It’s not every day that you hear from a real American hero like Chuck Yeager. Yes, the Chuck Yeager. It turns out he and his wife, Victoria, catch my syndicated column in The Sacramento Bee.
They contacted me after running into some trouble on two separate itineraries to Anchorage, and despite every effort to get things sorted out with Alaska Airlines, they couldn’t.
By the way, if you don’t know who Chuck Yeager is, look up the word “hero” in the dictionary. You see that guy? That’s Gen. Yeager.
Here’s what happened to the Yeagers: Victoria was booked from Sacramento to Anchorage with a stop in Seattle. Chuck was flying from Seattle to Anchorage on the same day. IThe couple planned to meet in Seattle and travel together to Alaska.
“When I arrived in Seattle, my husband was a little late, but still an hour ahead of the flight,” Victoria Yeager explained. “Alaska Airlines bumped us from the flight because they were overbooked.”
Alaska placed the Yeagers on the next available flight and offered them two $125 coupons. But it denied them the cash compensation they would have received if they’d been involuntarily denied boarding. Alaska says Gen. Yeager was a no-show on a flight from Sacramento to Seattle.
“He was never booked from Sacramento to Seattle,” says Victoria Yeager.
The Yeagers’ polite, written complaints to Alaska and later, to the Department of Transportation, got them nowhere. Under federal denied boarding compensation rules, they would have been entitled to cash compensation, depending on the circumstances.
If the airline arranges substitute transportation that is scheduled to arrive at your destination between one and two hours after your original arrival time (between one and four hours on international flights), the airline must pay you an amount equal to 200% of your one-way fare to your final destination that day, with a $650 maximum.
The Yeagers didn’t get that.
“They took $15 from each coupon because in order to use them, we had to purchase the tickets by phone, not on Alaska Airlines website,” Chuck Yeager noted in an email.
When the Yeagers finally got around to using the airline scrip, they found the terms to be less than desirable. They initially tried to use them to visit a friend, but had to cancel the trip because he was having health problems.
“So this year, we tried to make reservations using the canceled tickets,” wrote Gen. Yeager. “We got the runaround. Finally, we were told there is no way to do this on the website. So now, they will take $15 for the reservation by phone and to do the reservation by phone, a change fee of $100 applies, as opposed to a change fee of $75 on the web.”
I know what you’re thinking. They did this to Chuck Yeager? Really?
By the time the Yeagers contacted me and my team of volunteers, this circus had gone on for a while. Frankly, we couldn’t believe it.