Alaska Airlines bumped a real American hero – should I get involved?

Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock.com
Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock.com
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.
Continue reading…


Help! United left my 13-year-old daughter in Syracuse

What does United Airlines’ unaccompanied minor fee cover? Katrina Cichosz wants to know, and after reviewing her case, I’m kind of curious, too.

Let’s go right to the textbook definition, which is on United’s website. When her 13-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, flew home for Thanksgiving on Nov. 21, she had the option of paying the $99 fee to cover “the extra handling required” for managing a child’s travel, but technically, she didn’t have to.
Continue reading…


Case dismissed: No ID? No flight

J. Gillula had a Southwest Airlines ticket from Oakland, Calif., to Baltimore last year. But he didn’t have his ID.

That shouldn’t have been a problem, at least according to the TSA. It allows passengers who don’t have identification to undergo a secondary screening.

But it was a problem.

After a long wait, and an interrogation by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, a Southwest airlines employee approached me and told me that I would not be able to fly that day.

When I asked who it was — the TSA or Southwest — that was denying me the right to travel, she clearly indicated that Southwest was denying me boarding, in the presence of several TSA employees who made no attempt to correct her.

I was then escorted back to the ticket counter, where the Southwest employee processed a refund for my round trip ticket; she did not, however, make any attempt to re-book me or provide me with alternate transportation.

Continue reading…


Is the government letting airlines off easy? Let’s do the math

The Transportation Department’s latest high-profile fine goes against Comair for violating denied-boarding rules. It’s a big ticket: $275,000, which, while significantly less than the record fine against Spirit Airlines late last year, could be the largest enforcement action for bad bumping practices.

According to the government, an investigation of Comair revealed numerous cases in which the airline failed to solicit volunteers to leave overbooked flights and provide passengers with the appropriate denied boarding compensation.

The DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office also found that Comair had filed inaccurate reports with DOT on the number of passengers involuntarily denied boarding.

Bad Comair!

Continue reading…


What to do when an airline doesn’t follow its own rules

Can you force an airline to follow its own rules? Phil and Margaret Warker wanted to know after a disastrous return flight from Nassau to Washington via Miami. US Airways blamed the weather and offered them a $100 flight voucher for the trouble.

But the Warkers saw things differently. They believe they were involuntarily bumped from their Miami flight, and claim the gate agents in Nassau promised them more compensation. Who’s right?
Continue reading…