PASSENGER

A midair confrontation leaves a passenger speechless

Benjamin Levine is still trying to make sense of a confrontation with a flight attendant on an American Airlines flight from London to Dallas.

Adding to his confusion: a passive-aggressive response from the airline that stopped short of an apology. He turned to our advocates for help sorting it out.
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Why you shouldn’t accept your airline’s apology

Potowizard/Shutterstock
Potowizard/Shutterstock
If you’ve experienced a recent flight delay or service disruption, then you probably know that for better or worse, no one says “I’m sorry” like an airline.

A well-crafted apology is often just the beginning. Gift cards, credits and loyalty points — lots of loyalty points — frequently follow. And the mea culpas appear to work. Most passengers accept them and move on.

Well, maybe they shouldn’t.

A closer look at the airline industry’s “sorries” suggests they sometimes lack sincerity and show a remarkable unwillingness to fix the problem that caused the complaint in the first place. In other words, it’s more like hush money than an apology.
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Whaddya know about airline passenger rights? Not much

pcruciatti / Shutterstock.com
pcruciatti / Shutterstock.com
Beyond the fact that you don’t have too many, what do you know about your rights as an airline passenger? If you said “not much,” then you’re in good company.

Like Judy Williams. When the airline lost her luggage en route to a conference in Asheville, N.C., a representative promised to find it. But by the time she was reunited with her suitcase two days later, she’d already attended a professional conference wearing jeans and a T-shirt — not ideal attire for an attorney.

Did I say attorney? I sure did. Even someone who practices law doesn’t necessarily know her rights.
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Will a new law force cruise lines to better report onboard crime?

Brian Jackson/Shutterstock
Brian Jackson/Shutterstock
The remarkable thing about the proposed Cruise Passenger Protection Act is that on its face, it looks entirely unremarkable. The law would require cruise lines to publicly report all alleged crimes on a ship and to disclose their passenger contracts in plain English.

But dive into the bill, and it delivers a little shock to both passengers and the cruise industry. For travelers, it’s the surprise that, thanks to a legal loophole, cruise lines and the federal government currently don’t do what the new law would require, including publicly reporting every alleged and significant crime committed aboard cruise ships. It’s also a troubling reminder that at sea, you don’t have the same rights as on land.
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Does JetBlue owe her anything for amorous passenger incident?

Sunshine Pics/Shutterstock
Sunshine Pics/Shutterstock
To say that Cristi Mitchell felt uncomfortable on a recent JetBlue Airways flight from Phoenix to Boston might be something of an understatement.

During the redeye flight, an amorous couple seated across from her partner and her 8-year-old son engaged in several sex acts. No need to go into details, but let’s just say they covered every angle.

“I was shocked and really uncomfortable,” she said. When she mentioned the behavior to a flight attendant, the crewmember tried to stop the copulating passengers.
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Why won’t US Airways take responsibility for drunken passengers?

Svry/Shutterstock
Svry/Shutterstock
A few weeks ago we had the case of a nearly-sober passenger who was threatened with expulsion from an Allegiant Air flight. Today we must consider the opposite problem: several passengers who were not only allowed to fly while intoxicated, but encouraged to drink more.

It happened to Dianne Vernon and her brother on a recent US Airways redeye flight from San Francisco to Charlotte.

“We were about four rows from the back of the plane,” she remembers. “There were three very loud and drunk passengers sitting in the row one up from us, toward the front of the plane.”

The passengers were obviously inebriated, but they were not done imbibing. And the flight attendants seemed only too happy to serve them.
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Their luggage went missing, but does anyone know why?

By all accounts, Maddy and Phil Handler liked their October cruise on the Riviera, one of the new mid-size ships in Oceania’s fleet. There was just the matter of the Handler’s luggage — and reams of correspondence between the couple and a vice president at the cruise line, bickering about what happened to it.

The cruise line claims another passenger inadvertently took the Handler’s suitcase and that it tried to help them retrieve it. But these passengers are unhappy with the way in which their claim has been handled, and they want answers about their missing luggage. They want me to step in and get a clear explanation from Oceania.
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No refund for a sick United passenger?

Question: Last year, my husband and I bought round-trip tickets to fly from Pittsburgh to Houston on United Airlines.

A few weeks later, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We originally thought he could still make the trip, but after his biopsy, it was clear he couldn’t go. His doctor wrote a letter stating that he had advised canceling this trip.

United was very sympathetic at first, and said that they would issue a full refund. They asked me to send a request through their website. I received an email a week later, saying they would allow us to cancel the ticket, pay a $50 change fee per ticket, and have up to a year to rebook the flights.
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Which airline passengers drive you the craziest?

As any new parent knows, air travel with young kids isn’t always easy. But few experiences come close to the Suelings’ Thanksgiving flight from Westchester County to Atlanta on Delta Air Lines.

After the family boarded, their children, ages 3 and 1 1/2, began “crying, screaming and hitting,” according to Christopher Sueling. His wife, Melissa, tried to calm her baby by nursing her, but it didn’t work.

“The flight attendants were just standing there, looking pissed off,” he says.

The jet taxied out to the runway, but then stopped and returned to the gate. The Suelings were told to get off the plane and that they needed to write to Delta if they wanted their money back. They even took a snapshot (see image, above) to document their ejection.
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Why won’t airlines cover stolen computers?

Here’s a question I get all the time: Why won’t an airline cover a lost or damaged computer in my checked luggage?

My answer is always the same: because!

Well, it’s been that way since the Wright Brothers flew a kite at Kitty Hawk. Every airline contract specifically says it doesn’t cover lost or stolen electronics, among other things.

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Passenger forced to stand for a seven-hour airline flight

At nearly seven hours, US Airways flight 901 is one of the longest domestic nonstop airline flights. And Arthur Berkowitz knows how long it takes to get from Anchorage to Philadelphia down to the minute. That’s because he says he had to stand for most of the flight when he returned to Philly last July.

Why would anyone stand for that long? Because he says a morbidly obese passenger seated next to him was spilling into his personal space, making it impossibly to sit in his assigned seat, and the flight was completely full.

“I didn’t fly from Alaska to Philadelphia on flight 901,” he says. “I stood.”

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