Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

Recently in Travel Rules and Rights Category

When it comes to summer road trips, having a good emergency safety kit can make the difference between a miserable experience and a great story. If you think that since we live in the 21st century digital world, it means you can forgo having an emergency safety kit, you are so very wrong.

Although most problems on the road can be solved by calling roadside assistance, like the services provided by AAA or your insurance company, getting service can sometimes take several hours. As such, having the right supplies to keep you, and your passengers, safe while stranded on the side of the road in the summer heat is essential.

Below, are a few tips on the types of things you should make sure to have in your summer road trip roadside emergency safety kit.

Rhonda Costigan, from Garden City, Michigan, has filed a lawsuit against Delta after going through an experience that would likely make Dr. David Dao quiver. On a flight from South Carolina to Michigan in 2016, Ms. Costigan was sexually assaulted by another passenger, Christopher Finkley, who was sentenced to one week in jail for simple misdemeanor assault on a plea bargain as a result of the incident.

Ms. Costigan's lawsuit alleges that Delta could have stopped the conduct as Finkley had been found by flight crew exposing himself earlier on the flight, and was left to roam free. She is seeking $10 million, which given the facts and Delta holding over $50 billion in assets, seems reasonable.

In this world nothing is certain but death, taxes, and airline fees. As ticket prices skyrocket, all of the associated fees with flying, from baggage to food to changes, are mounting as well. And one of the surest premises on which our airline travel rests is that the non-refundable ticket is exactly that: non-refundable.

But that presumption might be changing. It turns out that U.S. Department of Transportation regulations guarantee full refunds in certain situations, even on non-refundable tickets. Here's a look.

It is well known that scam artists tend to focus their efforts on the more vulnerable members of our society. The elderly frequently get conned due to failing mental health, or by being easily tricked, or physically intimidated. However, recently, due to changes in immigration policy, scammers have been turning their attention to immigrants.

Immigrants that are worried about their undocumented status, have immigration paperwork pending, or even those with legal status, have been targeted though various schemes and cons. Undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable because they frequently fear contacting law enforcement due to their undocumented status, and the scammers know this and know how to take advantage of this fear.

Below you'll find three different types of scams that immigrants should know.

There is no bright line rule that says once a driver reaches a certain age that they must give up their license. While a few states have laws requiring older drivers to confirm they are physically able to continue driving, most do not. Instead, drivers must use their best discretion when deciding to stop driving and not renew their driver’s license.

For many seniors, making the decision to stop driving is not easy. Giving up driving might feel like giving up their independence. However, when the warning signs start to present themselves, older drivers that continue to drive not only endanger themselves, but also the public at large.

Below, you will find some of the common warning signs that should make older drivers consider giving it up.

New Rules being implemented by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) require airlines that charge fees for baggage handling to refund those fees for lost bags, as well as bags that are delayed. While the bill passed by congress advises that bags delayed more than 12 hours (or 15 hours for international flights) should qualify passengers for a refund of any bag fees, DOT may be able to adjust the hours when the final regulations are written.

Along with the new rules on baggage fees, airlines are now required to report all incidents of mishandling wheelchairs. In addition to this good news, measures are being considered that would require airlines and ticket agents to disclose all additional fees when listing out ticket prices for consumers.

New Law Bans Car Rental Company Use of Recalled Vehicles

A new law bans rental car companies with vehicle fleets of 35-cars or more from renting out a recalled vehicle before it has been repaired. Sounds like a good idea, right? And it seems a little strange that this was not on the books before. But it was not and, as is often the case, this law came to exist because people were hurt by its absence.

It took effect this week, reports the Detroit News, and the woman responsible for its introduction is a mother, Cally Houck. She lost two daughters to a car crash in California in 2004, which involved a recalled rental vehicle. Houck reportedly lobbied in Congress "for years" until the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act was approved last year.

Can You Sue If You Find out Your Pilot Was Drunk?

This week a Jet Blue pilot was federally charged for violating airline safety regulations after random testing revealed high levels of alcohol in his blood following a flight from Florida to New York. The complaint against Dennis Murphy Jr. states that his co-pilot saw him drinking before the flight and the tests showed Murphy to be at nearly three times the legal limit for an airline pilot.

Murphy’s case highlights what may be a relatively common habit of drinking and flying by pilots. Let’s look at the data and whether there is anything you can do if you find a pilot on your flight was drunk or high.

Is It Legal to Travel With Large Sums of Cash?

If you have $75,000 in cash, can you stuff it into a suitcase and board a plane with it?

One passenger actually did this. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Richmond International Airport discovered $75,000 in cash in a passenger's luggage during a security check. The question remains: is it legal to travel with that much cash?

Traveling with Cash

Although it may seem sketchy, it is perfectly legal to travel with any amount of cash -- even very large amounts. You could cram a million dollars into your purse if you wanted. There is no law against that as far as domestic flights are concerned.

If you're flying internationally with more than $10,000, you'll have to declare the amount to customs. Other than that, assuming customs approves your luggage, you can carry as much cash as you want.

Can the Government Take My Money?

While carrying large amounts of cash isn't necessarily illegal, you may run into trouble if the authorities believe the cash may be tied to illegal activity.

Since the TSA routinely finds evidence of criminal activity such as illegal drug trafficking or money laundering, don't be surprised when the TSA pays a little extra attention to your cash stash. TSA officers may question you about where you got the money, where you're taking it to, and why. You are not required to answer these questions, but not answering can result in delays.

If the TSA suspects that the cash may be linked to illegal activity, it will call in a law enforcement agency to investigate further.

In the case mentioned above, a law enforcement agency was called in to investigate the $75,000 found. The cash was seized, as allowed by laws governing civil asset forfeiture, and the traveler was allowed to continue on his flight.

Tips for Traveling

If you do decide to stash stacks of Benjamins in your luggage, here are some tips:

  • Ask TSA officials to screen you in a private location. You don't want everyone in line to know you're carrying a lot of cash.
  • Always keep cash and other valuables with you in a carry-on bag. Never leave such items in checked baggage.
  • Don't forget to declare the cash to customs if you're traveling internationally.

Related Resources:

Spring Break Travel: Know Your Rights at the Airport

Spring breakers dealing with air travel will want to know their rights at the airport.

Whether it's going through airport security or knowing how to deal with airlines if your flight is delayed or cancelled, travelers should be aware of the limitations of the law.

So here's what you should know regarding your rights at the airport:

Airport Security

Before you can hop on a plane, you need to go through a TSA security check. Most airports still utilize body scanners or walk-through metal detectors. Although controversial, TSA body scanners are lawful, but if you're uncomfortable with the process, you can opt for a pat-down instead.

According to the TSA, pat downs are performed by an officer of the same gender. Passengers can request a private screening at any time, but it should be offered if a TSA agent must pat down a sensitive area.

If you have any sensitive areas or have difficulty raising your arms or remaining in the requested position, you should inform the officer. Finally, passengers shouldn't be asked to remove or lift up clothing to reveal any sensitive body parts during the pat down.

If you feel a pat-down has gone too far, there is a procedure in place for complaints.

Permitted Items

While travelers are still limited to the "3-1-1" liquids rule for carry-ons, the TSA has relaxed some of its other carry-on policies to allow previously banned items onto planes. Some of the items now allowed to be carried on include:

  • Small pocket knives with non-locking blades that measure 2.36 inches (6 centimeters) or less,
  • Golf clubs,
  • Small novelty bats and toy bats,
  • Ski poles,
  • Lacrosse sticks,
  • Hockey sticks, and
  • Billiard cues.

Items like razor blades and box cutters are still prohibited. However, you can still place many prohibited carry-on items in your checked baggage. (If you're only traveling with carry-ons, then you might want to consider mailing some items to your final destination or give it a friend who drops you off at the airport.)

Knowing your rights at the airport will help make Spring Break travel more relaxing, and you won't have to worry as much about making it through airport security.

Related Resources: