Airline Passenger Rights

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airline passengersPassenger rights if you are removed from an airplane or injured by another passenger

Imagine that after spending hundreds of dollars on airfare, you are sitting on an airliner getting ready to take off on your way to the vacation you planned for months. Or instead, you are sitting with your seat belt on as you prepare to leave for an important business meeting. Perhaps you are traveling in an emergency-situation to visit an ill family member or friend. While you are preparing for take-off, what happens if an airline employee tells you must get off the airplane. If you choose to remain on board, can you be forcibly removed? And, what are your rights if you are injured in the process?

Recently, a United Airlines passenger who encountered this situation was forcibly removed by airport security, suffering personal injuries in the process. American courts have ruled that airlines do not have an unrestricted right to forcibly remove passengers whether due to overbooking issues, unsubstantiated security-related claims, or even impolite passenger behavior. These limitations on airline and crew behavior apply to both international and domestic flights in the United States.

Damages awarded to passengers on flights in the United States could include pain and suffering, reimbursement of medical expenses, wage loss if the passenger misses time from work, and emotional distress.

If the airline bumps the passenger from the flight or prohibits the passenger from boarding because of discrimination also constitutes improper conduct. Federal law prohibits discrimination based upon race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or ancestry. If the airline engages in discriminatory practices, a passenger could file a civil rights lawsuit, with damages including pain, suffering, emotional distress and attorney’s fees to pay your legal representative. Our American civil justice system may permit recovery of punitive damages.

In addition, there have been situations where quarrelsome and unruly passengers attack others and cause them bodily harm. In a situation such as this, the airline should protect you from assault by another passenger, and could face liability if it fails to do so. Again, American courts permit recovery in the appropriate circumstances for both domestic and international travel.    

Airlines cannot mistreat their passengers in violation of the law. If your rights are violated, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Woodruff Johnson & Evans Law Offices at (630) 585-2320  for a free case review or fill in our Contact Form.

Click  Aviation Injuries for more information

Click Steven Sandler for more information on the blog’s author.


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