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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » Flying The Unfriendly Skies: Important Travel Tip # 3 (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Autumn Morning Star
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Well, your flight is cancelled in a connecting city. You have to stay overnight. What do you do? Most airlines will provide a hotel room at little or no charge. Northwest Airlines sent me to an overbooked hotel with no rooms available. About a hundred of us were stranded. To our surprise, the entire staff of Northwest ends their shift at midnight in their major hub in Minneapolis-St. Paul! I was actually told by departing staff: “Too bad. It is not my problem. You can sleep in the airport in a chair.”

I like to call this saga: Midnight in Minneapolis.

Here is what to do:

1. Write down everyone’s names from the moment of the cancellation (good AND bad agents)
2. Save all vouchers
3. Stand near the hotel shuttle pickup area and ask drivers to call and see if they have available rooms
4. Ask the driver about the prices of the rooms
5. Get him or her to make a reservation for you
6. Take the free shuttle to a new hotel
7. Save ALL your receipts
8. Write a (short as possible) letter to NWA via e-mail, clearly outlining the problems
9. Mention all the agents by name (and give written complements to the helpful ones)

You will need to e-mail the airlines for reimbursement. They might try to snow you with frequent flyer miles, which is ok, but you still want a check for your expenses. You can also make suggestions as to something that would appease you, such as:

1. Flight upgrade coupon
2. Airport Lounge day pass
3. Travel voucher
4. Food voucher

Be reasonable, but be persistent. Provide all documentation requested and you will probably get that check for hotel reimbursement, some frequent flyer miles, plus a couple of lounge passes or a flight upgrade for your inconvenience. I got 25,000 frequent flyer miles, two airport lounge passes, full reimbursement, and an apology.
Wonder is very necessary in life. When we're little kids, we're filled with wonder for the world - it's fascinating and miraculous. A lot of people lose that. They become cynical and jaded, especially in modern day society. Magic renews that wonder.
Doug Henning
Father Photius
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El Paso, TX (Formerly Amarillo)
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Autumn, your putting your experiences here with flying nightmares is worth its weight in Gold. Those of us who don't fly as much profit greatly from your experience when we face those nightmares. Thanks for posting them.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
George Ledo
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Not to add fuel to the fire, but we had an interesting experience with United a few years back.

Donna and I were going from upstate NY to San Jose, CA, via Chicago. The flight was delayed in Chicago, which was expected... but then it was delayed some more and some more. Finally a gate agent comes to the front of the plane and says that they've had a problem on the ground, and that, even though it was their fault, there's nothing they can do about it. Furthermore, by the time the plane gets to San Jose, the airport will be closed, so they'll fly us to SF and then bus us to the San Jose airport, which is the destination they're responsible for taking us to. And, further-furthermore, if anyone wants to stay in Chicago for the night, they can do so, but she could guarantee there would be no rooms available. With that, she walked out.

So we get to SF around one in the morning and on a bus to San Jose airport, which is of course closed, and we ended up calling cabs. A few people spent the night in SF, but that wasn't an option for us.

The attitude these airline people had towards us was unbelievable. Their responsibility ended at the San Jose airport. Period. End of conversation. When we talked with a supervisor and mentioned that it almost seemed like the employees were ticked off at the airline and taking it out on the passengers, she didn't respond; it was like, yes, I know that, but I can't admit it.

We did get our comeuppance, though. The day before the return flight I got a call from them, telling me that our flight was cancelled and they wanted to put us on a different flight, a much later one, also going thru Chicago. I said no, and after a bit of my being very assertive, they ended up putting us on a different airline for the flight back.

This was eight or nine years ago, and we haven't flown on United since then.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
JamesTong
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WoW! These are really experiences we can certainly learn from. Thanks, Autumn Morning Star and George Ledo for the invaluable tips.
George Ledo
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BTW, James, one of the best experiences I've had was on Malaysian Air, from New York to Dubai nonstop. I made the round trip twice, once in coach and the second time in business class, and it was all so civilized it it was incredible.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
Autumn Morning Star
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Today, I corrected grammar in
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Travel is really tricky these days, Photius. Glad to be helpful, James.

Thanks George for sharing your travel experiences. You were really treated poorly and there is simply no excuse. There is actually a rule book that the airlines are required to comply with. "Rule 240" specifically requires them to attempt to put you on another airline if your flight cancels and another flight is available. The more you know, the more you can make sure your rights are protected.

Now here is another suggestion: Go to this website and add it to your "favorites": http://www.mytravelrights.com/travellaw.cfm?ai=3

Print this information for your specific airline BEFORE you travel. Put it in your carry-on in a handy zipper compartment. This will provide clout when you need it most!
Wonder is very necessary in life. When we're little kids, we're filled with wonder for the world - it's fascinating and miraculous. A lot of people lose that. They become cynical and jaded, especially in modern day society. Magic renews that wonder.
Doug Henning
George Ledo
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SF Bay Area
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Thanks for that link, Autumn. I had no clue the site existed.

Just for fun, however, I went and read the Rule 240 for United, and, at first reading, it seems to have several loopholes. For instance, Force Majeure (stuff that's supposed to be beyond the control of the airline) includes lack of labor or fuel as a factor in delaying or cancelling a flight. That's really interesting. Strikes are announced ahead of time, and an airliner doesn't exactly drive over to the corner gas station to tank up. If a line employee or mechanic calls in sick and the airline doesn't have someone else on call, that's not beyond the control of the airline: someone in human resources or scheduling wasn't doing his job. And if there's no fuel, someone in logistics just didn't bother to notice.

Ahhh... for the good old days when flying was actually fun... Smile
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

Latest column: "Sorry about the photos in my posts here"
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