Minneapolis-based Sun Country which has transformed itself into a low cost carrier — they even shut down the elite portion of their frequent flyer program — has stranded hundreds of passengers in Mexico.
They offer seasonal service to various cities and because of weather at their home in Minneapolis they cancelled flights from Mazatlan and San Jose del Cabo. And since it was the end of their season they aren’t going to send planes to pick up the passengers later. They’re going to leave their customers in Mexico. (HT: Thrifty Traveler)
Screen shot credit Thrifty Traveler)
Sun Country says everyone gets a refund for the flight that isn’t going to be operated. Which they have to do of course. But getting money back from an advance purchase ticket on a low cost carrier hardly covers a new last minute ticket home from Mexico. Sun Country’s next flight to Los Cabos is June 29.
This reminds me of the Kingston Trio’s song “M.T.A.” about a Boston transit fare increase leaving a man stranded — without the 5 cents he needed to get out. He never returned, but his wife brought him a sandwich each day.
The airline says it would have been more disruptive to other passengers to send another plane, cancelling other flights to do it.
As disruptive as the current situation is for the affected passengers, the alternative — canceling other flights to other destinations — would have been more disruptive to even more passengers
However they should have chartered a plane. Or they should have covered the cost of each passenger’s tickets home on another carrier. Without interline agreements that means they’d be paying retail. The airline took money and agreed to provide transportation, not strand passengers. From their perspective it’s a force majeure event that relieves them of contractual obligations.
The airline acknowledged that no one was staffing the airline’s counters and that phone lines were just disconnecting callers because of volume. And they say they hope providing a refund for the cancelled flight “will more than compensate for the cost of making alternative arrangements home” (emphasis mine).
Copyright: tupungato / 123RF Stock Photo
One Mile at a Time thinks this demonstrates that “the government really needs stricter laws when it comes to consumer rights” while I believe something more radical, that we need to eliminate legal protections for airlines from suit. The right answer here is class action lawsuits based on common law contract principles. In other words, punitive damages.