Flight Cancellations Caused by Snowstorms
Question 1 of 2:
I’m stuck right now in Atlanta, (Jan. 4), where it definitely did not snow. When my 6 am United flight to Tucson, where it most definitely does not snow, was abruptly cancelled.
The snowstorm in the Northeast caused about 1,500 flight cancellations yesterday, a fairly routine number for a snowstorm.
But some airlines, United in my case, seem to be cancelling flights that do not seem to be affected by the actual storm. My 6 am flight, for example, was to have originated in Houston for Atlanta.
Is there a consumer/passenger rights issue with the way airlines are canceling flights, using weather as an excuse? Shouldn’t they be required to REFUND your money for a cancelled flight, rather than 1. Arbitrarily putting you on a flight a day or two later than may be utterly unacceptable to you? or 2. Magnanimously telling you that you have a year to rebook the flight without paying a penalty, even though the fare will likely be higher?
…and this one:
Question 2 of 2:
I thought you would like to see this message Delta sent me. I traveled over New Year’s and got stranded for a couple days. I was actually luckier than most people. In Detroit, there were people camped out on the floor like homeless people. A couple people told me they were stranded there for 5 days, and had 6 flights in a row cancelled.
What people don’t understand is why they try to say the flights were cancelled for “weather” when the weather is perfect in both the departure and arrival city. Also, saying a flight has “mechanical problems” is often an outright lie. Especially when they cancel it 30 minutes before departure. People aren’t stupid and they also notice that the flights getting repeatedly cancelled are in smaller airports.
Standing people in airports for days – there has to be a better way for the airlines to do business. I hope you mention these items in your next newsletter.
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Delta Air Lines
Sent: Saturday, January 11, 2014 8:39 PM
Subject: Please Accept Our Apology
On behalf of Delta Air Lines, I would like to extend my personal apology for the inconvenience you experienced as a result of the cancellation of Flight DL4560 on January 07, 2014.
In light of the current state of the economy, and in today’s competitive airline industry, travelers expect the best value for their travel dollar. Delta strives to provide this value through a mix of safety, on-time performance, courteous and professional service, and a wide range of destination options. We want to make travel on us a convenient and trouble-free experience for our passengers and I am truly sorry we failed to do so on this occasion.
To demonstrate our commitment to service excellence and as a gesture of apology for our service failure, I am adding 5,000 bonus miles to your SkyMiles account. Please allow three business days for the miles to appear. If you would like to verify your mileage balance and gain access to all of our mileage redemption programs, you may visit us at www.delta.com/skymiles.
It is our goal to provide exceptional service on every occasion, and I hope you will provide us with an opportunity to restore your confidence. Your support is important to Delta, our Connection carriers and our SkyTeam partners. We look forward to your continued patronage and the privilege of serving your air travel needs again soon.
Director, Customer Care
You can definitely get a refund if your flight is canceled and you did not fly. You can take another form of transportation or request passage on another airline, although the right to use another airline to the same destination is not a right (one that our proposed Airline Bill of Rights 2.0 that has now been presented to the DOT, FAA and Congress and is supported by many other consumer advocates and is on our web site, would fix.
If you are stranded overnight away from your home city, you should be able to get hotel and meal vouchers.
Some airlines are not satisfied with high change fees, but are magically seeking to generate more fees by unilaterally changing schedules or canceling flights.
This is, in my opinion, an unfair and deceptive practice that should be investigated and fined by the DOT. Even if such fees are waived, it is clearly an inconvenience to passengers and should result in bumping-type compensation, an upgrade, or at least a more convenient flight in the future or perhaps even a ticket to a more distant destination.
All airlines and airports are required to have filed and approved contingency plans with the DOT for large storm events. Such plans should include extra crews and equipment to minimize system-wide delays and cancellations.
But it appears many airlines do not and prefer to dump cost onto passengers and have the entire country suffer an air transportation near slowdown rather than have reserves or do proper contingency planning. Our Bill of Rights would fix this, but even now the DOT could correct the problem by making approval of the plans contingent on having adequate crews and equipment arrangements with other airlines.
Also the DOT needs to crack down on the practice of falsely reporting weather as the reason for a delay or cancellation when it is really due to lack of crews or equipment or poor contingency planning which is in an airline’s control.
The current situation is analogous to an electric utility failing to bring in extra crews to restore service after a big storm and telling its customers to freeze and wait, but still be sure to pay their bill on time. Or a city not hiring extra plow trucks. When mayors or utilities do this, there are big consequences, airlines need to feel the same heat.
Paul Hudson, President
Your Letters on Allowing Foreign Airlines to Fly US Domestic Routes…
You are so right. If you want to see dysfunctional concentration visit Canada and fly on Air Canada.
I have lived in Asia for 13 years and even the worst of the lot (Air China and China Eastern) are light years ahead of all American airlines. Service, food, seating, comfort rank less than 5/10 compared to the average Asian airlines.
If I had to live in the US I would go out of my way to take a train, car or bus. Now I haven’t even mentioned the draconian netherworld of US airport insecurity and the dreaded TSA……!
good luck America!
Clearly you lack understanding of the challenges of cabotage. Although you acknowledge that employee groups have strong (and rational) objections to the idea, your subsequent dismissal of such concerns makes absolutely no attempt to establish the basis for your opinion.
You can be sure that LH, BA, AF, or any of Gulf States carriers will use their subsidies to displace U.S. workers and U.S. airlines if domestic flying is opened to them.
The idea that air fares are too high for today’s travelers can only be proffered by an individual who is totally ignorant of the economics of airline operation. Take a few minutes to look at the operating margin of even the most successful U.S. airline and then compare that to the average of other equal-sized U.S. entities. I’m sure you will learn a great deal about the rationale for the price of commercial airline trips.
Do you realize how few domestic cruise lines exist? To get around the
restrictive labor laws, cruise liners just sail under different flags.
The problem with allowing foreign airlines to fly is that domestic
airlines and jobs will disappear.
What we need instead of foreign airlines is to lessen some of the
restrictions that prevent small startups from getting started. The
busses in Chinatown competing with Greyhound is a good example of how
this could be more feasible.
This is precisely what my husband and I want to happen. To bring back competition in the U.S. the government must allow foreign carriers to operate flights solely within our borders. If Flyers Rights plans to begin working seriously toward this goal, let me know and I’ll make a contribution. Our first choices would be Thai Air and Cathay Pacific.
Thank you for all your efforts on behalf of airline passengers.
Brilliant idea. I, too, prefer foreign airlines and despise “American” carriers. Flying from Asia to the US it was a noticeable and unpleasant change from service to the pretense of service, which is so “American”. Where’s the petition? Where do I sign? We allow everything else foreign in this country, why not airlines?
Let’s start a petition aimed at the FAA and whitehouse.
(Do you know www.change.org
I bought a ticket on US Airways last March for a friend to fly from Chicago to Dallas in November. About a month before the trip, he got a notice that the flight times had changed by about an hour each way, asking for his confirmation. He sent it to me, but neither of us replied. Ten days before the trip he had to cancel. I called the airline and found that since we had not agreed to the changes, I was able to get a full refund.