Travel TV Star Peter Greenberg Didn’t Want to Go to a Meeting Anymore, Thinks Orbitz or American Should Pay Him for That

Peter Greenberg was inconvenienced by the recent Northeast snowstorm and he wants Orbitz to get him a refund. Even though his flights operated exactly as-scheduled.

Airline ‘Weather Waivers’ Have Been Way Too Inflexible

Greenberg writes,

[U]nder most of the airline “waivers,” passengers were allowed to rebook their flights as long as they flew by today. Are they kidding? It’s almost impossible to do that.

Limiting no-penalty travel changes to travel by Friday, with a storm that was expected to wallop the region Tuesday and Wednesday, makes little sense ex ante. As it turns out, things worked out reasonably well. The air transportation system as a whole wasn’t impacted as much as expected. So you didn’t have the kind of debacle with aircraft out of position that takes days to recover from.

We easily could have seen people rebooking flights, and finding themselves having to rebook again under another weather waiver. And this sort of inflexible policy ties up inventory, clogs up phone lines, and makes it harder to recover from a weather event rather than making it easier.

So I do think the airlines generally have been too stringy with their weather waivers recently, requiring travel during too limited of a window (I know I don’t find it easy to completely rebuild meeting schedules and trips). My own approach would be to take a full refund rather than re-scheduling, and then rebook later.

Greenberg’s Travel Fouled By Weather, Sort Of. Demands Refund.

Here’s what he had booked:

I flew from New York to Dallas on Monday and got out of LaGuardia just before the airport closed. I was also scheduled to fly to Los Angeles on Tuesday evening to meet colleagues flying out of New York. I booked the tickets with Orbitz on American/US Air code share flights.

He flew to Dallas, his flights were not interrupted.

His scheduled onward flights to Los Angeles were all operating as-planned.

It turns out though that his meetings in Los Angeles would no longer be productive, because people couldn’t get there from New York due to the impending storm. So he wanted to go home to New York, skip the rest of his trip, and get a full refund.

He’s frustrated because he had to talk to Orbitz, since he booked through Orbitz. And he shouldn’t have booked a codeshare rather than the natural American flights. Booking codeshares isn’t ever a good idea without a specific, compelling reason (like cheaper flights, or mileage accumulation).

But he got through to Orbitz, and they metaphorically laughed at his refund request — because his flights were operating as scheduled, because he wasn’t even flying from a city affected by the weather waiver.

I called Orbitz and they declined the refund, claiming that since there was no weather in Dallas, they wouldn’t refund anything because the flights were scheduled to operate.

But I was indeed stranded because all my colleagues were stranded by weather. No one at Orbitz would help. I was then told I would forfeit my entire fare. That, ultimately, is what happened.

So, will I accept Orbitz’s refusal to honor the waiver? Of course not. First, I am disputing the charge on my credit card.

“I was stranded because all my colleagues were stranged…” strikes me as not quite correct. He no longer had a reason to travel. Just as if his meetings got cancelled for some other reason, maybe he was meeting with a movie studio and their servers got hacked and the executives had to cancel. He’d have been left with non-refundable tickets and no reason to use them.

For this trip he would only “forfeit the entire fare” if he decided not to take the flight segments in order. He could have paid to make a change. But he wanted to throw away the rest of the trip and just book a new ticket home (or travel elsewhere, he doesn’t say).

So he’s going to file a chargeback with his credit card company. He should lose that, because he was asking for something he wasn’t entitled to, and because the airline was providing transportation that they had promised to.

He’s also demanding that Orbitz executives be called to account.

I couldn’t fly because of the weather—because my colleagues were also trapped. Since the Orbitz representatives refused to budge, I will give Orbitz executives an opportunity to explain their logic—through this posting—to me and everyone else.

Of course, he could fly. His colleagues’ travel had no bearing on whether he was able to take his flights as-scheduled. It changed only his interest in and willingness to take those flights.

Should Orbitz have processed a refund for Peter Greenberg, in violation of American’s weather waiver and knowing that they’d receive a debit from the airline for having done so?

(HT: Jonathan W.)


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Prime example of Hollywood entitlement logic being applied to the real world. He and Steven Baldwin must have a standing monthly lunch date.

  2. This guy is supposed to be a TRAVEL editor? Really? The guy seems a few crayons short of a box. He was offered exactly what he paid for. If he no longer wanted it, too bad. The refusal was dead on, and the farther he pursues this, the worse he looks.

  3. I knew Greenberg back from the Prodigy days, he always wanted something for nothing, and it is true today. Tell the big buffoon to man up!!

  4. Full disclosure. I work for Orbitz. I also know Peter Greenberg well. And no we shouldn’t have processed a request that wasn’t consistent with American’s policy. We can’t be responsible for sorting out the travel plans of people Peter might be meeting or if they are even traveling. And he knows that. Unfortunately, weather is a risk when traveling in the middle of winter. Airlines work with customers to re accommodate them during a disruption and travel agents do the same. But his request was ridiculous and I’m pretty sure that after a couple of glasses of wine and a few laughs he’d admit that it was.

  5. Yep guys an idiot dont give him anything Orbitz not your fault his companions didnt fly out earlier given the fact that they knew an impeding storm was on its way.

  6. Greenberg is a fool. I hope Orbitz tells him to shove it where the sun don’t shine, seeing as he’s not actually entitled to anything.

    Maybe he’ll take his claim to the venerable Chris Elliott.

  7. Should Peter Greenberg get anything because — the cheapskate — used Orbitz?

    NO.

    Should he get lounge access?

    NO.

    Should Orbitz give him a hotel?

    NO.

    Sick of seeing the leftest press asking for something as if their messiah, Obama, can fix it. Screw them all.

    @Chris Chiames

    I think you should stop “knowing Mr. Greenberg” well. Start supporting Netenyahu. Thanks.

  8. refreshing to see the Orbitz spokesman speak plain language. i don’t use them personally but on the back of this will give them a try.

    As for Greenberg, he is just trying it on, trying to use his name to get what he wants.

    Jerk!

  9. Talk about a feeling of entitlement! He’s trying to bully Orbitz through social media. What a jerk!

  10. The airlines really don’t offer a practical solution because the fares which allow changes for something like this (weather or not) are still ridiculously high though not as high as the ludicrous and insulting change fees. These are the customer service equivalent of poking customers in the eye.

    So I guess the real solution for now is to fly Southwest which will immediately credit you the full amount which you can use for a year against the replacement fare or a future fare – as I recently did when I wanted to get out of Boston a week early to FLorida due to weather. I paid $29 more to move the same nonstop up a week.

    Why won’t one of the majors realize that having a reasonable change fee or fare would draw customers in droves? What’s the opposite of a poke in the eye?

  11. Gary, you should know there is more to this story that he didn’t post. As it turns out, Peter did fly to LA earlier this week after all:

    http://instagram.com/p/ye8C3QPG6t/

    Looks like his meeting with industry “professionals” did take place in LA, on his boat which was docked in Marina del Rey.

    So it looks like Peter Greenberg took that flight after all from Dallas to LA. Knew he was arrogant, didn’t realize he would try for a fraudulent credit card dispute.

  12. @Gary – As you know I own a (gasp) brick and mortar travel agency – so my comments come with that history.

    1. Buy the AA fare that waives the change fee – $40 spent now saves a bundle later on. It’s a standard offering to our business clients traveling to the Frozen Coast in the winter. Someone once posted that you could only buy that direct from AA – but we can sell it in our system (and do!!)

    2. Asking ORBITZ to waive an airline rule is absurd – complain directly to the airline and leave the agency out of it – they don’t control those rules.

    2. This dude is and always has been a Jackhole.

    just sayin’

    jw

  13. IF what you are reporting is an accurate representation of what took place, he is not entitled to a refund and comes off as an entitled jerk for expecting one and using social media in an attempt to get one.

    If you want the ultimate in flexibility, purchase refundable fares, fly Southwest, or purchase insurance.

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