Home » What Are Passengers Entitled to When Their Flights are Cancelled? (2023)

What Are Passengers Entitled to When Their Flights are Cancelled? (2023)

As much as we’d like to have smooth travels, flight cancellations are an unfortunate part of air travel. While airlines have policies and procedures in place to handle these situations, it’s important for passengers to know their rights and entitlements when their flights are cancelled. In this article, we’ll explore the latest information from the Department of Transportation (DOT) on what passengers are entitled to, including benefits and compensation, and quotes from industry experts on how to navigate this process.

flight cancellation

According to the DOT, passengers are entitled to certain benefits and compensation when their flights are cancelled, delayed, or they’re denied boarding due to overbooking. Airlines are required to provide passengers with a written statement of their rights and a description of the airline’s obligations in the event of a disruption. This statement should be given to passengers at the airport or within 30 minutes of notification that their flight has been cancelled.


The DOT’s Airline Consumer Protection Division has outlined the following benefits and compensation that airlines must provide to passengers when their flights are cancelled:

  • Notification: Airlines must notify passengers of cancellations, delays, and diversions as soon as possible, and provide them with updated information every 30 minutes while they’re waiting at the gate.
  • Rebooking: Passengers have the right to be rebooked on the next available flight, either with the airline or with another carrier. If the next available flight is not until the following day, the airline must provide a hotel room and transportation to and from the airport.
  • Refunds: Passengers can choose to receive a refund for their cancelled flight, even if they have already started their journey.
  • Compensation: Passengers may be entitled to compensation if their flight is cancelled due to factors within the airline’s control, such as maintenance issues or crew scheduling problems. The amount of compensation varies based on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight, and can range from $250 to $1,350 per passenger.

To get a better sense of how airlines are handling cancellations and compensation, let’s take a look at a table from the DOT that outlines what benefits and compensation each airline provides.

flying with toddlers

Is there any hope for improvement?

Pete Buttigeg, the Secretary of Transportation, has been vocal about the need for airlines to improve their communication with passengers during disruptions. In a recent interview, Buttigeg stated that “airlines need to do better when it comes to keeping passengers informed and offering appropriate compensation when things go wrong.”

Industry experts agree that communication is key when dealing with flight cancellations. “Passengers should always make sure they know their rights and entitlements before they fly,” says travel expert Samantha Brown. “If your flight is cancelled, be sure to ask for a written statement of your rights and any compensation you may be entitled to.”


While flight cancellations can be stressful and frustrating, you as a passenger have rights and entitlements that airlines are required to provide. By knowing your rights and staying informed, you can ensure that you receive the benefits and compensation you deserve when your travel plans are disrupted.


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