Missed your flight to Chicago? That’ll be another $2,350, please

Philip Gibicar missed his flight to from Bakersfield, Calif., to Phoenix. He thought US Airways might put him on the next flight or, at worst, charge him a modest change fee. Instead, it demanded an additional $2,350.

What’s this world coming to?

We knew the flat-tire rule was dead. But this is too much. This time they’ve gone too far.

Here’s what happened to Gibicar. When he arrived at the airport, he couldn’t find any US Airways representatives. So he phoned his online travel agent, Expedia, to see what he should do about getting to Phoenix and making a connection to Chicago. Expedia’s well-publicized promise left him reasonably assured that he would be taken care of.

Apparently there are some things Expedia can’t protect you from. When he returned to the counter later in the day, once the US Airways workers had come back, he was given something of an ultimatum.

I was left with the offer of fees totaling over $2,350 for both ticket changes. The ticket agent said I was over the two-hour limit from missing my first flight to avoid the new fare penalty.

Of course, Gibicar hadn’t arrived at the airport more than two hours late. He just wasn’t at the ticket counter 90 minutes early, and had to leave because US Airways staff had already vacated their post. Appeals to US Airways, United and Expedia have so far been unsuccessful.

But Gibicar has learned his lesson.

The moral of the story: Get there early, like at least 90 minutes early, even for a domestic flight.

These days, I think US Airways is out to get additional dollars out of you anyway they can. What kind of nonsense is this two-hour policy anyway? I’ll avoid US Airways altogether.

It might have been cheaper for someone in his situation to drive to Los Angeles and buy a Southwest Airlines ticket, rather than cough up another two grand.

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.

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