Do you know your rights when you fly?
Next week kicks off the holiday travel season, with tens of millions of Americans expected to take to the skies.
It's been seven months since Doctor David Dao was dragged off a United Airlines plane so his seat could be given to a United crew member. His attorneys cried foul.
“Are we going to continue to be treated like cattle? Bullied? Rude treatment?” said Dao family attorney Thomas Demetrio.
United's CEO Oscar Munoz called the incident a watershed moment for the airline.
“No customer or individual should ever be treated the way Mr. Dao was, ever, and we understand that,” said Munoz.
Doctor Dao's attorney handled complaints from hundreds of angry flyers. He says the airlines appear to have gotten the message.
“What we have seen though is a response, from the airlines to people who have complaints. Where before they were basically ignored. Now there is a process going on where there is communication,” Demetrio said.
But there are still frustrated flyers and chaotic moments on the tarmac. In September, a woman who was dragged off a Southwest Airlines flight in Baltimore claimed it's because she's a Muslim. The airline says she failed to produce the documents needed to prove she was allergic to dogs.
And in May, brawls broke out when hundreds of passengers were stranded when a labor dispute led to the cancellation of nine Spirit airlines flights.
The head of nationwide flyers rights organization says abuse of passengers may be on the decline, but is still a problem.
“We think that it's probably gone down since the Doctor Dao incident, but I don’t' think it's gone away because a number of these videos came out after that,” said Paul Hudson, president of Flyers Rights.
FOX 32’s own random sampling at O’Hare, including some frequent flyers, suggests that when it comes to issues like lost baggage and time stuck on a tarmac, most passengers don't have a clue about their rights.
Rights for getting paid if they're bumped, or for lost luggage.
Here are some answers. If you're involuntarily bumped and the airline doesn't get you to your destination within an hour of your scheduled arrival, your compensation should be twice the value of your ticket, capping at $675. If they lose your luggage, recovery caps out at $3000. And after two hours on the tarmac, they've got to provide food and beverages.
More flyers rights can be found at flyersrights.org, but Hudson says not as many rights as you might hope for.
“There are very few rights that you have, unlike in most industries, the airlines have been given exemptions from most consumer protection laws,” he said.
Or, As Demetrio puts it.
“Now we're being told with more of a smile, but we're still being told,” he said.
Federal statistics suggest airlines do have a new attitude. Fewer travelers were involuntarily bumped in the first half of this year than in any year since 1995, when such data was first collected.