaining the same cabin class and traveling between the same cities as the original booking. The new flight had to be with United, and the rebooking needed to be for a flight within one week.
  • Delta: To avoid change fees, Delta travelers needed to rebook in the same cabin as their original tickets. Cancellations resulted in credit toward a new airline ticket to be scheduled within one year. Any fare differences incurred had to be paid by the consumers. Delta allowed travelers between five and six days to reschedule without penalty, and tickets had to be booked by a specified date.
  • JetBlue: Travelers had a window of three to four days to rebook tickets without facing change fees, as long as the tickets were purchased before a specified date. JetBlue also allowed a full refund to the original payment method in the event of severe weather.
  • Spirit: Change and fare differences were waived for rebookings scheduled within one week of inclement weather. Beyond that period, the change fee was waived, but passengers were responsible for any applicable fare differences.
  • American: Change fees were waived if tickets were rebooked in the same cabin, for American Airlines flights, with the origin and destination cities remaining unchanged. Changes had to be booked within one week, and the original tickets must have been purchased before a specified date.

Travelers should be aware of their rights during inclement weather, as outlined by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). While there is no rule obliging airlines to cover flight changes to different carriers during bad weather, most airlines will rebook passengers on their earliest available flights to the destination at no additional charge if a flight is canceled. 

The DOT also clarifies compensation responsibilities for delayed or canceled flights, with stricter regulations for international flights compared to domestic ones.

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