When to bend a rule — and when to break it

By | September 30th, 2013


Rules are meant to be broken, right? Well, you might be forgiven for thinking so if you’re a regular reader of my work.

As a consumer advocate, I routinely help people bend rules when circumstances warrant it. Of course, that brings out the usual chorus of rule-lovers, trolls and haters, who accuse me of threatening the foundations of Western civilization by convincing a company to waive its often ridiculous policies.

But rules are important. Just ask Congress, which is on the verge of shutting down half of the U.S. government because of disagreements over the budget and healthcare reform. As I write this, I’m in Washington sitting next to a government executive who is worried sick that her office will be shuttered tomorrow. It probably will be.

The law-and-order folks have a valid point, once you get past their often angry personal attacks. Some rules are not meant to be broken.

For example, here’s a request I received from Mary Anne Fontaine on behalf of a friend who flies once a year and had found an inexpensive ticket on Allegiant Air.

“Since she purchased the ticket, that airline has had three emergency incidents that I feel should be reason enough for her to be able to cancel her ticket with a refund,” she says. “How can she go about doing this?”

The incidents Fontaine is referring to are serious, but didn’t involve any fatalities. They include an emergency landing in Georgia and an incident in Hawaii and a bird strike in Florida.

Allegiant may be in love with fees (that’s another story) and it may not operate the most customer-friendly airline (another story, too) but even with this string of unfortunate incidents, I can’t find it in me to call the airline unsafe, or to even suggest Fontaine’s friend might have a reason to worry.

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When I get a case like this, my first instinct isn’t to jump into action. But before I do, I look at the facts and I apply the skeptical filter my journalism instructors helped me develop years ago. And that filter showed me I was probably looking at someone who wanted to get around Allegiant’s nonrefundability rule, and might be using the news to justify it.

Can you tell which way I’m leaning on this case? Keep reading and I’ll tell you how I responded.

Yes, rules are meant to be broken

Once you understand the reasons behind some of the airline ticket restrictions, you’ll quickly conclude that rules are meant to be broken, if not by passengers then by the airlines themselves.

The “no refunds” policy is meant to protect a carrier’s revenues — which is to say, if you cancel a ticket, and the airline can’t resell it, then the company shouldn’t have to eat the loss. Most passengers understand that and respect it. (Actually, Allegiant used to be a little more flexible, allowing a name change for a $50 fee. That policy ends Oct. 30. Oh well.)

But the “no refunds” rule doesn’t make sense on another level. If an airline manages to resell the empty seat, it still gets to keep your money. That bothers some travelers who don’t mind covering the lost opportunity for an airline but do mind when the carrier double-dips.

The other inconsistency? Airlines are allowed to cancel flights for any reason, and the penalties are negligible. Even in Europe, which has tougher consumer protection laws for bumped airline passengers, companies sometimes skirt the rule by offering a creative definition of “extraordinary circumstances,” which essentially lets them cancel flights without offering any meaningful compensation.

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So when someone asks me to help them get around the “no refunds” rule, I don’t have a problem hearing their case. After all, in addition to writing the rules so that they can get away with almost any flight cancellation, airlines routinely waive their own rules for their best customers, which include elite-level frequent fliers, employees traveling on passes and active-duty military. What’s one more?

It’s all about the lesson

I’m often asked — maybe harassed is a better word — why I continue to hear cases like Fontaine’s and devote coverage to it. I see each column or post as a learning opportunity for everyone: the reader, the company and me. Often, you’ll find a spirited discussion in the comments section, in which the rules-are-rules people excoriate me for helping someone game the system and the pro-consumer readers congratulate me for it.

Here’s how I see it: If you come away with a better sense of how to navigate your way around the needlessly complex rules put in place by companies such as airlines, then my work is done. Dissecting Allegiant’s nonrefundability rules does exactly that, and at the end of the debate, we’re all better consumers and smarter travelers.

I didn’t get involved in Fontaine’s case. In fact, I haven’t responded to her until now, and I hope she doesn’t mind.

I don’t think I can convince Allegiant to refund her friend’s ticket because of a bird strike and a few emergency landings. Planes would have to fall out of the sky before an airline begins to refund nonrefundable tickets en masse. Unless, of course, it feels like it.

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I’m already bracing for the comments from the pro-consumer readers who think I’m slacking off, followed by the angry attacks from airline apologists who feel I have no business asking anyone for a refund, ever.

Enjoy the debate.

Should companies bend their rules on a case-by-case basis?

View Results

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  • Andre_K_FL

    I think the customer’s Allegiant concern is probably seconded by the recent emergency slide debacle. Every airline has its incidents though. It’s one of those 50-50 situations, where both sides of the argument have strong validity.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I’m with you on this one. Rules should be waived when it’s the right thing to do. I also agree that this case doesn’t appear to make a compelling case why the rules should be waived for the friend.

  • Can we make some differentiations here? There are laws which are rigid. There are regulations that are mostly rigid. There are policies which usually require someone in high authority to override. Then there are guidelines which give the greatest freedom of all.

    Many airlines make claims of “regulations” or rules” when things are really just policy. And many people get deceived by their authoritarian stance.

  • backprop

    I think you’d capture more flies with honey than with vinegar. I admit I’ve stuck up more times for companies and policies than for consumers in the columns you publish.

    “Of course, that brings out the usual chorus of rule-lovers, trolls and
    haters, who accuse me of threatening the foundations of Western
    civilization by convincing a company to waive its often ridiculous

    Some of them are also customers, readers, and even your own moderators. Lumping everone in that bucket of labels is asinine. Your repeated insults when people suggest some self responsibility are actually kind of alienating. And the above argument (‘….threatening the foundations of Western civilization…’) is a ridiculous strawman. Just saying.

  • backprop

    Good point. I don’t know if columns purposely lumping in the legitimate excuses (regulation, law) with the questionable (policy) in order to poison the whole barrel or what. But it was the same with the article a few days ago on unbundling. Two-thirds of the examples in the column were actually junk fees – not unbundling, but the verdict was rendered against unbundling only.


    I think customer service should look at many requests on a case-by-case basis. Most do not, especially in travel. I taught high school before retiring and heard many excuses through the years—for missed assignments, missed tests, missed classes, etc. And I occasionally made exceptions for the very unusual, but did not do it regularly. I found too many students and parents with too many excuses, much of which could not be verified in any way. I learned early on to be skeptical and developed a decent nose for sniffing out the just plain lies. I tend to be skeptical when I read a lot of the requests for help that you publish. Some I agree with, some need more information than you publish (you might have it but it is not in the section of the letter you publish) and others are just too bizarre to believe (Those twin toddlers in first class for instance.) As to Allegiant–I am a white knuckle flyer and manage to travel over 75,000 miles each year. I know more than I should about problems with airplanes (I read way too much about them) but I do not regard my fear of what might happen as a legitimate reason to cancel a flight.

  • At the point, I’m not sure anything I say is going to make a difference. Not calling you a troll. Not saying you’re a hater. Western Civilization is still intact. It matters not — I have a feeling that pretty much everything I say today is going to be taken literally.

    I have nothing but the highest level of respect for my moderators and my readers. But we can’t agree on everything.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Why are you dealing with a “friend of a friend” story? That makes me skeptical of the entire issue.

    And…it sounds totally bogus…”Oh, I bought this cheapazz tix on this cheapazz airline and now I’m afraid of it!” That’s like buying a Ford and whining that you didn’t get a Lexus.

  • John Baker

    Chris …. I never have a problem with people who ask for an exception to a rule due issues they caused. I have an issue with people who think they are entitled to an exception and contact a consumer advocate when their request is denied.

    I also completely understand why some travel businesses have gone to the “no waivers / no favors” approach. I can remember when all it took was a doctor’s note and I had friend’s parents who would write them all day long “Fred is unable to travel due to a medical condition.” What was the condition? A hang nail. Just like when I worked for GM and we found out that a local Urgent Care would write a sick note without seeing a patient. Medical notes aren’t worth the paper they’re written on unless you are willing to research everyone of them.

    I have sent people to Chris who I do think were wronged… My personal favorite was a family oriented cruise line that’s part of a family of companies that is know for their customer service who opted to charter one of their ships to itself. They then decided to basically charge everyone more if they opted to sail at another time instead of taking the refund. Within their rules? Yes but this was a business decision the cruise line made not the customer. Especially since people pay a premium for the cruise due to the line’s customer service ethos. My other personal favorite… I pay more for a direct flight. The airline changes its schedule and now I’m connecting but I get nothing back … Really?

  • BillCCC

    I voted yes not necessarily for compassion but sometimes it is just common sense and good business practice.

    Why does every story these days have to have a line like ‘Of course, that brings out the usual chorus of rule-lovers, trolls and haters, who accuse me of threatening the foundations of Western civilization by convincing a company to waive its often ridiculous policies.’ ? I really don’t understand why a consumer advocate needs this language to make a point.

  • Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the time of year. Less daylight. Maybe I’m starting to feel crabby and worn down from so many angry comments over the summer, telling me that I’ve helped the wrong people.

  • John Baker

    Chris … I think you need to take a break from reading the back dated emails before you write the next article… Or let me know where you’re at… I’ll send you some coffee.


  • JewelEyed

    If you’re not one of those people who get into a tizzy and start name calling and hurling invective at Chris for trying to help people in bad situations because it’s what he does…maybe he’s not talking about you. Some people do get really crazy about it with him. You should know that better than most people. Simple disagreement is a different story.

  • MarkKelling

    The airline could argue that since you are connecting you are using more of its resources (multiple planes, multiple sets of gate agents, the seats in the waiting areas of multiple airports, and so on) so you should pay more!

    Nah, let’s not give them any ideas, so forget I said this. :-)

  • JewelEyed

    It’s might have to do with all the e-mail backlog he’s reading at once. He’s probably upset about people who had to wait for help and frustrated reading all that hate mail at once.

  • MarkKelling

    UA had more emergency issues just last week than Allegiant had all year. Things happen. If I based my willingness to fly on the number of unscheduled landings of an airline’s planes, I probably wouldn’t fly any at all. Sounds more like the OP simply had a change of plans and wants to use the string of incidents as justification to get a refund of a non-refundable ticket.

  • Cam

    Not a valid reason to ask for a refund.

  • Bill___A

    I think the issue is not so much the actual bending of a rule, but the circumstances of it. “I didn’t buy trip interruption insurance but my cat got a headache (put very predictable and common incident that happened here).” Please reimburse the cost of my trip and reimburse my charges.
    I don’t think anyone minds a legitimate bending of rules for a legitimate reason. However, essentially giving someone trip interruption insurance when they conscientiously didn’t purchase it, or didn’t figure out that people from India who are relatives visiting the USA need a visa to go to Canada etc. is where most people have an issue with it. Why should I get travel insurance if it is just going to be bent later? The whole issue is that the events that trigger it do seldom happen, or it would be prohibitively expensive.
    Don’t get me wrong, you do a lot of great work, but you also seem to use up brownie points with vendors on things that shouldn’t be bothered with.

    As for the Allegiant air issue – you did the right thing. It is up to the FAA to decide when an airline can’t fly due to “too many incidents”, not some passenger’s opinion. I hope this kind of logic continues.

  • Bill___A

    Stop helping the wrong people then.
    Most people have a keen sense of right and wrong. When you have helped someone that has been wronged, that’s fantastic, that’s what this is for.
    However, when you help someone by getting them “something for nothing” where they just neglected to protect themselves, that’s where the issue arises.
    Also, I can’t be the only one who has noticed and mentioned that your headlines are often misleading and the poll questions not realistic.
    You are capable of better than this. Your columns used to be better.

  • Kevin Mathews

    I had the exact same reaction…
    If a person isn’t concerned enough to approach you directly with the issue then it obviously isn’t of great importance to them…

  • No, the travel industry used to be better.

  • Daddydo

    Chris, you have barely touched the surface of the inane practices of the airlines. 1000 complaints are read by 50 different people at 50 different desk in 50 different locations. 1% might get passed on to the next 50 people to re-read the complaint. I would say that 1 in a 1000 get through to the “compassion” department. This department should be eliminated completely. I am the RULES ARE RULES person. Change the rules to allow a little compassion is just fine if they will allow my cousin to have her 14th lobotomy and I can’t travel.

  • John Baker

    Chris … I’ll disagree with you… The travel industry did used to be better but as a society we’ve also become a “rules don’t apply to me” group as well. The two are a deadly combination.

  • emanon256

    I just saw on NBC news last week that there are an average of 50 medical emergencies on board per day on intra-US flights, with an average of 12.5 of them resulting in emergency landings. Add to that weather related emergency landings, and mechanical related, and I am really curious about the number. I would much rather an airline make an emergency landing than try to push through and risk peoples safety. Hard to fault an airline for keeping us safe.

    Even though I am a rules-are-rules guy, I still voted yes. I do believe there are some situations where they should be bent, but to the majority of cases, I believe they should not be.

  • Kevin Mathews

    I agree with the people that want a partial refund when a direct flight is changed to have a layover. Often when booking flights, especially in advance, there are multiple options and sometime the layover is cheaper. People are often willing to pay a little bit more for a direct flight because it’s quicker.
    So when they pony up the money upfront for the Direct Flight and the airlines change it so that there is a layover, I can understand and agree with people wanting a partial refund, if they can show that at the time they booked their flight, the price (A) was available for the non-direct flight and the price (B) was the price paid for the direct flight and the refund requested is the difference…

  • Kevin Mathews

    The travel industry was better so long ago that most people don’t even remember that time…

  • Alan Gore

    Excellent point! Rules, in any situation, are set up as substitutes for personal decision-making when you, as boss, don’t trust the people under you to make the right decisions thinking for themselves or when, as in the military, events can move so fast that there is a need to “pre-think” scenarios so that as many in-the-field reactions as possible are handled by the book.

    In my own business, I’m the one making the decisions, so I can afford to approach everything on a case basis. Airlines seem to favor a military approach, with little regard for the intelligence of their own personnel or respect for their customers. They hate to fly, and it shows.

  • emanon256

    I know they are misleading at times, but I am a fan of Chris’ sensational headlines and often unrelated polls. I think it keeps things exciting.

    I totally agree with you on helping people who are trying to get something for nothing though. My theory is the people who are trying to game the business, are also trying to game Chris.

  • I freely admit to being a big fan of tabloid headlines and polls that have absolutely nothing to do with the story. It’s in my FAQ section. This is not the newspaper of record. It never existed, actually.

  • John Baker

    @kevinmathews:disqus As I put in my note… I agree with you. I think there should be some consideration in those cases…

  • Lindabator

    Not necessarily – it’s to let the PURCHASER know what is expected from HIM as well.

  • Lindabator

    Actually, they get TONS of the “make an exception” for me requests. You just don’t hear about them. And just because they don;t make it in this ONE case, doesn’t mean that is across the board. I’ve gotten PLENTY of tickets refunded, changed without penalty, etc. I just don’t trumpet each one. As don’t most who’ve had a happy result.

  • Lindabator

    haha – good one!

  • Lindabator

    You are booked from point A to point B, REGARDLESS of whether or not it is nonstop, direct, or multiple connections. End of story.

  • Lindabator

    I agree 100%. I also agree that if the vendor says NO you live with it. Compassion would be nice, but is NOT a guarantee! (If anyone wants to know how to write a proper letter, keep it short and sweet, list the reason in short succinct terms and do NOT wax quixotic about it. Then give them a REASONABLE way to make you happy and THANK THEM for even considering your letter. You’ll get a lot farther!) :)

  • John Baker

    @d7d0dcf4970d51662061272dc941541b:disqus You sell air tickets … You’re honestly telling me that airlines don’t charge a premium for a non-stop? Sorry, the airlines are making a business decision when they reroute me because they change their own schedule (no act of God, no maintenance issues). I shouldn’t have to continue to pay a premium for a premium product that wasn’t delivered.

  • Alan Gore

    Isn’t it terrible when your customers don’t know their place?

  • MarkKelling

    The airline I fly most doesn’t charge more for non-stop flights. On routes where there is an option to choose non-stop or connecting, the connecting flights always cost more.
    On UA, connecting flights from where I fly always cost at least $50 more than non-stop. On Southwest, the flights with connections can be double the price of non-stop.
    Your costs may vary.

  • MarkKelling

    Good advice.
    The misplaced “I’ll never do business with your company again!” threat gives the company no reason to do anything to help you. The see they have already lost you as a customer, why should they try.

  • Kevin Mathews

    Not end of story at all.
    If they make a change that adds hours onto my trip that I choose to avoid upfront by booking a direct flight instead of one with a layover, and I initially paid more to book that flight that one with a layover, I believe that yes, compensation is warranted if the buyer can provide proof of the price difference at time of purchase.
    By your logic, if someone bought a business class seat and was bumped down to economy class, they are still booked from A to B so they are not entitled to a refund or compensation…

  • MarkKelling

    I actually had an airline tell me that when I was moved from a full fare paid 1st seat to a middle seat in economy – “Why are you complaining, we got you there.” Can’t argue with that logic! ;-)

  • Kevin Mathews

    that’s the kind of logic i’d love to get in writing or recorded so that I could reread/relisten to it for a good laugh…

  • Kevin Mathews

    That would be why I said sometimes… Direct flights are sometimes cheaper, sometimes it’s the other way around.
    But as a “general rule”, most people consider a direct flight a premium product to a flight with a layover. So if indeed it did cost more, and the purchaser can prove it, then they should be entitled to the rate of the layover flight…BUT, it doesn’t work in reverse. If the flight was changed by the carrier for the convenience of the carrier, they can’t demand more money from the passengers simply because they decided to operate it in a higher cost lane for them…

  • emanon256

    Maybe we should come up with a letter template for Chris? Though I know he describes this often enough. And I think mot people dont’ come here until they already sent in a laundry list and asked for free free free. So perhaps it’s too late by then.

  • jherrmannmt

    Laws are rigid? Have you ever been pulled over by a traffic cop and just given a warning for 60 in a 45 MPH zone? And judges often reduce sentences they think are too harsh. Governors commute death sentences, pardon some criminals, as does the prez of the U.S. upon leaving office. I think there is wiggle room in everything.

  • Carver Clark Farrow


  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I believe because part of Chris’ mission to educate folks, not merely help the individual who may be aggrieved.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Yes, God forbid that a courtesy or grace ever be extended, or that the black letter provisions of a one sided contract ever be waived

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’ll share my chocolate. :)

  • emanon256

    I didn’t say everyone is gaming Chris and he shouldn’t help anyone. I completely agree with Chris helping people. But I don’t like the people who try to game him, or who ask for a full refund and then some due to either their own un-reasonable actions, or their laundry list of non-complaints.

  • Mark Cuban

    Calling people who don’t agree trolls and other names is tired and generally a sign of immaturity. How about I blow a few stop signs when there’s no one else around? No harm done, and I saved gas. Rules are in place to avoid disagreement, and most rules put in place by companies for consumers are to protect those companies. Those companies are full of people who have aspirations and want their paychecks to increase over their careers, or for hard working people who have those stocks in their retirement accounts.

  • Amy Frey

    I think, in this case, it is ludicrous for the individual to seek a refund. Allegiant may not deserve allegiance, but this is not a case where a refund is appropriate.

  • John and Jeanne — thank you! I’m having one of those days.

  • Bill___A

    I don’t like misleading headlines at all. Sensational is fine, but sensational and misleading is even fraudulent as it pulls the person to the web page on the assumption that they are going to read about a certain thing, and it turns out to be different.
    As for the travel industry used to be better….really? What statistic are we using? They are serving a different demographic now than they were before, so they have to deal with it differently.

  • MarkKelling

    Non-stop flights are definitely more convenient and cost effective for the traveler. You are not stuck in some connecting airport missing your business meeting or your cruise starting or whatever because your inbound flight was late but your outbound flight left early and you were not important enough for them to wait for.
    And ticket cost is relative. Lots of times an airline will have too many empty seats on flights from point A to B and B to C when you want to get from A to C so you may see discounts on the A-B-C flight relative to the direct A to C flight. And then there is the if you bought it 3 weeks ago it was cheaper than the walkup price today but if we reprice it we have to use the walkup price thing airlines do so the flyer never wins.

  • Lindabator

    NO, they don’t – and if you book when all flights have same classes of service available, you’d clearly see that. In fact, the connecting flights are a tad higher, due to PFC charges at connecting airport. This hasn’t changed – always been that way.

  • Lindabator

    Read the T&C – they are required to get you from A to B – and that covers the airlines for any flight being changed from a nonstop to a connecting flight – and it does happen all the time – routes change, airports close earlier than originally scheduled, etc.

  • Mark Carrara

    If airlines are so terrible(as I think they are) do what I did and vote with my dollars. For almost all leisure travel my wife and I now drive instead of fly. Between being treated like cattle at TSA lines to airlines changing everything and anything they want and fees for everything, we just decided it was not worth the hassle. If more people did the same you would see airlines change their policies in a heartbeat.

  • Cybrsk8r

    And it would also be the very LAST time I ever flew that airline. (yes, I’m talking about you, United)

  • emanon256

    I think you mistook my post for another. I never said the travel industry used to be better. But as long as you brought it up, I agree with you, people want different things today, and the industry is offering it. By different things, I mean a cheaper no-thrills product, which comes with a lot of negatives that people then complain about.

  • emanon256
  • Lindabator

    I am not United – I am a travel agent – and that is the SAME rule EVERY airline has in place – so I guess you NEVER fly again????

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Airlines give what their customers want (mostly). Rock bottom prices seems to be the prevailing desire. As long as customers value low prices above all, the airlines give us low prices even if means a crappy experience.

  • Bill___A

    Sorry emanon256, I was making the mistake of replying to two posts in one.
    Mr. Elliott had said earlier that the travel industry used to be better. I am not so sure about that. I’ve been travelling about 50,000 miles per year on a plane plus driving and associated hotel stays.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    I think that companies should bend their rules on a case-by-case basis. The issue is why they are asking for an exception of the rulesregulationspoliciesetc.

    I have been a long-time reader (I think eight years if not more) and majority of the cases are the results of individuals not taking responsibilities for their actions instead of travelers being wrong by a travel provider (i.e. the traveler had a reservation at a 4 Seasons hotel which was overbooked and they walked the traveler to a Motel 6 and don’t want to give a refund). I think that Chris should spend his time on the latter.

    One of the reasons why the country is broke is that people want things without paying for them. This is no different than a lot of the travelers that contact Chris. It costs money to travel and if you don’t have the money to purchase EVERYTHING (i.e. travel insurance, working with a professional brick & mortar travel agent; etc.) then take the responsibilities or don’t go.

    If you have a trip of a lifetime and don’t purchase travel insurance then don’t complain if your request for a refund or etc. isn’t granted by the travel provider. Travel insurance (NOT travel protection plans) is a cost of going on a trip especially a trip of a lifetime;a cruise; a tour; etc. If you can’t afford to lose the money then purchase insurance to cover a portion of the potential loss.

    If you are a DIY travel agent (by the way I make most of our travel arrangements) then don’t complain if you screw up your reservations and the travel provider doesn’t grant you an exception.
    If people were honest then there will be probably less regulationsrulespoliciesetc. As long as we have people in the society that will go to a store and purchase clothes but not remove the tags…wear them to a party or etc and then return it to the store then Chris will have a constant stream of people contacting him asking him to help.

  • polexia_rogue

    Glad to see Chris draw the line at one of the more ridiculous requests.

    He could very well have gone to bat for this woman “she has severe mental anxiety! the airline would not be able to give her the specialized care she required in order to fly!” (because only someone with severe anxity would be afraifd of 3 isolated incidents)

  • emanon256

    No worries. I posted an article upstream about changes in travel. Mostly it’s price related as it’s gotten cheaper and people are expecting more.

  • Jeanne_in_NE


  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Great article! How the heck did you get your comment approved with a link in it, though? I thought those were verboten?

  • emanon256

    Not sure. But I’ve seen Tony get some through, so I figured I would try.

  • Travelnut

    So if I understand what y’all are saying, when I book a flight online, I need to print out the fares for pretty much any alternative itineraries that might result if my original selected flight is cancelled (which United manages to do to me a couple of times per trip) because the burden is on me to prove what should be in their computers. Nice!

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    This is of course where you and I strongly disagree.

    The low hanging fruit is for Chris to help those folks who have been wronged. I, however, thing that someone who made an honest mistake, someone who is inexperienced, and didn’t know that they were out of their league, is a perfectly appropriate person for assistance.

    I remember my first trip to Europe. I asked a close friend from Greece for assistance. I knew that I was clueless, but I didn’t know how truly ignorant I was about international travel.

  • Cybrsk8r

    You seem very athletic in jumping to conclusions. Did I say you were United? No. But United has screwed me over so many times, I’ll fly almost any other airline besides them.

  • CeeJay

    This is what’s frustrating. We get told we don’t deserve better seats, better service, better food, because we buy based on price only. But if we did pay more for those things, we’re not guaranteed to get it, because we’re only paying to get from A to B! So your choices are, go cheap and don’t get any extras; or pay for extras, and run the risk of not getting them, and not being able to complain about it.

  • All articles with links have to be approved. We were just having too much of a link spam problem. We approved that one — reluctantly.

  • No single blog post has done more to confuse the issue than this one. I’ve seen it cited by numerous airline apologists in the last few months. And no, I’m not calling you an apologist.

    While it might be true that airfares are lower, it overlooks two really important points.

    First, when you truly “unbundle” a fare, you have to remove that item from the fare. And prices didn’t drop by $15 immediately when AA unbundled its baggage fees. So they didn’t really “unbundle” then, did they? They made a money grab.

    Second, price is actually irrelevant. It’s the fact that airlines are adding these fees, often with very little disclosure. That’s an unfair and deceptive practice, and it’s illegal.

    There’s also this: If fares are so “low” then why are some airlines, notably AA, rolling in record profits? I suspect this oft-cited blog post isn’t telling us the whole story.

    Give us our $27 billion back.

  • Steve Rabin

    I work in a regulated industry, and I get this all of the time. A law is not the same as a policy–a law is set by an agency that has the authority to enforce it with the justice system behind it. A policy is set unilaterally by the local organization, and while it may quack like a law and walk like a law, it isn’t. In this case, while Allegiant doesn’t have to give in and overrule their policy, they can if they wish since they set the rule and are the sole enforcers. Companies like Allegiant like to hide behind their rules, making one think it is law.

  • Randy Culpepper

    No, they don’t charge a premium for nonstops. The fares (set by each airline’s Revenue Management department) reflect the origination/destination demand for the city pair.

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