PORTLAND, Ore. — When you step on an airplane you lose some of your rights. For example, you can’t yell anything you want and you certainly can’t do anything you want.
But if weather or other issues keep you stuck on the plane out on the tarmac, waiting to take off, then you do have some rights backed by the federal government.
First, you cannot be stuck there more than 3 hours.
Second, once you are stuck there 2 hours you have to be given food and water, and thank heavens the toilets are required to work the entire time.
Now for the bad news: If your flight is delayed or cancelled the airlines are not required to pay you a cent. But some, including Southwest, are waiving fees if your flight is cancelled because of the grounding of those 737 MAX jets.
“We have implemented a dynamic waiver to allow customers to re-book on alternate dates or flights without any additional fees or fare differences,” said Southwest C.E.O. Gary Kelly.
There is one area where you could get paid depending on how bad things get. Airlines sometimes overbook their flights. If everyone shows up, it’s a problem.
Federal law requires they first ask for volunteers who will take a different flight, but you can be bumped off the plane against your will.
If the airline can get you where you were going within an hour of the original time, you will not get paid.
But if you are 1 to 2 hours late, they must pay you 200 percent of the price you paid for that ticket.
If you are more than two hours late, you get 400 percent.
Those rules are backed by the federal government.