What are your rights as an airline passenger?

SEATTLE, Wash. -- As workplaces and watercoolers still buzz with talk about the United Express flight passenger dragged off the plane Sunday night, one question pops up again and again:

What are your rights as a passenger on an airline?

First, know a paying customer can legally be kicked off a flight. According to data from the Department of Transportation, 46,000 passengers were involuntarily bumped from flights. This happens because most carriers purposefully overbook their flights knowing people sometimes won't show up.

Watch: What airline passengers can and can't expect

When an airline chooses to clear out seats on a flight, they are required to go through a process: According to the Department of Transportation, they have to see if anyone will give up their seat voluntarily. They typically offer compensation, such as a voucher for another flight.

Each airline has its own general guidelines as to who they kick off and why.

Legal experts say most plane tickets have a clause that allows the airline to stop you from boarding the plane. However ,this normally means they stop you from boarding the plane, not removing you after you've boarded.

WATCH Crystal Pepper's, the injured passenger's daughter, emotional statement above:

Still, lawyers say that the airline does have the legal right to stop passengers from flying at any time, even if the passenger doesn't want to give up their seat.

If you're involuntarily kicked off - you're entitled to cash. Carriers must deliver fliers to their final destination within one hour of their originally scheduled flight, the U.S. Department of Transportation says. If fliers get to their final stop one or two hours late, airlines are required to pay double the original one-way fare.

If fliers get in more than two hours late, they have to pay 400-percent the original fare.

Passengers also have the right to insist on a check instead of a free flight or a voucher when they're involuntarily kicked off. And they also get to keep their original ticket, which retains its value.

And have you ever been stuck on the tarmac? A new rule establishes a four-hour hard time limit on tarmac delays for domestic and international flights. But, exceptions are allowed for safety, security or air traffic control-related reasons. Carriers must also ensure that passengers stuck on the tarmac are provided with adequate food and water after two hours.

For more on passenger rights and rules, check out the U.S. Department of Transportation's website.

WATCH: The full conversation from today's press conference on the passenger who was forcibly removed from the plane.