When we buy an airplane ticket from Point A to Point B, we usually get there without incident. Aside from a few delays, the odd cancellation, or the occasional lost bag, airlines generally do what they say what they’re going to do.

Still, one airline industry expert believes that most fliers have no idea how vulnerable we all are to the whims of these multibillion-dollar airlines, and how much power they have over us.

“You have virtually no rights,” travel writer Joe Brancatelli, founder of the business travel site JoeSentMe, tells Yahoo Travel. “If the airlines can screw you, they will.”

Of course, no one’s implying that airlines are evil entities out to toy with you and swindle you out of you money. But in a worst-case scenario, in the rare case when circumstances pit you against a major airline, Brancatelli suggests you recognize that the deck may be stacked against you.

Here are eight scary secrets that travelers may not know about airlines: