Holiday travelers head to the airport early, urged to be aware o - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Holiday travelers head to the airport early, urged to be aware of protections

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Travelers wait in line early Wednesday at Bradley International Airport. (WFSB photo) Travelers wait in line early Wednesday at Bradley International Airport. (WFSB photo)

Airline passengers were urged to constantly check their flight status and be aware of their rights and protections Wednesday as the holiday travel weekend began.

Experts typically call the day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year. 

AAA estimates a total of nearly 4 million Americans will fly this holiday week, a near 2 percent rise from last year.

With such heavy volume expected, airport officials warned passengers to be well-prepared as they head toward the terminals.

Early Wednesday morning, delays to Newark, NJ and a cancellation to Montreal were reported at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.

At airports nationwide and in Connecticut, officials urged travelers to give themselves extra time. They recommended at least 90 minutes to ensure a smooth transition through security checkpoints.

Airport officials said they expected a 10 percent increase in the amount of passengers traveling through its gates.

"I've been here since 2 [a.m.]," said George Enman, a traveler. "[I] drove in from New Hampshire."

Airport terminals started to filling up during the early morning hours.

"[We're] definitely trying to get out early because we know it was going to be very busy, the busiest travel day of the year," said Diana Gibson of Hartford. "Plus, we found a direct flight. We're smiling, everything's good."

The early birds won out on Wednesday morning.

"I got here early, my flight was delayed to 10:10, but I got here early expecting it to be more, but it's actually not as bad as I thought," Gibson said.

However, getting up early wasn't for everyone.

Sarah Scarseletta of Florence, MA said "getting up, to the car and the check-in point" is the hardest part of traveling this week.

Be sure to check the flight's air carrier to check the status before heading out.

The weather looked good at Bradley on Wednesday but, experts said to be mindful of potential weather advisories depending on where you're headed and when.

Passengers were also urged by Sen. Richard Blumenthal to know their rights and protections.

He scheduled a news conference at 11:30 a.m. at Bradley.

He's said he's looking to highlight the protections that are in place, along with security measures.

Four airlines were hit with federal penalties earlier this year fir failing to adhere to the laws, including the requirement that they owe passengers compensation for lost luggage and bumped flights.

“Consumers who fail to know their rights cannot rely on airlines to remind them," Blumenthal said. "‎For the airlines ignorance is bliss, a profitable one. Whether it’s lost luggage, delayed flights or re-booking fees, laws are in place to protect passengers from anti-consumer practices."

Blumenthal said he wanted to hear from travelers this holiday season any time they are confronted with surprise charges, unreasonable delays, lost luggage or other travel headaches.

"Passengers may be entitled to refunds and payments,” Blumenthal said.

He urged people to post their experiences on his Facebook page here.

Here are passenger protections:

  • If an airline oversells its flight, involuntarily bumps you, and delays your arrival at your destination by more than two hours, the airline owes you up to $1,350 cash; if the airline delays your arrival between one and two hours, the airline owes you up to $675 cash;
  • If an airline loses, damages or delays your checked bag on a domestic flight, the airline may owe you up to $3,500; on an international flight, the airline may owe you up to $1,500;
  • If an airline loses your checked bag, the airline must also refund your bag fee;
  • If you make a mistake booking (e.g., you pick the wrong date to fly) or change your mind, the airline must give you 24 hours to re-book without penalty or refund your fare, as long as it’s more than a week before departure; and
  • An airline can keep you on the tarmac for no more than three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights and must provide food and water after two hours of delay, provide you updates every half hour, and ensure that bathrooms are in working order. 

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