Pop Quiz: Does an Airline Have to Put You Up in a Hotel When Your Flight is Canceled?

Today, we’re testing your smarts about planes, trains and automobiles … well, at least planes and automobiles. See if you can do better than the person on the street in our travel pop quiz.

Pop Quiz: Does an Airline Have to Put You Up in a Hotel When Your Flight is Canceled? Photo (cc) by OakleyOriginals

It’s coming. Like pumpkin spice flavoring, the holiday travel season will soon be here.

In a very short time, you’ll be joining the masses as part of the annual exodus to visit people you haven’t seen in a year and may only marginally care about, all in the name of holiday cheer.

To prepare you for happy trails, Money Talks News finance expert Stacy Johnson has a special travel edition pop quiz. Watch the video below to see how well the person on the street fares and then read on for all the details.

A blizzard blows through just in time to cancel your flight, stranding you at the airport overnight. Does the airline have to spring for a hotel room for you?

Sorry. The answer is no. Sure hope you have a comfy bag to use as a pillow.

In our entitled, customer-is-always-right society, we’ve become accustomed to businesses catering to our every whim. Therefore, you may logically think an airline should be expected to pay for a room and a cozy bed if it can’t fly you out of the airport on schedule. Am I right?

Well, what you think and what the government thinks are two different things. Here’s what the U.S. Department of Transportation says about canceled flights.

Airlines don’t guarantee their schedules, and you should realize this when planning your trip. … Each airline has its own policies about what it will do for delayed passengers waiting at the airport; there are no federal requirements. … Contrary to popular belief, airlines are not required to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled.

So there you have it. If your flight is delayed or canceled, you are on your own, my friend.

However, don’t let that stop you from asking. Airlines do business in a competitive market, so it’s in their best interests to keep you happy, particularly if you’re a returning guest and frequent traveler.

Go ahead and ask the customer service rep if there is any possibility of getting a hotel, or at least some meal vouchers. Be sure to be pleasant and friendly when you ask. The folks at the front desk are likely being hammered by angry, upset customers, and a smiling face may be the one that gets a free or reduced price hotel.

If the line at the airport is crazy, you could also try calling the airline’s toll free number or your travel agent, if you have one. We’ve got more tips for stranded travelers in our article on “9 Best Moves to Make When Your Flight is Canceled.”

You click a wrong button and accidentally buy two airline tickets instead of one. Doh! Is it time to find a travel partner?


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