NEW YORK (AP) _ Airlines are not required to provide compensation if a flight is delayed, but an insistent customer may be able to get around the rules.

The International Airline Passenger Association recommends that travelers speak up if delays force them to buy meals, make telephone calls or rent hotel rooms.

As a general rule, the airlines will not pay incidental expenses caused by delays. But speaking to the airline supervisor may help.

''It's strictly a matter of your negotiating skill,'' said Susan Caperton of the 10,000-member IAPA. ''It's a judgment call, up to the supervisor at the airport. Some will, and some won't.''

If the supervisor turns you down, Ms. Caperton recommends sending a written request to the airline asking for reimbursement. Be sure to include receipts. If flights are canceled, passengers must be given seats on the next available flight at no additional cost. If the passengers requests it, the airlines must try to get them on another carrier. But the airline is not obligated to tell passengers about other airlines' flights if the passengers don't ask.

Consumer complaints can also be directed to the office of consumer affairs at the federal Department of Transportation. The office prefers telephone calls to letters, and the number is 202-755-2220.

The transportation department also provides a consumer's guide to air travel called ''Fly-Rights,'' available for $1 from the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colo., 81009. The book has information on reservations and tickets, delayed and canceled flights, overbooking, baggage, and other topics.