That’s a looong drive home, Ms. Jinings

drive

For Janice Jinings, her upcoming vacation in Australia was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime. But has her airline turned it into an adventure of a lifetime? Or is this her online agency’s fault?

We have a few details on this travel snafu, although this case is still unfolding. This one feels a little bit like jumping on a moving train, to be honest.

Here it goes, anyway: Hawaiian Airlines made a schedule change — (yes, it’s another) another switched itinerary case! — on Jinings’ return from Australia to the States.

That caused her to be rerouted through San Francisco, where she would have had to spend the night, instead of to her home airport, Sacramento. Neither the airline nor her online agency, Orbitz, offered to cover her hotel bill.

“When I realized we would be stranded in San Francisco, I contacted Hawaiian Airlines,” she says.

Hawaiian suggested they drive the rest of the way home, a 102-mile road trip.

“Not acceptable,” she told me.

Finally, she negotiated a slightly better deal. “We would stay overnight in Honolulu and then fly to Sacramento the next day, and then complete a form for a hotel refund,” she says.

At a bare minimum, she says the airline should cover her lodging expenses. “Isn’t Hawaiian Airlines required to reimburse me for the full cost of the hotel?” she asked.

Well, here’s where things get a little complicated.

When an airline changes its schedule and you accept a ticket to an alternate destination (like San Francisco instead of Sacramento) then it usually interprets that as a fulfillment of its contract of carriage.

Is Orbitz, her online travel agency, on the hook for the hotel bill? If it accepted initiated the change on her behalf, or accepted the new routing, then maybe.

I know, I know. Details missing.

But that isn’t about to stop me. Rule 3 of Hawaiian’s domestic contract of carriage is clear on this:

HA will use its best efforts to carry the passenger and baggage with reasonable dispatch. Times shown in timetables or elsewhere are not guaranteed and form no part of this contract.

HA may, without notice, substitute alternate carriers or aircraft, and may alter or omit stopping places shown on the ticket in case of necessity. Schedules are subject to change without notice. HA is not responsible or liable for making connections, or for failing to operate any flight according to schedule, or for changing the schedule of any flight.

And Orbitz? Not really.

So, accepting the layover in Honolulu might have been better, but it’s not clear who authorized that switch. Did Orbitz do it with the blessing of Hawaiian? Did Orbitz do it on its own and will it now reimburse her?

I’ll tell you what’s right, just in case you’re wondering. Jinings was dealing with a travel agent, who should have proactively made sure she had a booking for a hotel in Honolulu. She shouldn’t have had to pay for the stay herself. No need to talk to Hawaiian, because Orbitz, her agent, was taking care of her.

I shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of problem, and neither should Jinings. I can only assume something fell through the cracks.

If she doesn’t get her money back, I will get involved — if not sooner.

Should I take Janice Jinings’ case?

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