Foiled by the disappearing gate check act

Zachary Matson boarded a Southwest Airlines flight from Minneapolis to Chicago earlier this month with his Apple laptop in his carry-on baggage. Unfortunately, the flight crew informed him that his bag was too full and they would need to check it.

He never received a claim ticket from the airline employee who took his bag, and when he arrived and waited at baggage claim, his bag never appeared. He filed an incident report with Southwest the same day. Continue reading…

Airline cancels route – but what about my credits?

Bruce Leibowitz/Shutterstock
Bruce Leibowitz/Shutterstock
Nancy Palmer cancels her flight from Seattle to Baltimore. Then her airline stops flying from Seattle to Baltimore. So what happens with the ticket credit she was offered? Is her ticket really nonrefundable?

Question: I’m writing about a recent issue I had with AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines and am wondering if you can help. Last April, I booked a flight through Expedia from Seattle, where I live, to Baltimore, to see my parents. I had to cancel the flight, scheduled for June of last year, and Expedia sent me an email saying I had $399 in flight credits through AirTran, to use within one year.

Just recently, I tried to book the same flight — Seattle to Baltimore — and called Expedia to use my flight credits. Expedia got AirTran to release the tickets back to them, but then Expedia staff told me they found out that AirTran no longer flies from Seattle to Baltimore, or from Seattle to anywhere.
Continue reading…

When airlines go above and beyond

Vladimir Shurpenkov/Shutterstock
Vladimir Shurpenkov/Shutterstock
Airlines and bad service. The two kinda go together, right?

They do if the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is to be believed. In its 2013 report card, the research company punished the airline industry with an overall score of 69 out of 100. That would be a high “D” if you were in grade school.

But this isn’t another story about airlines treating us like self-loading toxic cargo, which is apparently what some crewmembers now call us.
Continue reading…

Auto insurers don’t play fair with customers

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What we’re reading

Auto insurers don’t play fair with customers, study finds (NBC News)

Landing gear on Southwest jet collapses at LaGuardia Airport, eight injured (Reuters)

More leisure fliers pay for seats, food, legroom and Wi-Fi (Wall Street Journal)

TSA chief warns of ‘new underwear bomb’ which threatened airline last year and forced agency to rethink all its security procedures (Daily Mail)

Horton shares credit with Arpey for successful American bankruptcy (The Street)

What we’re writing

A scratch on my rental car — and now, a bill from a collection agency (Elliott)

Tagged as a troublemaker by the TSA (TSA News)

Do airlines need to add more humans at the airport? (Consumer Traveler)

Got a headline suggestion? Join our community of news readers and become part of the action. Email our News Editor Steve Surjaputra for details.

An unexpected act of kindness from a big airline

Carlos E. Santa Maria /
Carlos E. Santa Maria /

If you think airlines stopped caring about everyone but their elite-level “high value” passengers long ago, you’ll want to hear Dick and Zoe Hannah’s heartwarming story that — I’ve gotta be honest with you — really restores my faith in humanity.

It’s easy to be left with that impression, by the way. Consider American Airlines, which just reported record second quarter profits and is about to merge with US Airways. It’s rewarding us by moving some of its seats in economy class closer together. So there!

The Hannahs, both of whom are retired schoolteachers from San Jose, Calif., were scheduled to fly to Portland, Ore., on May 16. But on the evening of May 14, they received a call every parent dreads. Their adult son had died.

To be fair, most airlines will refund a ticket when an immediate relative passes away, so the Hannah’s ticket shouldn’t have been an issue for them no matter which airline they were flying.
Continue reading…

Would you care to hold that plane?

Holding a plane for a passenger is an iconic customer service gesture.

In a different era of commercial aviation, before on-time arrivals became so important that aircraft doors closed 15 minutes before departure, planes were almost routinely kept at the gate for passengers who were trying to make a connection or who were just late.

Which made the story of Kerry Drake, a grief-stricken United Airlines passenger who was trying to catch a flight from San Francisco to Lubbock, Tex., so that he could say goodbye to his dying mother, so remarkable — and heartwarming.
Continue reading…

Is your credit card safe at cruising altitude?

Maybe it was the Bloody Mary that got Jean Shanley into trouble on a recent flight from Louisville to Las Vegas.

She paid for the $5 beverage with her American Express card and then slipped the card back into her pocketbook, where it stayed for the rest of her vacation. When she returned home, Shanley, a sales associate for a department store in Burlington, Ky., found $1,300 in fraudulent charges on the card — and she suspects that Southwest Airlines is responsible for the security breach.
Continue reading…

How long is too long for an airline ticket refund?

Talk about an airline delay! / Photo by Phil Ostrow - Flickr
Question: We have been trying to get a refund from Southwest Airlines for almost one year. It’s a refund that Southwest fully admits it owes, but always finds another excuse not to pay. I hope you can help us.

Last spring, my family had tickets to fly from Fort Myers, Fla., to Milwaukee, Wis. When we arrived at the gate, a Southwest agent told us our flight was oversold and that all seats had been assigned. We were denied boarding.
Continue reading…

When revenue-hungry airlines play “chicken” with passengers

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Here’s a decision most of us will have to make the next time we fly: Should you splurge for a “premium” seat in economy class — an aisle or a window seat — or leave it to chance, and possibly end up in a middle seat?

It happened to Fred Thompson on a recent Delta Air Lines flight from New York to Detroit. “The Delta website would not let me choose a seat when I booked the ticket four weeks early,” he says. “The day before my flight, I still could not pick a seat. All the economy seats were taken and the only available seats were fee-based with prices ranging from $9 to $29.”
Continue reading…

Is this a scam? Are airlines really giving away “free” flights?

Dick Jordan became suspicious when he received the first postcard offering “two round-trip airfares to anywhere Southwest flies.” He’s a loyal Southwest customer, but this seemed too good to be true – and he thinks it might be a scam.

After Jordan received the second postcard offering the same deal, he decided to contact Southwest Airlines. Maybe they were rewarding him for his continued business? After all, the postcard had the trademarked logo on it, so it seemed legit.

Instead of dialing the “888” number on the card, Jordan contacted a customer service representative at Southwest, who quickly informed him that this was not a deal offered by Southwest Airlines.
Continue reading…