“You should all die”

Not the friendly skies. / Photo by wbav - Flickr
Bad flight stories are a dime a dozen, but every now and then, I get one that rises above the others. Like Michelle Vazul’s.

She and her husband were flying from Elmira, NY, to Orlando on US Airways just after the busy Thanksgiving holiday last year. Vazul was wearing her Penn State sweatshirt.

The flights didn’t go well, from a customer service point of view. Their first leg to Philadelphia was delayed because the crew didn’t show up on time.

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“Our flight landed at the very last gate in Terminal F,” she says. “We ran through the airport as fast as we could. We arrived at the gate just as the plane pushed back.”

The Vazuls were sent to a long line to get rebooked on a flight departing the following day.

Once it was our turn, the lady we spoke to was laughing at us. We told her we needed to get to Orlando as soon as possible. We were not on vacation, we had an appointment to look at a house due to relocation. We asked her for a nonstop flight. She put us on a flight to Orlando the next day with a stopover in Washington.

Vazul says the US Airways staff was consistently rude to them. But nothing could have prepared her for the way she was treated on her next flight.

She’d pleaded with US Airways to change their schedule to a nonstop flight, in order to minimize the possibility of another cancellation, and they were finally rebooked on a nonstop flight from Philadelphia to Orlando.

On this flight, we experienced the worst customer service I have ever seen.

I didn’t even think about it, but I was wearing a Penn State shirt. I had worn it the day before and since we had no luggage, had to wear it on this day, too. We sat in the emergency row. The flight attendant’s seat was facing us. I noticed he kept staring at me and I started to get a creepy feeling but blew it off.

When he got up to pass out drinks, he started making comments directed at me. Each time he would pass, he would say, “I hope you rot in hell. All Penn State fans are baby molesters. You should all die.”

This, of course, was right after the Jerry Sandusky scandal had hit the news. I was horrified. I didn’t know what to do. I felt trapped.

During landing, he had to sit in his seat and he glared at me the entire time. I have never before felt completely trapped like that.

As soon as she checked into her hotel, she phoned US Airways to tell it what happened.

“They were not surprised,” she says. “They told me almost all of the complaints they receive are due to Philadelphia staff. They said they would start an investigation.”

Vazul gave US Airways the names and flight numbers, even though she had some trouble getting them.

“The male flight attendant had flipped his name tag when he saw my husband looking at it, so we did not have a complete name for him. However, we are assuming they would know who it was since they had the flight number,” she says.

A few weeks later, US Airways sent the Vazul’s two $50 vouchers for the “inconvenience.”

Vazul says she was livid.

I waited a few weeks to calm down and responded, telling our story, again. I told them at the very least, we deserve two round trip tickets for the way I was treated by the male flight attendant – not even taking into account what had happened up to that point.

I also explained that we had to pay for one night’s hotel and rental car fee plus an up charge of $12 per day for the rental car, because the one we had reserved was gone and there was nothing else in that price range. And to top it off, we lost the house we were trying to rent, because we missed our appointment.

US Airways stuck by its original offer. It hasn’t reported back to her on the results of its investigations, apparently hoping she’ll go away.

I have mixed feelings about this one.

Do I believe her story? Yes, mostly. I’ve heard stories of ticket agents laughing in the face of customers and of flight attendants flipping their name tags. In the wake of the Penn State scandal, it isn’t inconceivable that a crewmember would voice his opinions in that way.

Also, US Airways’ Philadelphia staff does have something of a reputation, when it comes to customer service. It’s not the greatest.

At the same time, US Airways did everything it was contractually obligated to do. The $50 vouchers were what the airline would consider a “goodwill” gesture. Although to Vazul, it probably comes across as another kind of gesture.

165 thoughts on ““You should all die”

  1. Somehow, people working for the legacy airlines have forgotten that it is revenue from the flying public that pays their salaries. I have not flown on US Airways since 2003. My last round trip flight on that airline involved changing planes in both directions, On all four segments, I came away with the impression that the cabin crews were just showing up to collect a pay check and had no interest in providing a good experience for passengers. Most of my domestic flying is now on Southwest Airlines where the concept of customer service still lives on.

  2. I think what Jim Said is true these days of many industries – Staff just turning up to collect a pay check ( I am sure we are guilty of that one at some point in our lives) 
    Great Customer service does still exist but you do have to look a bit harder to find it.

  3. Sounds like the flight attendant was psycho. I mean, really? Just because someone is wearing a Penn State sweatshirt? That being said, I’d have felt more sympathy for her if 1) she was traveling alone and really felt intimidated by the FA and 2) if she hadn’t said, “I told them at the very least, we deserve two round trip tickets”.

    If she was really concerned, she would’ve asked for disciplinary measures against an obviously imbalanced employee, not for free flights. US Airways’ offer is measly, but not sure what would be appropriate here. If I got free stuff for every rude CSA, companies would be going out of business.

    I say, let her join the Hunger Games for Greedy Posters…

    1.  If she was really concerned, she would’ve asked for disciplinary measures against an obviously imbalanced employee,

      Unfortunately, that’s not a meaningful request.  Even if she asked for that she would have no way of knowing if it happened as employee records are generally confidential.

      I think implying that someone is a baby molester is about the vilest insult one can hurl, right up there with the big MF. In real life, if someone insulted you like that you could deal with it.  Being trapped next to a crazy Flight attendant would be like being in purgatory.

      The only thing the OP can ask for is monetary compensation.

      1. Depends on how you define “meaningful”. If she was concerned that there was an unbalanced employee on board, her first request wouldn’t be for compensation. If she felt that aggrieved by it, why not report it to someone there and then? And why does she have to know what eventually happened? Wouldn’t she have felt like she did her duty to report him? The fact that she’s compounding her missed flight along with this encounter lessens her credibility, at least to me.

        If she felt assaulted at the time, she should’ve done something about it. Waiting until she got home and then asking for free flights is simply greedy.

        1. Reporting it on the flight is one of those bits of advice that is easier to give than follow through on. When you’re already being put through your own little private hell, is it wise to up the ante in the dim hope that you’ll improve things, or should you just keep your lips zipped and hope the whacko eventually forgets about it?  

          And as for the notion that they shouldn’t have requested compensation, what else can they ask for?  Sure, they could demand the attendant be fired but they have no concrete evidence and employee regulations are such that they’d never be told if the person were even disciplined. Since compensation is all they can realistically expect, I’m not going to criticize them for failing to tilt at windmills.

  4. Since the missed connection was the fault of the airline, I thought the airline was responsible for paying the hotel and meals for the night.

    1. The delay was caused by a late arriving crew. It isn’t mentioned in the story, but if the crew was delayed into Elmira that AM or the previous night due to an uncontrollable event such as weather or air traffic control, then no they aren’t at fault.

      1. So if the crew doesn’t show up for whatever reason (and how do we know why?) this is the passenger’s fault?

        Heads we win, tails you lose – again.

        1. I never indicated it was the passengers fault. I was indicating the airline is not at fault in the case of weather or ATC delay.

          1. If the OP’s flights were not affected by weather or ATC, then it is the airline’s responsibility to have a rested crew available.

            If the intended crew is stuck elsewhere, that is not verifiable and also not something beyond the airline’s control (they can and do have contingency plans for supplying crew for example).

          2. Actually, if the aircraft or crew used to make up the OP’s flight is delayed for one of those reasons, then yes the reason does carry over to the next flight. 

            Keep in mind I was responding to the general statement that the missed connection was the fault of the airline. I don’t believe there is enough information in the story to indicate that.

          3. Read my reply to Emanon above.
            A late aircraft can easily cause a domino effect.
            In the case of the OP, if she traveled the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the data is there to prove the domino effect.

          4. I understand that there could be a domino effect.

            Even if we assume that the original domino was weather-related (and I haven’t seen any comment presenting evidence of that) it’s not clear to me that a weather incident that occurred X segments or Y hours earlier is legitimate grounds for attributing the OPs’ flight delay to “force majeure” (outside of the carrier’s control).

            If you’re suggesting that the OPs’ flight wasn’t that late and that the connection was make-able except for the OPs’ slowness, doesn’t the airline hold a share of the responsibility (e.g. to direct connecting passengers to the proper terminal/gate)?

          5. The airline only has to provide the pax a “legal” connection and if it does not, then it must reaccommodate the pax. Unless the passenger is disabled and/or requested special services, then the airline will not need to provide any extra service for you to make it to the next gate.

            If the connection is legal, then it is the pax responsibility to make it to the connecting flight’s gate on time. The definition of being on time at the gate is DEFINED by the COC.
            Nevertheless, if the pax misses the connection, then airline will try its best to reaccommodate them on the next earliest possible flight.

            If the airline is responsible for the missed connection, then they will put you up for the night if there are no more connecting flights available that day OR they can endorse you to some other airline that can take you to your destination. They key point is IF THE AIRLINE IS RESPONSIBLE for the MISSED CONX.

            You can argue that it takes more than 40 minutes to connect from Terminal F to Terminal B in PHL. But passengers KNOW or have the ability to know Minimum Connection Times as well as Flight Schedules. They are not forced to buy flights with very tight connections. They are not forced to take the last flights out. The passenger must exercise good judgement.

            I have no clue how slow the OP was. If she needed any meet and assist service, she should have requested for them within the allotted time. I do find it difficult to side with the OP regarding her missed connection problem and the reaccommodation rudeness allegations. For me the only thing worth mentioning in her case is the crazy FA. She could have played that better if she had some evidence.

          6. 1) I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect passengers to research the layouts of every airport a potential itinerary passes through (and which gates & terminals their airline _might_ use) and second-guess the Minimum Connection Times.

            2) The officially posted arrival times can be vastly discrepant with the actual deplaning (or in the case of tarmac shuttle buses, terminal arrival) time.

            3) I don’t see any references to either “late” or “on time” anywhere in the US Airways CoC.

            4) Even if US Airways acknowledges that a missed connection is 100% “their fault” they claim no additional responsibilities in the CoC. What they offer is a “Customer Service Plan”, which “is not guaranteed, is subject to change without notice, and is not part of [the] Contract of Carriage.”

            5) It’s extraordinarily difficult for passengers to collect any evidence on a plane. Even during the periods when use of electronic devices is permitted, there’s little passengers can do to protect themselves from hostile crew members:


          7. #1) Your itinerary usually includes terminal info.
            You can go to airlines website to get MCT, terminals info, etc.
            You can go to airport website to look at maps and transit info.

            #2) ACARS is acurate.

            #3) USAirways COC says:

            US Airways requires that customers be present at the boarding gate or on the aircraft at least 15 minutes before the scheduled departure time of the flight even if the the customers have already checked in ….
            It is USairways policy to close the boarding doors ten minutes prior and the aircraft doors five minutes prior to scheduled departure,

            #4) There is no law that requires USAir to pay for your hotel on DOMESTIC flights. But they have this policy Rebooking and Amenities:

            Non-diversion cancellations and missed connections

            When a US Airways flight on which the customer is being transported is cancelled or causes a missed connection, due to reasons within the control of US Airways, creating an overnight stay for the customer, US Airways will provide one night’s lodging. US Airways will pay for:

            Hotel room (US Airways will not cover: room service, alcohol, or movies, laundry or other hotel services)
            Ground transportation (if not provided by the hotel)
            Passengers without baggage will be reimbursed upon presentation of receipts for reasonable incidentals such as toiletries needed until they are reunited with their baggage

            US Airways will not provide hotel accommodations when a flight is cancelled or causes a missed connection due to circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or Air Traffic Control decisions. Additional exceptions where US Airways will not provide hotel accommodations include:

            When a customer’s trip is interrupted at a city which is his/her origin point, point of scheduled temporary stay or his/her permanent domicile.
            When the destination designated on the customer’s ticket, and the flight on which the customer is being transported, is diverted to another city or airport in the same metropolitan area due to weather or other causes beyond US Airways’ control.

            In cases where US Airways will not provide one night’s lodging, US Airways will provide passengers a list of hotels/motels, which offer a distressed rate when flight(s) are cancelled.

            #5)iPhone works.

          8. 1) Besides the fact that the terminal map you linked to doesn’t even have a scale, it’s just not reasonable to put a caveat-emptor burden on passengers to second-guess the experts and research this like it’s a military expedition behind enemy lines.

            2) They must not use ACARS on the airport arrival boards then. You claim you can establish the precise time when the last passenger is permitted to enter the terminal?

            3) Is that factored into the Minimum Connection Time? I have had a 100% success rate (so far) catching connections with <20 minutes to spare on other carriers. I've also experienced minor departure delays countless times when my flight waited for connecting passengers. I suspect US Airways is uniquely unfriendly to its connecting passengers in this regard.

            4) Right, there's enough equivocating language that they can always do nothing and still claim that they are obeying the contract.

            5) Even if you assume everyone has an iPhone (I don't), that doesn't necessarily work well if the crew reacts like they did in the link I included in my last comment.

          9. Michael, I think this discussion is going off a wrong track.
            What is important for this forum is to INFORM would-be passengers HOW they can learn to minimize the risk of missing one’s connection. If they do that (learn), they can avoid the problems the OP had in Philly.

            I make 3 suggestions:

            (1) Look at your flight’s on-time performance ratings.
            The OP’s is http://www.flightstats.com/go/FlightRating/flightRatingByFlight.do?flightNumber=4178&airline=US&departureAirportCode=PHL&arrivalAirportCode=ELM

            On-time: 62%
            Avg. Delay: 55 min

            (2) Allocate MORE connection time between your flights.
            The OP’s (most likely) flights were:

            #US4178 ELM PHL 643P 745P F DH8
            #US 839 PHL MCO 835P B 1105P 321 PHL DD 40

            The scheduled connection time is 50 mins, the minimum MCT is 40 minutes. How much buffer do you think she had (considering the inbound flight’s lousy performance)?

            #3) Avoid taking the last flight out. You have no backup.

            I think these 3 suggestions are easy enough to understand.
            Just like a lot of things in life, airline travel involves the MINIMIZATION of RISKS.

            If you ask me, the OP should have taken these flights instead:

            #US4506 ELM PHL 334P 439P F DH8
            #US 835 PHL MCO 600P B 842P 321 PHL DD 40

          10. Thanks for the tips. I bookmarked the flightstats.com page. I agree with Michael_K that trips shouldn’t need to be researched like a military expedition behind enemy lines (that was funny!), but unfortunately, it seems that common sense and a customer-first attitude are missing on the part of the airlines when they create their schedules. So, like the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared”.

          11. Ok so here’s the issue —
            The airline offers this flight to OP:
            1*A#US4178 ELMPHL- 643P 745P *5 DH8 0E
            2*A#US 839 MCO- 835P1105P 9 321 0E

            Note that US4178 has only 50% (*5) ontime rating.
            Should she buy it or not?
            What’s missing? Ah, for one the Minimum Connection Time info.
            Ok let’s add it.

            #US4178 ELM PHL 643P 745P F DH8
            #US 839 PHL MCO 835P B 1105P 321 PHL DD 40

            So now she knows the MCT is 40 minutes and she has 50 minutes scheduled between flights.

            Now should she buy the flight?
            Or does she need to know the MAP of the airport terminals to find the correct answer?

            I think any REASONABLE person will conclude that a 10 minute safety margin is not enough buffer for a flight that is about ~50% on time. Even if I don’t know the airport layout, I know I will easily be in trouble is US4178 is delayed because that and the next flight are both the last flights out of their respective airports for my route.

            Knowing the airport map is important so you won’t waste time learning the airport when you get there. You can study the airport ahead of time by using the map. But that does not change the basic problem – the flights are too close together AND the first flight has a poor on-time performance rating (increasing the possibility of an unscheduled layover at a PHL motel).

            The methodology I propose is quite simple.

          12. Well…the one I can get to the easiest is in JetBlue’s Bill of Rights.

            “A delay, cancellation or diversion that is not caused by a Force Majeure Event (defined below). Examples include: crew unavailability due to JetBlue’s scheduling (not due to weather-event related disruption); delay or cancellation due to maintenance; that which is considered reasonably within JetBlue’s control.”

            Again, I am mainly commenting on Elmo Clarity’s blanket statement claiming the missed connection in this case was the fault of the airline. I did not see the reason for the crew delay in the OP’s story, so I merely wished to point out that a crew delay is not necessarily a controllable event. It may very well be possible it was, but without pertinent details, we won’t know.

            Edit to add: I just got to TonyA’s research below. Sounds like the whole late flight issue could be a red herring in this case.

          13. What you cited from JetBlue’s Bill of Rights is the definition of a “Controllable Irregularity”, which Jet Blue WOULD take responsibility for!

            I haven’t seen anything to support your contention that a crew held up by weather elsewhere is legitimate grounds to declare a “weather delay.”

            I agree that based on TonyA’s research, it is probably a red-herring in this case.

          14. No. It EXEMPTS weather related disruptions for crew scheduling as a controllable event. Rather than paste the whole bill of rights, best to check it out in context on their website.

        2. If I drive to cross country and there is a huge storm over the Rockies and I have to stop at a crappy road side motel overnight to wait out the storm because continuing to drive would be dangerous, who is at fault?  Where can I get compensation for my delayed travel?  How is a flight being delayed due to weather any different?  Same example and the DOT closes the highway due to whatever, my road trip is delayed, same as ATC delaying a flight.  I guess I should look to get compensation from Honda for my delayed trip?  That’s what some of these sound like to me when people complain that the airline owes them because of a weather or ATC delay.

          1. A bit of apples and oranges.

            If you want to flip your analogy around: if you were late for your flight out of DEN because I-70 through the Rockies was closed, would you expect the airlines to honor your ticket because your lateness occurred for reasons outside your control?

          2. No, I wouldn’t.

            And I don’t think it’s apples to oranges. If someone drives to Vegas, or flys to Vegas, and in either case weather or traffic causes their trip to be delayed, why do they think the airline is responsible for compensating them for the delay when they fly, but they don’t feel the same way if weather or traffic caused their road trip to be delayed?

          3. I haven’t suggested that airlines should be responsible for the direct effects of weather. (Although I don’t think a crew stranded at C when you’re flying from A->B should count).

            I’m disputing your shoe-on-the-other-foot analogy, especially because by your own admission it doesn’t actually apply when the shoe is on the other foot…

        3.  Hard to believe the crew didn’t show up on time for a one hour ELM-PHL flight.

          The latest USAir flight out of Elmira for Philly is US4178 (scheduled departure ~643PM). It is actually a USAirways EXPRESS (Piedmont Airlines) 37 passenger DH8.

          The real question is would Piedmont need a change of crew in Elmira for a one-hour flight on a DH8 or would the same INBOUND crew simple make a back-to-back trip to PHL? My bet is the latter.

          Here’s what I think the PHL-ELM-PHL schedule is for Piedmont DH8s:

          PHL -> ELM        ELM -> PHL
          US4130 1111P -> US4131 530A 
          US4506 313P  -> US4506 334P 
          US4178 618P  -> US4178 643P 

          I would think the same crew was already onboard the plane before the OP’s flight since that was likely a simple turn-around, one hour, flight.

          It was a lot easier to simply say the flight was late inbound to Philly so we missed our connection (which happened to be the last flight out). But why blame it to a late crew – a human being?

          Note the next blame game – rudest desk agents reaccommodating us – also human beings to blame. Finally the only real human being to blame – the moronic FA. I guess she needed a lot of RUDE USair employees to blame. I’ve met a lot of people who suffer from the same BLAME problem. I wonder if they ever blame themselves for taking the LAST flight out.

  5. USAirways was on the verge of bankruptcy and purchased by America West. America West thought the USAirways name was better and more recognizable, so they went with that name. It’s been a nightmare. The old USAirways employees have a sense of entitlement and nothing but disgust for the management and staff of the former America West. They are intent on driving their airline into bankruptcy again, and Philadelphia is center of the problem.

  6. Two Round Trip Tickets?
    Greedy much?

    And, if you have a “very important appointment,” do you think it is wise to fly on the highest travel day of the year to one of the most popular US destinations? Not to mention on a flight that was probably the last one of the day since she had to wait to the next morning to catch a non-stop?

    That said, USAir should be ashamed of its FA. The crew delay…well, those things are just part of air travel. 

    I think the $50 in airline funny money is sufficient for a rude FA. I might have given her a little more, but definitely not “two round trip tickets!”

    And…another thing that bothers me: What kind of jet has rear facing jump seats in the EXIT row!??! Unless she was in bulkhead? I’m confused on that detail as well.

      1. Gotcha. That’s a config I don’t think I’ve flown in awhile.(The odd number of seats in FC I would remember…)

        Course, I usually don’t fly USAir unless they are code sharing UA/CO. So…yeah.

        Okay, I guess that’s a legit detail there. 🙂

    1.  And, if you have a “very important appointment,” do you think it is wise
      to fly on the highest travel day of the year to one of the most popular
      US destinations? Not to mention on a flight that was probably the last
      one of the day since she had to wait to the next morning to catch a

      It may not have been wise but perhaps necessary.  Not everyone had great flexibility with time.   My assistant just spend several hours yesterday juggling schedules for me so that I don’t have to two locations 400 miles apart.  Of course, that meant some unfortunate routings that I would normally not take.

    2. Where does it say she traveled on the “highest travel day of the year?”  Elliott states that she traveled “just after the busy Thanksgiving holiday…”   And even if it was during the busiest time of the year and the last flight of the day, perhaps that was the only time the traveler was able to make the trip because of work or other commitments. I guess there are no victims as we should all foresee every delay, every outrageous bit of rudeness and even psychotic flight attendants.   But I do agree wit those who believe that money is not and should not be the issue in this case. Get rid of that flight attendant.

  7. I don’t like the fact that the article states “The crew didn’t show up on time.”  That is a statement implying the crew is at fault and didn’t show up for work.  This is a small regional airport, crew comes in and leaves on the same flights, so it’s not like they just didn’t show up.  There are many factors that could make the crew late including weather, connection issues, crew going over regulation hours and a new crew having to be shuttled in.  It’s not like someone just didn’t show up.  Also, depending on the source of this delay, if it’s something outside of the airlines control such as weather or air traffic, then the airline is not required to pay for their hotel.  Just like if the family was driving, say a big storm came in (weather) or the road was closed (Air Traffic Control) and they had to stop for the night, they too would have to pay for their own hotel.  No difference here, it sucks, but they still got to Orlando faster than if they were driving or taking a bus.
    Now as far as the flight attendant, his comments were totally uncalled for and I hope he gets in trouble or fired for his actions.  That was inappropriate and wrong.  I may not like what happened at Penn State, but that it no way makes anyone who wears a Penn State shirt a child molester, and taking his anger out on a customer while working is completely wrong.  I hope US Airways took her complaint seriously and are investigating him.  However as this is an HR issue with US Airways, they really can’t disclose anything to the customer, or they could potentially be sued by the already unstable employee, so it’s quite appropriate that they started an investigation, but they can’t disclose anything to her.
    I personally think it would be nice and a good customer service move to give something to the OP for her trouble as apology for the poor customer service and for the inappropriate employee.  I also think the $50 was too low in my opinion.  However when she started demanding a minimum of two round trip tickets she completely lost my sympathy.  I am not sure how she lost a rental house over this either, did she call them?  Was she cutting it that close to her arrival?  Is that really what happened, I have never had anyone not be understanding over a delayed flight.  Perhaps tomorrow’s article will be, “Car Rental Company Charges me $12 Up-Charge Because They Did Not Have the Car I Reserved.”

    1. I don’t think the crew was late at all. The airplane (inbound) was late.
      IMO that’s a big difference and rather a huge twisting of facts.

    1. $50 is more than 50% of the cost of the lowest fare from SYR-MCO. Why is 50% of the fare unreasonable for delay compensation? Please explain.

      CORRECTION: After reading Emanon’s post I re-read the article. The OP flew from Elmira, and not Syracuse airport.
      Must be a tough morning for me, considering I went to school in Upstate NY. Anyway the lowest fare from ELM will be around $114-129 one way.

      1. If they paid out of pocket for a hotel and transportation in PHL (can’t tell for sure if that was the case) then doesn’t that need to be factored into any compensation, independent of what fare they paid and the extremely unprofessional FA?

        1. The wacko FA needs mental help. I can’t excuse his behavior. Whether what he did requires (and for how much) compensating a pax, I don’t know.

          As for the layover, it depends on the reason for the flight delay. My question is WHY DID SHE NOT DEMAND to be put up for the night while in line for reaccommodation? Maybe there was enough time between flights (legal MCT). I can’t say.

    2. Do we know why the crew was delayed? Was it weather or air traffic? If so, those things don’t fall under the airline’s responsibility.

      1. I’m really curious, but I can’t look up the delay reasons for a delay that far in the past. Does anyone know a website for searching delay reasons?  I can only get the times and gates.
        I see only 1 flight form ELM-PHL the Friday after thanksgiving, and it arrived early. 
        The Saturday after thanksgiving there were 4 flights, one of them left 1 minute late, and the last flight of the day left 24 minutes late and arrived 15 minutes late into F23 (The last gate) at 7:49pm. The last flight to Orlando that night left at 8:26pm from B3. I am guessing this was her flight and she booked the last flight of the day, with a tight connection, and simply cut it too close.  Even if she wasn’t 15 minutes late, she may not have made it.
        The Sunday after thanksgiving had 4 flights as well, and only 1 of them was substantially late, it left 47 minutes late and arrived 43 minutes late into F22 (Second to last gate).  This flight arrived at 5:03pm and there were still two flights departing to MCO that evening, one left at 5:57pm and the other at 9:17pm.  So I assume this was not her flight.
        Concourse F is actually T shaped, and the shuttle is in the middle of the T, So F23 and F39 could both be considered the last gate as far as the shuttle is concerned and she would need to take the shuttle to Concourse B.

        1.  Excellent Sleuthing, Emanon

          It took me some time to figure out this story.
          Sometimes when key facts are withheld (i.e. flight numbers and dates), they are for a good reason.
          One good reason is to hide the truth.

          One possible date of departure that is consistent with the facts presented in this story is for Saturday 26NOV (right after Thanksgiving). It is consistent because:
          (a) the latest flight from ELM, US4178 was delayed in departure by 24 minutes and in arrival (at PHL) by 15 minutes.
          (b) The aircraft arrived at PHL’s gate F23, the farthest gate (along with F39) in the F terminal.
          (c) The connecting flight US839 was the latest flight to MCO and so therefore, the OP had to layover in PHL when she missed this flight.

          Now here’s the kicker. The connection time was legal.

          US4178 Actual Arrival:  7:49 PM – Sat 26-Nov-2011
          40 min Minimum Connection Time  is 8:29PM earliest.
          US 839 Scheduled Departure: 8:35 PM – Sat 26-Nov-2011
          She had 46 minutes to make Scheduled Departure. Quite Legal according to the rules.

          No wonder USAir did NOT pay for her layover.
          So now USAir desk agents are so rude because they did not give her nonstop flights at first so she needed to request it. If they were really nasty (and laughing at her), they could have LEGALLY given her the earliest 530AM flight from PHL-CLT-MCO or the 612AM PHL-IAD-MCO flight since the law only requires the airline to give the NEXT available flight. The nonstop she wanted departed (earliest) 650AM. There were at least four other earlier (connecting) flights before that nonstop flight. Seems to me the USair staff was nice to her since they gave her what she asked for.

          And, the crew is late, too; really?
          Of course she did not tell us the inbound flight from PHL departed Philly 33 minutes late and landed ELM 29 minutes late. Of course she already knew her departure from ELM had to be late since there the inbound airplane she was using was already late coming in to Elmira.

          The only thing she can complain about is the wacko FA. But maybe that is all a joke, too. Note that the OP and her husband are professional photographers. I wonder if they could have secretly recorded the nasty FA? But then again, that was too easy. Couldn’t they have gone to some airport authority to complain as soon as they deplaned?

  8. Why on earth would Ms. Vazul demand 2 RT tickets on an airline that has clearly disappointed her on so many levels? 

    1. Hyperbole Intended: There are two main types of people in Chris’s world.  Those who refuse vouchers because they will never use that company again, and then want a 100% refund plus more even though they did receive the service be it subpar.  And those who in spite of their poor experience want double what they paid for, and more.  It’s rare that we see any sort of middle ground.

      1.  To be fair, the appropriate level of compensation is snake oil and black magic.  The only way to determine an appropriate level is to know what others have received under similar circumstances.  Infrequent fliers have no idea what to ask for and accordingly their requests come across of greedy when I surmise it’s more out of ignorance than anything else.

    2. They needed tickets to go back to Di$ney Orlando where she was getting a 6 mo. job. How convenient those 2RT tickets would be, right?

    3. So she can return to Di$ney for her job without paying for them. The truth has been found thanks to some other posters with some awesome Google-Fu and patience that I totally lack this morning. 😀

      1. Okay, guys (Tony, Emanon and Raven), I got the part that Ms. Vazul would have to go back from the original article (the part about relocation tipped me off). My point was, if the entire experience was that bad, why would she fly US Airways again? Why not ask for a refund of her ticket (as have many others featured in this blog) and apply the refunded monies to airfare on a less offensive airline?

        Sorry I didn’t respond earlier – couldn’t access comments from IE9 at work, nor at home (Norton at work, McAfee at home), until I opened the site using Chrome. I like being able to vote comments up or down, but it helps if I can access them. 🙂

        1. Jeanne, reality is she only has USAir and Delta to choose from.
          Elmira is not a hotspot for airlines. Delta is via DTW, so she will go farther West first to get to Orlando. And, Delta’s connections are IMO worse than USAir’s.

  9. It’s time to get real

    $99 is the lowest USAir one-way fare for the 1048 mile flight from Syracuse to Di$ney Orlando where the OP was getting a job as PhotoPass Photographer. That translates to about 9.4 cents a mile. Anyone not expecting cattle class service should perhaps (at a minimum) compare the cost of driving the same distance.

    Airlines is a brutal business. Get used to it.

    CORRECTION: please note my correction above. The OP was flying from ELM and not SYR airport. It may have cost ~$30 more.

    1. I didn’t realize being called a child molester and threatened by flight crew was part of “cattle class service” nowadays.

  10. I’m a current Penn State world campus student.  Sadly, I can verify there are some nut cases out there who equate anyone related to Penn State with the horrific actions of a few.  I wound up taking my Penn State decal off my car for fear some nut job would damage it or assault me.

    1. And you have your fellow students, some among your faculty, certainly your administration and plenty of former ‘student athletes’ to blame due to their unwavering support of the dead enabler, Joe Paterno.

      It isn’t just Sandusky. It’s as much the rallying around those who allowed it to happen that have outsiders up in arms.

      And in the end, the OP *should* have thought about how it might look to wear PSU gear. But then, considering that they say they didn’t think about it, apparently they weren’t embarrassed enough by the whole scandal.

      1. Actually, Joe Paterno holds far less blame then many others.  He did report it, and from what I hear, he followed up with his coach.  Further, he wasn’t told exactly what happened. 

        Our governor, as Attorney General, knew a lot more, a mother of a victim had evidence on tape, etc.  I’m not saying Joe is completely innocent, but he shouldn’t be the face of this scandal. 

        Furthermore, one man committed these crimes, one man failed to stop it right in front of him, and two with full knowledge covered it up. That doesn’t make Penn State students and facility responsible for this.

        1. Paterno WAS the coach.

          There were several investigations over the years, going back to at least 1998. And as it was his program, Paterno knew everything that was going on with the program he built.

          You’re telling me that, according to former players, he would know if you missed a class, but he wouldn’t know what his ‘heir’ was doing in his spare time? As one former D1 football coach stated: There are no secrets among coaches on a staff.

          Paterno may have played the ignorance card on the details, but everybody knows why Sandusky was suddenly no longer Paterno’s ‘heir’, and why he then resigned as defensive coordinator. Then many in the university spent a decade covering it up.

          As for the students, no, they’re not responsible, but they certainly didn’t show themselves as fans of the whole higher learning part of education with their rioting when Paterno was ‘fired’.

          1. Paterno was the coach, yes.  Sandusky wasn’t employed by him at the time of this incident. 

            Paterno and Sandusky were not friends, they just worked together.  Why would he know what he was doing in his spare time?  Your assumption proves nothing.

            As to Sandusky, he resigned because Paterno told him he wouldn’t be the head coach.  Given they didn’t like each other, that isn’t much of a surprise. 

            Anyway, it isn’t proof of anything.  Sandusky resigned.  He wasn’t fired.  Maybe he resigned because he wanted to get out of the spotlight after the 1998 investigation.

          2. “Sandusky wasn’t employed by him at the time of this incident.”

            He was in 1998 when Sandusky was first investigated.

            “Paterno and Sandusky were not friends, they just worked together.”

            Sandusky was Paterno’s right hand man for 20 years. They knew each other for at least 10 years before that with Sandusky working on Paterno’s staff.

            “Given they didn’t like each other, that isn’t much of a surprise.”

            Again, 30 years.

            Or, quite simply, Paterno finally decided he didn’t want Sandusky around because he knew Sandusky was ‘playing’ with little boys, and didn’t want anybody else to find out.

            But thank you for showing just how far the insanity goes in defending Paterno.

            Oh, and since you’ve so conveniently forgotten, Sandusky was investigated, resigned, Paterno KNEW he was investigated, yet Sandusky continued to have FULL ACCESS to campus facilities. Enabler.

          3. Thank you for showing how you know more than anybody who is actually investigating this. You really should call them.

            He was his superior in 1998. Please provide proof that Paterno was informed of this investigation. Don’t say we know, just provide some proof.

            If Paterno had proof, I think he’d have used that. He didn’t, and if he had a hunch, I think that wouldn’t be enough to overturn his retirement package. The board granted him that, thank them. Don’t blame Paterno. If he assumed Sandusky was guilty of this, and brought out the tar and feathers, what would happen if Sandusky is innocent? PSU would be liable for defaming him, as would be Paterno. He reported his hearsay evidence to his superior. They sat on it. Nice of you to blame them too. Nice of you to blame the mother of the victim who had taped evidence, or the police who had that evidence. Nice of you to blame the coach that saw this happen and walked away. Frankly, that’s the one that troubles me the most. If that’s true, how can he live with himself? I’d like to think I’d have beat the heck out of a man raping a child.

            The psychologist who worked with one of the victims was given permission to break privilege. She stated that she believed Sandusky to be a pedophile and reported it. She didn’t follow up. She was asked why she didn’t, and was told nobody would tell her. Is she an enabler?

            I’m not saying he shouldn’t have done more. Maybe he should have. I just don’t know what he knew and when. I’m waiting for all this play out before I vilify a man who did a lot of good. Heck, for all we know Sandusky is innocent. I admit the evidence looks convincing, but he deserves his day in court, same as everybody. There were a lot more people who knew a lot more than Paterno and had the power to take action. They didn’t and you don’t blame them at all? Who’s insane now?

          4. “You really should call them.”

            Sara Ganim, who just won a Pulitzer for her coverage, is doing just fine. And she has reported on all of this.

            It’s all there for you… if you cared to read/believe any of it.

            “Nice of you to blame them too.”

            PSU’s administration and trustees deserves plenty of the blame. And yes, it goes all the way up to the current governor. They’ll all be sitting together in a nice, warm place some day.

            “Nice of you to blame the mother of the victim who had taped evidence, or the police who had that evidence.”

            Well, I’m glad you’re putting words into my posts now that I never typed. See, unlike many PSU alum, I don’t blame the victims. Nor do I blame the psychologist who was lead astray on whether Sandusky was a threat to society.

            “Nice of you to blame the coach that saw this happen and walked away. Frankly, that’s the one that troubles me the most. If that’s true, how can he live with himself? I’d like to think I’d have beat the heck out of a man raping a child. ”

            I’d like to think that to. And then to see Sandusky around campus every day for a decade? There’s something just as wrong with McQueary.

            Sandusky will have his day in court. Sadly, Paterno won’t. McQueary and others probably won’t. They all deserve to be hauled off to jail.

            And Steve, you can talk all you like about whether PSU’s campus police are real police or not. Paterno was in charge of that campus and that town. He could have done more. He CHOSE not to.

          5. I did read all of it, obviously you didn’t. Further, you didn’t answer my question regarding your sources. That doesn’t help your argument.

            I didn’t put words in your mouth, I’m suggesting you should blame them. They knew more, and had more to go on. Paterno, even if he lived, wouldn’t have his day in court. You see, those who investigated this, they said he wasn’t guilty of any crime. I guess you know more.

            Since you’re telling Steve what Paterno could have done, I’ll ask one final time. Please cite your sources for Paterno’s knowledge, for the reason Sandusky resigned, etc. Please! If you can’t, admit you can’t prove any of it.

          6. Could he have done more? Sure. My point is that some of the more vicious statements about Paterno – including that he actively tried to cover all of this up – are off base. I also feel that law enforcement has hardly been criticized despite it seeming like they had an awful lot of evidence against Sandusky and waited over a decade to act on it. IMHO, they should be held to a higher standard than a private citizen, given that they draw their taxpayer-funded salaries to prosecute guys like Sandusky.

            I also believe (but am not sure) that allowing Sandusky continued access to Penn State facilities was a decision made by the university board and not Paterno.

            Your point about the influence that Paterno had is valid, but my point is that from a legal standpoint I don’t know what more he could have done besides reporting what he knew to the police. Morally, I understand if you feel he should have done more.

            To bring this back to the original topic, I think we can all agree that a flight attendant insulting a passenger and making a borderline threat to her based on the school name on her sweatshirt is completely unacceptable.

        2. Not only that, but he didn’t merely report it to his superiors – he reported it to the university police, which at Penn State are a real police force (not just campus security). I have a hard time figuring out what more Paterno should have done to bring Sandusky to justice…and why people were so quick to vilify him and not the police/prosecutors who apparently had tons of evidence against Sandusky for years and did nothing.

      2. “And in the end, the OP *should* have thought about how it might look to wear PSU gear. But then, considering that they say they didn’t think about it, apparently they weren’t embarrassed enough by the whole scandal.”

        Wow, that’s pretty smug. Should they have burned their PSU diplomas, as well? There’s a lot more to a university than its football team. If they’d had “Free JoePa” or “Sandusky is innocent” shirts, that’d be a different matter, but I wasn’t aware that wearing any Penn State apparel was now inappropriate.

        1. Immediately after the story broke, which is when the OP said this occurred? What did you expect to happen? For everybody to give the thumbs up to a fan of a university – not just a football program, but an entire administration – that knew they had a child molester on campus for more than a decade?

          If this happened at my school, yeah, I’d put away my gear for a few months.

          And just to make it clear: what the flight attendant did should not be tolerated in the least.

          But there’s also no reason to give fuel to the fire.

          1.  I refuse to blame the victim.  Every school has bad people. That is no reason to abandon the school.  That’s one great thing about America.  We can disagree yet remain civil. You make your own conclusions about Paterno, but maybe, just maybe, someone else might come to a different conclusion, especially if a case is being tried in the media.

            I see no reason why the OP should be ashamed for wearing her Penn Gear and I for one would not put away my Caltech gear.

          2. What did you expect to happen?”

            I don’t expect flight attendants to tell people “you should all die” based on the fact they’re wearing a collegiate shirt.  “Fuel to the fire” would be wearing your PSU gear to a victims rally, not on an airplane.

    2. I’m sorry for your having to remove your decal. It demonstrates how stupid many Americans have become. Some get easily agitated and commit violence because of the way the MEDIA has been sensationalizing (or lying) about crime stories. Latest one is the case against Zimmerman in Florida. The MSM is worse than the airlines.

      1. (sarcasm) Yeah, instead of taking responsibility for one’s actions, it’s always the media’s fault. Of course, how could we have forgotten? (/sarcasm)

          1.  Amazing. I’m disagreeing strongly with CJR in one thread and about to agree with him in the next.

             Media sensationalism is a red herring.  These people who commit acts of violence under these circumstances need professional help and lots of it. If it wasn’t the media, it would be the voices inside their heads spurning them to violence.

          2. “I’m disagreeing strongly with CJR in one thread and about to agree with him in the next.”

            Well, if we agreed on everything, this place wouldn’t be much fun. 🙂

  11. What I have trouble understanding is why airlines allow their flight attendants to get away with being rude, inattentive and doing the absolute minimum required as far as customer service goes.  Sure, the FAs work in a tough job and put up with a lot of bull from customers, but there are thousands of FAs that have been laid off by various airlines over the years who would be happy to have a job that these burned out workers don’t seem to want to do anymore.  Fire them or retire them, and get people who want to do the job.  I know my employer would get rid of any of us in a second if complaints were received that anyone I work with treated a customer even half as bad or made comments of this type.

    1. Most are unionized. Try getting a union worker fired–unless they commit murder or molest a child, not gonna happen.

      Although, the NYC Public School system seems to like to keep the latter around, even after convicted…

  12. I flew once wearing an Ohio State t-shirt and was on a window seat.  I had to get an FA to convince my seatmate to let me out to go to the bathroom because he hated Ohio State.  Not the same thing, I know, but the FA ended up moving my seatmate because of his hostility.  I got some free drinks and a meal because of that jerk.

    But, no, I don’t think the airline did enough given this FA was obviously emotional about something that had nothing to do with the passenger but chose to take it out on the passenger.  That’s just bad customer service.

    1. Lesson Learned. Don’t travel wearing shirts with any logos or decals. You might me targeted by some moron. Seems like there are too many unregistered hate groups that are under the radar nowadays. Or maybe we have become a nation where no one needs anyone else so they only think of themselves and every one else is wrong and don’t matter. Sad.

      1. I think people are just getting more hostile.  The internet allowed people to do this anonymously for a long time and maybe it’s just bleeding over into their every day personalities?

        *Shrug* Who knows?  But I already followed your advice and don’t wear t-shirts or sweatshirts with logos on them.  People get too heated up over the simplest things.

        1. Some places are, yes. The bowling/restaurant chain Lucky Strike has a dress code that explicitly bans all athletic gear AND gang/motorcycle colors.

        2. Sadly yes.  I don’t think we should give into thugs, but I have different feeling regarding my kids wearing a gang color and going to SF or OAK.  In Petaluma, CA Staples employess were beat up in their parking lot after work because they were wearing red shirts, as required by the store.  Many in Petaluma took a stand and started wearing red to combat this gang mentality.

  13. PHL is tough. USAirways in general has treated me well, but PHL is just another thing entirely. And I have had the terminal F experience as well.

  14. Assuming I identified her flight in my post above, it looks like she had about 60 minutes between flights had she not arrived 15 minutes late.  The Dash-8 is a small plane, but if she was in the last row, it could have easily taken 10 minutes to get off the plane if people were particularly slow.  There is also a 15 minute cut-off at the departure gate, so she had to be at the gate a maximum of 35minutes after deplaning.  In my experience it takes a while to take the shuttle from F to B.   Easily 20 minutes.  That would mean with a 1 hour layover, she would arrive at the gate just as boarding began if she was on time.  That 15 minute delay made her arrive at the cut off, at which time they could have just closed the door. I personally wouldn’t cut it that close, but the OP probably didn’t know.  In fact, I wouldn’t connect in PHL without a 1.5hr layover.  But I occasionally get offered flights with a 30 minute connection, I know this would not be possible, but most consumers don’t.
    So my question to Chris is what should happen where there is a tight connection and someone misses a flight?  I don’t believe it’s the airlines fault because the airline published the connection time before someone buys a ticket and the terminal maps are publically available.  But we always hear stories about people missing flights because the airlines sold them an unreasonable connection.  I also think of all the busses, trains, subways I take and I often miss a connection.  And usually have to wait anywhere from 8 min to 1 hour for the next one.  But with planes there are fewer flights and they are fuller, so people often wait overnight or longer.  Should consumers think before they buy a tight connection?  Or should the airlines not allow them to buy such tight connections?  I personally think it would be too complex to determine what a minimum connection should be as it varies by airport, gate, etc. So I think it should be up to the consumer to research this before they purchase.  But it looks like as long as airlines offer up the info, people will still make choices with unreasonable connection times, and then complain and demand compensation when they misconnect.

    1. If the airline sells the connection, IMO they ought to take responsibility when things within their control go wrong.

      I think it’s reasonable to expect the airline to either hold the last flight of the day for 15 minutes for connecting passengers or else to compensate the passengers for an overnight hotel, meals, and local transportation.

      1. I experienced this concern during my flight out of PHL to SFO one day ahead of Irene.  There were 14 of us on the arriving flight into LAX that needed to make the last flight out to SFO.  We were late in departing and the FA said that she use to work the gates and if she saw that many passengers needing to make the connection she would hold the plane, but it also depends on if that flight needs to be heading on afterwards and if the airport stays open after certain hours.  I was prepared to stay overnight at my expense but we all made the flight and then it was delayed in departing. 

        1. That’s nice of the airline and the gate agent.
          I think we need to convince some folks here that airline emps want to avoid the hassle of reaccommodating and putting up passsengers in hotels so they do everything possible to get passengers through.
          I bet USAir’s system already knew how many (and which) passengers were not going to make it when they decided to close the boarding gate for the PHL-MCO flight. In fact on 26NOV, the aircraft left early. Makes me wonder why the OP did not make it.

          1. We’re speculating that it was Nov 26th, but if you’re right, doesn’t the early departure of the PHL-MCO flight make you suspicious?

            Why would they let the flight leave early with the imminent arrival of connecting pax? *Unless* they had other distressed passengers and gave the OPs’ seats away. We’ve seen this “early departure” behavior before from US Airways:


          2. Well, USAir says (in their COC) that they will close the boarding gate 10 minutes before scheduled departure time. So there you go. You’re taking a lot of risks booking a tight connection knowing this.

            BTW for that particular flight, the airplane still departed the RUNWAY late.

    2. Wasn’t there a similar case last year when the shuttle driver just stood up and left the bus to get a break (I think sandwich and coffee) and an OP complained about missing their flight.

      If she flew on the 26th, I figure she had a MAXIMUM of 37 minutes to make from her seat on US4178 and into her (confirmed) seat on US839.
      So that’s no more than 37 minutes from F23 to B3.
      She has to do these:
      (1)Deplane at F23 (hopefully the FAs asked the PHL terminating paxs to seat down).
      (2)Run to F10, wait for shuttle
      (3)Get in Shuttle ride from F10 to C16
      (4)Get out Shuttle at C16 and run across to B concourse
      (5)Run to B3, wave at gate agent.

      Does this make sense (anyone that familiar with PHL)? Can you make this in about 30-35 minutes (with some leeway)?

      1. If US Airways can (and does) close the departure door 15 minutes early, then she would actually need to be able do this in 15-20 minutes, no?

        How are Minimum Connection Times determined and do they take into account that 15 minute rule (which I believe varies by airline)?

        I also find it disturbing that deplaning time (usually not in the passenger’s control) is the passenger’s responsibility.

        1.  Here’s how IATA describes MCT:

          For the purpose of Resolution 765, in a passenger context, a Minimum
          Connecting time (MCT) interval is defined as the shortest time interval
          required in order to transfer a passenger and his luggage from one
          flight to a connecting flight, in a specific location or metropolitan
          area. In a cargo context, the MCT can be defined as the shortest time
          interval required in order to transfer cargo shipment from one flight to
          a connecting flight.

          MCT intervals are also referred to as
          ‘official’ or ‘standard’ MCTs. Bilateral MCT agreements, and online
          connecting time intervals established by a carrier that differ from the
          industry MCTs, are known as ‘MCT exceptions’.

          MCTs must be
          observed by all ticketing and reservations outlets all over the world
          and also are used as input for automated reservations systems.

          Establishment of and changes or exceptions to standard MCTs are governed
          by the provisions of IATA Resolution 765 Official MCTs are determined
          by the airport local MCT group, which consist of scheduled airlines and
          railways serving an airport, or if there is no such a group, by the
          Airport Operating Committee (AOC). Once IATA has been informed by such a
          group of the setting of, or changes to, existing official MCTs, IATA
          notifies the Scheduling community (including IATA partners such as
          CRS/GDS/schedule aggregators) of the changes by posting them on the IATA

          Official MCTs are used by default. Airlines may decide to deviate from
          the official MCT in a given airport by publishing a MCT exception. When
          two airlines are involved, connecting time exceptions, if required, are
          usually established on a bi-lateral basis. These exceptions to MCTs are
          generally less than the airport official MCTs and are basically
          marketing agreement between airlines, or exception within an airline’s
          own air service. It is the airline’s responsibility to set realistic
          connecting times to allow for connections of passengers and baggage.
          Carrier exceptions need to be filed with the main data aggregators, as
          well as with the GDS when applicable.

          There is a reason why it’s called MINIMUM. Passengers who DIY need to learn some basic travel knowledge. Otherwise they can ask advice from a pro.

          1. If I’m reading this correctly, it strictly accounts for passenger & baggage transit times and does not consider additional airline restrictions that require you to present for boarding >= 15  mins early.

            Isn’t there a case that a legal connection on US Airways ought to be MCT+15 mins?

          2. That’s up to USAir to publish an EXCEPTION.
            A smart person who understands what MCT means and reads USAir’s COC (both available online) can put the two together and make an informed decision.
            In the same token, a smart person can use a FREE website like  http://www.flightstats.com/  and do basic research about their future flights.
            The point I want to make clear to all is that we do not live in a nanny State (yet). Taxpayers have spend countless $$$ in our compulsory education system and many consumers have probably taken huge student loans to go to college (and beyond). I don’t understand why people can’t simply use their brains.
            No one taught me what I know as a Travel Consultant. I am self-taught. The internet is full of valuable information. Use it.

          3. That’s seems like a failure on the part of US Airways not to publish that exception then…

            This is not about brains.  If I researched every angle of every single purchase I make and every business I relied on, and read and cataloged every available piece of fine print word-for-word, it would become my new full time job, plus I’d need to hire assistants.

            It’s reasonable to expect some minimal due diligence, but customers shouldn’t have to anticipate bad faith and dig for “gotcha’s” at every turn.

          4. Their COC says they will close the boarding door 10 minutes earlier.
            I can understand what that means.

            It’s most definitely about brains. Travel was originally sold by PROFESSIONALS. They were relied on. Just because you buy your ticket from a VENDING MACHINE does not mean that travel no longer need professionals or brains. If you DIY, you are replacing the pro’s brain. It’s your problem.

            The OPs were professional photographers. She posts a lot of wedding pics on her blog. Anyone can let their brother take pictures of their wedding even if the brother ain’t a pro. But what can they expect if the pics turned out bad. I bet she would say “because you didn’t hire a pro”. Same thing.

          5. 1) You can do everything right and use a pro and give yourself 6 hours for a connection that is (officially) 5 hrs 20 mins late, and then US Airways can still play “gotcha.”

            2) Do you use a pro to purchase food, clothing, phone service, utilities, banking services etc.?  If you DIY in these areas, do you accept that all concepts of fair play are out the window?

          6. I am sorry Michael, but I no longer follow your trend of thought.
            Are you saying that USAir is con-air?
            If you don’t like USAir please do not fly them. Same message goes to the OP (but they were asking for FREE tickets).
            I cannot discuss this further and look like I am pushing one to fly USAir. For the record, I fly other airlines. My favorite inside the USA is Southwest and JetBlue. I will fly Delta mainly because they are dominant here in NYC.

        2. Also as I said earlier, if the OP believed she was not given ample time to make the connection, why didn’t she argue that point when she asked for flight rescheduling or reaccommodation? She could have made a reasonable request for a paid hotel, meal, and transpo based on that. But she didn’t.  All she whined about is the RUDENESS of USAir employees and the late crew. If you want to complain, you need to learn HOW TO COMPLAIN.

          1. Sure.  In fairness, we don’t know that she didn’t complain about those things.  It’s not clear to me if the hotel bill she’s referring to was for PHL or for an unused room in the Orlando area.

            I agree that knowing “how to complain” (and knowing your rights) is excellent advice.  Yet I don’t condone the idea that those who don’t complain about the “right” problem and/or are ignorant of their rights deserve any less.

          2. If someone doesn’t know their rights, it’s like a role-reversal of the “too much change from the cashier” scenario.  The “right” thing to do is not to take advantage of the other party’s mistake/ignorance.

  15. USAirways has this reputation.  And American Airlines unions think they would be better off in a company merged into USAirways management.  Hah!  

    My experiences this past year indicate USAirways employees (gross unfair generalization, btw) are simply uninterested in customer service.  They could care less.  

  16. Seriously? If true, the flight attendant is a mental case. The passenger had an obligation to the flying public to do something on the spot, report the creeper immediately or (at least) upon landing. Instead you wait and phone the company when you arrive at the hotel? Really, you were that concerned? And the phone rep threw an entire base under the bus? Sorry, he may have been a creeper but you’re a loser.

  17. They are “owed” nothing but the ability to never give the airline another dime again.  Why would they want free round trip tickets?

  18. As to the compensation, yes (and more than $50) if the Elmira crew was delayed due to a reason that was the fault of the airline, but certainly not roundtrip tickets. As to the rudeness, perhaps some charm school wouldn’t be a bad idea. Chris, good luck in getting more out of US. They’re great at ignoring follow up complaints. 🙂

  19. This needs a poll to decide to intervene? Really? This flight attendant should be reprimanded immediately! The least the airline should do is to be open with her about the course of action!

    1. Yes, the FA needs to be reprimanded.  But unfortunately due to privacy laws, US Airways cannot say anything to the customer about any actions like that or risk being sued by the employee.  They’ve already told her all they can.

  20. This is an awful story and something should be done about an airline employee behaving like this FA did.  However, people are entitled to have their complaints heard and receive a responded; they are not entitled to compensation for every one of their problems.

  21. A few weeks later, US Airways sent the Vazul’s two $50 vouchers for the “inconvenience.”
    Vazul says she was livid.

    Really?  Livid?  She felt two roundtrip tickets were more appropriate compensation?  This is happending to many businesses these days.  People ‘think’ they should be compensated for anything and make a stink when what they receive isn’t what they feel then should be entitled to.  Greedy people!

  22. ” I told them at the very least, we deserve two round trip tickets for the way I was treated by the male flight attendant”

    And she wonders why she isn’t taken seriously??

  23. Carver,
    I was reacting to the moron flight attendant, not Sandusky. I suppose the FA would have not acted hatefully unless he was agitatted by news media.

  24. Carver,
    Not too long ago a SFO Giant’s fan was beaten up in LA. He died after being in a coma. This same kind of story appears everywhere in the world, especially those where soccer is big.

    Note: Sorry my replies are getting posted as new posts.

    1. He didn’t die. He’s recuperating and has relearned to talk, among other things, but he’ll likely never be fully like he was before. His “crime” was wearing his team’s jersey to the rival ballpark. The flight attendant in this case possibly believes he got what he had coming.

      1. You are right. Sorry, it was the the witness to his case that died.
        As for the FA, someone needs to identify him and enroll him a class before he hurts someone.

    2. Unless I miss something, that individual is still alive, as 6 weeks ago he was moved to a rehab facility.

      Either way, I think this kind of thing happens in the US a bit more often than one thinks, but they tend to get lost in the coverage of other, more frequent bad news stories.

      1.  Yes, thank goodness he is alive. He was little kids to take care of. I misread the article, it was his KEY WITNESS that died by eating a salad.

      1. I am happy he survived. My whole family was so shocked when we heard the news he was beaten up in LA just because he was a Giants fan.

  25. Sounds a little ginned up to me.  Sorry but my crap detector is going off.  That abusive of a flight attendent would have attracted lots of attention from other passengers.  The delays and misssed connection all sound legit, but that’s the reality of air travel.  I hate to say it but I think the customer is angling.

  26. Time to spare, go by air. Want a scare, fly USair. There is not 10% of any employees of any US carriers that I would hire today. I would have had them all hanged out to dry.There is no compensation offered on a originating flight or a flight affected by weather. Crew is another story with 100’s of excuses. We spent 4 year traveling in and out of Philly while my son was at the Univer of Penn not Penn ST.. It is considered in the NYC air region, so it gets all of the problems from JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia when things go bad. I never take crap from an attendant or a desk agent, I simply ask for their name, their direct supervisor, and call the CEO of the airline as well facebook and twitter the heck out of them.They are due NO $$$, but are due their pound of flesh.

  27. I agree that this flight attendant needs consequences. But two free roundtrip tickets for the rudeness is reaching for too much. Yes, the travelers had consequences on missing the house, and the cost of the car rental, but these are uncontrollable outcomes that the industry leaves to travel insurance policies to address. 

    I’d think the better route would be a personal apology with the $100 in vouchers and a report on what their investigation uncovered. She wants to feel validated, and is looking for money to do that.

    The US Air flight crews are a customer service wonder, and not in a good way. They once boarded us on a flight from Madrid to Philadelphia from the tarmac, and sent people without regards to their seating assignment through the front and back of the plane. It looked like a re-enactment of Braveheart with carry-on luggage instead of spears.

  28. Can you imagine what would have happened to a passenger if he or she would have said something like this to flight crew???  “You should all die”.  They would have been met at the gate upon landing and promptly arrested.  Am I wrong?? I think not. 
    But, it’s okay for a crew member to say this to a passenger??   Really?  How horrible for the OP.  They deserve everything they asked for in my opinion.

  29. The treatment this customer received was abuse from a bully. Flight attendants are quite “heady” now and one, just ONE word of discontent, to the wrong attendant, will result in a threat to the poor customer.  That threat being kicked off the plane, turned over to the TSA (that is a fright, of a sort, all on it’s own).  It’s almost like the customer is held hostage and must endure any and all abuses from the lords and masters.  What is wrong with this picture?? Why this is allowed to go on and even encouraged, is beyond me and why I am boycotting flying.  I realize many simply can’t avoid flying and you have my sympathy.

  30. I voted no, because they where able to arrive to Orlando next day. US airways should have put them on the next available flight out of Philadelphia even it is operated by another carrier. And computer should have done rebooking automatically so they don’t have to stay in line and possibly missed the next available flight. Some time ago I was flying from Orange County to somewhere with a connection in San Francisco on United. We left Orange county on time but were in the air in hold circling around SF for hours due to air traffic control situation. Of course I missed my connection. However as soon as I turned my phone on upon landing I already had a voicemail from United that I was rebooked on the next available flight which was done automatically. On top of that the gate agents of the flight I missed rebooked me on another flight on a different airline. Therefore I had options to chose and did not have to stay in line and sort it out. I am sure US Airway could do the same for their customers.

  31. If we assume that the OP’s account is true (and knowing US Air, it’s harder to disbelieve her than to believe her!), I’m nonetheless bewildered by her reaction.

    If someone told me that I “should die,” I would reasonably interpret that as a THREAT.  If I were a customer, and an employee at ANY sort of business threatened me in that way, I would instantly go looking for a manager, or at least another employee who would help me locate that manager, and raise holy hell!  Who IN HIS RIGHT MIND talks to any customer like that–let alone a man talking to a woman? 

    At the same time, depending on the sort of business I was patronizing at the moment I was threatened, I might want to call the police as well.  After all, what if the employee threatened me while installing tires on my car?  Would it be unreasonable of me to fear that he may be doing more to harm me than just hurl verbal abuse?  Uh, NOT.  Get another employee to doublecheck EVERYTHING that this sicko just did to my tires, pronto!

    In this case, the woman is by definition in a sort of hostage-situation (she obviously can’t flee this psycho up in the air, can she?).  She was also threatened by someone who is paid not only to bring her coffee, but also to look out for her safety in case of an emergency.  So the OP might reasonably wonder what will happen if, God forbid, there is an emergency and the crew has to act to ensure the passengers’ safety–after all, this nutjob just wished her dead, for crying out loud!

    SO… the thing to do under the circumstances would be to locate the head of the cabin crew and demand action–some sort of short-term action while in the air, and an assurance of longer-term action upon landing.  If they can’t switch the cabin-crew around, then switch the OP’s seat–NOW. If the cabin-crew is uninterested (this is US Air, after all), make it clear that on the ground, you intend to pursue this.  Politely, but firmly!  No messing around–keep raising the spectre of law-enforcement involvement, if necessary!

    In the meantime, make sure you get the names of EVERYBODY in the crew whom you talk to.  In fact, if you sense collective resistance, I personally would even start taking photos of them…   

    Regarding the inevitable later discussions with US Air: while it’s absolutely true, customers generally cannot be informed of the specific personnel actions taken against by an employer against an employee, PUSH to ensure that SOME sort of action is indeed taken.  But I wouldn’t say one single word about financial compensation to me!  My only concern would be that there’s a mentally deranged nutcase working at umpteen-thousand feet, and if he’s done this to me, he’s likely done it to other customers before, and he’s also going to do it to other women in the future.  I would speak on behalf of other women pax who may have to deal with this psycho next time; mention also the possibility of children wearing PennState t-shirts–what’s he conceivably going to do to THEM? 

    In short, this whole affair should be couched as a security issue, not a monetary one.  Vouchers, cash, free tickets–all irrelevant here.  And if the OP is telling us the truth, why on earth would she ever want to fly US Air again, free tix or otherwise?!

    1. My first instinct would probably have been much like yours.

      Except that thinking critically about it, if the OP had done what you propose, I would not be surprised if we’d be reading a much more unfortunate story. Maybe the other crew members would have intervened and helped. They also *might* have reacted defensively and protected their colleague. There’s little to stop them from trumping up accusations that the OP’s were being disruptive passengers and possibly even arresting them on arrival. (I’ve seen this sort of dynamic with US Airways firsthand, although thankfully it didn’t escalate quite that far.)

      And my bet is that the comments here would be overwhelmingly scathing and skeptical of the OP’s claims in that scenario.

        1.  Emanon and Tony, Did we like the old Disqus?! 
          I guess it was OK when the font wasn’t the size of a flea. 

          1.  Disqus has 2 shortcomings:
            (1) Lack of space for multilevel replies.
            (2) Inability to send private messages (within the same forum).

    1. Raven, it hasn’t told you for a couple of months now who “likes” your post, just how many people do. I rather like that anonymity. While I might not post anything “snarky” myself, I might (guiltily) enjoy others’ snark and “like” it. Or there’s a very controversial subject going in and I don’t want to get drawn into the fight, but want to support the author of the post. Gee, can’t think of *anything* controversial on this blog, can you?

      1. They gone beyond simple Likes. Now you can vote thumbs up or thumbs down and apparently even take it back at a later time if you change your mind or make a mistake. However, it’s not a simple set of likes and dislikes, but a running total of votes which can go negative.

        I’ve seen other setups where there’s a running total of thumbs up and thumbs down. However, this system doesn’t seem to indicate the total number of votes. It looks like one positive vote adds one and one negative vote subtracts one.

        1. Looks like it’s all a moot point, since Disqus has been reset to the format in use over the last 2 months.  Now replies to replies are back to being indented so much that I have page upon page of single letters.  And the screwy Disqus “Post As …” stays put in the middle of the comment box, so that I have to type in blindly.  Can’t win, I guess.  And no, Chris Elliott, I have no idea with what to replace Disqus.  🙂

          1. I think that it depends on the browser used.  My usual browser is Safari on Mac OS 10.6.  However, my Windows machine is IE8 on Windows 7.

            With Safari, the box always resizes if the text gets long enough.  On IE8 it’s weird.  Sometimes I can click on another tab and it will resize the box, but it’s inconsistent (not happening now).

            My main problem with Disqus is that sometimes it will start running scripts that cause the browser to freeze until I get a popup request that a script is slowing down the browser and whether or not I want to stop the script.  However, that only happens when I run IE8 on a Windows machine.  I hate IE8, but it’s the only browser that I can use on a certain network.

            I think the Disqus format change was just a Beta version that they’re temporarily testing.

  32. I think that if the attendant did this it was unacceptable, on the other hand why do they deserve more compensation than what they got? Discipline would have been better, as another poster said. It amazes me why people get so self righteous about the misdemeanors of others when it has nothing to do with them.

  33. I’m wondering if the airlines or FAA has a rule that all employees must wear identification that is easily seen.

    I remember a few months back there was some controversy in Oakland, CA over whether or not an officer had covered up his name on his uniform with tape – fearing possible retribution against his family during the Occupy protests. State law says that uniformed law enforcement must at all times have their names and/or badge numbers visible. The idea is that all officers must be identifiable if there is a complaint. Someone caught this on video and a lieutenant at the scene told the officer to take off the tape. He did as he was asked but then this video was published. Apparently the lieutenant hadn’t reported the incident and got demoted to sergeant. The officer who covered up the name was given desk duty.

  34. @mikegun:disqus  — [continued from thread above re: stranded crews and weather]

    I assume you’re referencing this ambiguous (and much maligned) clause in Jet Blue’s contract:

     if in a chain of multiple events, the original irregularity is due to a Force Majeure Event, the cause of the subsequent event(s) reasonably related to the original irregularity shall be deemed an Uncontrollable Irregularity.

    I still don’t see any clear support in this clause for your contention that a crew stranded because of weather at point ‘A’ is legitimate grounds for declaring a weather delay for a flight from B->C (assuming no weather issues between B & C).

    If we accept your interpretation, then why limit it to just the B->C segment?  If the same crew is going C->D, D->E, E->F, F->G etc. over the next several days, why can’t every segment that crew is scheduled to fly for the next day/week/month be delayed because of “weather” as well?  What resets the “chain?”

    1. Gentlemen, what you are arguing really does not matter because in the USA, Each airline has its own policies about what it will do for delayed passengers waiting at the airport; there are no federal requirements. Source: http://airconsumer.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm#delayed

      So, JetBlue solely determines whether they will pay for your layover (hotel, food, transpo) if you miss a connection. They are required to publish their own rules in their Service Plan, but that’s it.

      A commonsensical answer to your question about when does a normal flight schedule reset, (as opposed to a continuous feedback loop of delayed flights), is it does when the aircraft and crew is already POSITIONED to fly a normal schedule. No airline is stupid enough not to maintain a normal flight schedule. You only make money and control costs when the system is operating under control.

  35. @TonyA_says:disqus : [cont’d from thread above]

    I have a very low opinion of US Airways after the AW merger, and I do avoid them, but that wasn’t my point.

    My point is that introducing a 15-minute departure cut-off — if that is not accounted for in the Minimum Connection Times — sounds like a very unfair and deplorable practice.   (Full stop.)  

    Whether a particular passenger uses a professional travel agent or not and whether or not a particular itinerary is a “good idea” is a completely separate and distinct topic.

    1. In reality (as opposed to theory) the buyer will be presented different flight options. In the case of the OP, she will be presented about 7 options by USAir from ELM to MCO.

       25APR-WE-1A ELMORL ET ET                        
       1*A#US4131   ELMPHL- 535A 638A  *8 DH8 0E
       2*A#US 987      MCO- 800A1041A   8 321 0E
       3*A#US3671   ELMPHL- 715A 812A  *8 CRJ 0E
       4*A#US1020      MCO-1000A1240P   8 321 0E
       5*A#US4131   ELMPHL- 535A 638A  *8 DH8 0E
       6*A#US1020      MCO-1000A1240P   8 321 0E
       7*A#US3671   ELMPHL- 715A 812A  *8 CRJ 0E
       8*A#US1585      MCO-1125A 153P   8 321 0E
       9*A#US4321   ELMPHL-1210P 113P  *5 DH3 0E
      10*A#US 735      MCO- 355P 627P   6 752 0E
      11*A#US4506   ELMPHL- 334P 439P  *6 DH8 0E
      12*A#US 835      MCO- 600P 842P   7 321 0E
      13*A#US4178   ELMPHL- 643P 745P  *5 DH8 0E
      14*A#US 839      MCO- 835P1105P   9 321 0E

      Technically all these options that came from my GDS pass the MCT for PHL airport (40 minutes).
      The latest (last) option has 50 minutes scheduled connecting time. So even if USAir closes the gate 10 minutes early (as their COC says they may do), the connection is “legal” and therefore it is OK to sell.

      Now during the day of the flight, the actual flight schedules may change. The passenger may have less time (than scheduled) to make the connection. If they miss their connection, USAir will reaccommodate. If the next flight is the next day, who pays for the layover? Ah, this is where the problem is.

      We don’t know what transpired with the OP and USAir that night in Philly. We don’t even have a date so we are really speculating.

      Finally, if you peruse the flight options I posted you will understand why I suggested the 334PM departure from ELM. Sometimes it is better to PREVENT problems rather than having to fix them. Cheers.

      1. Tony, I sincerely value and appreciate your advice and expertise in these comments on how to (at least somewhat) avoid these sorts of problems!  

        My quarrel here is purely with what seems like a clearly unfair policy if I understand it correctly.  

        The “present at the departure gate” cutoff you quoted from the USAir CoC is 15 minutes.  If you search for flights directly on usairways.com, an itinerary that barely satisfies the MCT (by MCO).

        Even if I follow your advice and purchase an itinerary with a much longer layover, it’s entirely possible that my flight will get delayed and I will “arrive” (de-planing notwithstanding) 45 minutes before my connection (i.e. experience a barely “legal” connection).  

        If I truly need up to 40 minutes to reach the next gate (and I have a 45 minute connection), then I should be safe if I make it within 35 minutes, right?  No!  If I make it to the departure gate in 35 minutes, I can expect to be told that I’m SOL because I’m 5 minutes late for the 15 minute window — AND that I’m on my own because my connection was “legal”(!)  

        I think I would have a very legitimate gripe in that scenario even if US Airways can hide behind the letter of their CoC.

        1. Michael, why do you think USAir does NOT get high marks like SWA and JetBlue do get from Consumer Groups?

          To be fair, USAir instituted the 10 min door closing policies because passengers abused their check-in policies which caused a lot of flights to be delayed. USAir really looked bad when it came to FAA/DOT on-time ratings. So they did this policy.

          I am a NERVOUS traveler (despite all the planning and information). I want my connections to be around 2 hours. But I also look at FlightStats first and look at the on-time and DELAY statistics. I pay particular attention to the STD DEVIATION of delay time.

          I also case the joint in advance. I go to the airport website and plot my route for the connection.

          If for some reason I must connect with the last flight out (which I always try to avoid), I plan for an over-nite stay. In other words I do some contingency planning. I already have a list ready (in pdf) of the flights I WANT TO be reaccommodated on if Plan A fails.

          I try to do the same for my clients. That’s why they come back again and again. I might be hard to understand at first (maybe overkill or crazy) but you must be prepared for contingencies when you fly.

          Acutally I looked at the OP’s possible scenarios from ELM to MCO. The only other option was Delta and their Connection Times at DTW were not much better than US’ in PHL. Beggars can’t be choosy. The OP was really stuck with USAir for this route. She just had to pick the best flight from your “least favorite” airline. Lucky me I live near NYC and have a choice between 4 airports. Some are not that lucky.

          1. Contingency planning is great.  Then there’s the matter of who pays the bill (you or the airline) for said contingencies 🙂

            If US Airways changed its policy to require you to arrive for your connection 10 or 15 minutes earlier, then their MCT’s should have simultaneously increased by 10 or 15 minutes.

  36. Why do people think that just because something happened to them that they deserve compensation?  She did the right thing, she alerted management.  They conducted an investigation.  They also got her on a direct flight to Orlando.  Her needs were met.  The $50 was a nice bonus and a “thanks for letting us know about our jackwagon of a flight attendant.  We’ll deal with it.”  She needs to go live her life and move on.

  37. While it’s frustrating, the customer has absolutely no right to know the results of the investigation. The attendant, even if he’s an absolute pig, has the right to be investigated in privacy, and professional companies simply don’t air dirty laundry.

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