Travel expert explains your rights as a passenger on a plane

Travel expert explains your rights as a passenger on a plane
(Source: AP Images)

HOLLAND, OH (WTOL) - It is a viral video outraging people around the world on social media.

This video shows a United Airlines passenger being physically removed from his seat in Chicago. As a result, the video has caused a public relations nightmare for the airline.

So what rights do we have when the airline wants to take a seat?

Before you take off on your next flight from Toledo Express or Detroit, you might want to do some reading. Your airline has a pretty long contract that you agreed to in order to fly.

The passenger in the video was told to give up his seat so the airline could give it to an airline employee.

"I understand why they were asking him to give up his seat, but I've never seen anything like that just for that reason," said travel consultant Sarah Rosenberger of Central Travel in Holland.

She said almost everyone does not know about the Contract of Carriage document.

It's not on your boarding pass and is only found on your airline's website. When you buy the ticket, you agree to all the rules of the airline. For United, it is 45 pages worth of regulations.

For example, if the airline overbooks the flight and can't find enough people to give up their seat, they can randomly choose people to boot out.

Rosenberger said you are especially vulnerable if you have a lack of status with their frequent flyer program or if you bought the ticket at a cheap price.

Rosenberger says it should never get out of hand like what happened on the United plane, but she said we are always at the mercy of the airline.

"They are agreeing to get you from Point A to Point B. It doesn't mean that you are going to end up on the specific flight that you booked, that you are going to end up in the specific seat assignment. It's great when that happens. It typically happens but they can and they do reserve the right to change that at any time."

Rosenberger doesn't think the United controversy will have a long-term effect on travelers. She believes price and length of travel will remain the biggest factors for customers when the buy tickets.

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