Money & Jobs

These Airlines Have The Best Compensation Policies For Delayed Or Canceled Flights

You may not get to your destination on time, but at least you can get some of your money back.

Flickr | Ted & Dani Percival

Traveling during the winter is always a little risky. Blizzards and winter storms can cause delays, snarl traffic and create headaches at the airport. (To be fair, summer thunderstorms can do the same.) Meanwhile, security lines are longer than ever and airports just keep adding flights, making delays and cancellations even more likely.

Dealing with delayed or canceled flights is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be a total loss. Some airlines are trying to minimize the harm (and keep from losing more customers) with compensation policies for passengers. Here’s a look at how to go about asking for that compensation, and which airlines are your best bets.

When You Don’t Have A Claim

Sometimes you’re just not entitled to compensation, no matter how hard you cry at the counter. These circumstances include:

Flickr | Mark Hodson Photos

When You Do Have A Claim

Airlines don’t always make it easy, but there are times when you do deserve some compensation. This can take the form of vouchers, points, a refund, accommodations or some combination of these options.

All airlines in the U.S. have to follow some basic rules about delays and cancellations. These include rebooking passengers from canceled flights and paying for accommodations if you’re bumped off a flight for certain reasons.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a general airline passenger bill of rights. It outlines some circumstances that merit compensation, including lost or delayed luggage and tarmac delays of more than three hours. Other times when you might have a claim:

Tips For Getting Compensated

Flickr | Andrew Malone

Best Airlines For Compensation

Beyond these basic rules, compensation depends on the individual airline and its “contract of carriage.” Most airlines follow similar rules, but some are more generous—or easier to talk to—than others. Tourism Meets Traveler has a decent rundown of the specifics of some of these contracts.

If your flight is delayed or canceled, here’s who you want to be flying with:

Airfare Watchdog has more information on individual airline policies and passenger rights.