Can this trip be saved? No one told her about the flight restrictions for kids

Note: This is the second installment of “Can this trip be saved?” where you get to vote on whether I mediate a case. The first case was solved last week (see update).

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners. Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Even though she did her best to ensure her 15-year-old grandson could make the flight from St. Louis to Fort Myers, Fla., things didn’t quite work out for Victoria Horwitz-Denger. He ended up having to pay another $100 to fly down to Florida and bought a brand-new ticket to get home.

Now Horwitz-Denger wants some of her money back — either from her online travel agency, Travelocity, or from her airline.

Why? No one mentioned the restrictions on the ticket for minors.

Should I intervene on her behalf, and ask Travelocity or the air carrier to return her money, or have they done enough?

Here’s why Horwitz-Denger thinks she has a case:

Prior to the flight, I called both Delta and US Airways to find out what kind of ID he would need to travel.

Both told me nothing special, maybe just a school ID. I also asked if he would be allowed to travel by himself and again, they both said that yes he could if he was at least 15.

When we arrived at the St. Louis airport, Delta said we would have to pay an additional $100 since he was a minor. Rather than miss his flight, we did this. Delta has since agreed to refund that money.

When my sister-in-law brought him to the Fort Myers airport for the return flight, US Airways, refused to let him board the plane since he would need to change planes in Charlotte N.C., and there was no adult to meet him there. This information had never been communicated to us either by Travelocity or US Airways.

In order for him to get home, my sister-in-law had to purchase a one-way ticket on Southwest for $332.

Horwitz-Denger sent me the correspondence between her and Travelocity, and there’s no mention of the online agency seeking a refund from US Airways.

Why I’m on the fence. US Airways’ requirements for minors are spelled out on its site but they are confusing, at best. On the one hand, “children 15-17 may travel unaccompanied on nonstop and connecting flights without US Airways assistance.” On the other, “Children 15-17 who require US Airways assistance may travel unaccompanied on nonstop flights only.” Did her grandson require assistance? The only way to find out would have been to contact the airline directly before the flight, which she did.

But there was reason to believe the return trip might be problematic, and indeed, that its initial answer might be incomplete, given Horwitz-Denger’s grandson’s experience on his first flight. Why not contact Travelocity or US Airways before her grandson returned or do a little research online? He stayed in Fort Myers more than a week, which was ample time to fix the problem.

Also, it appears Horwitz-Denger took matters into her own hands when her grandson was denied boarding on his return flight. Why not contact Travelocity and give it a chance to fix things?

The real question is, did she make enough mistakes in dealing with this issue that she should have to eat the cost of an additional plane ticket?

I need your help on this one. I think US Airways, with its fuzzy policy on minors, and Travelocity, which should have given her the correct information automatically, bears some responsibility.

But where does the proverbial buck stop?

Survey says …

The roughly 300 responses were collected between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. EST. I’ll be contacting Travelocity.

(Photo:: h rosen man/Flickr Creative Commons)