Should I have rejected this case?

I’m trying something a little different today. I’m presenting you with a case I’ve decided not to get involved in. Did I make the right call? If not, I’m willing to revisit it. (By the way, I’m using first names only for reasons that will become clear later on).

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Rekha is an “outraged” American Airlines customer, and she wants me to help her get compensated. But I can’t.

Here’s what happened to her: She and her family were booked on an itinerary that started in Austin, Texas, and ended in Bangkok.

It didn’t happen quite like that.

American called us 7:35 a.m. and told us our flight to Dallas has been canceled and if we take next flight, we will miss our next connection. This would seem rather an understandable switching but I do believe it’s malicious.

Malicious? I was curious to hear why she thought American had canceled their domestic leg.

She says her parents were on the same itinerary the previous day. American also had a schedule change. Fortunately, they called the airline and persuaded it to keep their international leg.

“Conclusion to draw here is, American is cancelling flights and selling flights that don’t exists and American Airlines had no intention of honoring their contracts,” she told me.

Um, I don’t know about that.

But I do find it suspicious that there are two cancellations on the same flight in 24 hours.

The only remedy American is willing provide is put us on a 7:45 p.m. flight, which would have us arrive in Bangkok almost 12 hours late.

We have hotel bookings that they are not willing to compensate for, not to mention valuable vacation time we are wasting.

Did I mention this is our honeymoon?

No, not until now.

So how can the airline fix this? “I would like American airlines to stop practicing such shady practices and not victimize and antagonize customers,” she told me. “I want at refund and apology.”

Here’s how I responded to her:

I’m sorry to hear about this. When American cancels a flight, you can ask for a full refund or a flight of its choosing. If you want a refund, you should be able to get it.

But Rekha and her husband had already flown to Bangkok, of course. I didn’t want to tell her – and maybe I should have just come out and said it – that a refund wasn’t possible. (An apology? Maybe. But American would probably just apologize for her “inconvenience” which is an empty apology, at best.)

Rekha responded that she believes she’s entitled to a comparable flight or a “token” gesture for her troubles.

“I am thinking about pursuing this issue in small [claims] court,” she says. “Do you think that is a good idea?”

I told her I didn’t think so.

She wasn’t happy with that answer.

I paid premium prices to get right schedule and then they went ahead and reschedule every flight without any explanation whatsoever.

They have put us through earlier flights, later flight and long layovers.

It’s always too late to get refund and book another flight. I see serious misconduct in their business.

I haven’t responded to the last accusatory email. I don’t think she wants an answer, only to vent about the way she’s been treated.

She’s right, of course; you should expect an airline to honor its schedules and apologize if your flight changes. Even a simple “I’m sorry” would have gone a long way.

But Rekha was pushing a bankrupt airline to refund the entire fare, which is something the contract of carriage doesn’t require. And to be honest, American did get her to Bangkok. Just not how – and when – it said it would.

I’m dismissing this case without taking it to American. Yes, it shouldn’t have rescheduled the honeymooners and their parents, but in the absence of a contractual requirement or federal regulation, it doesn’t owe her a refund.

I can’t bring myself to nudging American into offering one.

167 thoughts on “Should I have rejected this case?

  1. This is the sort of person who sends angry, tedious, petty lists of complaints.

    Did you confirm that the flight was, in fact, cancelled two days in a row?

    Twelve hours late on a multi-stop, halfway-round-the-world itinerary is actually pretty good.

  2. She would have had a solid case if she requested a refund, and they refused her.  She was trying to get there on the cheap and discovered the consequences of flying intercontinental on a US-based airline.  Had she made her trip with Singapore Air or Cathay Pacific I suspect her trip would have been problem-free.

      1. I don’t feel that this customer deserves a full refund, but I am continually amazes by people who criticize others for doing business with a reputable company and dismiss any complaints they have, valid or not, with “you should have known better.”

        1. I agree that AA is still reputable. They will eventually get you to your destination – as we see in Bridezilla’s case. In fact, it’s nice they even called her early in the morning to reaccommodate her.

          However, speaking from my experience of having to take care of passengers who buy tickets to Southeast Asia regularly, I have to recommend that you pick a better carrier simply because there are some (and sometimes cheaper). These better carriers just happen to be Asian carriers. Now I can also name you much worse Asian carriers. But staying with Cathay, Singapore, Asiana, and Thai will generally give one great results. Korean, EVA and All Nippon are also good.

          The reason why you get such comments as – just fly an Asian airline – is because people have experienced they were really better.

          1. I agree. AA actually codeshares with CX so she could have BOUGHT tickets from AA and flown CX from LAX/ORD onwards. She still would be flying on Asian Airline metal. This lady simply needed GOOD ADVICE.
            Added: AA routes (codeshares) using CX flights will probably be more expensive (booking class and routing limitations)

          2. I see your point, and I understand that people in the travel business are going to identify certain carriers as better than others. And when someone like you is advising passengers to pick carrier X over carrier Y, that’s great – I’m certainly not saying that they’re all equal or that people in the know shouldn’t try to be helpful.

            What bugs me (and this is a general complaint brought to mind by this post, but not at all specific to it) is when people commenting on a dispute essentially blame the victim and say “you should have known better than to fly carrier Z.” IMHO, whenever the dispute involves a legitimate travel company and not someone being duped by a scam, that’s a ridiculous thing to say.

    1. I agree with Wyoming1949. I actually sell these Southeast Asian Routes day in, day out since this is my specialty. AA does not even fly to BKK. They have to rely on their Asian partners – JAL or Cathay Pacific to complete the Asian leg of the trip (CX for the Transpacific sector also). Only 2 USA carriers fly to BKK – Delta and United via Tokyo, Narita. Not a good option for someone living in Austin (AA’s area stronghold).

      In my experience, for an inland USA to Southeast Asia trip on OneWorld Alliance where AA is the US domestic carrier – the one that will usually foul up the schedule is most likely AA since they change schedules and cancel too often. Also AA will change a flight schedule on a segment without considering the MINIMUM CONNECTION TIME implications. I see it happening so many times. They just don’t care. Passengers must be very vigilant and make sure their itineraries are still valid.

      One advice – always take at least one or two earlier connecting flights so if you need to change you know you can be reaccommodated. Scheduling the last flight out to Southeast Asia is playing with fire. The layovers can be very long if you miss a connection.

      1. The difference is that your position is fact dependent because of your knowledge of the area as a TA.  Wyoming’s appears to be a knee jerk reaction evidenced by her statement that the OP was trying to be cheap.

        1. The statement she was trying to get there on the cheap may actually be TRUE if you consider the fact that AA has the cheapest fare from AUS to BKK.  The latter is a FACT.

          1. I think I am getting hung up on the word cheap.  Cheap and inexpensive are not interchangeable.  Cheap implies a substandard or inferior product or service, e.g. Spirit, Ryanair, etc.  In this case, AA is inexpensive, which is not perjorative the way cheap is.

          2. Honestly CHEAP is fine. That’s what my customers WANT TO HEAR. When I say in-expensive, they think I said it with a silent “in”. Money is very tight nowadays.

        2. I don’t see what was knee jerk about Wyoming’s post. It doesn’t take an expert to figure that American probably is more likely to have changes and cancellations on what amounts to a side route for them than an airline that specializes in that route. Nothing to do with prejudice against U.S. carriers, just a simple observation that Asia really isn’t their core business. 

          Logically, if it’s going to totally ruin your trip to be even a few hours late, then it’s in your best interests to invest the extra money and go with the provider most likely to get you there on time. 

      2. They could also have driven to Houston (3 hours, and about an hour quicker than Dallas) and had many international options and never had to deal with AA at all. 

        1. In that case, the cheapest fare would be Singapore Air or Continental, not AA. She would have flown a 5-star airline (SQ) to BKK instead of 3-star airline (AA). Her flight would be IAH-DME-SIN-BKK. DME is Domodedovo, Moscow. Who knows is she wanted to step on Russian soil?

          Her other option from Houston is to fly Continental to Tokyo NRT then All Nippon to BKK. (Not sure that is any better than the AA option).

          I sell both options to SE Asia (not just Bangkok). Both are pretty long flights. If it was me, I would do the 25 hour AUS-LAX-HKG-BKK on CX departing at 725AM. My backup is the 745PM 26 hr. flight. CX has more flights to Asia so the probability of getting a backup is higher. Also if I get stranded, I would choose HKG over any Asian city. Good food plus I am a Marco Polo member for CX. Excellent service!!!

          1. CO to NRT is an excellent option.  Lie flat beds in Business/First and some of the best food anywhere.  Also, about a 99% on time record.  Not sure if that will ocntinue under UA or not. Don’t know about the All Nippon segment.

          2. Nope they won’t. It’s on UA’s schedule all the way till next year.

            DLY  #UA   7
            IAHNRT-1045A 345P#1*  777 LL0
            EFF 10NOV DIS 22FEB

        2. I don’t know very many people who would be up for capping off a 25+ hour transcontinental itinerary with a 3 hour drive from Houston to Austin. I’ve done BKK-NRT-LAX-IAD before, and the last thing I would have wanted to do is a 3 hour drive at the end.

          As a side note, when my wife and I went on our honeymoon, we chose a destination that was easy to get to because we knew that we’d want a trip to decompress after the last minute wedding push stress. Really, you don’t need to schlep all the way to Phuket. There are plenty of inviting, relaxing beaches in Central America, any of “The Saints”, Cayman Islands, etc. 

          1. Maui.

            However, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, but have taken flights out of LAX because a travel agent relative was able to secure standby tickets for free.

            Now that’s a real adventure.  Long flights with hotel reservations and no guarantee that the flights won’t be packed.  Then a 7 hour drive back home.

          2. Perhaps you obtained a buddy pass from someone your relative knew with a carrier, as there are no standby tickets from the TA.

          3. It might have been.  Once was on Air New Zealand (LAX-AKL-SYD and back MEL-AKL-LAX).  I remember picking up the “tickets” from the Air New Zealand sales office in San Francisco.  I think it was a favor from one of their employees to my relative.  No money changed hands.

            My relative was also a pretty big seller of the former Malasian Airline System (now just Malaysian Airlines) tickets.  We flew from LAX-HNL for free.  Again, I thought it might have been a favor with no money changing hands.  They even let us in business class, although I was stuck in coach for the return flight because the agent at the HNL counter would let me in business class since I was under 21 at the time.  The agent at LAX didn’t really care.

    2. “Had she made her trip with Singapore Air or Cathay Pacific I suspect her trip would have been problem-free.”

      True, she could have purchased a Cathay Pacific or Singapore Air-issued ticket, but Rekha still would have had to use an airline like American into and out of Austin.

      I agree that “Twelve hours late on a multi-stop, halfway-round-the-world itinerary is actually pretty good.” I’ve faced much worse!

      1. Once I travel YUL-DTW-NRT-BKK, Northwest/Delta scheduled me a 5 hours transit in Detroit DTW, but they managed to make me miss the connection anyways due the broken machine to push back the plane of the original plane from Montreal. The consolation is they handle the rerouting graciously at Delta Sky Club in Detroit for reissuing all the boarding passes, the Embassy Suite and 3 meals in less than 15 minutes with lot of apology

        1. Delta really needs to upgrade their Transpacific fleet and their inter-Asia fleet in Narita. SQ retired its last 747 just recently. Take DL to Narita/Nagoya, you’ll be lucky if your AVOD is working. Also, my clients always complains about delays due to maintenance issues.

          It’s interesting how the US Export-Import bank can guarantee an Indonesian airline largest Boeing purchase ever and not do it for our own American carriers. Note to politicians – why not loan our own airlines, too?

          1. last time i did DL to narita, the 747 did not have AVOD and this was only a few months ago.

          2. Yikes! All those hours with no media.

            Only time for me was some 15 hours KL AMS – JNB with not even an overhead film working. And, this was a DAY flight! Came back a month later & KLM must have been using the same 747, as it had the same issue not fixed.

          3. I was lucky DL rerouted me on KE next day DTW-ICN-BKK, The Biz Class on KE Cuisine and Boozes are better on KE than on DL/NW

          4. not sure about the booze, but agree that it is far more comfy to take KE whether up front or not.   they still dont take the DL upgrade certs though…so you have to book business.  though i do about 250k miles per year, i work at a university so not happening any time soon.

          5. I did book several times the Asia 120,000 miles Biz RT-Award on DL Skymiles Website. Only have do it 10 months in advance or just 4 weeks before your departure.
            And say hello to a fellow scholar. I work for Ecole Polytechnique of Montreal for 30 years and on retirement now.

          6. Stefan, I googled your  handle. You are one admirable person. Please keep up the good work. The world needs you. Thanks.

  3. She had the option of cancelling and obtaining a refund.  She decided that was not the best of the two options available to her and, instead, elected Option 2 which was the rescheduled flight.  That was her choice so I don’t see how American can be held responsible for the choice she made.

    Sure, maybe this trip was important to her.  But for somebody else, maybe this trip was to see the wedding of a long-forgotten cousin, and they’d just as soon not go.  So in that case, American was doing them a favor by allowing them a refund for a trip they really didn’t want to take.

    My point is that American can’t be held responsible for the varying degrees of importance a flight has to each individual customer.  Some were greatly inconvenienced (say, missed a wedding), some mildly inconvenienced (like the OP) and some they probably did a favor.  This was a pain for the OP, but they don’t deserve compensation. 

    I’d give even odds that American will throw them a voucher if they ask nice since it was a 12 hour delay.  But with this attitude, American will probably go on the defensive and offer nothing. 

  4. Maybe because it’s late, but the only thing I took away from this story is that the lady’s parents had the same itinerary as her (just one day ahead), when she is going on her honeymoon. That seems like a bigger recipe for disaster than a flight delay.

  5. When you travel, shit happens.

    Arriving 12 hours late is not the end of the world. Just roll with it.

    It would have been a much happier trip if they had not let it get to them.

  6. Generally, a carrier is contractually obligated only to get you there, and schedules form no part of that contract. That being said, airlines price their tickets based on schedules, so go figure. I am suspicious of the reason for AA cancelling the flight, and if she does sue the airline, she might be able to get that reason in discovery. If done purposefully for reasons of avoiding having to fly an “unprofitable” flight, she might very well succeed in recovering damages. But if done for reasons beyond the carrier’s culpability, then probably not. Not a slam dunk on either side.

    1. True, but *what* damages? The one night’s hotel? Would that be worth it? I’m sure that’s the only thing the small claims judge would award, if anything. What AA needs to consider is that if they start compensating her, they’d have to compensate everyone else. Say someone made the case they lost 12 hours of work. How much would THAT be worth? The best she could hope for is a $50-100 voucher, but with her attitude, who wants her as a customer? I’m in Bangkok now. Just hope I don’t run into Bridezilla and Parents of Bridezilla…

        1. What’s the difference between recouping hotel costs and a contracted job (eg. wedding photog who missed the wedding and subsequent income from the job). Just trying to emphasize how difficult it would be for AA to compensate for anything in this case…

          1. Carver, correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn’t the hotel be seen as reasonably foreseeable, but a contract job would not be seen as reasonably foreseeable? As one would expect someone traveling away would stay at a hotel, and the airlines failure to provide transportation would result in lost hotel costs.  However one would not expect that everyone is traveling for a contract, and that the contract started immediately after the scheduled flight were to land, therefore the lost work would not be recoverable? 
            I audited a few law classes about 15 years ago, and this seems to stick in my mind. 

    2. Damages???

      She will have to sue under Article 19 of the Montreal Convention.

      The carrier is liable for damage occasioned by delay in the carriage by air of passengers, baggage or cargo. Nevertheless, the carrier shall not be liable for damage occasioned by delay if it proves that it and its servants and agents took all measures that could reasonably be required to avoid the damage or that it was impossible for it or them to take such measures.

      What are her chances of winning this??? Slim to none.

    1. Tomorrows article – Bridezilla wants refund from Bangkok Hotel. Husband mugged by Man-girls in front of hotel.

  7. Thanks for this one, Chris.
    I needed a good laugh while I had coffee this morning.

    Sounds like Bridezilla needs to be reminded that airlines can and do cancel and delay flights for a variety of reasons. While it is annoying at best and inconveinent at most, she is NOT the queen of the world and is NOT entitled to ANYTHING.

    Just because it’s her honeymoon doesn’t give her the right to act like a spoiled child. Course, I’m thinking that the “honeymoon” excuse is just another ploy for pity and she behaves like this on a regular basis.

    Really? American is “malicious” for canceling the flight? How does she know it wasn’t due to a personal emergency of a crew member that couldn’t be replaced at the last moment? 

    Time for someone to take her off her “ME FIRST GIMME GIMME” panties and woman up.

  8. Did she ask the airline why the flight was canceled?  If it was due to a mechanical, would she really WANT to be on that plane anyway?

    It sounds like when a flight gets canceled, she just wants American to generate a new plane out of thin air to get her to her destination on time. 

    Really, 12 hours late for a missed intercontinental connection without a huge frequency on that carrier isn’t too bad at all.

  9. Am I interpreting this correctly?  Her parents are going with them on their honey moon?  She said they were on the same itinerary the previous day?  That just seems odd.  Do they need to supervise her?  Get there early and make sure everything is to her liking?
    Why was the flight canceled, weather, air traffic, equipment?  If it was American’s fault, I would support them compensating her for whatever she was out of pocket.  Unfortunate, if it was weather or ATC, I don’t think they have to do anything.  Sadly, if they do compensate her for the lost hotel expense, it would probably be in airline funny money.
    Did she even ask American for anything?  They got her to her destination and only “almost 12 hours late.”  Usually when problems occur in international itineraries it can take 24 to 48 hours to get there, so I think she did pretty well.  Not perfect, but better than most.  Also what does she mean by Premium Prices?  Was she in full fare first class?  Or did she kayak it and pay $100 more to have one less stopover?  Either way, they got here where she was going.  Why not focus on her honeymoon and not the delay?
    I really want to know what she wrote to American and what their response would be.  As far as suing, that just makes her sound crazy.

    1.  I think we are making too much about the parent thing.  Different cultures have widely divergent concepts of parent/adult child relationships.  Even here within the US, the extended family relationship changes widely depending on ethnicity and even geography.

      I’ve traveled to Europe twice with my senior citizen folks.  My sister had done so three times.  Each person respected the other’s independence and boundaries.

      1. Traveling with ones parents is fine, but it’s the first I heard of someone taking their parents on their honey moon.  That just seems odd to me.  Are there cultures where that is normal?   

        1. It could be that ‘the family’ is going over to honor the grandparents who could not travel to attend the wedding and then the couple continues on for their time alone.  I have seen this done.

          1. It also occurred to me that the husband may never have been there so they chose to go on the honeymoon. 

          2.  I agree. Maybe they were going to honeymoon there to show the husband, and maybe the parents were going just because they lived there?. We don’t know where the parents reside.

    2. I think she probably meant “premium” as in a higher price for a flight taking off at a certain time.

      A lot of airlines have price matrixes where one can see how much all flights for that day will cost.  Some cost more based on a combination of availability and time.  I remember trying to book a round trip flight from Northern California to Southern California.  I was actually able to bring it down to $53 (including all taxes) by choosing a flight departing at 6:05 AM, but the choice of return flight didn’t seem to make a difference.  If I’d chosen a flight departing after 9 AM, it would have gone up to over $150.

      However, I will say that “premium” is somewhat of a loaded word. Its use implies that more was deserved, when there were likely several people who paid as much or more.

  10. Wow, what can I say? Yet another case of an American Princess who has no clue about the real world – especially what to expect when traveling to Southeast Asia.

    Where she failed:
    (1) She should have checked her own itinerary for flight scheduled changes (WK and TKs as we call it in the industry). If her parents’ were changed, her’s would have likely changed to.

    She says her parents were on the same itinerary the previous day. American also had a schedule change. Fortunately, they called the airline and persuaded it to keep their international leg.

    (2) She should have scheduled the earliest flight out of AUS to DFW in the first place so there were automatic backups in case her flight was cancelled. Note –

    American called us 7:35 a.m. and told us our flight to Dallas has been canceled and if we take next flight, we will miss our next connection.

    That meant she was on a later than 7:35AM flight. Probably she was on this flight –

    1  #AA 511   AUSDFW- 950A1055A   9 M80 0E
    2  #AA  61      NRT-1145A 415P     777 0E
    3  #AA5834      BKK- 605P1115P#1*  763 0E 24.25

    This is the latest flight out of Austin that would make a connection to DFW-NRT for BKK. If she was really smart or advised by an expert INTL Travel Agent, she would have taken AA’s several earlier flights out of AUS – 700AM, 725AM, 740Am, 825AM, or 935AM. Unfortunately the princess must have needed her beauty sleep, after all it was just her honeymoon trip.

    (3) “I paid premium prices to get right schedule and then they went ahead and reschedule every flight without any explanation whatsoever.” Welcome to the real world. I have a passenger from Abilene (going to SE ASIA also) and her domestic flight segments have changed 3-4 times already in the last 3 weeks. She is leaving in May so I expect more flight schedule changes.

    Premium Prices???  Hard to believe, why and what for? So one can take a 950AM fight out of Austin instead of 7AM. She probably picked the shortest ELAPSED TIME –  24h25min. By doing so she just removed her chances of getting a decent reaccommodation. Next time ask a PRO how to choose an itinerary that has a backup plan built in to it.


    1. I was curious about the same thing. In the story, “schedule change” and “cancellation” seem to be used interchangeably, when they are two different terms. (A cancellation can be part of a schedule change, but a schedule change is not necessarily a cancellation.) 

      1. Here’s the difference (they are NOT interchangeable):

        Pure schedule change, you will see WK (WAS confirmed) status on the OLD flight segment, then you will see a new flight segment on TK (CONFIRMING/HOLDS CONFIRMED) status.  TA MUST ADVISE PASSENGER OF NEW SCHEDULED TIMES.

        Flight Cancellation (Note not due to passenger action), you will see a UN (FLIGHT SEGMENT DOES NOT OPERATE) on the old flight segment, then you will see an HK (HOLDING CONFIRMED) status on the new segment. (Sometimes you might see a TK status instead of HK, so the TA must accept the confirmation).

        Flight Schedule Changes or Cancellations can create a lot of havoc for connecting flights. This is my daily “nightmare” work since agents in the office escalate reaccommodation issues to me. Less problems mean more time for me in this forum. I am the buck stops here person in the office so I handle (prevent) cases like this Bridezilla from happening. I see this BS day in day out.

    2. I couldn’t agree more about “padding” an itinerary in case of flight disruptions and not going with the shortest elapsed time. 

      When setting up an airline itinerary, you should always think of how easy it would be to deal with problems. Flying from Austin to Boston in the morning with a fairly tight connection at O’Hare is one thing, but doing so in the evening is a much more risky option that could easily make you a day late.

    3. Off topic, for sure, but do you have any suggestions for how someone might go about locating a local TA with your level of expertise? I’ve rolled the dice a few times, and the best I could come up with were indistinguishable from Orbitz+more upsells. None made any attempt to mitigate any potential routing pitfalls nor had any knowledge of local accommodations beyond TripAdvisor. 

      Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of travel and am pretty self-sufficient. But I’m busy and would like someone to save me research time, and hopefully also know a thing or fifty that I don’t already know!

      1. This would make an excellent column.

        I once tried to find a TA using Conde Nast’s “Expert” list and was sorely disappointed.

        1.  @Raven_Altosk:disqus @Jeanne_in_NE:disqus @lorcha:disqus
          Unfortunately the reason I became a Seller of Travel (SOT) is because I couldn’t find a travel agent to serve my family’s needs. I have a very large family and we live in multiple coasts and continents. Also they all LOVE TO TRAVEL. Since we had many captured customers in our office (for another business), we simply branched out to selling travel. This was way back when.

          Today, you really need to distinguish between travel booking and travel advise. The booking side is quickly becoming an online vending machine. The advise part is obviously 100% human. But the economic model is still stuck on booking service fees instead of advisory fees.

          Advising AIR travel is very difficult. First you must be a GDS expert. Second, you must have Travel Experience in the areas you are selling. Third, you must have the airlines’ system forms in your finger tips – you need to know who flies where and how. Fourth, you must have contacts in the industry. Fifth, you must be passionate about your job or you won’t last.

          That said I have no clue who are the experts in your hometowns. I hate to disappoint but I really don’t know. And for what it’s worth those decals and badges about so-so member organizations  don’t make one an expert. An expert makes her/himself.

          I have asked Chris for a ASKELLIOTT portal so maybe the TAs here can answer some basic questions.  I’ll do the East Coast and Bodega the West. I’m sorry for volunteering Bodega without asking first. But there is no way to do Private Messaging here. I hope I have answered your question.

      2. Check with some of the companies in your area for their recommendations, especially ones that book complicated international itineraries. 

        Also, look for ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents) affiliated offices, where you may find a greater level of professionalism. 

        In addition, the fact that a counselor has achieved the CTC designation shows experience and professionalism. He or she though may now work in niches like cruises and not be as interested in selling solely airfares and hotels. 


    4. I have an issue here…..I agree she should have paid more attention.

      Do I need to use an agent to book an inter nation flight from an inland airport…no. I’m capable of doing it myself just fine thank you.

      The last time I tried to book a flight through a travel agent on a domestic flight from DEN to DCA she wanted to put me on a light that would have been DEN-SLC-SEA-ATL-DCA. I respectfully told her no way in he’ll.

      I do know you have to buffer your schedule for the international connection.

      I also know to look for possibly cheaper flights out of airports 3-4 hrs away or say you book flights separately where say yo fly to JFK the day before on airline 1 and then fly rom JFK on airline 2.

      1. Excellent question – do I need an agent to BOOK my flight?
        My Answer – obviously NOT. Anyone can BOOK a flight using an internet vending machine.

        Would I have advised the OP to take the 950AM flight?
        My answer is NO.

        Here’s why.
        Look at the data:

          FLT.NO      LEG      DEP  TR ARRIVAL TR  EQP  CITY   CT  MCT
          #AA 511   AUS DFW    950A    1055A    0  M80
          #AA  61   DFW NRT   1145A  D  415P#1  2  777   DFW   DI   40
          #AA5834   NRT BKK    605P  2 1115P       763   NRT   II   60

        As bodega said, the connection in DFW is legal but not desirable. Why? Because,
        (1) there is no backup flight after this one
        (2) any delay will cause the scheduled connection (50 minutes) to get dangerous close to the MCT of 40 min.
        (3) you might make it but your luggage, not necessarily because the conx is too tight. I would like to see Princess without her clothes in Bangkok (no pun intended).

        Ok so no one is saying you MUST seek expert advice. This is not heart bypass surgery. But as you can see I can whip this thing up in 2 minutes and I have the knowledge and experience in traveling to Asia. I am also connected to the major consolidators who do have BULK fares in that area. You might can learn something from me.

        PS I’m sorry your agent was an idiot. Not all agents are.

        ADDED: Generally, I don’t advice buying separate tickets especially with INTL connections and the NYC area. All you need is a small weather disturbance and you might be a NOSHO for your next flight (separately ticketed).

        1. I agree…I would never had book a 40 min layover for a domestic flight going through DFW.

          I also agree in travel like this you should buffer for various contingencies and scenarios.

          A similar comparison is to never book your flight for the same day your cuise departs.
          I also agree the luggage will likely not make the flight.

          I know my background is a lot more than most. My mother was a career travel agent but that was before you could do nothing online.

          I’d also be concerned with the second connection and wonder how frequent flights are if it was missed. A small delay with the flight taking off (surprise there) and you running into stronger jet stream headwinds means you miss the connection.

          1. Good job djp…
            Just a note – The schedule connection in DFW is 50 mins (1055 to 1145). The MCT is 40 mins. Really too close for comfort.

            In NRT, 1hr50min and 60min, respectively. NRT is a very efficient airport especially between JV partners (AA/JL) and (UA/NH). You will be surprised what the Japanese can accomplish in 60 minutes.

            There is no backup for the 6PM JAL707 flight to BKK. I doubt AA/JL will endorse ticket to DL/UA for 630P flight. Also DL and UA are in Terminal 1 and AA/JL in Terminal 2.

            That’s why I recommend this:

              FLT.NO      LEG      DEP  TR ARRIVAL TR  EQP  CITY   CT  MCT
              #AA 374   AUS ORD    820A    1100A    3  M80
              #AA6093   ORD HKG    220P  5  820P#1  1  773   ORD   DI   75
                       *OPERATED BY CATHAY PACIFIC — CX807
              #AA6081   HKG BKK    940P  1 1135P       330   HKG   II   50
                       *OPERATED BY CATHAY PACIFIC — CX709
               FLT.NO      LEG      DEP  TR ARRIVAL TR  EQP  CITY   CT  MCT
              #AA 311   AUS LAX    725A     845A    4  738
              #AA6075   LAX HKG   1125A  B  645P#1  1  773   LAX   DI   90
                       *OPERATED BY CATHAY PACIFIC — CX885
              #AA6081   HKG BKK    940P  1 1135P       330   HKG   II   50
                       *OPERATED BY CATHAY PACIFIC — CX709

          2. 40/50 typo…..still for Dallas especially if the Austin flight is on a crop duster thus in a different terminal.

            The efficiency isn’t on japan…..

            At Dallas the takeoff can be delayed 30-45 minutes easily.

            The headwind is stronger that day thus adding 30-45 min to light time. You land in Japan with a 30 min layover…good luck.

            I would be concerned with the ORd flight for the same reason given the layover time in HKG. I would be more comfotable going through LAX.

            The other factor here is season and the chance of weather delays in Chicago.

          3. Believe me these schedules are padded. I’m not that pessimistic on the international sector. I am on the domestic (TC1) sector.

            I would also prefer LAX because there are 3 CX flights out of there a day. (Note I hear it will be reduced.) There is only 1 from ORD. So no backup there. This is what I meant when I said a good TA must know the airlines system form. You need to know how to route you pax.

            That said any international pax must understand the risk of intl travel. Nothing is 100% certain. You only minimize risks.

          4. I know they are padded…it’s done so the airlines satisfy to airline metrics done by particular the on time arrival and departure metrics. The buffers allows the airlines to artificially attempt to satisfy them…even still these routes are still late.

            I live on the west coast and regularly travel to the east coast so I have seen how late airlines can be…even when there aren’t obvious delays such as weather or mechanical.

            Over longer flights small navigation changes adds up into delays.

            I have had my share of flights where planes had to reroute to a less than optimal path to avoid a thunderstorm..thus I missed my connection.

  11. Flights get cancelled, and surely flights change based on the needs of the business.  I’ve had a trip booked since early last year that I’m scheduled to start in April, and I’ve received more than a fair share of change notifications.  I was originally scheduled to leave at 8:30am, now noon, and I used the tools that Chris noted to reschedule and/or rebook on flights that work for me.  A little knowledge goes a long way!

    Now, I’m sure the whole point of this is that the original concern was that everything was supposed to be a set time and she’s planned things down to the last minute.  If you’re planning a trip of such magnitude that requires you to be on an exact plane at an exact time, I have two words for you – Private Jet.

    Rescheduling happens on all airlines – there are options (as Chris mentioned) to handle it.  When you’re crying about it after you reach your destination, you sound like a chronic complainer/name we don’t use outside of a kennel.  They got there, and within a reasonable amount of time.  Chalk it up to part of the adventure of your trip, since it’s not worth having bad memories of what is supposed to be a memorable trip.

    1. The issue I see as bothersome is the “needs of the business.” It is one thing for an aircraft to be unavailable because of an unforeseeable mechanical problem that would threaten the safety of the flight. It is another thing for a carrier to schedule a flight, sell tickets on the flight, become contractually obligated to operate the flight, and then decide that not enough tickets were sold to make it financially worthwhile to operate the flight. If this were the case here, then one of the costs that AA has to consider is the amount of damages it has to pay its customers as a result of its intentional act of breaching its contract. But without knowing the cause for the flight cancellation, it is difficult to analyze the problem here.

      1. No airline is “contractually obligated” to operate a particular flight. The contract is only to get the passenger from one location to another loation.

        There are lots of reasons why flights get cancelled beyojnd simple mechanical or weather delays.  Sometimes there are unexpected illnesses to pilots.  Sometimes they want to transport a pilot to a particular location but can’t.  Personnel issues can happen.

        I’ve certainly encountered a situation where a trip was cancelled because not enough people showed up.  I had actually reserved a boat trip near Miami.  There were a grand total of three people showing up, and the employees said they wouldn’t do the trip without at least six customers, which was their breakeven point on fuel alone.

  12. Welcome to the world of airline travel bridezilla. It doesn’t
    take much to effect connection schedules and not planning enough time for a
    connection is a disaster waiting to happen.  One weather event anywhere that delays the
    airline’s system and you aren’t going to make the connection. This is
    especially true when connecting internationally when the next flight may be 24
    hours or more away.

    I personally learned this the hard way. I fly overseas
    through EWR on CO quite a bit. Lesson learned is that all it takes is a
    butterfly flapping its wings at the wrong time and EWR starts to delay flights
    in the afternoon. After spending too many nights in NJ so I could make my
    overseas flight the next day, I started leaving at least one extra departure to EWR
    between the flight I’m taking and the last flight I could take (ie instead of
    taking the 3:00 PM flight that has barely enough time for me to make the
    connection I take the next earlier flight).

    1. I agree 100% in regards to your statement about EWR.I fly out of there myself & if 1 raindrop falls on the runway there starts the delays.your butterfly comment was very funny

  13. Actually this Bridezilla is even lucky. At least she was reaccommodated by AA on the 745PM flight via LAX-HKG-BKK on Cathay Pacific.

    Today I have passengers whose Continental flights simply disappeared into thin air. No UA flight replacements at all. They are also going to Southeast Asia via Guam. CO decided to stop the ORD-GUM flight and provided NO REACCOMMODATION. When you call them they give this answer – Don’t worry after the merger on 3MAR, we MIGHT plan to add more flights. Call back later, we are very busy right now.

    Hmm, what? Next time, do yourself a favor and fly an ASIAN airline to ASIA. You’ll be treated better. Don’t even bother with our own USA carriers.

    1. I had a similar issue with CO.  I was scheduled on a BGO-CPH-EWR-DEN route last summer.  Three days before the flight, the BGO-CPH segment on SAS simply disappeared from my itinerary.  I called CO and they said “Yeah, that happens all the time on that segment”  but could not explain why.  And especially if it happens all the time why they continue to let people book it.  After three hours on the phone, I did get rebooked on LH BGO-FRA-DEN.  It turned out better for me since I didn’t have to go through New Jersey and I got to DEN 3 hours earlier than originally scheduled.

      1. How did you end up with a BGO-CPH-EWR-DEN itinerary in the first place?

        The problem I see with it – besides the cancellation – is a degrees-of-separation type of issue: BGO is well-connected to the rest of Scandinavia with SAS (and NAX) but not only does SAS not fly to Denver; also, none of the destinations you can reach directly from BGO with SAS have direct connections to Denver. Therefore, once SAS gets involved, you’ll be dealing with at least 2 connections and 2 different airlines. Have a small thing go wrong, and everything could go badly wrong!

        IMO, the BGO-FRA-DEN itinerary with DLH would have been the safest choice to begin with. The 2nd best option would probably be a KLM/Delta combo via AMS.

  14. Greetings Christopher.  While I don’t necessarily think this complaint is such a big deal, I did want to comment on something.  I’m talking about the sentence that included ” but in the absence of a contractual requirement or federal regulation… “. 

    My point is that if all you help us out with, is the legal stuff, well there are lawyers for that.  But if we need help getting companies to be civil, and not just legal, then who else can we turn to.  My hope is that you are able to call out companies and get them to behave like we need them to behave to remain sane, not however is most profitable or convenient for them.  Thank you.  

    1. @google-41357b5fab71bf73d37f33d729291559:disqus
      With all due respect, American Airlines called her in the morning BEFORE her scheduled flight (which got cancelled) exactly for what reason? – if not to HELP her and reaccommodate her on a 745PM flight (via LAX-HKG-BKK).

      In my years of selling AA and CX tickets to Asia, I can tell you that AUS-BKK on Cathay Pacific would most likely be more expensive than AA’s default route via DFW-NRT-BKK. So AA was not making any more money out of this unfortunate incident.

      Thank goodness someone in AA called her. Otherwise, she could have got stuck at AUS airport not knowing what to do.

  15. Things happen when you fly.  A 12 hour delay on a trip like that shouldn’t be a big deal.  Better to get there safely and a bit late.


  16. Pretty lame that she is letting 12 hour late arrival clearly put a damper on what should be a happy and memorable trip. To come home and still be upset shows me that there isn’t much that would make her “happy” at this point. I wouldn’t stick your neck out at this point C…tell her to write a letter…

  17. If this is the best thing they have to worry about then they have a really good life or are delusional.  Getting there 12 hours late is annoying and inconvenient, but that’s it.

    1. About 2 years ago, my 2PM Cathay Pacific flight from JFK to Hong Kong (HKG) was delayed by more than 12 hours. I stayed in JFK Terminal 7 all that time since 10AM (I always go to the airport 4 hrs or more earlier for Intl. flights).  Consider herself lucky. Just another whiner.

  18. 12 hours late is inconvenient but not as bad as it might have been — especially assuming their honeymoon is going to be at least a week. A nice gesture for American would maybe have been an upgrade so they could get some rest on the long flight but I don’t think AA did anything that would be considered way out of line. One more comment, though, her parents flew the same legs the day before — are they invited on the honeymoon? Seems there are oddities on both sides here… 

  19. I think she should just be thankful that she was only 12 hours late. In many instances, missing a connection like this can lead to 2 – 3 days delay in getting where you want to be.  The fact that the airline bothered to call her in the first place instead of simply allowing them to go to the airport and then finding out they had no flight is amazing in today’s world of so called customer service.  Maybe she did pay a premium and was in business or 1st for the trip which resulted in the call from the airline.  

    As far as her parents being on the same route the previous day, maybe they are from that part of the world and were returning home after the wedding. But why the parents were flying is irrelevant for her issues.

    I avoid AA these days because they do seem to cancel way too many flights in and out of DFW.  When Frontier, AA and UA were at gates next to each other in IAH, every time I flew (on UA or Frontier) there was at least one AA flight cancelled and many times more when there was no weather or other issues that might cause a cancellation.  And the few times I flew on AA the planes seemed to be much older than the other airlines and had many more mechanical issues.  Not saying they are the only airline with old planes in need of better maintenance, but they do seem to have a higher percentage of cancellations.

  20. here is my issue.. If the customer is “bumped” from a flight involuntarily then they are entitled to compensation and they still may continue their journey. however in this case, the passengers flight was cancelled without reason, at least two days in a row. i think she should go to small claims, and demand that she get the same compensation that she would have gotten if she was bumped. it appears on the surface that United is playing a game of words and that she was indeed “bumped” to a later flight, though the airline just doesn’t want to admit that they cancelled for monetary reasons. This to me is completely different than a weather delay or some other force that is out of control of the airline. They made the schedule and they need to abide by it, or pay the penalties as set forth by law.

  21. Two thoughts for me.
    For a honeymoon or significant travel event, e.g., Australia or some area where there is a specialist, I think this is a case where a travel agent would be well worth it.

    Second, I echo the sentiments of other posters.  When traveling, stuff happens.  

    My wife and I flew on an Icelandair flight from Minneapolis to London about 10 years ago where the previous flight didn’t go out because the plane was struck by lightning and cancelled that flight.  They flew in another plane from Iceland and gave the people from the night before that flight.  Rather than departing 6 or 7 PM, we didn’t depart until almost 11 PM.  As a result, we missed the morning connecting flight in Iceland to London and had to wait at the airport 4-5 hours in Iceland for the afternoon flight.  

    Were we bummed?  Absolutely.  Was it something we should have ranted and raved to Icelandair?  No.  

    Rather than getting to our hotel in London at 2:30 the next day, it was 10:30 PM.  We still had a great time.  

    1. I’ve flown standby to Australia with multiple legs including stops in Aukland. Obviously no refunds and no backup per se other than finding a place to stay and trying again the next day.

      Now that’s an experience.  Fortunately none of our flights were anywhere near capacity.

  22. Pffft.  Going from Dayton OH to Orlando, Delta managed to make us 12 hours late.  She got halfway around the world only 12 hours late? I would have counted that in the “win” column, slept on the plane if possible and arrived ready to enjoy a vacation.  Whiner.

  23. as someone who does a huge amount of flying around the world (17 times around last year in miles), this is part of the game.  get over it.  and no, you will not get a refund but complain and you might get 5k miles or something. 
    if you wanted less risk, you should just got to HI for honeymoon–but even then cancellations happen!

  24. Oh jeez.  Schedules are subject to all sorts of conditions.  Cancelling the same flight two days in a row is not at all suspicious. Elliott knows better than to say that.  

    It could have been an equipment shortage (mechanical or other), a pilot shortage, weather somewhere in the system or many of dozens of a combination of reasons.  

    This honeymooner clearly is an inexperienced flyer not understanding the vagaries of the air travel system.  Any three-leg international trip is subject to a whole host of potential problems along the way.  

    Of course, the best advice to them and other honeymooners in the future is to always allow at least two hours between the domestic and international segments, and two hours or more at connections overseas.  No matter if a connection is “legal” or not, it still might not be wise.  

    PS Going on a honeymoon with the bride’s parents???

  25. I sympathized of the OP. The bad decision is buying their tickets on American Airlines. I know there is an extensive Asian Community in Austin who take thousands of trips to Asia without much of hardship. There must be some TA experts in Austin can propose several convenient routes to BKK. Of course the first leg is much less choice from Austin but the rest of the itinerary has a vast choice via Pacific or Atlantic, american, asian, european and middle-east airlines, and, the first hub could be HOU, ATL, DEN, LAX, SFO, SEA, NYC, IAD
    12h late is common for a journey of 24h trip, but a refund is excessive. Some compensation like meals, 1 night accommodation plus an upgrade to the next class is enough.
    Consult a TA next time to BKK from Austin.

  26. My guess is this bride hasn’t traveled much.  She probably booked this trip herself. I am sure she didn’t want to have a lot of time at airports and booked filghts that while are legal in connect time are not reasonable in connect time.  Then she gets notifed of a cancelation and takes it personally.  Stomping of the feet and claiming it isn’t fair, it isn’t fair doesn’t help her here.  It appears that the couple did get their honeymoon.  While she states she wasn’t told of the reason of the cancellation, did she even ask?  Did she contact the carrier after she got home to look it up and also ask what type of cancellations qualify for possible refunds before writing to the carrier.  Sadly, another case of asking for something that they don’t qualify for and looking stupid.

    What this bride doesn’t understand is that the carrier is only obligated to get you to you destination and they don’t have to do it on the flights you booked. 

    As for Chris’ comment about the same flight being canceled two days in a row being questionable, this happens all the time.  Weather is often the culprit. 

    1.  @bodega3:disqus There’s also something rather strange here. I have never had a customer who went on a honeymoon to Asia come back mad as hell about a flight that happened maybe a week or two before, and demand a refund.

      Is she mad because she paid to spend that night in a hotel in Bangkok and didn’t get to do it? Her original flight would have taken them to BKK airport at MIDNIGHT! Her re-route would have taken them to BKK at 11AM the next morning.

      IMO if you arrive at BKK airport at MIDNIGHT, it would take you at least 2, maybe 3 hours before you get to your hotel (even without traffic). That was my usual schedule to SE Asia. And checking in at 3AM got old quick. I now fly out of JFK around midnight to get to SE Asia before noon. Much better for my body and dealing with jet lag.

      So I guess she is still pissed they missed that one night (or one morning) in that Bangkok hotel. Or maybe she had something scheduled the next morning and missed that. Maybe if she was more specific about what she missed or was mad about, we can understand her better.

  27. I’m sorry to hear about this. When American cancels a flight, you can
    ask for a full refund or a flight of its choosing. If you want a refund,
    you should be able to get it.

    Dear Chris, we need to very careful here. Under her conditions this could be very bad advice. Here’s why.

    She probably bought an economy-class discounted, advance purchase ticket. If she cancels (for a involuntary reroute reason), she will not get her money back immediately. It will be credited to her card. Also, if she need to purchase a NEW ticket on the same day, she likely will have to buy a FULL FARE ticket. This is a losing proposition. Her options from her city -AUSTIN- are not that many. In fact most of them will require AA to get her out of AUS first. So she needs to be careful NOT TO ANTAGONIZE AA.

    The best approach is to work with the same airline and get the best reaccommodation you can get. Then request for freebies – use of lounge, mileage points, class upgrades, etc.

    1. There are many options for getting out of Austin on various airlines.  But I think you meant to say AA is probably one of the few options if she wants to make the trip to BKK without having to book separate itineraries.

      1. Exactly. I have relatives who live on Lake Travis and in the city itself. They also fly to SE Asia regularly. I do their ticket so I know that OneWorld has a virtual monopoly of that place. Remember you still have to get to a Int’l gateway from Austin.

        Star Alliance via IAH or SFO is also doable but with limited options on AUS-IAH/SFO and from NRT onwards with All Nippon. Getting seats on NH on the correct booking class can be a pain.

        The best way is to get connected to Cathay Pacific’s MASSIVE TransPacific and InterAsia network. Then, you are all set. You still need AA to haul you to a CX gateway but from there no more problems.

        You guys ought to check the superb add-on fares of Cathay Pacific from HKG. They are cheaper than US Domestic Fares. You can easily go to almost any place in South East Asia for $100-250 more R/T. And if you don’t want the food in Hong Kong then I can’t help you.

        ADDED: There is an NH codeshare with Thai that is via AUS-ORD-NRT-BKK. Very tight connection.

  28. I have learned a lot from this blog and comments.   You shouldn’t shop around for the best ticket price because if you get screwed by the airline then you just got what you deserved; you should research every airline’s service record and bankruptcy status before you purchase a ticket or you will get what you deserve; you should check all nearby airports and air flight times before you make a reservation to assure that you might have a ticket worth something and if it is not worth something, you will at least have a potential backup flight; your airline ticket means nothing and guarantees nothing; and if you complain, well you are one of those angry, petty, tedious people. 

    1. You forgot one.  If you get treated badly and complain, you are not only angry, petty and tedious, but you are also an “American Princess.”  New Rules, if you don’t like someone’s position, get personal and call them names.  No, wait.  That’s an old rule

  29. Now I forgot one.  You should never fly international on an american airline.  If you do, you deserve what you get.

  30. Gosh…I guess i hadn’t realized that in order to assist the airlines in maximizing their profitability, after letting them ream us for a totally outrageous airfare, luggage fees, and whatever else they want to tack on, we need to accomodate them further by taking the earliest flight every day, and then be happy to sit in airport(s) for hours on end, just to make sure we can get to where and when the schedule that was put in place by the airline (not us) said we’d get there, and that we paid good money with the expectation they’d do what they said they would. I am amazed at the number of people who seem to feel that its an “oh well” moment, and just what it is and I guess should be? Are you stupid people? We pay these idiots (airlines) to move us, and the schedule should be a contract, and enforcable or else they pay through the nose to make them not do it again. The sad thing is that we will all sit around meekly and take it, but if CBS were to put a disclainmer on an hour before “Survivor” was to be on, stating that due to weather, a broken camera, or a sick cameraman (pilot)and say “Sorry folks, you’ll just have to watch the show later or tomorrow or even the next day maybe, and we’ll let you know when” the world would explode, and we’d have congressional hearings and lawsuits going in mere days. Or if we went to a restaurant and paid for our meal, then were told come back later, or tomorrow, or a day or two, we’ll let you know when we feel we can feed you, we’d be screaming bloody murder, so why do we keep giving the airlines a pass? WHY?

      1. Thank you!  Does anyone know WHY it was cancelled/delayed?  Could it have been weather?  call 1-800-call-GOD!

    1. Yep.

      So the landing gear is damaged? Just get the plane up on time and worry about the consequences later. Fog or weather delays?  Sue the heck out of the FAA for having these frivilous “safety regulations”.

      The fact is that there are “oh well” moments. Aircraft encounter unexpected maintenance needs all the time.  Weather delays are mandated by regulators for some obvious safety reasons.  The consequences of forcing on-time guarantees would mean unnecessary risk taking.  Even with weather or extended maintenance delays, airlines have generous refund policies even with normally non-refundable tickets.  If you still want to get to the destination, then you put up with the delays and maybe get a free meal out of it.  I remember being in a foursome in Hawaii with my wife and my in-laws.  We were flying home, and my in-laws were flying to another city.  They had a five hour delay, and they each got a meal voucher.  That’s basically it.  The contract they agreed to doesn’t include anything more than that unless they elected to receive a full refund and stay in Honolulu.

      As for airing a TV program, TV stations do have equipment malfunctions.  Cable providers have occasional outages.  I’ve been without my internet service for hours.  Allowances for outages are written into the contracts that we agreed to.  There are guaranteed performance contracts out there, and people/businesses pay a steep premium to get them.

      1. When TV stations have equipment malfunctions they lose advertising dollars.

        When Cable providers or internet providers have outages, they lose customer subscription revenue that they won’t get back.

        When an airline cancels a flight, it may in fact be very costly to them — or it may in fact be profitable to them.  We’re not generally in a position where we can tell.

        We obviously need to tread carefully with air travel because we  want safety to be the far-away #1 consideration.   But to the extent that disruptions can be minimized with contingency plans, scheduling slack, and by operating flights even when volume is low, it would be nice if the airlines had more incentives in those areas.

        1. Don’t forget airlines also have to move and schedule crew around the rules (law and labor agreements). It’s not enough that the airplanes are there. Someone also must be there to fly it. Don’t underestimate this problem. If pilots call in sick or do a slowdown, good luck to you making your schedule. Airlines is very complicated business. Much much harder than blogging. I’m skeptical but I won’t just second guess them automatically.

          1. When I wrote “contingency plans” part of what I was thinking of was having large numbers of employees on call who can be asked to report to work with a few hours of notice.  

            I don’t expect them to have great contingencies for dealing with widespread labor action, but I would think that is normally reported in the news and therefore somewhat less opaque to the public.

          2. The issue with having “large numbers of employees on call” is those employees need to be paid.  They are not going to sit around for days or weeks and not get paid. And with nearly every US based airline practically bankrupt, where do they get the money for this? It’s like keeping spare planes around to cover mechanical issues. This is a great idea, but where is the money going to come from?

          3. Though I don’t work for them, I could easily get a job working for the airlines in their flight or screw scheduling departments. My skill set is the same as people who work there.

            What has happened now using the algorithms are that airlines have become too efficient.

            The smallest blip such as a weather delay like a snow storm or a widespread crew sickness will cause nightmares in rescheduling.

            It’s also why its gotten so difficult to rebook everyone if a flight is cancelled.

            My personal opinion if routes are regularly above a critical mat of passengers like saw route a is consistently above 90% capacity the airline needs to add flights or replace smaller planes with larger ones.

          4. But WHO WILL PAY for the cost of adding buffer and redundancy?
            Cheaper for airline to cancel than pay fines.

          5. Passengers would pay the up front (ticket) cost in exchange for lower back-end cost/risk.  I assume this is a market-driven side effect of EU-261 as well.

            If it’s always cheaper for the airline to cancel, then maybe the rules/incentives need to be adjusted to change that.

          6. Absolutely true that it would have a cost, which is why incentives (carrots AND sticks) might help.

            Maybe I’m in the minority, but I would gladly trade fares that are (say) 5% higher in exchange for a clear, noticeable improvement in schedule reliability.

            I don’t imagine these employees necessarily “sitting around for days or weeks” BTW.  They could have other (very flexible) jobs.  They could be semi-retirees.  They could already be working for the airline in other roles when they are not called to flight duties (say, doing customer service, IT, reservations, etc.)

            I have no idea to what extent this is already done.  There are probably some obstacles to overcome (including union approval, and practice of skills to avoid rust (especially for pilots))

  31. I got that one right. Recently I was checking my Alaska flights and found a change that said I would arrive about 5 hours later than originally planned. Delta did not notify me, I just caught it by checking on line which is a good idea to do. I had the option to cancel and get a full refund and all my FF points put back into my account. I went to American and checked which had better connections and I could leave later and arrive 5 hours earlier than Delta, but for 1st class tickets they were $900/tick more. I kept the old flights. I think Delta changed the flgihts because the computer picket up ohter arriving flights coming in later and they could make connections for those flights and get a full plane out of MSP. It is all about money and trying to keep profits. I think American probably cancelled or changed flights for that reason. I do think customers should be notified when a significant time change of departure occurs, like greater than 15 min. They make a lot of changes of 2-4 minutes for reasons that don’t know and don’t seem to make sense. Maybe someone else knows why.
    I recently changed a flight because the connection was only 30 min. In other words I was scheduled to arrive when the other flight was scheduled to board in another terminal.

  32. My best guess is that American had 2 oops’ in 2 days. There is no way in the world that they book a flight to intentionally cancel. Now I, as a travel agent would have had her re-scheduled on another airline via the American reservations desk to protect her time. It always soulds to me that the penny pinchers are the complainers. 90% of what I read are complaints from self proclaimed travel agents that don’t know the rules and regulations of travel. Your good, Ellitt, but it would do you a world of good to sit in a Travel Agent’s office for a week and observe how problems get fixed.

  33. If the only thing that was going to make her happy was a refund, then you definitely were right in rejecting her case.  I wouldn’t be surprised if American was engaging in some shady practices, however, I don’t know that that warrants a refund considering that they actually got to her destination.

  34. After reading so many of the comments here (to avoid duplication) I have to agree with the majority – she got what she wanted, which was a trip to Bangkok.  Being 12 hours later doesn’t make AA liable for refunding the entire airfare.  I’m not even sure it entitles her to a refund at all.

    She didn’t mention if they charged her more for the flight so I’m going to assume they didn’t.

    Someone here mentioned her driving to another city to fly out of, which I’ve done as well.  My home airport is TUC but I’ll routinely check fares out of PHX and if it’s lower than TUC (enough to warrant the extra gas, parking the car for X number of days and a hotel room using the hubby’s points) I’ll fly out of there.

    When it comes to travel of any kind, sometimes you’re thrown a curve ball.  The choice is yours as to whether you go with it or not.

    (And note to Chris: How come you’re not following me on Twitter?)

  35. Lots of posters here are bragging about experiencing much longer delays w/o compensation and portraying those as badges of honor in contrast to the “entitled” “Princess” in this case.

    That might be the currently tolerated state of affairs under US law and under the COC’s and practices of US airlines.  But I don’t see that as something to be particularly proud of.  As a few posters have pointed out, the status quo could be encouraging some cancellations for shady reasons.  We have no good way to verify   because there are no financial consequences or meaningful audits to protect against that possibility.

    In Europe they have different ground rules and I believe a passenger in this situation would have been entitled to some compensation.

    At a minimum, as long as airlines charge different fares for flights on the same dates based on scheduling convenience, I think it would be entirely fair if they were required to keep track of those differences and refund any “scheduling premiums” that passengers paid for itineraries that were cancelled or severely delayed.

    1. Michael, unless we have USA261/2012 she would end up a loser. As I stated in my post to Chris above, if AA simply refunded her whole ticket and forgot about her, she would have likely have had to purchase a same day ticket. And from whom? The only other option is Star Alliance. And that’s either an 824AM departure (which she would surely miss) or a 5PM departure which will take 40 hrs.

      Before anyone gets on their high horse and start debating the issue, please be reminded the AUSTIN is an inland airport (not an international gateway city to Asia) and BANGKOK is not a major Asian Airline HUB. So one has LIMITED OPTIONS to begin with. I hate to say it but sometimes YOU are at the MERCY of the AIRLINE.

      1. I’m not suggesting a refund.  EU261 is one valid approach.  I’m suggesting/brainstorming another possible approach.

        She claims, she “paid premium prices to get [the] right schedule.” 

        What if the airline was required to report and keep track of the lowest fare they had available for the dates she actually travelled at the time when she booked?  And in a situation like this, you require the airline to refund her (at least) any difference between that lowest fare and what she actually paid?

        1. To make it very clear I am a huge fan of EC261/2004 and the subsequent rulings of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

          The Europeans have figured out a much simpler way of COMPENSATING the victim – the passenger him/herself in MONEY (EUROS) and not Mickey Mouse Vouchers.

          What you are recommending is too complicated. Let’s just keep it simple. You screw my flight, you pay me.

          Right now I have to defend the airlines because the law is on their side. Consumers here (USA) get screwed. And if you noticed, you can be stuck in the tarmac and you don’t get paid a dime. The $27,000 fine goes to Uncle Sam not you but YOU SUFFERED.

          I wish Charlie Leocha and Chris Elliott have more followers and can organize something like what anti-SOPA did. Maybe they can get all the advocates together and do a one-day PRO CONSUMER COMPENSATION RIGHTS campaign. I’m sure every passenger flying that day will sign it.

  36. What appears to have been missed is an issue that bridezilla may have failed to mention….

    What I have seen quite often with carriers now is how if they redo their network canceling connection flights and thus rebooking you they tend to be poor in notifying the traveler and being cooperative with the passenger when it comes to the rebooking process.

    If the airline was better communicating to her…this would not have happened.

    The same is true if there is a flight delay and the airline will not explain why.

    1. Didn’t someone from AA call her at ~7AM in the morning and reaccommodated her for the 740PM flight? What more do you want? Cookies?

      1. My impression is that she wasn’t notified of this AA scheduling change but her parents were. When her parents heard they contacted the airline and fixed the change the airline arbitrarily made.

        The daughter either ignored or never received notification.

        One time I was flying on delta where I had a meeting in the am and then flying back home after lunch through Cincinnati. Delta was downgrading cincinati during it’s merger and rebooked me on an m flight. I called them and told them I couldn’t so after about 10 min they found an afternoon flight to rebook me on. This was about 6 weeks before my travel was to start.

        1. No her parents checked THEIR OWN itinerary according to her. I wonder if she checked hers.

          I check my GDS queues when I wake up, before I sleep and at least every hour in while at work.

          How many TAs still do this?

  37. Of course you should have dismissed this.  They owe her nothing monetarily.  And again you take her word for gospel.  How do you know the airline didn’t indeed apologize?  Based on some of her remarks, I’m guessing they actually did.  Next time do your readers a consumer service and remind them they should get travel insurance – especially for long flight legs and traveling overseas…and a chance to be reimbursed.  “thank you.”

  38. And the bigger question is, why was this woman traveling on her honeymoon with her parents going a day a head of her?  There lies the greater question. (poor husband!)

  39. The issue here really is a lack of notice.  I would agree a full refund probably isn’t called for, but I really can’t blame Rekha for taking American’s alternate flight here.  It’s not likely that she would have been able to make alternate arrangements at a comparable cost if the airline cancels anytime within a few weeks of the departure.    I’d say the airline should be liable for the money it would cost to get her to her final destination on time.  

    Since in this case she ended up taking AA’s alternate flight I’d say AA should refund Rekha for the difference in cost between what she paid for the flight, and what it would have cost her to make alternate arrangements to get her to her final destination on time.   Of course due to the somewhat perverted nature of airline pricing this is probably far more money than a simple refund.

      1. I’m guessing mszabo is reading the OP as saying this was  a schedule change done months in advance that the OP only found out about day of flight.  If that’s what happened, then yes lack of notice would definitely be an issue. More likely is that this was a cancellation the morning of flight and AA called the OP as soon as they knew about the cancellation.  I’m basing this on prior experience with airline schedule changes & cancellations.   For schedule changes in advance, a notice appears on the reservation (typical) and/or I get an email saying there has been a schedule change (less typical), a phone call is very rare.   For last minute cancellations, I get a phone call and then they work to reschedule me.   But generally when it’s a last minute cancellation it’s a lot harder to get to where I want to go close to my original schedule, because flights are already booked, earlier flights have already departed etc.  Based on all the info in the OP, I’m guessing it was a last minute cancellation otherwise I’m sure AA would’ve found a way to get them on one of the earlier flights pointed out above that would’ve connected them to their original BKK flights. 

        1. I agree 100%. AA would not call her that morning unless it’s a last minute cancellation AND they did not want her to go to the airport without reaccommodation.

          Although there is a new DOT regulation on this effective last year. I don’t know exactly when that flight got cancelled.

          1. I read it as AA called her once the flight was cancelled. They could not have have given more notice. 

          2. I was refering to the lack of notice provided by AA.  Really I think most people book their plane tickets 6+ weeks in advance.  If you don’t either you run the risk of a much greater fare or worse not being able to get to your destination.  So even if AA gives 2 weeks notice here, and it sounds like it was a days notice, the passenger doesn’t have any legitimate alternatives that get her to her final destination on time.   It doesn’t much matter that AA may have called her the minute they decided not to run the flight, AA had a contract with her to run that flight and broke it.  Now I’m sure there is all kinds of weasely languange in that contract that allows AA todo just that.  That doesn’t really make it right however.

          3. AA’s contract was to get her to her final destination. We don’t know why Austin-Dallas it was cancelled, that information was not given.

            Since AA called that AM for a flight that AM, it would make more sense that it was an operational issue as opposed to a planned schedule change. Unfortunately, when something like that happens, the focus is on what the “next ” option is and not what an “earlier” option may be.

            Your’re correct in that had they called her two weeks or more in advance, perhaps a flight from Austin to Dallas an hour or two earlier would have been available and while she would have had to get up earlier, it would have been a better alternative.

            If I had to bet on this, I would bet it was an operational issue and not a planned schedule change. In the past, Chris has posted flight numbers and dates on some of his cases. That information would help end a lot of speculation about what happened and let people focus on what should be done.

          4. I would completely agree that the scenario is probably exactly as you described, although Elliot does mention the same flight was canceled 2 days in a row which is very odd and smells of canceling for profit rather than equipment.  However from the tone of Elliott’s post it seems like he doesn’t think the traveler had any standing to goto small claims court/ or pursue a refund because they accepted AA’s alternate transportation arrangement.   This is where I would disagree.  The traveler really doesn’t have much of a choice in that situation.   Who would choose the refund and try to schedule a new honeymoon that day?

  40. I think you made the right decision.

    That being said, the correct business decision for American would have been to offer them some compensation.  They did not, and now they have probably lost a customer.  Maybe that’s why they are bankrupt.

    British Airways did the EXACT same thing to myself and a companion on a JFK to BKK flight.  Cancelled just before boarding and put us on an JA flight that got us there 12 hrs later.  For the trouble, the BA manager at JFK promised us an upgrade on our return flight if there was a seat available.  He lied.  We never got the upgrade. I found him at JFK later and he lied again, this time to my face.

    BA will never get another dime from me. I bash them any chance I get. They are a horrible airline.

    Sometimes you just have to vote with your feet.

  41. It seems to me that the OP is a very young and inexperienced person and that she has not yet had to deal with many setbacks in her life.  So arrival at her ultimate destination was delayed by 12 hours!  I can promise her that this is not the worst that life has in store for her.  She must learn to deal with disappointment, behave like an adult about it and not like a petulant child.  Despite the best of intentions, bad stuff happens.
    This didn’t happen to me, but I was an eyewitness waiting in an airport lounge for my own flight when this event unfolded.  I watched with interest while hundreds of PAX happily boarded a flight from Toronto to Trinidad in July 1990.  Their mood was distinctly upbeat for they were no doubt looking forward to having a really rollicking time.  In less than 30 minutes the same PAX streamed back through the terminal.  It took me a short while to find out what had happened, but I discovered that there was a coup in progress in Trinidad.  Amongst other things, armed rebels had taken over Parliament and looting was widespread. As a result, this flight had been cancelled.  One lasting impression that this incident has made on me is that at the time I didn’t see even one person throwing a tantrum.  As they passed me, they were in the same high spirits as they had been in when they were boarding.
    My advice to the OP:  Follow this blog more often and learn about real rip-offs that travelers sometimes experience.  Airplanes have run out of fuel; people have been scammed out of thousands of dollars; have endured substandard accommodation and have even had all their property stolen!  You will see that your unfortunate experience pales by comparison.

    1. I’ve seen it all and done it all.

      Once on a flight from Asia our plane had made it all the way onto the runway and were even in takeoff position when we just stopped for several minutes.  We ended up back at the terminal where they served us sandwiches.  I was especially hungry and would have asked for seconds, but there was the Canadian National Basketball Team there and they got to the extras before anyone else could.

      Once I even booked a flight to Phoenix out of San Francisco so I could get to the work site earlier than if I took another flight out of Oakland.  I don’t think there was a significant difference in airfare, but I got up earlier and had to travel further (also asking for a relative who worked near the airport to get up early and take me there).  They couldn’t close off the cabin air which they needed to do for a few seconds to pump extra air to start the engines.  We were delayed for at least a couple of hours, and I figured that if I had taken the flight from Oakland I would have gotten there about 90 minutes earlier.

      In Miami waiting for a flight home, we were delayed for maybe 90 minutes because the plane had a mechanical issue.  I guess were were lucky it was Miami (and American hub) where they had extra planes of the same type.  If it were a non-hub city, we might have had to wait longer as they either fixed the plane or took the time to reposition another plane from a hub.

      1. Collectively, there are probably millions of tales among us here.  We could write a book.  One of my more “interesting” experiences was arriving at LHR in mid-summer on a charter (cheap).  On arrival we found out that no arrangements had been made for our deplaning.  All ground authorities disclaimed responsibility.  The pilot kept us informed of the progress of his negotiations and apologized for having to turn off the air-conditioning as regulations demanded at the time.  After 1 hour in the sweltering heat, British Airways finally came to our rescue and sent boarding stairs.  I will always be grateful to BA for showing us some compassion.  Another lesson learned.      

        1. I love boarding/unboarding on the tarmac.  I hadn’t done that since the 70s until I transited through several airports in Asia without jetways.  You know – flying those rickety old turboprops.where you just hope you survive the trip.  Kailua-Kona Airport still doesn’t have jetways.  Fortunately they’re on the dry side of the Big Island.  When we flew into Hilo, it was raining like crazy.  Here’s a Wikipedia photo of Kona Airport:

          And speaking of turboprops, I noticed quite a few of them on a recent trip to Seattle. SEA-TAC is a Horizon hub, and they fly Bombadier Q400s.  They had tons of them used to fly to all those small cities in the PNW.

          1. Turboprops – I remember them and some very scary flights as well.  I did travel on one from Madrid to Lisbon  recently.  Due to limited interior space, there was no room for carry-on bags.  We had to deliver them to the aircraft hold ourselves and retrieve them on landing.  However, Air Portugal did take care of our checked baggage.  All the same, jetways are a remarkable development and I don’t miss the stairs at all.  Disembarking in a wintry weather or in a tropical downpour has put paid to that.

  42.  I don’t know that this is the case here,  but what happens if you paid a premium price for a certain flight because it was the best time, you got higher cost seats, it was non stop to your destination, etc. etc. and the flight they can book you on has none of the above?  What are you due then?

    1. Nothing really.  One is really only paying to get from point A to point B.  The other stuff is what usually happens – i.e. getting on a specific flight at a specific time – unless there’s some circumstance that prevents it.  And one person’s “premium price” (comparing advance purchase non-refundable fares) is another person’s “discount price” (if purchasing full fare on business.

      Apparently they offered to refund her entire round-trip airfare if she elected not to rebook on later flights.  So she was pretty much due a full refund if she decided not to take the flight.

  43. I voted Yes to reject the case…but I do believe American is shady with their cancellations. Several times they have cancelled flights I was scheduled to be on claiming weather issues. Each time I have checked the weather at my departure and arrival airport (usually DFW) and the city the plane was at before. No other airlines were having issues and none of the cities were being affected by bad weather. I think the plane was just not as full as they would have liked.

    I’m not defending American by any means but she is lucky she was only 12 hrs late.. One time they rescheduled my family member 2 days later. They used to be my preferred airline but definitely not anymore.

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