Tales of Woe – Thanksgiving Edition

By | November 30, 2008
CHICAGO - JULY 02:  American Airlines flight a...

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There is a lot to be thankful for this holiday season, despite the economic downturn. Here are some tales of people who haven’t done too well of late, and here’s hoping travel experiences improve in the new year. Thanks to Chris Elliott and the Consumerist for most of these tales.

  • Standard ticket policy is that tickets are valid for one year from date of issue, which is usually the date of purchase. But many people are told by the airline that the one year is from date of travel, causing them to lose its value.
    • One man, after losing his ticket, received a response to his appeal by United that acknowledge a mistake had been made, but offered no exception for its mistake.
    • Here’s another case where this happened with American Airlines ticket: A man was told he wouldn’t have to pay any fees if he used the ticket within a year after he cancelled for medical reasons. He asked for something in writing, but was told he did not need it. When he called back, not only was he told he had to fly before one year from date of issue, and he wold have to pay fees.
  • Delta charged a man $320 in fuel surcharges for his infant, who was travelling as a lap child on an international flight. Traditionally, lap chiildren on domestic flights are transported free of charge, while on this flight, the rule is 10% of the adult fare, plus taxes and surcharges. To make an infant pay a full surcharge seems ridiculous, especially since he told Delta of his infant and paid the fare before leaving.
  • Four years after his vacation, a company tried to collect an extra $433 from a man. Even better, it was a company he’d never heard of.
  • In January, an Air Canada pilot having a mental breakdown had to be forcibly removed from the cockpit, restrained, sedated, and a flight attendant assist the co-pilot in making an emergency landing in Ireland. The Irish investigation of this matter only concluded this month and applauded the decision by the co-pilot and the skills of the flight attendant.
  • US Airways lost one woman’s 83-year old wheelchair-bound mother, wheeling her onto the wrong connecting flight. Instead of sending her to Tampa, it sent her to Puerto Rico. The elderly woman was told she’d have to spend the night at the airport and leave on an afternoon flight back to Tampa the following day. After much fighting, US Airways bought the woman dinner, and a hotel room, and put her in first class on the return to Tampa.
  • Speaking of US Airways, a passenger called them to see if they would price-match a ticket that he’d bought to a new lower price. Not only would they not do that, which is understandable, if not ideal, but when he described himself as angry, they advised they would be notifying security. When he sent a letter of complaint about that to Executive Relations, they confirmed that being angry is now a security issue. (As a side note, passengers on a plane are usually paying all different levels of fare. It is reasonable, again, if not ideal, for an airline not to give your money back if the price lowers, just as they don’t come after you for more money if the price increases. Lines have to be drawn somewhere).
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