If you’re staying at a hotel, your rights are spelled out in your state’s lodging laws and in the property’s terms and conditions. But don’t lean on those for better customer service. I explain what to do.
Information is power.
No industry understands that better than airlines, which parcels out information about itself on a need-to-know basis, if it does at all. Don’t believe me? Then maybe you weren’t one of the thousands of air travelers affected by last week’s polar vortex, and who were stranded and left in the dark about their flights.
To get a true idea of the airline industry’s tortured relationship with information, consider what happened to Melissa Buchanan when she booked a flight for her mother from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Montego Bay, Jamaica.
“I inadvertently selected the wrong destination on her booking,” she says. She phoned Spirit Airlines to ask it to cancel her flight, and it told her that any changes or cancellations made after confirming a reservation carry a fee of $125 through its reservation center or $115 if done online.
But Spirit neglected to mention one very important detail.
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.
Maybe it was the string of customer-service disasters, starting with the Costa Concordia tragedy last year and leading up to the recent Carnival Triumph “poop” cruise, on which passengers were left adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for five days without working toilets.
Maybe it was the threat of government regulation from Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), a vocal critic of the cruise industry, that made it move.
Then again, maybe we should just take the cruise industry at its word on its decision, announced just before the Memorial Day holiday, to introduce a passenger “bill of rights.”
There are at least two sides to every story, and in the recent controversy involving kids and airline seating, the other side didn’t get a lot of airtime.
I’m here to correct that.
Here’s another episode in the “Our Lawyers Interpret EU 261 Differently” drama that has been playing itself out on this site since the controversial European passenger-rights law passed in 2004.
It looks as if the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill can fly, after all.
It took five years of debate and more than two dozen short-term extensions, but the legislation finally passed this week.