Is this enough compensation for a “horrible” Christmas flight?


Baris Evran’s story may sound familiar. The resolution will not.

Evran and his family were passengers on American Airlines flight 295 from Miami to Los Angeles, which made an unanticipated stop in Lubbock, Texas.

And the reason it will sound familiar is that this flight got a lot of ink from our colleagues in the mainstream media. One passenger described the 20-hour ordeal as “a nightmare you can’t believe.” The Inquisitr and Los Angeles TV station KTLA also covered the event.

Evran wrote emails to three American Airlines executives, detailing his own family’s experience and asking for $750 in expenses incurred as the result of the mechanical delay.

“Nobody got back to me,” he says.

I’m tempted to play a few excerpts from Evran’s novel-length missive, which involved alleged lies, misrepresentations, orders to stop recording on the plane because taking videos is “illegal,” screaming babies, police officers being called, sick passengers, and much, much more. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

But let’s get right to what Evran wants.

The irresponsible act by American Airlines has cost me more than 28 hours of time,” he says. “I arrived to L.A. on Christmas Eve instead of the day before, and I was only able to spend one night with family members that I have not seen for many years. This was a very important family gathering where family members came together from different states just to see each other for a few days. I wanted to see my relatives at least for two nights, but American AIrlines ruined the whole vacation, and we ended up spending one night with cousins and grandparents. At this point, I am expecting a full refund for our two tickets, and for the expenses we had at the airport and Walmart.


Long after the rest of the media looked away, we tried to connect Evran with the right person at American to see if he could get some consideration. While our advocates didn’t feel the tickets should be refunded — after all, American got his family to Los Angeles safely — we believed that he deserved more than an empty apology delivered through media channels.

So we contacted American on his behalf. And waited. And waited.

Four months later, we heard back from Evran.

“They ended up sending me a check for $37,” he reports.

“Here is the ironic part,” he adds. “When I contacted American via email stating that they never responded about my ground expenses request, they ended up sending me a letter in the mail saying they can’t reimburse me. I received it the day after I got my check in the mail.”

He adds, “It amazes me how lousy and bad American Airlines is. They said ‘no’ to me, but when you were involved, the decision all of a sudden has changed! How do you explain this?”

I can’t. American Airlines operates in mysterious ways — when it does operate — who are we to ask “why”?

But here’s a question we can ask. Is $37 enough compensation for a 20-hour delay?

This story first appeared a few months ago, but it’s as relevant as ever. How much, exactly, do airlines owe you when things go horribly wrong? I’ll be curious to see what the poll says this time around.

Did American Airlines offer Baris Evran enough compensation?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

  • James

    A perfect example of why you need EU 261 in the United States

  • Kevin Nash

    Good luck getting something like in the books under the current administration.

  • y_p_w

    I voted no, but with the caveat that I understand there’s likely nothing that can force them to do anything more.

  • eBob

    There is only one way that I can see something like that happening. That would be that enough congressmen and senators wind up in a similar situation.

  • MarkKelling

    Is it frustrating to get to your family late when you have limited time to spend with them there? Yes, of course it is. But, no matter how bad AA is, they still got them there in time to spend a day with family. Was the experience bad? Yes, but would you rather have had the plane land where it did or crash trying to make it to its real destination? If one engine unexpectedly quit (as detailed in the linked article), what’s to say the second one won’t as well?

    No way is the passenger due a complete refund of their fare. The “whole vacation” was not ruined. For that to have happened, AA would have taken them back to their original departure airport instead of finding a plane that could allow them to continue their journey.

    I’m not sure what the expenses were (other than the ticket price) the OP wants refunded. Not sure why the felt the need to go to Walmart. And since the total time for the flight plus the unexpected landing was 20 hours, not sure how the OP calculates it wasted 28 hours of his time. Did AA not provide meals during the delay? If the $37 is to cover meals then, while not generous, that is enough.

  • Bill___A

    Without seeing what his expenses were, it is difficult to imagine how much he should get. Delays happen, mechanical and otherwise, However, I much prefer this to “incidents” such as a mechanical defect causing the plane to fail, One should look at the percentage of flights that are mechanically delayed before passing judgement on an airline. If this “two days” with relatives was “so important” he should have left a day or two earlier, that’s what I would do. I don’t like delays any better than the next person, but they happen and you have to build them into your plans. I was just delayed five hours because United had a de icing machine in New Orleans and the crew apparently didn’t know how to use it properly (this is what we were told). I think it is pretty absurd to have de-icing equipment and not train people to use it. But in any case, it changed my plans, I got in later and I am not writing about it for compensation because we landed safely. That’s what is important to me.

  • Bill___A

    Given the whining, and complaining about “just one day and wanted to have two” I wouldn’t have even given him the $37.

  • Michael__K

    This happened in *2015*. It apparently took AA two years, three ignored emails to AA executives, and then a consumer advocate’s intervention, to get them to cover $37 worth of expenses incurred by passengers for a 15+ hour flight delay within AA’s control. And this check finally arrived in the mail one day apart from a separate letter denying any reimbursement. I might add that $37 is an awfully modest total cost for meals and expenses for 20 hours for an entire family.
    If this happened on a ULCC carrier like Spirit, there would be lots of comments along the lines of “you get what you pay for.” So is AA supposed to be in the same category or not?
    Passengers understand that emergency landings happen occasionally. But how the company responds to these situations and how they treat their passengers in these situations tells us far more about the company’s values and culture than any marketing or advertising.

  • MarkKelling

    I am not a fan of AA. I do not fly them. I have read too many stories about how they totally screw their customers to ever change my opinion. But at least AA tried to do right by not just leaving these passengers to find their own way which I expected to be the result.
    And the article states that it is a rerun from “several months ago” so it wasn’t 2 years, maybe just 18 months. Which is still 17 months too long for something like this to drag on.

  • Michael__K

    at least AA tried to do right by not just leaving these passengers to find their own way which I expected to be the result.
    It wouldn’t have been lawful for AA to just abandon these passengers in a random airport not even on the itinerary. They are contractually obligated to provide overnight accommodation until the first available continuing flight. So I wouldn’t give them special credit for that.

  • Alan Gore

    Yes, how dare passengers expect basic human rights when traveling these days. You will accept your bowl of gruel, and you will enjoy it!

  • C Schwartz

    This case was originally published on May 28, 2016, so American took 5 months to give only $37. I am surprised (maybe I should not be) that the airline did not give the passengers any goodwill vouchers or at least points, something…..

  • Blamona

    Did they pay for hotel and food vouchers at “stuck” destination? That should have been enough

  • Chriscfrn

    Well, since they can now fly private jets….

  • KennyG

    The same luck that was had under the previous administration?

  • wilcoxon

    Delays happen. There are delays that are outside of the airlines control. However, mechanical issues, crew not trained on de-icing, and the like are under the control of the airline and there should absolutely be mandatory compensation to passengers suffering these sorts of delays.

    AA is definitely an airline to avoid. We’ve had bad experience with them as well with mechanical issues costing a day of vacation.

  • cscasi

    And we note it did not happen under the previous administration’s reign and it was the one who always toured being so consumer oriented. Hmm.

  • cscasi

    As long as they pay for them if there is other transportation available at the times needed.

  • cscasi

    Or you buy travel insurance that contains travel delay, etc.

  • Steve Rabin

    I agree, if they have the equipment they should be trained to use it…but I’m guessing it doesn’t freeze over very often in NOLA.

  • John McDonald

    Am reading this on a phone but couldn’t see any explanation why it took 20 hours.Did plane breakdown & they hsd to overnight in Texas? & who would plan to fly east coast usa to west coast usa 23 December for only 2 nights ? Madness.

  • John McDonald

    No eu 261 will push up fares. Delays happen. Planes break. I’d like airlines to fix them properly while on the ground & not have some financial pressure to take off when aircraft ALMOST airworthy. Even heard of arriving DEAD ON TIME ?

    Plus it was 2 days before xmas !!!

    No aiine has spare seats or spare aircraft around xmas

  • John McDonald

    Trump seems to us from afar to be doing a great job. Seems very pro business which means more jobs. When leftie media complains that reinforces that he is doing a great job.

  • Byron Cooper

    “Far away.” Are you Russian? He is well liked by Putin.

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