Can this trip be saved? We want $1,000 for a bogus weather delay By Christopher Elliott | May 2, 2011 I‘ve been weighing this case for several months, and still can’t decide what to do. Maybe you can help. It comes to me by way of Jonathan Cook, who was a passenger on US Airways flight 1018 from Philadelphia and St. Thomas on Dec. 30, 2009. He represents a group of 80 passengers who were delayed almost a full day under mysterious circumstances. They want to be compensated by the airline, which insists it owes them nothing because it claims the entire delay was weather-related. This case first was brought to my attention late last year and Cook has written to me several times since then. Let’s run through the highlights. The nonstop flight took off around 10 a.m., as scheduled. But it was placed in a holding pattern around St. Thomas for about an hour and then diverted to San Juan. The reason? US Airways claims the plane made an unplanned landing because of rough weather. The passengers deplaned, waited in the terminal several hours, and then reboarded the flight at around 6 p.m. We sat on the plane until 8:30 p.m. without food or water, and with limited information from the flight crew. We were told by the pilot that while the weather had improved in St. Thomas, we were in a gatelock due to an outgoing traffic jam. Eventually, the pilot told us that weather had worsened again. In the meantime, some passengers had received phone calls and text messages that other airlines were landing planes in St. Thomas, so they began to doubt US Airways’ claims. Finally, the passengers were told their crew had timed out, which means they couldn’t continue to work under union rules. They were taken off the plane at 8:45 p.m. We were told to return to the airport at 7 a.m. for a 9 a.m. flight. In the meantime, no taxi or hotel vouchers were provided, nor was assistance or information offered in terms of locating hotels. By 11:30 p.m., bags were reclaimed from the baggage claim and passengers were left on their own, or forced to help one another. The attitude from US Airways was clearly, ‘This is your problem, not ours’. But the crew didn’t show up until later that morning, leaving the passengers waiting an additional two hours. A minor mechanical problem caused yet another delay, forcing the passengers to wait until noon to depart. Cook asked US Airways for $1,000 per passenger in compensation to cover expenses and lost vacation time, but US Airways repeatedly turned them down. Here’s its last email. We regret you continue to be dissatisfied with our attempts to resolve your concerns. Although we cannot offer compensation or assume responsibility for flight irregularities that occur beyond our control, such as weather, we sincerely apologize for the interruption in your travel plans. Moreover, we are remorseful for the manner in which your situation was handled. Mr. Cook, your concerns have been thoroughly documented and reviewed by the appropriate management teams in San Juan. Additionally, our Senior Management Team at Corporate is aware of your experience. Your file is now considered closed and no further correspondence will be forthcoming regarding this matter. We look forward to serving you on a future US Airways flight. I think they might have skipped that last sentence. It’s pretty clear Cook and the others will be avoiding US Airways, if possible. I have mixed feelings about this case. While the initial delay may have been caused by weather, it seems to have been exacerbated by a timed-out crew, which caused an unexpected layover, and additional mechanical problems. Saddling passengers with the cost of accommodations, in that case, would be wrong. Yet asking for $1,000 per passenger might be too much. I think it’s reasonable to request the airline cover the cost of meals, transportation costs to their hotel and lodging expenses for the overnight delay, which appears to have been caused by a crew scheduling issue, not a weather problem. Another wrinkle in this case is the paper trail and the amount of time that’s elapsed. This flight took place more than a year ago. Older cases are far more difficult to resolve, in my experience. Given the age of this problem, and the strong likelihood that the airline will say “no” again (based on its final response to Cook) I’m not sure if I should take this case. Even though a majority of the poll participants want me to send this case to US Airways, I don’t think it will reopen this case. Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at email@example.com. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus sirwired 1) $1000? No way. Weather happens. Passengers simply do not receive compensation for weather delays. Never have (at least in the U.S.) While I don’t agree with a lot of U.S. airline rules, I do agree that it’s reasonable for passengers to bear their in the case of an unavoidable delay like this one. If you don’t like that, ANY trip insurance policy with delay coverage would have covered a delay of this length. 2) Different planes have different weather requirements. i.e. a strong tailwind may have made the runway too short, a strong crosswind made it too narrow, excess downdrafts, etc. Also, different airlines have different operational procedures and therefore different standards. 3) Calling it a “bogus” weather delay is almost certainly NOT correct. There is NO way US Air decided to put the aircraft in a money-incinerating holding pattern and then canceled the flight just for the heck of it. (Note to Chris: You should really take “bogus” out of the headline here, given the near 100% certainty the weather delay was quite real.) Nor do they want their plane trapped in San Juan overnight when that expensive chunk of hardware had somewhere else to be. 4) “Timing out” probably isn’t a union rule in this case (like it would be in, say, a steel mill), it is an ironclad FAA regulation which the airline could get fined heavily for violating. And it isn’t reasonable to expect US Air to have an alternate crew in San Juan ready to go. http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott The OP thinks the weather delay was, on a certain level, bogus. But I think anyone who reads the story will understand that the initial weather delay was not. deemery I think it would be worth investigating the weather on that date, to see if a weather delay was credible, and to confirm other flights and landings in the vicinity. Crissy I voted no because of the time elapsed since the flight (and the amount of money asked for). I don’t think US Air would have landed their plane on another island if there wasn’t an issue with weather. From the amount of time that elapsed it does sound like the crew timed out, which I also believe is an FAA rule, for SAFETY. I’m not sure how that is covered for compenstation but if the weather caused the crew to time out then I would think it would still fall under the weather rule, but that’s just my uneducated theory. If anything I think hotel and meals should have been provided. At least they should have gotten a meal voucher for the 3 hour delay the following morning. Frank Clarke Not exactly a problem for me, nor a current concern, since I no longer fly at all: http://dispatchesfromheck.blogspot.com/2011/04/security-theater.html Arizona Road Warrior “In the meantime, some passengers had received phone calls and text messages that other airlines were landing planes in St. Thomas, so they began to doubt US Airways’ claims.” – – – – – — – – – – – – – – – What was the metal (i.e. CRJ, 737, etc.) for the flight that the OP was on? I have flown into smaller airports where some planes are allowed to land during bad weather and some planes are not. When the weather delay was lifted, they will reroutereschedule the planes to land at the airport…you can’t have a sky full of planes to start landing. Over the years, I have been through weather delays where the weather delay was lifted then went back into effect before we departed. Did the OP and/or any of these other passengers called US Airways to find out the status of their flight? Or report that other airlines are landing at St. Thomas? Or went to the Internet and did a screen shot of the flight status of their flight and a screen shot of the flight status of other flights from other airlines? Did the OP and/or any of these other passengers wrote to the DOT to complain about this flight? Find out what the airline filed for the delay? Walt Blackadar I have had US Air (and other airlines) claim “weather delays” when the weather was fine in order to cover up another problem. Heck, I’ve seen them claim “weather delays” on only one flight when they had multiple planes leaving within the same hour to the same destination and the other plane had no problem whatsoever. It’s not all that uncommon to see if you fly quite a bit because airlines know they can lie and get away with it. So if the OP got Chris involved early on and could prove that the weather excuse was bunk, then I think $1000 would be reasonable. It’s on par with an “involuntary bumping” + hotel/food charges. But too much time has elapsed to get involved. It’s May, this happened in December…you snooze, you lose. Arizona Road Warrior “If anything I think hotel and meals should have been provided.” – – – – – — – — – It was a weather delay and hotel and meals vouchers are not provided. The OP should have purchased travel insurance. “At least they should have gotten a meal voucher for the 3 hour delay the following morning.” – – – – – – The delay was two hours on the following morning and meal vouchers are given when there is a 4-hour delay Arizona Road Warrior “We were told by the pilot that while the weather had improved in St. Thomas, we were in a gatelock due to an outgoing traffic jam. Eventually, the pilot told us that weather had worsened again.” “In the meantime, some passengers had received phone calls and text messages that other airlines were landing planes in St. Thomas, so they began to doubt US Airways’ claims.” – – – – – – – – – – I am sure that there were some planes that landed. When weather delays are lifted, the control tower will start to reschedule the planes. I am sure that some planes made it through windows between the two weather delays. Over the years, I have been through several weather delays where we were waiting on the jetwaytarmacgateetc at a feeder airport and we were ready to leave but the weather delay went back into affect. Jayne52 My husband and I had a weather delay, then a mechanical two weeks ago on Jet blue. They told us all along what was happening, then the crew timed out. I think they could have anticipated the crew time- out since the mechanics knew it would take several hours to fix the mechanical problem. What made all the difference was the crew attitude, the Gate agents attitude, and the help they gave us getting food, and if we wanted, a hotel for the night. My husband and I chose to stay at the airport, and in the end we were 6 hours late getting home. About 1 week later, Jet-Blue sent us our ENTIRE air fare for that leg back. That’s why we love jet-Blue (and no I don’t work for them) US Airways should repay their EXPENSES. I think they, too could have anticipated the crew time out. what about rule 242? Continental uses air delays at the origin point to count weather delays. We were in FLL, and their incoming aircraft had weather in IAH, thus WE had a “weather delay”. I think they should only be able to count weather in the departure vicinity. Lakelady29 I think $1000 is entirely reasonable if the financial hit would keep the airlines from acting this way in the future. Passengers are so easily disregarded in these situations and something needs to be done to make the airlines do the right thing! Chris in NC I agree that passengers should not receive compensation for weather delays. However, I have a strong suspicion that airline agents automatically default to “weather” as an excuse, whereas other reasons may be to blame. This is based on personal experience. Once I flew US from MCO (Orlando) to CLT (Charlotte). On US Airways’ website, the flight was listed as “late arrival” from PHL (Philadelphia) due to mechanical problem. Obviously our flight departed late from MCO and upon landing the FA announced “for those of you who’s connections we did not announce, your flight has departed … and because our delay was due to weather, you will not receive any overnight accommodations” In this case, your logic is sound. No way, US Airways would voluntarily put a plane destined for STT on the ground in SJU, for the simple reason that this jeopardizes the operations in STT and likely resulted in a flight cancellation back to PHL or CLT. My problem with the weather rule is that compensation is an all or nothing event. As long as a percentage of the delay is caused by weather, no matter how small, the airlines are quick to deny compensation and blame it on the weather. For that reason, I think this case is worth looking at, but obviously what the OP is asking is too much. Grant Ritchie Hi Chris, I was surprised to see that 3/4 of the poll respondents suggest you get involved. To what end? US Airways has already said not just ‘no’, but ‘hell, no’. Time for the OP to lawyer up. Please save your influence for when it might have a chance of doing some good. Bev Walker We were in the Las Vegas gate area at the airport for our flight home to Dallas when a storm hit the DFW area last May. The flight prior to ours left, but ours was canceled. American Airlines offered us nothing but a phone number for a hotel that said, “I don’t know why you called us; we don’t have any rooms available.” We had to scramble to find a room for the night since American was not going to fly out again that day. Because a prize fight was scheduled at the MGM Grand that night, all rooms were either booked or sky-high. I still feel they should have compensated us in some manner for the almost 24-hour delay in flying us out of Vegas. Aven Time for a lawyer and ask for more money. Airline’s not listening because there’s no lawyer and $80K is nothing. They need more than a mediator now. Christophe Airline dumps you in a place you never wanted to be, you probably don’t know and tells you to come back the next morning so they’ll be able to get you to where they were supposed to take you in the first place. I don’t know what is the appropriate compensation, but taking care of food and lodging is a bare minimum !!!… DavidS The way I read this…the original delay was due to weather. Yes the weather may have lifted to allow planes to begin to go to St. Thomas, but an armada cannot take off and all land at St. Thomas at once, (since it was noted other planes were going there). The crew timed out…due to the waether and subsequent ATC delay. Based on this, I feel the airline owes them nothing as they were both uncontrollable events. The subsequent minor delay is something the airline may compensate for depending on the severity of THAT delay. The ENTIRE delay cannot be pinned on this and it certainly happened AFTER the weather and ATC delay which caused the passengers to overnite at San Juan. BTW…Weather Underground’s website shows it was rainy with 40 mph wind gusts at St. Thomas on Dec. 30, 2009. Aaron I’m with you, Chris. $1000 is too much but meals/accomodations are fair. Weather and ATC may have caused the initial delay, but the timed-out crew was entirely within US Airways’ control – they could have known this was going to happen and flown in another crew. Tom Brollini Hi Cristopher, on the face of it $1000 may be too much, but, I get the distinct impression that US Air was using the “weather” as an excuse for the pilots & crew maxing hours etc. They should have provided all the benefits that should have been provided plus some bonus for the trouble. Given their lack of responsible response they should be punished! As you know, I’m a firm believer in punishing poor service, especially when they obviously should have provided lodging & food. So, hammer them for their lack of response! Then more the better. Maybe next time they won’t do it. Tom Brollini Michael K “The delay was two hours” —- How exactly did you calculate that? Chris’ article reports 2 hours in delay just waiting for the late arriving crew on Dec 31, not counting additional time for a mechanical problem. Not to mention that no rain was recorded in St. Thomas between 7:53pm Dec 30 2009 and 12:53am on Dec 31 2009. And nothing stronger than “light rain” was reported between 5:37pm and 2:44am. http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/TIST/2009/12/30/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA Bill Chris, I think what you are saying and what the passenger is saying seem to differ a little bit. From what I can see, the passenger is saying the weather cleared, but there were air traffic control delays. Were these caused by the weather or not? If there was never a weather issue, that is one thing, but timed out crews, congestion, etc, can all be caused by the weather. I am no fan of US Airways, and I have not even ever flown them (nor do I plan to) but if the weather caused all this, then it did…simple as that. I voted for you to mediate the case because I think that the proper thing do to is to determine what caused the initial delays and then see if the further delays were in fact caused by US Airways or not. If they are simply the result of the weather issue, then it is all a weather issue. If US Air was not truthful about the problem, then that is another thing. Michael K The last 40mph gust wind (according to Weather Underground) was at 5:25pm. Thereafter, the max hourly gust speed was consistently around 30mph. Which apparently wasn’t a problem or else the flight wouldn’t have taken off at noon on Dec 31. And there was only one brief period of heavy rain (2:44am) during after 5:30pm on Dec 30. Suz The $1000 request per passengar sounds way to high. We all know that sometimes a flight gets delayed or cancelled – that is part of flying. It was poorly handled by the airline, but is anyone really surprised? I think if Mr. Cook would have asked for a more reasonable figure, he would have gotten a better response. At this point, I think it would be wasted energy and effort to mediate. Comanchepilot Ok folks – FACTS are more important than opinion and – guess what? Facts are easily obtainable – here is the ACTUAL weather for St. Thomas Cyril King Airport on December 30, 2009 http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/TIST/2009/12/30/DailyHistory.html?HideSpecis=0 The weather was not great – but it was not truly horrible either. A little rain and wind at times and it looks like it was well within the capability of any commercial airliners and its pilot skill level. Scheduled arrival time was about 1.45pm from the old schedule – the weather at the time of scheduled arrival was pretty gusty and variable winds, a wet runway, and I can understand why a pilot might want to divert at the time – with a thunderstorm or a heavy windy rainshower was moving across that part of the caribbean. The weather at San Juan [TSJU] was only marginally better – http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/TJSJ/2009/12/30/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA crosswinds were similarly bad, runway was wet – but it was longer – which I’m sure was the primary reason for the diversion – That all said – this is NOT a situation where Chris can help. Why? Because USAir says ‘File Closed.” They are NOT interested in defending themselves any longer. The question here for me to ask the OP is where is the benefit to USAir of diverting this flight in the first place? The issue is in a ‘cover-up’ of the diversion – not the fact of it – it is in USAirways best interest to complete a flight – not divert it. The solution here is litigation by the OP – Chris cannot help with that. USAir has an extensive file on this – and he needs to prove why USAir could not have moved the flight quicker than hours and hours and hours of delay. If he wants to add a claim for kidnapping or similar – there you have it. Document requests for the diversion file, emails, notes taken by the Captain and dispatch on the flight, and similar, Find a California / CT/ NY resident and then they can get attorneys fees if USAir’s contract provides for their recovery to USAir if they lose because of reciprocal provisions as a matter of law. It would be fascinating to get those documents and take deposition of flight crew to ascertain why they could not land – what their thought process was . . . trust me – if this action is brought it will be settled as soon as they documents are required to be produced . . . . sara8032 For some reason I’m reminded a bit about the case where a passenger was flying to Korea and whose flight was diverted during the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Japan. I agree that $1000 seems too much of compensation. I’m sure that under the rules US Airways gets away with not paying out anything. Do I agree with it? No. It’s one thing if they were delayed not having taken off or such, but they were rerouted to a completely different location and shown basically no concern or consideration from those who placed them there. I do think they should’ve received at least food and accomodation for such a lengthy delay (or at this point, reimbursement for receipts of such they’ve kept). I do not think that Chris’ involvement would do any good. For one, it sounds as though Mr. Cook is trying to represent a group of passengers seeking compensation, not just for an individual or two. The larger scope, couple with the fact that US Airways have sent their “final letter” following several requests; and how long ago it was. I feel that the group would be better off going through small claims court (individually?) or hire a lawyer to represent the group vs US Airways. In court, the group may be able to convince a judge that US Airways should have made arrangements for them rather than stranding them in a foreign place; and similar to how airlines find ways to skirt the rules to avoid paying passengers, they could in court find ways to claim that the airline -had- to pay them. Gunrep32 Funny thing happen on the way to Boston from Dallas on United air.. Sounds like a replay except United gave us aa refund which we deemed to be fairdue to the fact that it was weather related but also United scheduling also I think Mr. Cook is asking too much and Iwould onl interveen if the refund were less, ie: actual additional cost for delay. Basil djp Weather delays are something that should be issued by the FAA and not the airline because every airline will just claim weather delays for any reason possible. since other airlines did land…I question the delay due to weather. Karen F December 2009 to boot! This is 2+ years old! sara8032 But if weather permits some types of airplanes to land, but not others, or if you have some pilots trained to land in certain circumstances, but others can’t; how do you call it? Or if you have someone stubborn or ignorant at FFA saying ‘no, no weather delay, you’re fine to land..’ only they’re not? I don’t think it should be up to the airline itself to determine a weather delay, agreed, but more sort of the airline in conjunction with FAA and/or airports calling it, perhaps? And they can’t claim weather delay unless they have at least one more entity backing them up? Michael K The relevant question is whether a 4 hour weather event (a heavy rain storm from 1:30pm to 5:30pm in St. Thomas on Dec 30) justifies a 24 hour “weather delay.” I would think that the delay-to-bad weather ratio is excessive, but are there precedents where this sort of issue has been ruled upon? Asking for $1000 may be too much, but I wouldn’t hold it against the OP for submitting that as a starting point in negotiation especially given that the airline apparently strung this along for over a year and offered $0. sirwired A delay can be chalked up to weather for many reasons that may not be apparent at first glance: 1) The plane may have been delayed due to weather at some other point during the day and hasn’t arrived at your airport on time. 2) The departure or arrival airport may be open and accepting flights, but on restrictions. (i.e. SFO during fog shuts one of the main runways down) 3) There may be a weather problem somewhere along your route, and the plane type you are flying on doesn’t have enough range to go around it. That isn’t to say that airlines never make up weather delays, just that you can’t figure it out one way or another just by looking at a departure board and weather.com. sirwired Flights cannot be operated in the middle of a thunderstorm. Period. There is a non-trivial chance of death if you try. They can’t control the weather, they can’t control hotel room availability (nor does the gate agent have the ability to check)… what exactly are they supposed to be compensating you for? sirwired Was the direction consistent among the two events? The wind direction is crucial. Headwinds: good. Tailwinds: bad. Jjweldon And you post this because? Comanchepilot To those who ‘question’ the weather delay – Assuming arrival time was around 1345AST – the weather was pretty bad – a crosswind of 16knots gusting to 28 knots with the wind direction variable from 340-070 – almost a direct 25 knot crosswind with the gusts on Runway 10 at STT – and a possible quartering tailwind landing on a relatively short runway [7000′] that was wet. Not a landing I would relish completing. The last thing these folks wanted was to slide off a runway into the muddy grass or worse, the ocean. The issue then becomes how long the aircraft can hold to wait for the conditions -which they did relatively quickly – its rare outside a hurricane for really weather in the Caribbean to last more than 10 min. It is impossible to question the decision made at the time because perhaps they had ZERO holding fuel when they got to STT – they may have burned more than planned flying down and had nothing left to hold with so they had to immediately divert. That said – there are perhaps only an arrival every 20 minutes at the airport – thus – capacity is NOT an issue – even with airplanes diverting and then trying to get in. I would LOVE to read an expose on airline dispatching practices and what happens in this situation with a diversion and a delay. It ALWAYS seems like this is the first time that they have ever done it – the pilots have no authority and its a cluster **** with people scrambling for whatever they can accomplish. there simply cannot be that many aircraft that have diverted that they cannot reschedule flights every 5 min – perhaps the issue was gate space – but even then if they can get the airplane on the ground – they can cycle the airplanes through and you cannot timeout on the ground waiting to taxi in. I suspect what happened here was the diversion and a shift change at ops by USAir and the ball got dropped – no one timely filed a new flight plan – the fuel company needed approval paperwork to fuel the airplane and it took forever because no ONE person was responsible for making sure it all happened. . .. Comanchepilot Airline strung it out for a year and whats the statute of limitations in the contract? Anyone want to guess – – – – a year? So breach of contract actions are out . . . leaving torts. Arizona Road Warrior “So, hammer them for their lack of response!” – – – – – – – — – Customer service for US Airways is located in Tempe, AZ. Why did the OP talk with the US Airways ‘staff’ in San Juan (“Mr. Cook, your concerns have been thoroughly documented and reviewed by the appropriate management teams in San Juan.”)? Why didn’t the OP contact customer service in Tempe, AZ? It is hard for me to believe that US Airways have staff in San Juan since it is very typical for airlines to outsource their staff to ‘local’ airlines or an airline with larger operations at the airport. Even if US Airwyas had staff in San Juan, the customer service department and their bosses are located in Tempe, AZ (I think that there is one customer service boss located in PHL). Jake Maybe it would be better if airlines were held to a proximate cause standard. The fact that bad weather delayed your plane in Portland (OR) from getting to Denver, so it then couldn’t get to KC, so it then couldn’t get to Chicago shouldn’t be the fault of the passenger. You gamble on stacking that house of cards, you pay the piper when you crap out. Jake Ah…so the customer should have to “hunt down” the head guys, since expecting that the agents of the company actually represent it is too much of a hassle? I know there’s a difference between how it is and how it should be, however letting airlines get away with the former means we’ll NEVER see a return to the latter. Carver In California the statute would be 4years. DavidS The cause of the timed out crew was weather and ATC delay. Not in USAirways control. http://profiles.google.com/meghanmreed Meghan Reed Did they offer him any compensiation or did he request $1,000 or nothing? I agree that $1,000 is a bit much to ask, but the airline did not assist him with finding a place to during the delay. I can understand his frustration, but it seems like the airline would have offered him something for his trouble, at-cost refund of those items and maybe some airfare for his next flight? Michael K If you check the link that’s been provided, you can see that the wind was consistently NE or ENE. One can also check flightstats.com to see that other flights between these airports (SJU -> STT) appear to have landed during this timeframe. BTW, The US Airways flight from Charlotte (which was supposed to arrive in STT about the same time as the OP’s flight from PHL) was also diverted to SJU but eventually arrived in STT at 11:45pm Dec 30. sirwired It’s also possible that there was a storm near the island (meaning flights get canceled/delayed) but it happened to miss, so it’s existence was never recorded for posterity. Michael K And this hypothetical storm did nothing to deter another US Airways flight which apparently was diverted to SJU 5 minutes AFTER the OP’s flight was and somehow still made it to STT the same night? When all the available information points in a certain direction, is there ever a point where you would put one drop of the burden of proof on the airline? https://plus.google.com/115197896619361127605/posts Aaron W Having been saddled with the cost of an overnight stay due to US Airways having mysterious “weather” cancellations when no other flights at either end of the trip are even delayed (much less cancelled), I’ve seen first-hand how US Airways relies on outright lies to avoid paying passengers’ hotel bills. It’s a disgusting practice, and the reason I don’t fly US Airways anymore. By all means, mediate away, but it’s clear US Airways has a policy of lying to passengers to save money, and that policy goes all the way to the top of the corporate food chain. This is a systemic problem at US Airways that won’t be resolved until the DOT or FTC steps in and hands out huge fines. flutiefan rain ain’t the only form of “weather” ya know… flutiefan but somehow that bad weather is the fault of the airlines? and they should have to shoulder the bill for Mother Nature? Joe Farrell It can contractually shortened however – though in a contract of adhesion I’m not so sure .. . Michael K If you bother to check the link I posted at the bottom of my comment, you can verify for yourself that the wind was remarkably consistent from 5:30pm Dec 30 2009 all the way through the eventual arrival time on Dec 31. If you check flight arrival histories on flightstat.com, you can verify for yourself that several other flights traveled from SJU to STT during the OP’s delay (including the US Airways flight from CLT which was due to arrive at STT and got diverted to SJU at nearly the same time as the OP’s flight). Joe Farrell So how long is that excuse valid? Heck, planes might still be delayed because of a blizzard in February that screwed up air traffic! Bclay The fault was not Mother Nature’s. Passengers were treated rudely. The crew and US Air knew exactly what time the crew would “die”, per union rules. They also knew what kind of gate jam would occur. I’ve been in a US Air situation almost like this, and probably the worst thing is being lied to, knowing you’re being lied to and unable to do anything about it. Give them reasonable expenses and a $500 voucher good for US Air travel. That is about the only way these folks will ever fly that airline again. I’ve called crews for fail freight and if I had delayed freight because a crew went “dead”, I would have had a few days “off”. Sershev Similar situations happen quite often when you fly to SFO and arrival is metered. Tens of planes are in holding and whoever runs out of fuel get diverted to OAK, SjC or monterrey. Lucky ones get landed at SFO. And if you flying on United you can hear all communication on channel 9. Believe me, airline crews are begging air traffic controllers to clear for landinding and it is trully outside of the airline control. Do you think they deliberately want to take plane and crew out of schedule? It cost a lot of money. I was on the plane that got diverted due to air traffic control/weather and another time we got lucky and landed after almost an hour in holding. I could hear communications from the Sfo approach and was aware many planes landed where they were suppose to land and many got diverted. It is just a pure luck. I guess travel insurance should be a solution to cover expences related to divertion not the airline. And believe me any other carrier would do the same. Although, United or Delta would probably offer $100 – 150 voucher as a goodwill gesture. MikeZ I agree. I was once circling the Atlanta airport a few months before the Olympics in 92 IIRC on a Jet Blue flight. The weather was stormy and the pilot kept telling us there were weather issues. When we finally landed, I noticed a lot of those emergency trucks along side the runway. As we got our bags and headed to my relatives, I watched the news. As it turns out, a flight had nearly slid off the runway and that was the reason for the delay, not the weather.