A missed connection and a $300 bill — did Aeromexico offer him enough compensation?

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

When Coty Cockrell found out he’d be stuck in Mexico City for a day after a missed flight connection, an Aeromexico representative told him not to worry. The airline would cover his lodging and food expenses.

So Cockrell found a hotel, had dinner, and caught the next available flight. Then he sent AeroMexico the bill. 

You can probably guess what happened next, right? Contrary to what Aeromexico promised, it refused to cover his expenses.

“As a result, I’m out nearly $300,” he says.

This should be an easy case, right? 

Not really. 

Cockrell’s problem raises a few important questions that could apply to your next flight:

  • What are your rights if you miss a flight connection?
  • What do airlines normally cover when there’s a flight disruption?
  • What should you do if an airline promises to reimburse you for your expenses?

I won’t keep you in suspense. This is another episode of Is This Enough Compensation, a feature where I ask you if a company has done enough for a customer. Scroll down for the poll, my friends.

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

“I have called customer service more times than I can count”

Cockrell says he was flying on two AeroMexico flights with a connection in Mexico City. The flight delay on his first leg, which caused him to miss his connection, was AeroMexico’s fault. Still, the airline brushed him off when he asked for help.

“They instructed me to make my own arrangements and submit my receipts after I arrived home,” he remembers.

So he did.

“I have called customer service more times than I can count,” he says. “I’ve submitted emails outlining the issue to Aeromexico. But I have received no resolution.”

Cockrell is frustrated with Aeromexico. He contacted my advocacy team after waiting more than nine months for a refund. (Related: AeroMexico canceled my flight. I want a refund, not a ticket credit.)

“To be frank, a baby can be created in less time,” he says.

But can he get his $300 back? Let’s find out.

What are your rights if you miss a flight connection?

If you miss a flight connection, you have certain rights. But as always, some restrictions apply.

  • If your flights are not connected, you basically have no rights. If you miss a connection, your second airline will mark you as a “no-show,” and you’ll forfeit your ticket. You’ll need to buy a new ticket to your final destination.
  • If your itinerary is connected — in other words, you’re flying a single airline or code-share airlines — the airline will usually offer you an alternative flight to your destination at the earliest opportunity, at no additional cost. I’ll have a full list of what you can expect in just a minute.
  • If you’re flying in Europe, you may also receive monetary compensation under EC 261, the European consumer protection rule. Mexican consumer rules require the airline to cover a passenger’s expenses if the delay is the fault of the airline.

Bottom line: Cockrell was covered under the law. But did he follow the correct procedure to get compensation?

What do airlines normally cover when there’s a flight disruption and a missed connection?

Airlines handle missed connections in different ways. And it can also vary by passenger. For example, airlines may treat someone in “basic” economy differently than a first-class passenger. Your loyalty status can also make a difference.

  • All major U.S. airlines will rebook you on the same airline at no additional cost. They may also rebook you on a partner airline.
  • Most airlines will offer a meal or meal voucher for a delay of more than three hours.
  • If you have to stay overnight, most airlines will offer a voucher for overnight accommodations.
  • The airlines may also give you a voucher for ground transportation to and from your hotel.

The Department of Transportation publishes a list of domestic airlines, with their policies. The rules are subject to change, so be sure to read the dashboard carefully before asking for compensation. Which, of course, brings me back to Cockrell’s problem. 

Why was Aeromexico stalling on his refund request?

What should you do if an airline promises to reimburse you for your expenses?

First and most importantly, get any offer in writing. If an airline representative promises to cover your expenses, you absolutely, positively have to get that in writing. 

Cockrell didn’t. He trusted that the Aeromexico employee would do the right thing. (Related: An Aeromexico refund runaround with a surprise ending.)

That’s not how it works. Actually, there are all kinds of restrictions.

Hotel vouchers are not worth much

I’ve flown a lot and have been delayed many times. When an airline employee offers to cover my expenses, I’m usually disappointed. There’s usually a list of pre-approved hotels — usually, they’re second-rate places — and the voucher covers your room, and that’s it. Anything else you might need is up to you. I’ve also seen airlines play fast and loose with their policy. If the hotel is full, they’ll just say, “Sorry, the hotel is full. We can’t offer any more vouchers.” Congratulations, you’re sleeping on the airport floor.

Meal vouchers don’t cover the entire meal

Another fact: The meal vouchers airlines give you when you’re delayed are never enough to buy a full meal at one of the airport restaurants. It’s more of a contribution. I’m certain that the vouchers are not adjusted for inflation, so if you get a promise of a voucher, you should make sure you’re getting enough. 

Your bus is waiting

Oh, and that transportation voucher? It’s usually a bus that will take you to a pre-arranged hotel, not an Uber or Lyft voucher. And if you happen to miss the bus because you were in the bathroom or waiting for your luggage? Tough luck — the airline technically offered you transportation and you turned it down.

Some airlines are better than others. If you’re a super-elite passenger on a Gulf carrier flying through Doha or Dubai, you will probably be treated like a god. On the other hand, if you’re a family of five traveling on cheap economy-class tickets and heading back to Birmingham, Ala., from a Disney vacation in Orlando — not so much. (I would ask relatives to pick you up at the Atlanta airport rather than deal with the airline’s nonsense. But that’s just me.)

Here’s Aeromexico’s offer

Cockrell should have gotten Aeromexico’s offer in writing before he left for the hotel. Without it, the agent’s promise was meaningless.

So before we get to the resolution of this case, please remember, friends: Get your airline’s promise in writing.

Is there an echo in here? (Related: My currency conversion mistake cost me $1,437.)

I contacted Aeromexico on Cockrell’s behalf. In response, the airline sent him this offer:

We appreciate the time you spent contacting the Aeromexico Customer Service Center and offer our deepest apologies for all the inconvenience. 

We have carried out the evaluation of your case, and according to the information you provided us, and as we mentioned in our previous email, the airport gave us the authorization to compensate your extra hotel expenses.

Therefore, we can offer you an electronic voucher for Aeroméxico services in the amount of $190.

That would fully cover his hotel expenses. (Here’s everything you need to know about booking an airline ticket.)

“This is progress,” he told me. “But I don’t want a flight voucher. I want a reimbursement for the hotel charge. I also want reimbursement for my other costs accrued — meals and transport.”

Fair enough. Here’s the thing, though. Cockrell made a mistake by not getting the Aeromexico promise in writing. And in the absence of a written offer, I feel as if this is as far as the airline would be willing to go. It probably represents at least double of the negotiated rate Aeromexico pays the hotel.

As for the meals and transportation, well, we can be relatively certain that he would have gotten far less with an Aeromexico food or transportation voucher.

So I put it to you, dear readers. Is this enough compensation for Cockrell? Should I insist Aeromexico pay him the entire amount in cash instead of a voucher?

Did Aeromexico offer Coty Cockrell enough compensation?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Photo of author

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

Related Posts