If you read nothing more than the headline of this story, you might think this is another rant about the evils of airline consolidation — a consolidation that, by the way, isn’t over yet.
But it isn’t. Instead, I’m thinking about how to respond to a complaint I received from Mark Ellerman, a passenger on a recent flight from Phoenix to Chicago. Actually, so are all of the volunteer advocates who work with me.
To call Ron Giancoli a loyal US Airways customer might be something of an understatement. A sales manager from West Chester, Pa., he’s flown on the airline — which recently merged with American Airlines — almost exclusively for the last three decades.
“I flew US Airways even when it wasn’t the lowest price,” he says. “I flew US Airways even when it was a less convenient schedule.”
Giancoli says he’s been an elite-level customer for 27 out of the last 30 years. He stuck with US Airways through good times and bad, through bankruptcies, reorganizations and customer service meltdowns. In exchange for his loyalty, US Airways offered him upgrades into more comfortable seats and award tickets. [continue]
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes when a case comes in, let me offer a little glimpse. The email goes to a group of trusted advisors and … we argue.
Is it a valid claim? Are the rules being followed? Do we have a paper trail?
And when we can’t agree on something, then it becomes a Tuesday post: Can this trip be saved?
All of which brings us to Ruth Ann Wulff’s case. The situation, she explains, has been dragging on for six months, and it involves her husband. Just before a recent family vacation from Sacramento, Calif., to Cancun, Mexico, to celebrate her 70th birthday, her husband had to have an emergency appendectomy. [continue]
After Irene Reitman’s brother passes away, she cancels her trip to Las Vegas. But American Airlines won’t refund her fare. Why not?
Question: My husband and I were recently scheduled to fly from Chicago to Las Vegas on American Airlines. Unfortunately, my brother died shortly before we left, and we canceled our non-refundable tickets.
I subsequently noticed on the American website that non-refundable tickets could be refunded due to a death in the immediate family. I called the refund services desk for many days and could never get through to a real person. The message on this phone was “Due to circumstances beyond our control, we can’t answer the phone right now, call back later.” [continue]
The Justice Department’s settlement agreement with American Airlines and US Airways, which will finally allow the carriers to merge, is taking the airline industry in the wrong direction, say many travelers.
The government, you’ll recall, sued to stop the latest mega-airline from being created this summer, citing competitive concerns. It only green-lit the deal after the airlines promised to surrender gates and landing permissions at several busy airports.
But it’s not what some passengers wanted. Instead, they hoped regulators would go the other way, blocking a wrongheaded merger and maybe undoing a few previous mergers, too.
That’s right, they want to unmerge a few airlines. [continue]
Jennene Colky can’t fly because she has a detached retina. Why won’t US Airways refund her ticket?
Question: I was recently forced to cancel a round-trip ticket between Chicago and Bangor, Maine, on US Airways, for which I paid $494, including a $50 seat upgrade charge.
About a month before I was to fly, I had emergency surgery for a detached retina in which a gas bubble was inserted in my eye to hold the retina in place during the healing process. This meant that I could not fly or even travel to elevations over 1,000 feet. Two of the airlines on which I had flights — United and US Airways — asked for medical documentation of my surgery, which I sent them.
United, bless their little hearts, fully refunded the cost of my ticket to my credit card within days. But US Airways took a different view, refusing to refund the fare.
The facts are that my eye would have exploded at a high altitude, even in a pressurized cabin, and I had a letter from a retinal specialist attesting to this. If exploding eyeballs aren’t a good enough reason to credit or refund the entire amount of an airline ticket, just what is? [continue]
Before I tell you about Justin Cohen’s case, there are one or two things he wants everyone to know. He likes kids. He’s a former teacher and has a “high tolerance” for unruly youngsters.
Except maybe on an overseas flight where he’s seated next to a kid that doesn’t stop whimpering, whining and screaming for the entire trip.
That’s exactly what happened to Cohen last week. He says he was seated next to an enfant terrible on a US Airways flight from London to Philadelphia, and he wants to know if he can be compensated for the torture. His final destination was Dayton, Ohio, and his connecting flight was uneventful, he says. [continue]