He had the promise in writing, but it didn’t matter

Abraham Feuer wants US Airways to keep its word. Nothing more.

That’s not an unreasonable request for any passenger. But you’d think US Airways would give it special consideration when it comes from someone like Feuer, who is a rabbi.

I’ll tell you how it all ended in a minute. But first, let’s hear from Rabbi Feuer. He was a passenger on US Airways Flight 796 from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv last year, which was canceled because of weather. Then the crew timed out. As compensation, the airline offered him two roundtrip flight vouchers. In writing.

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Here’s the exact promise:

We regret your Flight US797 from Tel Aviv was canceled.

As you may know this flight did not operate as scheduled due to an unexpected weather situation. Please accept our apology for the inconvenience and impact on your travel plans this irregularity caused. It is never our intent to create difficulties for you, or any of our passengers, and appreciate this disruption was a frustrating experience.

Our records indicate your flight was canceled due to a weather related issues beyond the airline’s control. This is reflected in the delay of the inbound flight US796 from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv. This flight was delayed due to the extensive weather conditions which occurred in Philadelphia.

Due to the length of this delay the scheduled crew members were unable to continue their line of flying due to FAA regulations. As you may know, flight crews are scheduled for a series of flights and cities each day. If there are weather issues that cause flight irregularities in their schedule, a domino effect can occur.

It would be ideal to have trained crews standing by and ready for all flights. Unfortunately, this is not a feasible option at all times. In this instance we were not able to find a timely replacement and had to cancel the flight; which then resulted in the cancellation of your flight US797 from Tel Aviv to Philadelphia.

While we do not normally compensate for weather related issues, under these circumstances we recognize the inconvenience incurred. As a token of our apology and gesture of goodwill we have authorized two $600 Electronic Travel With US Vouchers (E-TUV) in goodwill.

Seems clear enough, right? Not really.

“When we called to redeem them they said there is only one voucher,” he says. “When I sent them the original email, they responded that it is a typo.”

A typo, you say?

Feuer appealed in writing. To which US Airways responded as follows:

I apologize for the confusion regarding your voucher.

After careful review it appears that our letter contained a typo, two vouchers were not issued. Only one voucher was issued.

Additionally, as it appears you were the only passenger traveling on Flight 797, our intention would have been to issue one voucher.

I sincerely regret any disappointment or frustration this may cause you. While this is not the response you had anticipated we thank you for your understanding in this matter.

We hope that you will still use the voucher previously issued in the spirit of goodwill that it was intended. We look forward to welcoming you on board a future US Airways flight.

That doesn’t sit well with Feuer. Or with me.

I will refrain from quoting the applicable scripture relating to this topic. After all, my father is the minister in the family, not me. But if I were US Airways, I’d give the rabbi what I told him I would, lest you get into trouble with the Man Upstairs.

I asked US Airways to reconsider its decision. Here’s how it responded to me:

I checked with customer service on this one, and they felt that since it was a case where they would normally issue one voucher, and in fact they did issue one voucher, it’s pretty clear that this was a misstatement/typo on the letter and so they’re sticking with the one-voucher decision.

Seriously?

You said you’d give Rabbi Feuer two vouchers. Whatever happened to keeping your promise?

Should US Airways have given Abraham Feuer both vouchers?

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116 thoughts on “He had the promise in writing, but it didn’t matter

      1. I agree as well.

        First, I don’t know how anyone can think this is an obvious typo. It says two vouchers. Plural. In plain English. It doesn’t say “two voucher”, which would be considered a typo. I don’t see any typo whatsoever. I see a written obligation not being fulfilled.

        If I were the OP, I’d haul US AIR into small claims court. This is pretty cut-and-dried.

        1. Oh, just as an addendum…I have been a solo flyer, had a flight delayed (due to maintenance) and been offered TWO vouchers as compensation (via United Airlines).

          There is no typo.

  1. I didn’t vote. My opinion is that it was an obvious typo, but they probably should have just chalked it up as a mistake and given him the second voucher. Not necessarily obligated, but why fight it?

    Also, he was the only passenger?

    1. I don’t agree with it being an obvious typo. And obivous typo would be giving him a $6,000 voucher. Why would two vouchers be obivous?

      And the only passenger part confused me too… Maybe he was the only passenger on the itinerary?

      1. I had to stop and re-read the “only passenger” part as well. Apparently, the letter writing department needs some serious junior high English classes. I thank Ms. Foley, my 7th and 8th grade English teacher, for all the lessons she taught me. I remember how stupid I thought it was at the time, but I think I learned more from her than all of the other junior high teachers combined.

        1. Ha! Me too, Rebecca. Thank heavens for patient, dedicated English teachers. Fifty years ago, I HATED English… but my teachers kept after me, and today, I’m one of Chris’ editors. Thank you, Mrs. Tobiasson (fondly remembered from my Tolland, Connecticut childhood). 🙂

      2. Perhaps “typo” is the wrong word to use, but it seemed like an obvious mistake. I know I’ve typed along and not really thought deeply about what I was typing, where my subconscious sort of took over. Then I reviewed what I’d entered afterwards and realized that what was there didn’t match what I really wanted.

        This doesn’t sound like any standard operating procedure. I wouldn’t have expected two vouchers.

        However, this does seem to indicate that someone was actually at a keyboard, and responding to an individual message. Most of the time I would think that ready-made boilerplate sentences would just be cut and pasted to save time.

    2. They gave a number for the quantity of vouchers they were giving, and backed that quantity up with using the plural or the word voucher, indicating more than one. Had they ommitted the pluralization of the word “voucher” I would agree with it being a typo. This it NOT a typo. A mistake, maybe…but they need to make good on their written promise regardless!

  2. It is clear to me that this was not a “typographical error.” One definition of the term is ” a mistake (such as a misspelled word) in typed or printed text.” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/typo. Another definition is “an error in printed or typewritten matter resulting from striking the improper key of a keyboard, from mechanical failure, or the like.” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/typographical+error.

    In the text sent by US Airways, there are two separate indications that multiple vouchers were involved. First, the word “two” was used immediately in front of the description of the compensation offered. Second, the sixth word following, “Vouchers,” is a plural, and spelled distinctly from the same noun in its singular form. These two separate indicia are sufficient to persuade me that this was not a case where someone’s fingers slipped, and the wrong keyboard key was pressed. Rather, I am convinced that these words correctly indicate the thought of the person who had typed them in the first place. This is not a typographical error.

    Now, it may well have been that the person typing the response offered compensation that was inconsistent with US Airway’s internal policy related to such incidents. However, the burden of such an error is on US Airways, not Rabbi Feuer. The typist is an agent of US Airways, and under general principles of agency, the principal is liable for the errors of his or her agent. And despite US Airway’s wording of the offer and possible contention that correspondence constituted nothing more than an unenforceable promise, to me it seems likely that the offer was made to Rabbi Feuer in order to induce him not to seek further relief from the carrier (and by now, it is possible that the statute of limitations for suing the carrier for failing to provide transportation as contracted may have expired). In that case Rabbi Feuer might well be able to sue US Airways for $600, the value of its failure to deliver the promised, but undelivered, voucher.

  3. I don’t think that being a man of faith has anything to do with the story. It does not matter who the passenger is, they promised two vouchers and refused to issue two.

    I wish Carver was still on here, he could provide some insight into the legal side as RightNow9435 suggests…

        1. He disagreed with a position taken by Chris Elliott in a Sunday blog and argued the position. The exchange was somewhat lengthy and Mr. Elliott became irritated and a little caustic. One of the mods (GR) told Mr. Elliott that it’s pointless arguing with a recreational debater, Mr. Elliott agreed, and that was it for Carver. I thought he was treated rather disrespectfully. The only reason I’m commenting here now is because of my respect for Carver; otherwise, I have and will remain silent.

          1. I remember that post. Carver and I disagreed about something completely insignificant. Manners went out the window. Very unfortunate, and if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have written the post.

            He is welcome back any time.

          2. I notice Jeanne’s and Carver’s absence every day. And I hate it. I miss Raven and others too. There are lots of the old posters that I wish were still here, new rules notwithstanding. It’s not as much fun as it used to be, nor do I learn as much as I used to learn.

          3. Carver and Jeanne and others, if you are reading this please come back. We all know you have much generosity of spirit and can forgive people having a bad day and letting emotions get out of hand. We want to hear from you. We enjoy hearing from you. Please come back.

          4. Ma’am: I have always played by the rules. I’m in a rather prickly mood right now and am interpreting your statement to infer that I have not done so. Perhaps after the consumption of much chocolate I will mellow out.

            As a (former) long-time lurker, you may have read my policy on commenting: not to post anything of which my pastor would not approve. It is possible to post a comment not in agreement with the main argument of an article, while still supporting this site’s overall consumer advocacy focus. I do that, from time to time. I find dissenting opinions an opportunity to examine my own position and to learn. Having an open mind is difficult, but it’s one of the hallmarks of polite society.

          5. Jeanne, perhaps because of your chocolate policy, of which I fully approve (;-)), I don’t remember much about your posts. I certainly wasn’t referring to you in my comment, which was a more general request to former posters who have been chased away by Chris’s new rules. I happen to think that Carver brought a lot to the table, but I remember the Sunday in question and Chris wasn’t wrong in characterizing him as a recreational debater on that day. There are other people, however, who never had a kind word to say about the subjects of Chris’s articles, their fellow posters or Chris himself; they called them whiners, idiots, liars and so on. I hope they never return, no matter how much they may know about the travel industry or whatever.

          6. I appreciate your speaking up on this. It takes integrity to publicly offer an apology, so thank you. I hope that @Mythsayer is able to contact Carver and that CCF comes back . His comments often caused me to step back from an opinion and re-examine a situation, and he had the ability to very gently say that situation did not favor the consumer or the consumer’s actions without being derogatory. Carver Clark Farrow III, come back!

          7. Thanks, but I’m not sure if that was an apology. I feel bad that some of the commenters left and that they disagreed with our rules, but I’m very comfortable with the policies we now have in effect and they will be enforced by the moderation team to the best of their ability. If the warned commenter return, thinking that we’ll look the other way while they snark at our consumers, they are wrong.

          8. I thought the commenter under immediate discussion was CCF Esquire? I don’t think I’d ever equate snark with CCF. I thought you were expressing regret over the tone and outcome of that particular discussion and rather broadly interpreted that as an apology. Or maybe I just hoped it was, as I considered Carver and many others that I’ve “met” on this site to be friends.

            I have a supply of chocolate and I’m going to address it, rather than the comments on this blog, now. I rarely misinterpret chocolate.

          9. Wow I sure missed a lot! I was gone for a month, and then back for a few weeks and gone for a week.

            I miss you, and Carver, and I didn’t know Raven left too. Wow! I also miss Tony. It’s just not the same.

          10. I think I know what thread it was… Carver and Chris disagreed about “the free market” and Carver made a lawyer like comment about how you can’t argue with people who think like that and they took it personally (Chris and a couple others). There wasn’t a real insult in there and I told them that we (attorneys) CAN make underhanded insults in that type of format but that the way this comment was written, it was just an advocate type comment and that I was pretty sure Carver didn’t intend to be insulting. If you think of the most inflammatory insult as being a 10 on a 1 to 10 scale and a totally innocuous comment that someone took the wrong way and it was totally on them for taking it that way (i.e. too sensitive by far because it really wasn’t insulting) as a 1, I’d say this was like a 4. There might have bit a bit of intent to insult in there, but for the most part, it was typical lawyer speak for “whatever, I can’t have a real discussion with you because you don’t want to see the other side, but okay, you’re entitled to that opinion, I just totally disagree.” I’m in California actually… maybe I’ll send Carver an email telling him that everyone misses him, lol 🙂

          11. Carver and I have had plenty of disagreements on this site, but he has always been very respectful and willing to listen to both sides. I really appreciated him and miss him. Tell him Hi!

          12. Tony attacked Chris, the subject of the article and any poster he could get his claws into over and over until he was told that the next time he stepped over the line, he’d get a 30-day suspension. He simply can’t help being nasty, so he wisely decided to ban himself from the site. And there was great rejoicing (pace Monty Python’s Holy Grail).

          13. I miss Tony. He was able to present a clearer picture to the problem when it was air related. There needs to be posters from the travel industry here to keep things balanced.

          14. There are other travel professionals with less toxic personalities. You miss Tony because the two of you have similar personalities, but Chris wants a more user-friendly crowd and it’s his show.

          15. Well thank you. Tony is very knowledgeable and his help is missed. You’ll notice no airline employees participate here any longer either. Too bad, as it was so good to have their side of things. The customer isn’t always right and having those who know the industry is a plus.

          16. I have seen a few airline employees employees post over time….not sure what happened to them. I work for an airline, and post occasionally under another name, usually only when people are giving biased or incorrect information. People make a lot of assumptions about airlines and their employees. As with with all things, there are good and bad employees. In most cases, we agree more with customers than our employers. However, we also have a job to do, and the very nasty treatment from a minority of customers does sometimes get reflected on the rest. It’s an unfortunate situation. When I post here, I don’t advertise that I am an airline employee because given the nature of many posters, I assume anything I say would be discounted if not belittled because of my employer. It is simply easier to post as someone who knows airlines or the industry.

            I do note in this thread, however, that individuals who are happy at certain posters being gone were also the ones engaging them antagonistically. We all have the ability to get out of line on occasion.

          17. Regrettably, TonyA was suspended for 30 days earlier today. He decided to leave a toxic comment on another post that he knew violated our published policy. I’m really sorry, and I hope he takes some time to consider what he’s done. His comments will be welcome again in March.

          18. Um…”And there was great rejoicing?” Flag on the play, please. Frankly, I miss Carver and the others too. If there’s one word I wouldn’t associated with Carver, it’s nasty. Carver always struck me as very level headed with a wealth of knowledge to pass along. TonyA was caustic to be sure, but again, lots of knowledge, and I saw more than once where he admitted wrong or conceded to the opposing opinion in a gentlemanly manner. Their insight is greatly missed here.

          19. I like all of my commenters.

            TonyA and Bodega knew a lot about air travel. Carver was our resident attorney. Arizona was the go-to road warrior.

            I miss them. But the problem was simple — sometimes what they said scared the customers away. The constant drumbeat of “they have no case” or “they’re trying to scam the system” was making people avoid this site.

            And before you say, “Rightfully so,” let me add one thing. As I mentioned in the forums a few days ago, with all the cases I get, I find myself doing a lot of eye rolls. In fact, my eyes are stuck in the “up” position even as I write this. Painful, yes.

            I know that some of these cases have no merit and I have to bite my tongue. Why? Because the name on my door says “consumer advocate.”

            If I told readers how I really felt, I’d probably be out of business in no time. But after I retire, I will write a book about this adventure …

          20. Actually, I wouldn’t say rightfully so. I usually sympathize with the poor schmuck (no offense intended) you’re trying to help, and I do understand that taken some of these commenters could be off putting. I have also read this blog enough to look past their drumbeat to see all of the positives they had to offer – and there were (and are) a lot. I think that the comments section has lost some vibrancy – in tone and information – as of late in the attempt to desnark. I think that there is a balance to be found, and I hope that you are able to find it.

          21. I missed it all too…been busy moving into a new house and haven’t been on here much. Those are among my favorite posters in here! (You, emanon, are in that group too…) I hope they come back!

          22. Miss you too LeeAnne. And Linda, is she gone too? At least Bodega, Mark, AZ, Al Gore, and Travel Nut are still on. Amongst many others I am not thinking of.

          23. No matter how many times Disqus tries to kill off my account I, like crabgrass, find a way to get back on.

          24. I think Carver would be able to live by the new rules, but Raven wouldn’t have any fun and Tony, I don’t miss at all!

          25. Dang, I missed that. I just realized that I hadn’t seen Carver for a while, and guessed he’d just moved on or was too busy to be spending so much time in travel blogs. Without making any kind of judgment of good or bad, I would say that of the blogs I’ve frequented, this one is the one where the blog author seems most personally invested, opinionated, and engaged with the posters in a very frank way. On the continuum between zero and troublemaker, Carver was very much on the lower end of the scale and perhaps was caught on a bad day. I hope he and the others return. (you too, Jeanne!)

  4. They should give him the two vouchers. The correspondence was very clear.

    Why does a rabbi deserve special consideration? What does religion have to do with any of this case? Stick to helping consumers.

  5. We aren’t talking about a $15,000 ticket here. It’s a few hundred dollars; let him have it and move on.

    Bad call on USAirways part.

  6. It would be easier to believe the typo explanation if it were a mere keystroke – “accidentally” typing a “2” versus a “1,” but that’s not what happened here. US Airways said “two” vouchers. US Airways should stick to its promise here and not weasel out blaming a drafting error. I was going to take the US Airways Shuttle to NY today; I think I’ll go with Delta instead and vote my real displeasure with my wallet today.

    1. I believe the typo explanation if a single rep was sending out multiple apology letters to people delayed by that crew time-out. The copy/paste error is common enough — all it takes is for the previous recipient to have legitimately been receiving two vouchers and then the sending agent to not proofread as closely as they should have when sending the email to the rabbi.

      1. I’m even more inclined to side with the gentleman as a result. As the rabbi relays the story he was orally promised two vouchers and later received the same promise in writing. For the company to go back and change the amount to one voucher and then claim a typo as the culprit seems fishy. Copy/paste or lack of proofing seems a very convenient excuse.

      2. If they were sending out the same letter to all the people on that plane affected by the delay, they probably wouldn’t do a copy and paste letter; they would most likely do a mail merge in which the letter recipient’s name and address would be different but probably everything else would be the same.

      3. True – and the majority of bookings is usually for a party of two – someone didn’t have his coffee that AM! But USAir should have explained the typo and still honored it – would have impressed the Rabbi even more!

  7. I’m the biggest pro business guy around here and I can’t even find a reason why they shouldn’t honor the promise.

    Here’s the deal US Air… You had an employee screw up, in writing. No wiggle room on it at all. It would have cost you less than $600 to honor the screw up. Its a small price to pay. Move on!

    FYI…. I think the “only passenger” remark is airline speak getting lost in translation. I think what they were trying to say is that there was only one person on his reservation on that flight.

  8. I think the OP is being a tad selfish. If he was the only person flying, he must have thought it strange that they’d offer him two vouchers (instead of one at double the value). Personally, I would’ve called just to make sure, something along the lines of: “I’m looking to book tickets. Can you see two vouchers under my name?”

    I can understand how he’d be disappointed, but I think the one voucher that was intended is fair. However, if the airline wants to give him two, more power to him.

    1. Selfish? They made him a promise, and he thought he was being compensated for the inconvenience instead of just being refunded his money. How is it selfish to want what someone promised you?

      1. I view this a bit like when the cashier at the supermarket gives me back too much change.

        Did s/he give it to me? Yes. Was it intended? No. Do I give it back? Yes.

        That said, I’m interested in whether the voucher/s were 1) in lieu of a refund (as you seem to think) or 2) as a gesture of goodwill (on top of a cash refund or reticketing him on a later flight).

        If #1, then I would hope he would get something on top of a refund. If #2, then I think one $600 is plenty.

        1. This is in no way equal to when the supermarket gives you too much change. The vouchers are compensation and goodwill and can be arbitrary and at the discretion of the airline. The airline can offer a passenger 4 vouchers if it so chooses. And who are you to determine that $600 is plenty when the airline originaly said the compensation would be $1,200?

    2. I don’t think it that strange… I bet that Tel Aviv roundtrip was expensive… so if they offered $1200 in vouchers, they’d probably still be selling me a $2400 ticket later if I buy another Tel Aviv roundtrip. So they’d be splitting the cost. I bet he thought that was reasonable. Because it’s a credit, not a refund. He’d have to fly again within the year to use it. So I don’t think two vouchers is unreasonable.

  9. It’s Monopoly Money print by US Airways, they won’t come out winning by bugging on their promise. Bad evaluation while deciding the denying of the compensation. They win nothing but risking losing a frequent long haul customer.

  10. This is off-topic, but seeing a reference to US 796 between PHL and whatever the 3-letter code for Tel Aviv is reminded me of a question I had about this very flight.

    I became familiar with US 796 last fall when I flew from Los Angeles to Philadelphia on this flight. There was a continuation to Tel Aviv using the same flight number but a change in aircraft. Do any of you who are more familiar with the airline know why the segment with a different plane keeps the same flight number?

    1. It’s for marketing purposes. They can market PHL-TLV as one fare, LAX-PHL as another, and LAX-TLV as a third fare. El Al (LY) flies non-stop LAX-TLV and US under cuts them, but with 1 stop.

  11. I think that the most likely scenario for what happened here is that somebody at US airways was responsible for sending out identical letters to all the passengers on that flight, and they either screwed up a mail merge or cut-and-pasted without paying enough attention. Either way, they should honor their promise. This isn’t some fine-print gotcha on either side – US Airways took the time to send Rabbi Feuer a communication addressing the cancellation, and within that communication, they made a clear offer of compensation. That they would now backpedal and try to halve their original offer is pretty poor.

  12. It’s not a typo, it’s an error.

    Others have speculated on how easily the error could have been made, especially in the age of cut-and-paste, and pre-written paragraphs.

    Yet, it remains the error of the airline, clearly stated. But on the other hand, it seems clearly an error.

    It remains unsaid why the good Rabbi feels he deserves two tickets after being one individual missing one flight. A case for the ethics column, I think.

    1. Perhaps he believed the airline was doing more than refunding his money for the inconvenience and now is upset that the airline not only didn’t mean to make a nice gesture, but is refusing to honor their promise. You wouldn’t be miffed? I would.

      1. At the end of the day, I would have been made whole, plus a tidy extra sum. And I could sleep knowing that I didn’t prey on the mistakes of others, no matter how deep the pockets.

        So no, not miffed. Easy come, easy go.

  13. You clearly have never worked anywhere where you had to send out correspondence to a couple dozen — or a couple hundred — people every day with the same basic text. You write a basic script, enter recipient info, hit “send”, then copy what you wrote, paste it in a new email, tweak the recipient info, and hit “send” again. I’d bet that’s what happened here. Was it the intention to send multiple vouchers to someone who should have only received one? Clearly not.

    And if we’re going to bandy about the whole religious aspect, then no god-loving individual would insist on claiming what is not rightly due to them: he bought one ticket, had one person’s trip delayed, so he should be compensated for one person’s voucher. End of story.

    1. If you can’t be bothered to read what you’re sending to someone when you are empowered to make someone a compensation offer that is binding, you probably shouldn’t be doing that particular job. “Oops, I made a boo-boo” is not a legitimate excuse in my job. I’m not sure how it’s a legitimate excuse for the person who wrote and sent that e-mail either.

    2. U.S. Airways error! Live up to the words typed. Sending out multiple letters in a sloppy way does NOT excuse their mistake.
      As a passenger if you book the incorrect date or have to change your booking because of an error on your part, they make you pay, dearly. The same should apply to them. Simple.

    3. I don’t know, EE. I’m one of Chris’ Advocates, and that’s exactly what I do… send out correspondence to hundreds of people with the same basic text and script. I “enter recipient info, hit ‘send,’ then copy what (I) wrote, paste it in a new email, tweak the recipient info, and hit ‘send’ again,” but I’m damned sure responsible for making sure it’s right. Facing an angry Chris once is MORE than enough. 🙂

    4. If you can’t be bothered to proof read, then have a template ready that has been proof-read. I used to write the e-correspondence for the last company I worked for. I worked up a template for certain situations and took the time to read over my correspondence before sending.

  14. Vouchers? When the airline cancels a flight and cannot offer an alternative to it at the time, the passenger gets a full refund, period. Feuer probably ruined his case by agreeing to vouchers as an alternative. Undoubtedly he figured that $1200 in vouchers was a fair trade for the cost of the flight. He was unaware that an airline can lie to you, even in writing, and get away with it. US Sacre could just as easily have said later, “Oops, we really meant one $300 voucher.”

    And remember: if you make a mistake in booking a flight, it’s your fault. If the airline makes a mistake, it’s your fault.

    1. Where do you see that he didn’t fly later?

      Legally… If they never transported him, he’s due a refund. All of the correspondence insinuates that he did eventually make it and the $600 is for the delay.

      Chris … can you confirm that he did make it to Israel?

        1. So he DID make it to Tel Aviv on that trip? The article makes it appear that he was sent home without a flight and that the vouchers were for a future booking. Was he accommodated within the statutory window for weather delays?

    2. I read between the lines in both of the airline’s letter and they reemphasize that weather and FDA delays are out of their control. Whether that legally still entitled the OP to a full refund or compensation is another matter.

      Now onto the “typo”. I wonder if the airline truly made a good faith effort to offer one voucher PER PERSON and perhaps the person writing the letter thought there might be two passengers on the itinerary and that’s why the initial offer of 2 vouchers was written. Maybe they had just typed out several similar letters.

      I think if the Rabbi believes the airline was good faith in truly only offering one voucher, he should accept it. Chris just wrote up an article about a mistake fare. If the airline wrote something as a mistake, they should be able to take it back.

      That being said, in the interests of goodwill, they should offer some kind of compromise (not the full amount of a second voucher but something).

  15. If they are e vouchers, and they intended to offer $1200, why not just say so? There is no reason to offer two vouchers of the same value, to me it seems clear the writer thought it was a booking for two people. If I were the airline I would resist the claim and suggest the Rabbi might like to travel with an alternative airline next time, since he clearly doesn’t trust them any more

    1. @AlanBowen:disqus Every time I’ve been issued vouchers they were “use or lose” for the entire value so by issuing 2 x $600 vouchers they would have been helping him out.

  16. I’m not sure on the airlines position, I’m not seeing a typo, just as others have pointed out “vouchers” is also plural. My question is, being that this is an international flight it kind of makes sense that they would give him $1200 rather than just the $600 I assume is standard. I think they need to suck it up and give it to him. Rabbi is irrelevant.

    1. NO – this was a goodwill gesture above and beyond — and due to weather, which is NOT standard. I think they just made a mistake, and assumed two passengers. Should have paid more attention, but it can happen.

  17. This one is tough for me. A promise is a promise and they put it in writing, but I am also one for being lenient on typos. I lean towards giving the Rabbi both certificates and US airways re-training the agent and making sure people double check their e-mails before the send them.

    1. I think when it’s an obvious typo, you have a good point. In a case like this, they have no proof but their own word that it was a mistake (and who believes airlines these days?). In a case like this, I say they pony up the voucher, mistake or not. These kinds of things just cause people to mistrust airlines more and more. If I can’t rely on a promise in writing that has no indication it was a mistake, why should I believe anything they tell me?

  18. Fly On the Wall Scene

    US Airways Executive to his Administrative Assistant:

    Get this traveler on the phone and tell him immediately that we will issue the second voucher and make a nice letter apologizing for our error. Do it quickly… I don’t want this to escalate. Do you realize the cost to us of the bad publicity? I want this guy Chris Elliott off our back… I don’t want this in his syndicated column for millions of people to read. We spend millions in advertising to keep our good name and something like this ruins our reputation… and by the way…. have personnel talk to the jerk who sent the letter in the first place. Don’t stand there looking at me… I mean NOW!

    1. Was your comment written in 1960? I laughed out loud when read your comments. I would love to meet that executive from USAir. They have not had en exec like that since Howard Huzzard was one of the VP’s.

  19. Before I retired and we sold the company any mistake by an employee was the responsibility of the company. So in this sort of case with an employee mistake we would have accepted responsibility and complied with what was written. So, in this case I consider that US Airways should have complied with the letter, whether email or snail mail and provided two vouchers as promised.

  20. If they promised 2 vouchers, in writing, I think they should honor that. They said 2 vouchers and that should be that. Typo? Yeah… no. Your mistake, airline.

  21. Not a typo. First, the e-mail clearly said “two”. Second, in the same sentence, the verb is in the plural form clearly indicating that the number of vouchers US Airways offered is greater than one. A US Airways staffer might have made an incorrect decision, but not a typo. US Airways needs to back up its employees provided they do not make egregious errors.

  22. A typo is not spelling words correctly and in the correct context that someone is trying to convey. A typo would be something like Teo Vouchers, Obe voucher, or any combination of letters accidentally pressed on the keyboard. Typing TWO VOUCHERS is not only a correct spelling, but both are the plural, meaning multiple, and not singular. I could have agreed with the airline had they written two voucher or one vouchers, but in this case it is clear they owe two vouchers.

  23. Most vouchers are never used. US Air would be risking very little to issue the second voucher. It’s chump change for them. I would also say that if they invested in a little bit of technology, they could automate those letters with fielded data that they certainly already have: flight number, date and time; flight status; compensation resolution (i.e., one $600 voucher per pax); number of pax in the party. Then the clerk keys the parameters for the refund, and the letter automatically generates with correct grammar – one person, one $600 voucher, boom no typos unless the clerk types a 2 instead of a 1. This is very much their fault, and since they have no mercy with passengers who make a mistake in the booking, to quote the Scriptures, an eye for an eye.

    1. The Old United used to do that. When I was on a flight with a major delay, I often got an e-mail the next day with a link to select my form of apology. It would be something like 5,000 miles, $300 voucher, 10% off any flight, or 2 Red Carpet Club passes.

  24. The letter offering the vouchers is a contract. Get a date in small claims and they just won’t show up. Seems to me you will get 600 dollars, not another voucher.

  25. 1. It’s obviously not a typo.

    2. It probably was an error.

    3. I’m not sure he’d have a case. It seems clearly not to be a contract. He’d have to argue some kind of promissory estoppel. I’m not sure what he’s done to his detriment that he could use to prove that case.

    4. I do not understand why there should be “special consideration when it comes from someone like Feuer, who is a rabbi.”

    1. In addition to promissory estoppel–which would apply if this was the promise of a mere gift–I was thinking that this might also be an implied accord and satisfaction (that is, instead of delivering the passenger as scheduled in the original contract, the carrier offered to carry him at a later time and also provide two vouchers, which the passenger then accepted).

      1. Where’s the reliance to his detriment for promissory estoppel?

        For accord and satisfaction, wouldn’t he have to have taken some steps to acknowledge satisfaction (i.e., waive any potential claim)?

        1. It would have been more clear if US Airways had stated, “we’ll give you these two vouchers if you agree to drop any claim you might have against us for failing to perform under the transportation contract,” but that agreement may well have been implied, understood, and accepted by both parties (especially if the rabbi had thereafter allowed the limitations period to expire).

          (I think promissory estoppel would have to rely on the rabbit allowing the limitations period to expire, a possibility that I had raised in a different thread. But if the limitations period remains open, then you’re probably right that there has been no reliance.)

  26. I voted no. It’s not a typo, but another kind of mistake. The number of vouchers was meant for the number of passengers affected in his trip, which was one. I think the airline did enough explanation.

  27. US Air offered him 2 vouchers. Common sense tells you that one passenger would receive one voucher, but they offered him two. Perhaps they are thinking of the Minneapolis rabbi who scammed Northwest Airlines for years and screamed when they discovered it and took away his miles, so they are cutting him no slack.

  28. I’m mildly offended by the need to advertise that the OP is a rabbi. Are members of the clergy supposed to get any kind of special treatment for this kind of situation?

  29. I’m going against popular opinion and think US Air is only obligated to provide one voucher. The passenger was only one person, not traveling with a companion. Why would he get two separate vouchers for $600 each as compensation? That just doesn’t make sense. US Air’s letter clearly has a mistake (NOT a “typo” – everything is spelled correctly!) but I still don’t think they need to pony up two vouchers for one person.

    I also don’t see what being a rabbi has to do with any of this. It’s like saying, “I have green eyes, therefore I’m entitled to special treatment.”

  30. The whole discussion about “typo versus error” seems like it is dominating here….little bit silly. The US agent who said typo clearly meant “error” — they misspoke. Airlines give vouchers per person, they don’t give multiple vouchers to one person. In fact, when I skimmed the article initially, I assumed it was a party of two because of the two vouchers. I had to go back and re-read it because that was the only thing that fit. Those of you who are making a big deal about taking the airline to court, letter is a legal contract, etc…..in my opinion, you are part of the “take every possible dime from those evil airlines” crowd and thus, only can see this from the viewpoint of taking as much as possible.

    What everyone has overlooked here (that I could see) is that this was a WEATHER cancellation. It is an unfortunate circumstance, not something like a mechanical cancellation. The airline owed the customer nothing. In fact, they offered the voucher/s seemingly from the first contact. This is far more generous than most customers get in similar circumstances. Then they clarified their error. The customer has already received more than entitled. So while everyone is entitled to their opinion and get out and hire that lawyer, it is also a little greedy on the part of the customer given the circumstances. And no, I don’t work for US.

  31. Absolutely, they said two so they should give two. How stupid not too, after all if they do, who do you think Rabbi Feuer is going to favor for his future trips to Tel Aviv, on the other hand if they don’t, who is he NOT going to favor? Apart from the ethics, it’s good business sense!

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