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Air Travel and Your Rights: What to Know

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

These days, air travel often means dealing with overbooked, overcrowded flights and waiting in long lines overseen by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and customs agents.


Do you know what your rights are when passing through the airport? Also, what happens if your flight is delayed or overbooked? Make sure you’re knowledgeable and prepared before your next trip. 


Know Your Rights

We’ve all read stories about airline passengers being subjected to searches in security lines, having their luggage rifled through, and even being detained. Here’s what to know about a few common air travel scenarios.


Checked Luggage -- This can be searched even if you lock it, which you are allowed to do. If an agent searches your bag, you should find a baggage inspection notice in it. 


Pat-Downs -- Pat-down searches can be conducted randomly, for enhanced screening purposes, or for travelers who choose this option instead of going through the electronic screeners. These searches are to be conducted by an agent of the same gender. You may request a private screening, in which case a second agent of the same gender must be present.  


What You Can Do

If you think you’ve been dealt with rudely (or illegally) by a TSA agent, you can report them to their supervisor. Follow up with an email and contact your congressional representative. 

If a customs or TSA agent searches or confiscates your electronic device, obtain the name, agency, badge number and contact number for the agency and ask for a receipt.


If your flight is overbooked and you get bumped (whether voluntarily or involuntarily), you should be compensated. The Department of Transportation offers some form of compensation for most bumped airline passengers, but it can vary depending on the airline and the situation. 


Have questions? Reach out anytime.

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