Christopher Elliott John Baker takes on the challenge of honeymooners facing extra costs because United cancelled their flights.
- They’re supposed to fly home non-stop on United, Antigua – Newark
- They hate connecting flights
- United changed their Antigua-Newark schedule. The flight operates 3 times weekly… and now on Saturdays but not on Fridays
United moved them to a flight the next day. Their hotel wants $900 for the extra night to extend their stay.
Elliott’s Baker’s advice to them involves going to Congress.
My recommendation is to take this in two directions. First, she can attempt to appeal to United’s C-suite but based on their past answers, I’m not confident of the result.
Parodi also has the option that I gave April O’Brien. It might be time to take this case into the political arena.
After all, who is more sympathetic than a bride on her honeymoon? She’s also in luck that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has two members from New Jersey while the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee also has a member from New Jersey.
I’d go in a different direction.
They’re entitled to a refund of the return portion of their ticket. That would fund an alternate set of flights home.
American flies non-stop from Antigua – New York JFK on their original date home.
United informed them of this flight change over two months ago. I can’t go back in time to see what flights cost then, and I don’t have details of the fare breakdown on their ticket. But I’d guess that this isn’t much out of pocket on net.
In any case, per rule 24(c) of United’s Contract of Carriage I’d ask them for alternative transportation on the original date of travel and suggest this American non-stop flight.
Alternatively, they could stay somewhere else for their last night. A quick search on Kayak reveals four star options that are much less expensive.
Again, there might have been more options for less turning back the clock two months. But it seems there are still choices without breaking the bank.
Additionally they should inquire with their credit card company about what coverage may apply. Many premium credit cards have coverage for additional costs incurred due to changes imposed by airlines. Just showing the original itinerary, then the actual boarding passes showing travel a day later, might trigger coverage. It could be worth filing a claim.
I would begin with a call to United and escalate the issue to a supervisor. I would recognize that the issue might not be resolved in a single call. In the meantime I would ascertain how much money I would get back if I took a refund from United for the flight segment home, and determine if I was out any money at all just buying new non-stop tickets home on American. If it was a wash, or a modest cost increase, then I’d do that. Otherwise I’d reserve an alternate hotel for the last night.
Unless what I really wanted was the $900 suite and was merely looking for someone else to pay for it. That’s the least likely result here.
I truly hope that the honeymooners don’t get Congressional offices (and oddly not the Department of Transportation) involved in an airline schedule change.
(Update: while the original piece that I linked to was on Christopher Elliott’s blog, it was written by another author. I regret the initial misattribution.)