“How can this possibly be legal?”

At first glance, Deanna Dawkins’ flight itinerary from Jacksonville, Fla., to London looked perfectly normal. There was only a change of plane in New York, according to Travelocity.

But neither she, nor her father, Robert, examined the schedule closely. If they had, they’d have noticed a small notation: “Airport change from New York La Guardia (LGA) to New York J F Kennedy International Airport (JFK).”

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That’s right. Dawkins would have to take a cab across town.

Can Travelocity sell that kind of itinerary? Her father wondered. (If he sounds a little worried, it’s because he has good reason: Deanna is spending her junior year abroad.)

Never have I seen a reservation made that required the passenger to reclaim her luggage, get ground transportation on her own to a second airport miles away, re-check her bags, go through security a second time, and pay a second set of baggage fees.

I called Travelocity to ask how in the world they could offer such an itinerary, and they basically said it was the airline’s (Delta) fault and my fault, the airline for offering it, and me for booking it. How can a travel site offer this as a travel option? How can this possibly be legal?

The short answer is: It’s legal, but it shouldn’t be. Travelocity is no stranger to the problematic connection in New York.

I recommended Dawkins send a brief, polite email to Travelocity, asking it to help his daughter.

Here’s its response:

Travelocity will refund the cost of the taxi between LaGuardia and JFK airports up to $50.00. We will also refund you if Deanna is charged a second baggage fee in JFK. Please advise Deanna to request a receipt for the taxi and any baggage fee paid at JFK. Send the copies of the receipts to the fax number listed below or scan and attach them to an email. Your feedback is valuable to us and we hope you will give us another opportunity to be your online travel provider.

Good for Travelocity, although I think it would have been better for Deanna to reschedule one of her legs so she didn’t have to transfer at all. Still, covering the cab ride was the right thing for Travelocity.

Dawkins has an idea, too.

Wouldn’t it have been more honest — assuming that a travel schedule like this should be offered in the first place, which it absolutely shouldn’t be — to clearly say in boldface red type that this was not your standard itinerary, and that your connection was miles away and you were completely on your own to get there, and that you’d have to get your luggage, then have to check that luggage again, and then wait in line to go through security all over again?

Can’t disagree with that. But I also have a recommendation for Dawkins: Next time, review your itinerary immediately and call Travelocity if there’s something wrong with it. An agency can fix a problem like this — if it’s brought to its attention quickly.

Update (1 p.m.): Travelocity responds:

Enclosed is a screen grab of what we advise when a change of airport is involved…I thought you and your readers would find it of interest.

We are interested.

(Photo: morrissey/Flickr Creative Commons)

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