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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 19:02 GMT
Q&A: Air passengers' rights
q & a

Delays, lost luggage, missed connections.... BBC News Online looks at what rights you have as an air passenger.

When a passenger buys a seat on a plane, what rights do they have?

When an airline sells a seat it's only promising to take the passenger to a particular destination, there's no guarantee as to time of arrival.

In fact, even after boarding has taken place the airline has the right to order passengers from the flight.

Passengers that refuse to comply to a request to disembark could face action from the airline.

So if a flight is delayed a claim for compensation can't be made against the airline?

Strictly speaking, that's right. An airline can simply refer delayed passengers to either their tour operators - in the case of a chartered flight - or even to their travel insurers.

A comprehensive travel insurance policy may pay-out for any inconvenience caused by a flight delay.

According to Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) charter flight customers can refuse to take a seat on a plane that has been delayed more than 12 hours, claiming a full refund.

What if I miss a connecting flight due to a delay?

If the connecting flight is with the same airline then they are duty bound to get you to your final destination but with no guarantee as to time of arrival.

If, however, the missed connecting flight is with another airline then they can, in theory, refuse you a seat on a later flight.

However, in the cut-throat world of airlines where passenger traffic is at a premium, an airline taking such a stance is rare, although they may ask for a supplement.

In such cases, yet again, the onus is on the passenger to seek compensation for costs incurred by a delay from their travel insurer.

What if, when I check-in, I am told that the aircraft is full and I can't get aboard?

Airlines often assume that some passengers will miss check-in times, and so overbooking of flights is not uncommon.

However, sometimes this means there are too many passengers for a flight. In such cases, the airline is entitled to 'bump' passengers onto a later flight.

The goo