The language of travel can be filled with confusing euphemisms such as "involuntary bumping" or "mishandled baggage".
What are they talking about? Allow me to translate.
When they say: "Sorry, we have to bump you."
It means the airline overbooked the flight and you have to suffer the consequences. Luckily, "involuntary bumping" is not as common as it used to be, but it still happens. The good news is as of Aug. 25, your compensation for this inconvenience rises a little to a range of $675 to $1,350 depending on how quickly the airline can get you on another plane. Best of all, you are entitled to payment in cash (more likely, a check). Do not accept a voucher.
When they say: "Fill out a 'mishandled baggage' report."
It means your bag is lost, but you knew that. The term "mishandled" is used because it covers an array of possibilities ranging from damaged to temporarily MIA bags to lost (but vast majority are rarely gone for good). In late August, the compensation for lost bags also rises to a maximum $3,500 but you may not get all you feel you're entitled to because most airlines don't allow valuables - electronics, jewelry - in checked-bags (always keep valuables on your person or in a carry-on). If anything does happen to your checked-bag, do not leave the airport without filling out a report; if you don't, you may get nothing.
When they say: "We're going to fly around this thunderstorm."
It means the flight may arrive late. Flying around bad weather can take a plane hundreds of miles out of its way which does indeed take time but it's a lot better than traveling through bone-rattling turbulence.
When they say: "Buckle your seat belt."
It means exactly what they say. Failure to obey any order from a flight crew can get you tossed off the plane. You may not wish to raise your tray table or cover up the F-bomb on your T-shirt or stop eating peanuts but do it anyway.
When a pilot yells over the intercom, "Whoa, big fella, whoaaaa!"
It means you're probably flying Southwest. The crews are as professional as they come but do like to joke around on occasion, such as yelling "Whoa!" after a successful landing. This may be an even better reason to fly them than the airline's two free bags.
Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site