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Flight delayed? Get cash instead of a voucher

(MoneyWatch) Air travel has never been fun -- except perhaps in the black and white '50s, long before I ever boarded my first airliner -- and it seems to get worse all the time. There's nothing so nightmarish as getting bumped from a flight and spending many extra hours in the airport waiting to fly home from a business trip.

But I've got some news that might make it just a little bit better.

You're probably used to being offered a voucher for future air travel when you get bumped from a flight. Recently, Lifehacker pointed out that you don't have to accept their pseudo-cash; airlines are required to pony up real dollars if you insist on it. According to Lifehacker, you can request -- and receive -- "a cash payout of up to $1,200 on the spot, depending on the delay in getting you to your destination."

The same is also true of lost or delayed luggage. Any time that you arrive before your luggage, you are entitled to compensation. The airline might want to give you money for toiletries, but you are eligible for as much as $1,500, depending upon how long you're luggageless.

It's good to know that you have a little more leverage the next time you find yourself sitting around at the airport without a plane.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Kuster & Wildhaber Photography

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