It is perhaps one of the most glaring double standards in the travel industry: An airline is under absolutely no obligation to keep its schedule. But they punish passengers with change fees and fare differentials if their plans change.
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.
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.
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What we’re reading
More leisure fliers pay for seats, food, legroom and Wi-Fi (Wall Street Journal)
What we’re writing
Tagged as a troublemaker by the TSA (TSA News)
Do airlines need to add more humans at the airport? (Consumer Traveler)
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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.
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.