A failed case from the Twilight Zone of travel

Next stop ... the Twilight Zone. / Photo by Roadside Pictures

If there’s a Twilight Zone of travel cases, then Rochelle Dean has surely discovered it. And although I’ve done my best to help her, it looks like her recent vacation is still stuck someone between “solved” and “unsolved.”

Here are a few details: Back in February, she, a friend, her husband and her two teenage daughters were scheduled to fly from Missoula, Mont., to Los Angeles. She’d booked the entire trip through Hotwire, and the night before, Dean received an email that said she was all checked in for her flights and good to go.

But she wasn’t. On the day of her flight, she received another message from Hotwire that said her flight was canceled and that her new flight had left 29 minutes ago. Oops.

“The next possible flight out left Seattle at 6 a.m. the next day,” she says. “We had no choice. They re-booked us on that flight.”

Dean appealed to a Hotwire supervisor to help her fix the problem.

I explained our situation and let her know that I had a hotel room in LA that I can’t use and won’t get paid for, since I can’t give a 24-hour notice, and that I would have to get us a place to stay now in Seattle.

I told her I think it is only fair that Hotwire pay for both of these hotels.

The Hotwire supervisor assured her she’d take care of it, she says. She promised Dean pre-paid hotel vouchers, which would be waiting at the Alaska Airlines counter, and a $100 Hotwire credit to compensate them for the hotel room they couldn’t use.

Problem solved, right?

Not exactly.

“When we landed, we went directly to the Alaska counter and we were informed they knew nothing about it,” she says. “There were no notes in the system as Hotwire had promised.”

Dean called Hotwire back. It blamed the airline for the oversight. The airline blamed Hotwire. This went on for two hours while their valuable vacation time ticked away.

The Deans stayed at an airport hotel in Seattle at a discounted $59-a-night rate, courtesy of Alaska Airlines. But by the time the arrived in Anaheim for the first leg of their trip, they’d lost more than a day of vacation and run up a lot of expenses they didn’t plan for.

I feel that I so deserve to be reimbursed for my LA prepaid hotel we couldn’t use, the two hotel rooms we had to get in Seattle and the Disney park tickets as the whole thing was just a miserable fiasco from minute one.

I also feel like we deserve to be compensated for our meals, extreme emotional stress and our vacation time lost.

That’s a tall order but I thought I’d run this case by Hotwire, anyway. There were too many unanswered questions about Dean’s experience. Maybe the company could shed some light on this trip to the Twilight Zone.

It did.

Here’s what Hotwire had to say:

As you know, flight cancellations and departure time changes can happen with airlines occasionally, and they are always unfortunate. Those changes are handled directly by the carriers themselves, and we do our best to notify our customers as soon as we can.

In Mrs. Dean’s case, we didn’t receive enough lead time from Alaska Airlines to allow her to make the new flight option provided. Our alerts are processed through our automated system so they can go out in the most timely manner possible.

Unfortunately, the new flight option generated by Alaska wasn’t a reasonable one for the customer, so it made the process even more difficult. After hearing from Mrs. Dean about the error, her party was instead placed on the next available flight.

As a result of the flight change, Mrs. Dean and her party were forced to cancel the first night of their hotel at their destination, and instead had to book one in the layover city.

It’s important to note that neither of these hotels were booked through Hotwire, nor was the changed flight itinerary generated by Hotwire (this was a retail flight purchase). However, after hearing about the issues her party ran into, we issued a $100 HotDollar credit to use our site for the problems she experienced.

After contacting Alaska on behalf of Mrs. Dean, we also learned that Alaska did provide hotel vouchers for her party upon arrival in Seattle. These vouchers are generally good for one free stay at a hotel that the airline has a relationship with.

So essentially, the new hotel was indeed covered for the layover. These vouchers are handled by Alaska directly with the customer, and we did not state that Alaska would have notes in their system regarding the customer’s conversation with Hotwire. However, we did note that Alaska’s policy is to comp customers for these types of situations, which should be reflected in their system, and that’s exactly what happened.

I can completely understand the extreme frustration that Mrs. Dean is feeling. Unfortunately, because this was a retail booking, Hotwire didn’t control the ticket, nor did we receive the funds for that ticket.

However, because Mrs. Dean is a Hotwire customer, we bridged the conversation as best we could between the customer and Alaska. Eventually, Mrs. Dean worked with Alaska directly, and we continued to follow up with our contacts behind the scenes. We learned that Alaska acknowledged the issue and provided credits in the following amounts: $200 x 2 passengers, and $125 x 3 passengers ($775 total).

So in summary, Mrs. Dean’s party received $100 in credits from Hotwire, $775 in credits from Alaska, and hotel vouchers to cover her hotel in the layover city. Hopefully, this was a satisfactory outcome for Mrs. Dean, and her future travels with Alaska will be a much more enjoyable experience.

I checked with Dean to see if it was, indeed, satisfactory. She says part of what Hotwire told me is true. Alaska Airlines offered her friend and her a $200 flight credit and gave her husband and each of the two children a $125 credit.

“Does any of that make up for my lost day of vacation, the two hotel rooms I had to purchase, losing a most of our only day at Disneyland and doing the time we had in the amusement park on three hours of sleep?” she asks. “No, it does not, and I feel all of it was the fault of Hotwire.”

The larger question her case raises is this: If you’re booking a trip through a travel agent, what is it responsible for?

Hotwire has actually done more than many online agents I’ve worked with in the recent past. Some of these dot-com agents simply see themselves as helping facilitate a transaction, nothing more. Getting vouchers was a bonus for Dean. Hotwire could have simply let her fend for herself.

Where does an agent’s responsibility end and a supplier’s begin? Can that line be drawn, or is it different for every trip? And on which side of the line is Hotwire?

The answer awaits … in the Twilight Zone.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • sdir

    Is it just me, or are the complaints getting petty and downright…greedy?  She lost a day of vacation and I sympathize, but she got more compensation than most. 

    Interesting how her complaint to Chris never mentioned receiving airline credits.  I’m curious whether she received the voucher and credits before or after she contacted Chris.  It’s a jerk move to involve a travel columnist when she’s already received the compensation she demanded.

  • Daves

    If you’re booking a trip through a travel agent, what is it responsible for?

    Where does an agent’s responsibility end and a supplier’s begin? Can that line be drawn, or is it different for every trip?

    The answer to the first question depends on what the contract, if any, states.

    The answers to the second and third questions practically depend on the first above, and what both parties can mutually agree on. Each issue is handled on its individual circumstances, using whatever lessons can be learned from similar incidents.

    Given that no two scenarios are necessarily the same, that makes it practically challenging – if not difficult – to put in fine print what a travel provider does if scenario A occurs and if it should do the same for scenario A-1, A-4, B, etc. If anything, it depends on specifics.

    Thus, it goes back to what I said earlier: it depends what both parties agree on, if any. Of course, it sucks when one is in a seemingly stronger position than the other.

    Beyond that, obviously one can’t necessarily compel the other to do more than what they’re willing to do. One thing one can do, though, is invoke the prayer of serenity.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    I’m not exactly sure what else the OP wants. And why is she after Hotwire instead of Alaska? It sounds like a case of someone who went through a crappy experience, had no one to blame, and is illogically targeting the easiest scapegoat. If the flight was re-timed, what compensation (if any) was in place for other Alaskan pax who booked directly through the airline? That’s the key question, I think. She should get the same as what they got. It has nothing to do with Hotwire.

    No one pays for your expenses at your destination if you’re late. They get you from A to B. Period. So, she gets nothing there for the hotel or park tickets. Alaska did their best to compensate by giving her travel credit.

    And either they did or didn’t pay for her Seattle hotel. What gives? The OP says she got a discounted rate. Hotwire says she got a voucher and didn’t have to pay. This needs clarification.

    If you’re flying cheap and choose an airline with limited flights per day, then you stand the chance of getting shafted if something happens to one of those flights.

    Personally, I think the OP, the Carnival Bubble Gum Lady and the Panic Attack Bride should get together for a road trip. No planes, trains or boats. Keep it simple. Just a car.

    Second option — Chris should stage a Hunger Games for greedy posters. One makes it out alive. That one gets his help. The rest is for our amusement. No parachutes required.

    Let the games begin!

  • $16635417

    The story indicates they received an email that they were checked the night before and good to go. I have used OTAs on occasion, but never had them process a checkin for me, I have always used the airline’s website. Had the OP used that process, I would be willing to bet the change would have been noticed.

    The story indicates they received the schedule change was received after the fact. I find it hard to believe an airline would change their schedule on the day of the flight. It sounds to me as if Hotwire’s process to update reservations has quite a bit of room for improvement.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I’m lost. She seems to be well compensated, but also states she wants a refund of her Di$ney tickets. She used them, didn’t she? How is that Hotwire’s problem? Hotwire doesn’t sell those tickets!

    Once again, someone tries to buy something cheap, and it comes out expensive. Normally, I’d trash on the bulk discounter, but here it seems they tried to do everything right.

    And the “extreme emotional distress”…yeah. I lost all sympathy for her at that line. Lady, if you can’t handle distress, don’t fly. Seriously.  ~__~

  • Raven_Altosk

    Don’t forget the idiot woman who “lived” in the airport because she couldn’t come up with a $25 baggage fee and then scammed a church! LOL.

  • emanon256

    So let me get this straight?  Her flight was canceled, she was re-booked at 6am the next morning in her layover city only 2 to 2.5 flight hours from her final destination, the airline gave her two hotel vouchers for the night and $775 in future free travel vouchers as good will, and Hotwire gave her $100 in credit even though she didn’t use them? And she still wants “we deserve to be compensated for our meals, extreme emotional stress and our vacation time lost.”
    Wow, she would have paid for her meals in LA anyway, and she got free hotel vouchers, so she didn’t really loose anything out of pocket for the pre-paid hotel. I agree they should give her something for her trouble, but she already got $875 in travel credits out of the deal, and arrived in LA by 8:30am.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I like the road trip idea. Hunger Games II would raise my insurance costs too much.

    I believe the OP paid for her hotel.

  • emanon256

    That one has got to win stupidest person of the year award. I was looking through my YouTube “Previously Viewed” cue last night and came across her video.  Talk about crazy!

  • LadySiren

    While I do think the OP is going a bit overboard here, I do think she has the right to as about a refund for her Di$ney tickets.

    Before any discounts, the one-day admission price is $80. If I paid that much money and then only had a few hours at the park due to an error that wasn’t my own, I’d be a little pissed, too. I think it’d be reasonable to ask for half of the ticket(s) price ($40) to be refunded.

    That being said, I must be dense because I’m having a hard time figuring out where the travel agent comes in here. If this was booked as a retail purchase through an agent, why isn’t the OP going after the agent as well? Someone with more smarts than me please explain?

  • emanon256

    FlightAware shows the Alaska 6AM SEA-LAX as a 2H 6M flight, so she would have arrived in LAX just after 8am. That gives her almost a full day in Di$ney. Best case scenario, if she had left MSO on a 7am flight, and connected in SEA, she would have gotten to LAX around noon, but the early SEA-LAX flight does not appear to run every day. On other days the soonest she would have gotten there is 1:20pm. I hope she didn’t buy Di$ney passes for her day of arrival, as even getting in at noon, she would have less than half a day at Di$ney. But the next day, with a 6am flight, and Di$ney opening at 8am on some days, and 9am on others and stays open until midnight, she didn’t miss much. So let’s just say hypothetically speaking that it opened at 8am, her flight arrived late at 8:30am, and it took her 2 hours to rent a car, get to the hotel, drop off her bags, and get to the park (MapQuest shows a 39 minute drive). At the most she missed 2.5 hours of Di$ney. To be extra fair, let’s say she missed 3 hours, that would equate to 18.75% of the time Di$ney was open, yet she says she lost “Most of her only day at Di$ney.”

    BTW, I always call it Di$ney now thanks to you :)

    Edit: There also appears to be only three flights a day from MSO-SEA, so if she took the latest one and got in at 7:54 PM, she would have had a 10 hour overnight layover in SEA. There are two SEA-LAX flights leaving after 7:54 PM arriving at LAX at 11:09pm and 11:51pm. So I don’t understand her “3 hours of sleep” argument either.

  • john4868

    I’m always amazed by people who ask Chris for his help but leave out key facts… Like the $875 in travel credits she already got but completely forgot to mention.

    It’s called travel. It doesn’t always happen like you want it to… You just need to plan and be flexible (like rearranging your itinerary for more time at Disneyland).

  • Steve_in_WI

    Just to be clear, are the flight “credits” from Alaska Airlines actual refunds or are they vouchers to be used on a future flight? (I’m betting it’s the latter, but I’m not sure). If they are in fact vouchers, let’s not lose sight of the real value – which could be $0. The fact that they add up to $775 means little since they are distributed amongst five people and I’m assuming are non-transferable. The odds of all five people actually using them before they expire are next to nil…and that doesn’t even take into account that they probably can’t be applied to the cheapest online fare, meaning that their real value even if used is lower.

    She should have mentioned them to Chris either way, but if they are vouchers for a future flight they are almost certainly not worth $775.

  • Elmo Clarity

    One thing not explained in the story was the types of tickets she had for Disneyland.  If they had purchased two day park hopper tickets, and was only able to use one day because of the flight screw up, I can see where she would want compensation.  But in this case, I can see comping the difference in price between the one day and two day passes, not the full amount, since she did use one day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Dervin/1299140134 Michael Dervin

    I don’t know if Hotwire is responsible or did enough. I’m a little confused, was the original flight from Montana->Seattle->LA? Or direct from Montana to LA?

  • pauletteb

    My biggest problem here is that the OP appears to have withheld some major information in her original complaint to Chris. It wasn’t until she was confronted with the letter from Hotwire that she conceded she had already received some compensation, or at least an offer thereof. Does she travel so little that she doesn’t realize not all trips go off without a hitch? Most of us make the best of it and move on rather than make unrealistic and unreasonable demands.

  • Office_Bob

    Send those three on a road trip together – are you nuts? They’d all be coming to you later to complain about the car rental! ;-)

  • Raven_Altosk

    Di$ney tickets don’t have dates. She could’ve rearranged her schedule to enjoy a different day in the park. 

    Or, if she didn’t get to use them, remainder tickets are often sold on eBay. She could get SOME money back for them that way.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Shit, those morons wouldn’t be able to figure out how to put the car in drive.

    Don’t forget “Cupcake”…the girl who was boycotting USAirways because her daddy fell and busted his knee. Where, on her “boycott” site she included the landing in the Hudson as a reason to boycott!!!

    Oh, and Drama Cruise Mama who flipped her lid because one of her kids took a sip of booze on a cruise!

    Now that would be a reality show of stupid I would actually watch!

  • emanon256

    We should also throw in Cruise momma who snatched the key log and stuffed it in her bra, found her own missing wallet, got kicked off the ship, and got her flight home paid for, but still wanted money.  You know the one who had three completely different stories on her various websites?

  • TonyA_says

    This story needs some retelling
    Very confusing. Let me try to simplify…

    A party of five was flying on Alaska (Horizon) Air from Missoula (MSO) to Los Angeles (LAX) via Seattle (SEA). Their most likely itinerary was:

    AS2397   MSOSEA- 725P 755P  *0
    AS 450      LAX- 845P1117P   0  4.52

    Apparently it was delayed inbound into SEA [last 6 or 22 FEB] so they missed their 845PM  connecting flight from SEA to LAX. Since that was the last flight out of SEA for LAX, Alaska Air put them up for the night and reaccommodated for the first (earliest) flight the next day at 6AM. This is the most likely new flight:

    AS 454  SEALAX- 600A 840A   9 734 0E

    Ok, so let me get this straight, instead of getting in LA at close to midnight, they get in before 9AM the next morning. Instead of staying [at a motel] near LAX, they stay [at a motel] near SEA instead. I fail to see where or how the OP lost money. What time does Disney open anyway?

    Also, how is Hotwire responsible for anything more here? The flight, hotel and Disney tickets are NOT LINKED by the airline in any way. Even if she bought a package from Hotwire, they offered to give her some vouchers for her inconvenience. Did she buy any travel insurance from Hotwire?

    And complaining about not getting much sleep? If they were originally scheduled to arrive LAX and get out of the airport after midnight, how much sleep can they get if they still had to check in their motel and be at Disneyland at around 9AM?

    Am I completely off base here?  Help me.
    Note: Since they DIYed their trip then they are completely responsible for their choices.They planned on a 50 minute connection on the last flight. The minimum connection time is 40 minutes. If their inbound flight was only delayed 10 minutes, they could miss the next (and last) flight. If they checked out the on-time performance rating of their flight AS2397, there’s about a 14% chance it will be delayed on an average of 18 minutes.

    If they took the earlier flight out of Missoula, scheduled departure at 125PM, scheduled arrival at SEA 156PM, there would have been three (3) SEA-LAX flights to choose from before they had to stay overnight at SEA.
    But, they took their chances on the last flight out of the airport. Sorry folks, with 2 young kids, why chance it?


  • emanon256

    I can’t find a single non-stop from MSO-LAX on any carrier.  Perhaps Tony can?

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Thank you. This is very helpful.

  • Cassondra Monique

    Just because someone gets more than “most” doesn’t make them greedy. Why is it that people always accuse the OP of being greedy when they are asking for something to be done right?  If someone makes your food wrong at a restaurant and you are there an extra half hour because of it, making you late for something else, should they just recook your food or comp your meal too? I promise I am going to return to the restaurant that comps me and not the one that doesn’t. It’s called customer service and its far too rare today. So rare that we’ve become jaded to what it should be like. 

    The OP but her (misplaced) faith in the agency she booked with (Hotwire) that they would make sure she was taken care of when it came to that part of her trip. When something goes wrong, she needed them to make sure she got on a flight that got her to her destination on time. If that was impossible then they should have made sure that the first part of her vacation was at least enjoyable and not fraught with arguments and crappy airport hotels. Would we be viewing this the same if she had been on her way to her parents funeral and was delayed in this way? No, people would be outraged. Offering someone a way to spend MORE money with your company is not compensation, it’s rude. Offering them the same thing they missed out on because you didn’t hold up your end of the bargain, that’s right. Not that anyone cares about “right” and “wrong” anymore in business.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    OMG, all of you have to stop this!  I spewed hot tea onto my keyboard!!!!!  (And it’s a Dell, expect it to break down at any moment)

    I can’t breathe from laughing – Oh, man…

    I need to go back to bed.

  • TonyA_says

     Can’t find any either. Note the MSO-SEA is a turbo prop with (I think) 53 seats on Y cabin. Here were her likely [paired] options on Alaska Air.

    1  #AS2347   MSOSEA- 700A 732A  *0
    2  #AS 458      LAX- 900A1137A   0  5.37
    3  #AS2349   MSOSEA- 125P 156P  *0
    4  #AS 476      LAX- 455P 728P   0  7.03
    5  #AS2397   MSOSEA- 725P 755P  *0
    6  #AS 450      LAX- 845P1117P   0  4.52

    IMO, she gambled on the last flight out and “lost” (maybe gained shut-up money).

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I’m with you.  The moment I read that one, she lost me.  Part of air travel is the inclusion of “extreme emotional distress”.  The airlines make that part of the package.

  • TonyA_says

    How much reasonable dependence can one place on a travel Vending Machine?

    How do you think a vending machine would package a flight + hotel + park tickets? What or whose brains would it use?

    How can people seriously believe that DIY means something more than Do it Yourself?

  • ExplorationTravMag

    That’s what I was thinking, too.  It’s always been my understanding Di$ney tickets weren’t activated until they were activated with no date of service.  Why were they being so inflexible when it’s a vacation?

    Wow.  If she’s like this on a vacation, can you imagine how militant she is at home?  I’ve actually gone on vacations with a laundry list of things I wanted to do and ended up doing none of them in favor of taking the kids to the beach or pool.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Wait. New contestant. What about the family who watched their loved ones put their passports into their luggage, only to not be able to access it during check in?

    I think there are enough people on here for a few years of Hunger Games. Maybe we should add Thunder Dome to get through the contestants faster… Sigh.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Tony – this is a group of people who so tightly planned things there was no room for “normal travel” stuff.  I would never do a layover of less than an hour CONUS, 3 hours OCONUS.

    I really think this whole thing falls under “Shite happens.  Deal with it.”

    I like Di$ney as much as the next guy and as Raven suggested earlier, they should have just re-arranged their itinerary so they went to the park on another day to gain the full day, rather than losing a few hours.

    It would seem her “extreme emotional distress” got the better of her.  I’m always shaking my head at stuff like this. These are the kind of people who need a vacation after their vacation.

    But this wasn’t a vacation, it was boot camp.

  • TonyA_says

    If you check the flight history sites, you won’t find a cancelled flight for MSO-SEA nor SEA-LAX for (paired) dates on Feb 2012. What you will find is a DELAYED flight MSO-SEA. Since she probably took the LAST flight out of SEA, then she missed it when her INBOUND flight was delayed out of MSO.

    I think you can sign up to get flight INSTANT Messages but they tend to tell you what you already know (since you are already in the airport).

  • LeeAnneClark

    And another contestant:  the couple who went to St. Lucia for their honeymoon and were livid that it wasn’t a “cross between Las Vegas & Disneyland” like their TA had told them  (never bothering to do a quick Google check to notice that St. Lucia is a quiet, romantic Caribbean island), then wanted a full refund!

    I TOTALLY wanna watch this show…

  • LeeAnneClark

    Actually it’s our government that now adds the benefit of “extreme emotional distress” to air travel, by irradiating and sexually assaulting us at the TSA checkpoints!

  • sirwired

    I’m also not seeing how Hotwire is at fault here.  They should be working on her behalf, certainly, and they are.  But they do not personally control airline schedules.

    And you’ve never been eligible for your lost vacation time, emotional stress, etc. for a routine cancellation.  If you want compensation for lost vacation time, buy trip insurance.  If you want compensation for stress… well, learn to meditate instead.

  • emanon256

    If I got money every time I was emotionally distressed by TSA, I would be rich! 
    I was specifically told by my Dr. that I can’t go through the X-Ray body scanners, but that the back-scatter scanners are fine.  Several airports I go through only have the X-Ray scanners and make everyone go through.  The opting out process is a nightmare, and many TSA people have told me that I can’t, and then I have to wait for a supervisor, its ridiculous and it does cause emotional distress.  But you know what?  I deal with it, and I don’t expect money for it, and when tis done I go on with my life.  As much as I wish TSA would stop their shenanigans, it’s still worth the stress to be able to turn a 2 day drive into a 4 hour trip.

  • emanon256

    I like the vending machine analogy! 

  • Joe Farrell

    A few simple questions:

    1.  When did Hotwire get the notification from the airline.
    2.  When did the airline send the notification of flight changes
    3.  When did hotmail send its notificatin to the travelers and
    4.  When did they get it?

    Answer those – an this problem solves itself.  

    It seems like Alaska changed their flights, canceled, moved them up – whatever – and these folks missed it.   If Alaska changed the flight times at the last min [anything inside 24 hours is last minute] then the OP has a clam for consequential damages unless it was weather that caused the initial problem.

    Alaska cancelled – Alaska is responsible.  Alaska is usually pretty good about stuff like this.

    Those questions need to be answered – because

    a) if Hotwire told Alaska more than 24 hours in Advance and Hotwire has a12 hour cycle for this type of thing – then Hotwire is responsible for automating a procedure that needs a human oral contact inside 24 hours

    b) If Hotwire did not get the info inside 24 hours then Alaska is responsible here.  The OP is entitled to know who screwed this up, when and why. Because that determines the scope of the compensation.  And from whom.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    I’m with you Raven, I was with her until she asked for the refund on the Disney tickets at that point they’re just asking for too much. 

    Seems to me this whole situation could have been avoided had she checked the flight the night before. When was the flight canceled?? Seems it had to be well before their scheduled flight since Alaska had them booked on an earlier flight so this couldn’t have been an 11th hour flight cancellation. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Man, when you line them all up like this you realize Chris deserves a medal for the nut job cases he’s dealt with. 

  • Joe Farrell

     And why are they flying to LAX anyway?  Orange County or Ontario is a lot closer to Disneyland . . . .

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Was this the same couple that pretty much made up a bunch of stuff that was “wrong” with their vacation as an excuse to leave because it was raining all week?

    Let’s not forget the people who rented the beach house with the “moldy” aka a little dust, on the air vent and GASP no cable TV for a whole week. 

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Just because someone gets more than “most” doesn’t make them greedy. Why is it that people always accuse the OP of being greedy when they are asking for something to be done right? ”

    But doing things right is a two-way street.  I’d have much more sympathy for them if they’d shared ALL the information about the case, rather than withholding key parts. Funny how they forgot all about the airline vouchers when they first complained to Chris…that’s what makes them look greedy. 

  • bodega3

    Because it was probably cheaper and they did this themselves thinking they would save $$$.

  • emanon256

    Is that the same person who asked to move resorts, was re-accommodated in another resort by her agent, and given one nights refund for the inconvenience, but wanted the entire trip refunded even though she was already re-accommodated and didn’t pay anything extra for the second resort?

  • bodega3

     She purchased the flight through Hotwire based on the schedules shown.  All Hotwire is doing is providing the OP with a way to buy those tickets and nothing more.  If you want ‘service’ don’t book through a vending machine!

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yep, that’s the one! Good memory. The stoopidest part about that story was how dumbfounded they seemed to be to find out that St. Lucia wasn’t anything remotely like either Las Vegas or Disneyland, much less a combination of the two…when 30 seconds spent on Google would have shown them exactly where they were going. Why anyone would hand their honeymoon planning off to a commission-based salesperson (TA) without doing even the most basic checking is beyond me. And then to throw a hissy when it turns out they didn’t get what they were expecting, and to make up a laundry list of trivial complaints to try to extort money back…well, that pretty much personifies this type of traveler.

    That’s why this reality show that Christopher is going to create is going to be such a HOOT!

  • IGoEverywhere

    Air lines at this point in history just outright suck. We have had 3 cancellations in 2 days and all massed up the clients vacations. BUT…..we did all of the clients’s travel and were able to make full ajustments at no costs. We got full refunds from Delta, no hotels made any charges, it’s all about the travel agent and how they handle you. They appear to have dealt through different sourses and that is a big error. It saved them nickles to end up costing them dollars. If I don’t do the whole package, and I can not be responsible for the airline’s stupidity, then, I also can not be responsible for the customer’s inconvenience beyond my booking. Hotwire went way out of it’s way assisting with a problem beyond it’s control. I am not an online fan ( I would be out of business) but Hotwire tried hard.

  • TonyA_says

    They also probably wanted to leave LATE from MSO.
    If they flew into SNA this is the latest departure:

    AS2349   MSOSEA- 125P 156P  *  DH4 0E
    AS 514      SNA- 435P 710P   6 73G 0E

    I think they wanted something after work or at night so they got the 725PM out of MSO-SEA-LAX.

  • judyserienagy

    If the hotels in question were not booked through Hotwire, they’ve been very generous here.  When things go wrong in travel, it’s part of the deal; travellers are not entitled to be reimbursed for every single frustration that might arise.  I agree with SDIR, people are getting QUITE greedy.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I think we need a poll: Most insane case to appear on Elliott.org.

  • TonyA_says

    The Rule:
    Flight Status Change Notification (14 CFR 259.8) requires the airline to promptly notify passengers and the public of known flight status changes:
    – Diversion,
    – Cancellation, and
    – Delay of 30 minutes or more in the planned operation.

    “Promptly” is defined as within 30 minutes after the carrier becomes aware of the status change. Carrier becomes aware of the delay whenever its System Operation Control Center (SOCC) first learned about the information.

    From the OP’s story and from flight stats (w/o knowing the precise date and flight numbers) it looks like the flight from MSO was delayed (not rescheduled way in advance). To comply with the rule, airlines simply blast out delay information (email, text, etc.) even if you are standing in front of the delayed aircraft and already know about it. Most of the time, passengers or the OTA do not provide the pax’s cellphone number so the only means of contact on record is email or home phone (if any). If even that is not provided to the airline, then the airline simply sends a message to the travel agency on record.

    I cannot spot any infraction (by the airline or hotwire) in this case.

  • TonyA_says

    Maybe the weather is to blame

    While the article did not mention exact dates of the flight, it did say it happened last February. And, if the pax had to layover in SEA, then they were likely scheduled on (or missed) the last flight out.

    Flightaware records 2 dates when there was a substantial delay on QX397 (this is the same flight as AS2397). Of the 2 dates, I suspect they were on for 22FEB. The short, 30 minute, flight was late – departed on 0902PM instead of 725PM. It arrived SEA at 920PM, too late for the next scheduled SEA-LAX flight which was scheduled to depart on 845PM.

    Take a look at the weather at Missoula for 22FEB.
    Strong wind gusts (65 mph) were reported throughout the afternoon and early evening.

    Note that the inbound flight SEA-MSO was also delayed.
    It arrived on 753PM instead of 630PM. You can see from the flight track that it went around and took a different route (maybe to avoid weather problems).

    If the inbound flight arrived at 753PM and it was supposed to turn-around and depart [scheduled] at 725PM, then you know you are in trouble. Give at least an hour to deplane, refuel and board  (plus a 30 minute flight to SEA) and you see how it was impossible for the OP’s family to make it on time to reach their 845PM flight out of Seattle.

    There is a lesson learned here – take an earlier flight and build up scheduling redundancy (reliability). If people were only a little smarter.

  • SpankyMcSpanky

    WTF – life happens.  Everyone wants a guarantee and it’s getting tedious.

  • Sadie_Cee

    Please consider including the man heading for Seoul via Tokyo on Delta.  He was airborne during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami so they were diverted to Hokkaido.  He asked to be reimbursed with a first-class ticket to Seoul for all the trouble he had endured.  The vote was almost 2:1 against mediation.  Contributors gave him short shrift for his lack of compassion, disrespect and greed.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Which honeymoon story was it that the bridezilla extorted a crystal bowl from the gift shop? That one should be on the list, too.

  • ClareClare

    I’m still kinda confused by the OP’s account, but the one thing I THINK I take away is that Alaska Airlines did a super job of handling this issue.  I’ve never had occasion to fly them, but have heard in the past that they’re rated right up at the top for customer service.  Now if the OP had had these same problems with a flight on Spirit? now THAT outcome would undoubtedly have been a tad different…

  • Chasmosaur
  • Nigel Appleby

    Based on your printout it looks to me that not only did they gamble on the last flight out of MSO, they also gambled on a short changeover. Double jeopardy!

  • flutiefan

     ooooh i don’t remember that one. got a link?

  • emanon256
  • flutiefan

     totally agree with everything but the MapQuest calculation. i’ve never made it from LAX to Di$ney in that short of time. at least an hour drive on a good day.

  • emanon256

    Oh wow.  Stupid MapQuest.

  • TonyA_says

    Ok, Ok; let’s call it the Elliott Awards.

    Can anyone put up a blog?

  • Raven_Altosk

    I just wanna say how awesome it is that everyone adopting my spelling of Di$ney.   :D   :D   :D

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I can do that. I think we’d narrow it down to the best and then vote. I try to keep my polls binary, wherever possible — certainly no more than four choices. But which four?

  • TonyA_says

    From the airline’s perspective, her going to Di$ney is irrelevant. Alaska Air actually did her a favor. Here is what I think happened.

    While waiting for a delayed departure at Missoula (MSO) airport, they were presented with a new itinerary. Continue flying to SEA (late and delayed), be put up at an airport motel, and depart the earliest flight the next morning at 6AM and arrive LAX at 840AM.

    IMO, she had no better option. If she opted to leave MSO the next day instead, they will arrive LAX 3 hours later (1137AM).

    With the reported 65MPH gusts at MSO (assuming her flight was on 22FEB), she is lucky Alaska flew her safely and they still had a vacation. Some people are just never happy.

  • Lindabator

    She IS complaining to Hotwire (the agent) when Alaska Air already compensated her for the misconnection, AND comped her a night’s stay.  (They do NOT give vouchers for a discounted room, Chris!)  I think the clinet not only protests too much, but fudges facts to whine even louder! 

  • Lindabator

    I agree completely.  they took a chance on a short connection, on the last flight out, and would have still had a “short” 1st night at ANY hotel.  Not only was Alaska generous, so was Hotwire in offering her their $100 voucher.  Things HAPPEN when you travel, you just have to learn to deal with them.  AND not expect the world for a short inconvenience.n

  • Lindabator

    Boot camp!  LOVE IT!  :)

  • Lindabator

    WOW!  So you are the kind of client I PRAY books on the web!  Talk about UNREAL expectations!  So in case of a tornado, they should SOMEHOW risk all to get you there “on time???”  Things happen every day.  Frankly, they got the party out on the next available flight, put them up at a hotel, and are NOT responsible for what few hours shefeels she missed at Disney.  RIDICULOUS!lls

  • Lindabator

    All that aside, she booked flights that were DELAYED, then had to be reaccommodated (she was), rescheduled on the next available flight (she was), and still got in at a reasonable hour.  IF it was so bloody important to be there early, she should never have chosen a short connection/last flight of the night option,

  • Raven_Altosk

    Go the “American Idol” route and post 16 to start, then narrow it down to 8 the next week? LOL.

  • TonyA_says

     But why did they deserve getting $775 in credits?

    Even if these were just vouchers, what were they for? Alaska Air already paid for their hotel rooms in Seattle. The reason for the delay seemed to have been the weather (strong wind gusts), so Alaska Air is not responsible for the delay. The [lower] $125 vouchers are more than half the cost of one roundtrip ticket MSO-LAX.

    TICKET     BASE USD                TX/FEE USD       TKT TTL USD
     ADT01       184.18                     57.02            241.20
    *TTL         184.18                     57.02            241.20
    FBC ADT T14N4

  • Daves

    If you want compensation for stress… well, learn to meditate instead.

    That’s why I’m thankful for the prayer of serenity when I first learned it. Helped me ever since.

  • sdir

    I respectfully disagree with your restaurant analogy. Firstly because there’s a huge difference between the cost of airfare and the price of dinner.  Secondly because the diner in your example didn’t also demand compensation for travel expenses, tickets to whatever show/movie/meeting they were missing, etc.

    In regards to your funeral example?  I went through it myself.  In January I put up with delays while rushing/traveling for my father’s funeral.  I had confirmed my flight that morning and had closely been watching flight times online, yet I didn’t learn of a delay until arriving for my flight.  Yes it was frustrating, but stuff happens.  I didn’t demand compensation nor did I complain to Chris how unfair life is.  I still feel the LW went too far with her demands.

  • TonyA_says

    Me too. My Dad is a prostate cancer survivor. Lucky for us, my brother in law is a urologist-surgeon, so he took care of Dad (and all his brother in laws, too) for free. Apparently all the sons (3 of us) are very prone to the same cancer. There is no way I am going through those damn x-ray machines. It scares me.

  • Ann Lamoy

    SEA is my home airport. Anyone that flys into or out of (or even through SEA) during the months of November through March should also be aware that the airport is subject to weather delays. We get a lot of rain/wind during these months. (Although April has been pretty freaking rainy for pete’s sake.) It doesn’t cause massive delays all the time but there does exist the potential. Tight connections are not a good thing. And a late night connection at that? Really not a good idea.

  • TonyA_says

     Well, they wished upon a star  – they were going to Dis$ney.