Lawyer shares hacks travellers can learn from reading ‘fine print’ of airline policies

·5-min read
Lawyer shares travel hacks she’s learned from reading fine print  (TikTok / @erikakullberg)
Lawyer shares travel hacks she’s learned from reading fine print (TikTok / @erikakullberg)

A lawyer has become a trending source of useful travel information after dedicating her TikTok account to the hacks that can be learned from reading the fine print.

Erika Kullberg, who goes by the username @erikakullberg on TikTok, where she has more than 7m followers, frequently uses the platform to share tips and tricks for everything from an “instant Nike discount” to saving $400 at Apple.

However, she has become an internet sensation with her recent travel-focused videos, in which she has shared some of the ways people can be compensated by airlines when things go wrong.

In one video posted in October, Kullberg, a graduate from Georgetown Law, role-played a scenario with United Airlines about a passenger’s luggage being delayed.

In the clip, Kullberg, pretending to talk to a United customer service representative, is told that the airline cannot do anything about her delayed bag, before telling the airline employee that she’s “actually read your terms and I know that if my bag is delayed, United will reimburse me for any expenses up to $3,500”.

The TikTok, which has been viewed more than 16m times, concluded with Kullberg portraying how she would successfully receive money from the airline, with the fictitious airline employee asking: “Who taught you this?” to which she responded: “Erika did! She’s a lawyer and reads the fine print so I don’t have to.”

@erikakullberg

Free money that United customer service doesn’t want you knowing about #personalfinance #moneytok #airlines #money

♬ original sound - Money Lawyer Erika

On United’s website, it notes that, if it is “unable to find your bag after five days, you may be eligible for $1,500 for the value of your baggage and its contents without requiring any documentation”.

“If the value of your lost bag and its contents is more than $1,500, you can document and claim a higher amount, with receipts. The most you can claim is $3,500 for flights within the US,” the airline states.

In another video, Kullberg addressed damaged luggage, with the TikToker acting out a skit involving American Airlines. In the clip, the lawyer, following the same format, informs the airline employee that her bag has been damaged, to which they first claim there is nothing they can do.

@erikakullberg

What American Airlines doesn’t want you to know when they damage your bag 🤫🤯 #lawyer #travel #personalfinance #moneytok

♬ original sound - Money Lawyer Erika

“She has no idea I know this – watch this,” Erika continued, before telling the employee: “I’ve actually read your terms and I know that if my bag is damaged, American Airlines will reimburse me for expenses up to $3,800.

On the airline’s website, it states: “If your checked bag is lost, damaged or delayed, we will pay the provable value of the losses up to $3,800 (or up to $5,000 if you declare excess value).”

On her TikTok, Kullberg also dedicated a video, which has been viewed more than 3.4m times, to overbooked flights, and what passengers are entitled to if they volunteer to give up their seats.

@erikakullberg

What airlines don’t want you to know when they ask for volunteers 🤯🤯 #lawyer #personalfinance #travel #money

♬ original sound - Money Lawyer Erika

According to Kullberg, while airline employees may claim that volunteers who agree to give up their seats are only entitled to vouchers, the fine print often states that passengers can receive cash.

After Kullberg acted out an airline employee agreeing to give a passenger $200 cash and rebook them on another flight the next morning, the lawyer noted that volunteers can ask for more.

“I’m going to need a little more than that. My friend Erika gave up her seat and you gave her $1,000 cash plus a hotel room for the night plus free meals, plus transfers between the airport and the hotel,” Kullberg responded, before asking that she also be rebooked in first class.

In one video, which has been viewed more than 36.3m times, Kullberg informed viewers about their rights when it comes to “involuntary denied boarding”, which she said refers to instances where passengers are bumped from a flight and rebooked because the flight was too full.

@erikakullberg

What airlines don’t want you to know about getting “bumped” 🤯 #lawyer #travel #money

♬ original sound - Money Lawyer Erika

In the TikTok, Kullberg refers to the Department of Transportation, which notes that passengers are entitled to four times the cost of one-way fare if their arrival is delayed by more than two hours. However, the DOT does state that airlines may limit the compensation to $1,500.

On TikTok, Kullberg also shared a travel hack that helps American Airlines passengers if their flight has been delayed. In the clip, posted this week, she explained that, if the delay is the fault of the airlines, and if the new flight doesn’t board before 11.59pm, the airline has to pay for the cost of a hotel for the night.

@erikakullberg

What American Airlines doesn’t want you to know about delays 🤯 #lawyer #travel #money

♬ original sound - Money Lawyer Erika

In the comments, Kullberg shared the fine print for her followers, which she noted can be found in American Airlines’ Contract of Carriage.

“Hi besties! Here’s the fine print in case you ever need it (can be found on American Airlines Contract of Carriage),” she wrote, adding that the fine print reads: “If the disruption is our fault or you’re diverted to another city, and we don’t board before 11.59 pm local time on your scheduled arrival day, we’ll arrange an overnight stay or cover the cost of an approved hotel, if available.”

While Kullberg’s role-playing videos have become a meme on the app, where TikTok users have joked about the reactions if they were to actually tell airline employees that they learned the tips from Kullberg, the TikToker has also received hundreds of grateful comments.

“You are an absolute legend,” one person wrote, while another said, in response to Kullberg’s video about being bumped from a flight due to overbooking: “Erika, I just used this tip at the airport coming back home from Virginia. I’ve literally got enough money to pay for another trip. Thank you.”

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