Are US Airways’ promises worth anything anymore?

What is an airline’s promise worth? Katherine and Matthew Ostroff would like to know after a recent US Airways flight they took to their honeymoon cruise.

I would, too.

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They were flying from Philadelphia to Rome on US Airways flight 718, where they would catch a cruise that was scheduled to cast off nine hours after their scheduled landing.

“There was a power outage in our terminal at Philadelphia International Airport,” remembers Katherine Ostroff. “Most flights in the same terminal had been moved to other terminals and took off with a slight delay.”

But not theirs. The Rome flight was delayed, and then delayed again.

“After several hours, we realized something else must be wrong,” she adds. “Many passengers, including ourselves, had asked why we had a longer delay, but many US Air representatives would evade the question or remind us of the power outage. As the hours passed we learned we were no longer delayed because of the power outage, but rather for lack of flight crew.”

There are two possible scenarios here: First, the power outage could be a smokescreen for the unavailable flight crew. Or second — and more likely — the flight crew timed out while waiting for the power outage to be resolved, meaning they were not allowed to work because they’d been on the clock too many hours or wouldn’t have enough hours left to complete the flight.

None of this really mattered to the honeymooners. They just wanted to get to their cruise.

But a US Airways representative had some good news:

We then spoke with a US Airways manager on duty that night in Philadelphia. She said US Airways would take care of getting us to our next cruise port destination, which was Santorini, Greece.

She said US Airways would book us a hotel in Santorini. She told us to save all of our receipts for any additional expenses, including transportation and meals, and US Airways would reimburse all of our expenses.

We decided to take the trip and waited several more hours for our flight to leave for Rome.

But when the couple arrived in Rome, things didn’t go as promised.

When we got to Rome, our flight to Athens wasn’t purchased, only reserved, and the same happened when we got to Athens.

In duress, with no means of contacting a US Airways representative, we purchased both the flights, from Rome to Athens and from Athens to Santorini.

In Santorini, there was no hotel booked nor a representative to consult. We were forced again to pay out of pocket for a hotel.

Within the first couple days we had spent nearly $2,000 in flights, food, water, hotels, transportation, and ATM transaction fees when we ran out of cash.

US Airways refunded $93 “to offset hotel and taxi expenses.”

That’s right, $93 — enough to cover a nice dinner in Rome.

“Some representatives said our flights will definitely be reimbursed and more with proper documentation,” she says. “We would provide the documentation and then we would be told that they weren’t responsible for the delays. It was a cycle of promises and then let downs… over and over again.”

I sent the Ostroff’s case to US Airways, hoping that it would at least clarify what the $93 was for. An airline representative got back to me right away and promised to investigate.

That was in early August.

To date, neither of us have heard back from the airline.

Unfortunately, I have no choice but to close this case. I don’t want to. I’d like to get US Airways’ side of this story. I’d like to know why they didn’t reimburse the their other expenses. But mostly, I’d like to know why a supervisor made her a promise that the airline didn’t keep.

It also serves as a warning to the rest of us. When a company promises something, get it in writing. Especially if it’s an airline.

Did US Airways offer Katherine and Matthew Ostroff enough compensation?

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160 thoughts on “Are US Airways’ promises worth anything anymore?

  1. This could have been avoided or mitigated if they followed these 2 points
    Get it in writing.
    Plan to arrive at least 24 hours before critical events.

    1. I have never cruised before and even I would’ve known better than to only leave a “9 hour window” for an international flight and to meet the boat in port. I’d like to know if they tried to schedule this trip themselves, because they sure didn’t have a competent agent.

      1. It is my guess that they were their own travel agents since their travel agent wasn’t mentioned in the article nor provide any assistance to them.

          1. Well not every TA, there are TA’s out there who will just do what you ask them to do, and charge you the fee.

          2. We don’t have a fee and we always tell clients they should never fly in the same day of a cruise. I can usually change their minds when I tell them what can actually happen.

      2. Allowing a larger window before the cruise departure would be excellent advice. Except if the wedding was on a Saturday night (July 27 2013) and the cruise departure on a Monday afternoon (July 29), that wasn’t possible. The alternative would be to take a different honeymoon.

        This is one case where the right insurance policy could have at least defrayed out of pocket additional costs for catching up with the boat at a later port. (Of course you have to read all the fine print and beware of loopholes.)

    2. I agree with your suggestions with a third one…buy travel insurance for certain trips such as your honeymoon; international trips; etc.

      If you can’t get it in writing then record the conversation. I carry a recording device with me and I pull it out and start to record the conversation with the other party’s full knowledge. If they decline the recording then I know that their “offer” was BS and I call them on it.

      1. Actually it does not matter if they record it. Here is what they agreed to when they bought the ticket:
        US Airways Contract of Carriage

        Section 02-03
        Waiver / Modification of Terms
        No employee of US Airways has the authority to waive, modify, or alter any provisions of this Contract of Carriage or any applicable fares/charges unless authorized by a corporate officer of US Airways.
        US Airways-appointed agents and representatives are only authorized to sell tickets for air transportation on US Airways pursuant to the Contract of Carriage and applicable fares/charges of US Airways

        1. Yeah, that is what it reads on the paper. But, in their predicament, they aren’t EXPERTS in this sordid business as you are, and they believed the lying dirtbags at the airlne who promised to help them. I’d love to be on the jury to exercise jury nullification and stick it to UPPER U.S. Airways as they did to these kids.

          1. If they really wanted to help, they could have offered to DIRECTLY reroute them to Athens and Santorini, knowing that they would miss the embarkation in Rome. Why bother send them to Rome and going through this ordeal?

          2. The fare to ATH or JTR is actually cheaper than to ROM.
            If it was impossible to reach FCO in time for the embarkation and the best solution was to catch the cruise on the next port (I assume Santorini). So they could have left the next day on

            1 US 758 PHL-ATH 420P 905A#1
            2 A3 354 ATH-JTR 1015A 1100A

            Of course this was the right thing to do. It would have been INCREDIBLE if USAirways got them these tickets and booked them overnight in PHL. But of course, this happens only in our dreams.

    3. How true, but I don’t think one day is time enough in a case like this. Why not schedule a few days in Rome before the cruise? By the time you leave port, you will be caught up on your time zones and in better shape to sail.

      And let this be a young couple’s first lesson in “not believing anything an airline tells you.”

        1. Yup. They choose to get married, they choose to have a honeymoon that involved flying and a cruise, they choose to get screwed by the airline. 🙂

          1. They didn’t see it as spending, they believed that they would put those tickets on their Bank card, and that they would be reimbursed by the time they had to pay the bill.

          2. Given they didn’t find out they’d have to spend the $2K until they had flown to Europe it’s lucky they did have access to that money and/or credit.

      1. I agree…it makes sense to arrive early to adjust for the time zones…to do some things on your own…in case if there are flight delays especially when flying during high season where it could take a few days to get another flight since capacity is max by the reduction of flights.

        For example, we arrive one to two days early when taking a cruise or tour in North America and three to five days early when taking a cruise or tour in Europe or Asia.

        It seems like the LW was on a budget based upon what the LW wrote “Within the first couple days we had spent nearly $2,000 in flights, food, water, hotels, transportation, and ATM transaction fees when we ran out of cash.”

    4. On the other hand. this article and all the forgoing discussion could have been avoided because there are so many factual details missing (eg. dates, flights, tickets, etc.). Can you really route PHL-FCO-ATH-JTR in one USAirways ticket? You simply cannot have an intelligent discussion without basic facts.

      1. This site is written for the average consumer, not travel agents. If it were, then I would certainly agree with you. Most readers don’t have any idea of what “PHL-FCO-ATH-JTR” means unless they’re in the industry.

          1. Maybe they can, but if they are in a tither because they are being SCROOD by an I-DON’T-CARE airline who promises to help them but really intends to shaft them, then they can’t figure anything out. You are very smart in these things, but the other jerks are not.

        1. Ok, but you could have added the trip dates, full itinerary, etc. It will need a couple of lines max, it won’t bother the average consumer, and it could help the experts to figure out an way to help the LW or suggestions for other readers be able to avoid the same mistakes.

          BTW, sometimes you publish dates, sometimes not…
          Sometimes you publish the full itinerary, sometimes not…
          I’m not an expert, I usually don’t dig (much…), but I’d like to have more information.

      2. Exactly – since US doesn’t even FLY to Greece, don’t know why they would offer to catch them up to the ship — that’s a job for a travel insurer. I don’t think we are getting anywhere near the real story here.

        1. A DIY traveler who is stuck at the airport panicking because they are going to miss their flight has no idea about routing and what can and can’t be done. They rely on the gate agent that makes false promises. It is at the point that you need to whip out your phone and video these agents.

          1. And why I doubt this story — no USAir agent would promise tickets to a destination they neither originally ticketed, nor even have tickets to!

          2. I disagree, an agent will promise anything to get the line moving and placate a passenger. There were a lot of missed, delayed flights I’m sure it was a regular circus in the terminal.

        2. US does fly to Greece (Athens) from Philadelphia. We flew that route on our honeymoon. While they do not fly to Santorini, they have code share partners that do. I have always thought the “get it in writing” suggestion to be impractical, but I do like the idea of recording the offer with a smartphone (though I hope I would remember to do it in the heat of the moment).

          1. But that is exactly the point! Why did they route via Rome if you can fly to ATH direct?

            DLY #US 758 PHLATH- 420P 905A#1 332 DD0
            EFF 14APR DIS 29SEP

            The itinerary would be something like this:
            1 US 758 PHL-ATH 420P 905A+1
            2 A3 354 ATH-JTR 1015A 1100A

            But to go through Rome is highly questionable.

            ADDED: The couple had no intention to fly TO GREECE. The cruise started in Rome. And they missed the boat. That is why they HAD to fly to Greece.

          2. not thru Rome. They would have to use Aegean for the flight to Athens, then to Santorini. NOT something a gate agent would cough up.

        3. Linda, after re-reading this closer (and with coffee) I see the real problem.
          The cruise was from Rome (Civitavecchia) and they missed that so they had to buy a ticket from Rome to Santorini on their own to catch up with the cruise (or get to their return ticket point).
          Why they thought USAirways would pay to get them to Santorini is beyond me.
          This story is so incredulous that I did not understand what they wanted the first time I read it.

          1. Well they believed that US Air was obligated to get them to their cruise, not their destination. Most travelers have similar beliefs.

          2. They were flying to Italy for a cruise, US Air delayed the flight, they missed cruise, US Air is obligated to get them on cruise. In the minds of the traveler its “plane => boat”. They paid US Air to take them to a boat by plane.

            Typical American idiocy and assumptions.

          3. The right travel insurance, sure. Unless this was a package deal or a special policy I don’t see how you’d be able to just buy that kind of policy. You can’t just go to USAir or the cruise company and say ‘I want a policy that does this, write one for me”.

          4. Yeah I realize that, thank you. If you’re a DIY the policy’s your going to have access too from USAir will be standard missed your flight for X reason you get a refund policies, and the cruise line isn’t going to give you an independent policy to cover air transportation that wasn’t part of a package that they didn’t arrange. I don’t think you’d find an independent 3rd party policy for this scenario, and if there was how would a none TA even know where to look.

          5. All great things to know if your an experienced traveler or a TA, but I doubt this couple who were DIY’ing their honeymoon would know or even how to find out. They logged on booked a cruise, and logged on to a different site and booked airfare. Then they discussed the flower arrangement, and who sits next to senile great aunt chatty Cathy.

          6. US Air “obligated” to get them on cruise”? Why? US Air should only get them to Rome? Not responsible for the cruise.

          7. It isn’t idiocy, it’s ignorance of the way the travel providers protect themselves.

            See the story about medical provision by cruise lines today? They are gonna get it up the gumpstump, finally!

          8. good – thought I was just low on coffee! I think the client here is either extremely confused, or not giving us a true story. The airlines wouldn’t be catching them up with the ship for one, and not issuing tickets to destinations THEY don’t fly to for two. SIGH.

          9. Ha ha, no I really meant incredulous. To expect this airline to reroute this couple and pay for their expenses is unbelievable considering what we all know about this airline.

      3. I’m sorry, I must have missed your request for additional detail when you were editing this story. Unfortunately, there’s no time now to re-report the article to satisfy the curiosity of the travel agents commenting on this site.

        1. Unless we expect the discussion to be limited to criticizing what an airport **agent** said or did not say then sure let’s forget all the flight details, fares, and how these tickets were sold.
          But to anyone who really wants to understand how to be the World’s Smartest Traveler, I suggest you strive to understand why blow ups like these happen.
          I dunno about all of you, but to my trained eye, their possible routing PHL-US-FCO-A3-ATH-A3-JTR looks highly suspect.

          1. You make a good point @Christopher Elliott, while this sites audience is the consumer level traveler, it greatly helps to understand the professional approach to the articles/cases it presents.

          2. Isn’t that what the story is about. A promise made, but not kept? The route isn’t relevant really. The question is whether you can or you cannot not rely upon a promise given to you by someone representing the company at the airport?

          3. No that’s pure nonsense. After you read the story again and again, you will realize that they were expecting USAir to pay for their flight from Rome to Santorini because they missed the cruise embarkation in Rome. No idiot working for an airline will make such promises. The segment ROM-ATH-JTR is not even on the USAirways ticket!

          4. Name calling..great.

            Actually, I didn’t mention if anything was right or wrong, but that the point of the story isn’t routes, and why did they take this vs. that. It’s about the interaction at the airport, and the resulting expectations.

    5. Agreed about 24hours+ or at least have several backup flight options.
      Travel insurance would have helped with the extra costs as well. Buying the flight and cruise with a premium credit card would cover this type of situation.

  2. Aren’t they entitled to compensation under EC 261? At least under Article 9 (hotel, meals, and local transportation) if not Article 7 delay compensation (600 EUR per passenger)? Have they filed a claim?

    I’m assuming this occurred on July 28, 2013. There was indeed a power outage caused by flooding that evening and Flight 718 was 9 1/2 hours late. Certainly US Airways will invoke “extraordinary circumstances” outside their control, and a power outage would almost certainly qualify. But it may not be a slam dunk: browsing flightstats.Com, most other flights that evening were delayed around 3 hours or less, even from Terminal A. A few flights were delayed as much as 6 to 6 1/2 hours, and many domestic flights were cancelled. Among international flights, the delay of this flight to Rome was an outlier by a significant margin.

      1. Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council

        Article 3


        1. This Regulation shall apply:

        (a) to passengers departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies;

        (b) to passengers departing from an airport located in a third country to an airport situated in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies, unless they received benefits or compensation and were given assistance in that third country, if the operating air carrier of the flight concerned is a Community carrier.

        On reflection, the problem may be that Article 9 compensation ends once they arrive at the “final” destination on their air itinerary (Rome).

        I wonder if the manager at PHL mistakenly believed that EC 261 applied to the cruise connection and advised the passengers accordingly.

        1. EC261/2004 doesn’t apply in this scenario as the flight would need to have been (1) departing the EU or (2) both travelling to the EU and on an EU airline.

          1. My assumption, possibly incorrect, was that carriers flying to Europe need a valid operating license from the EU, just like foreign carriers flying to the US need safety authorization (licensing) from the FAA/DOT.

            If not, wouldn’t that give carriers based outside the EU an unfair cost advantage on routes where they compete with EU carriers?

            “Community carrier” means an air carrier with a valid operating licence granted by a Member State in accordance with the provisions of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2407/92 of 23 July 1992 on licensing of air carriers

          2. Michael, take a look at United’s website.
            They state clearly that EU261 only applies to their flights DEPARTING from Europe.
            united. com/web/en-US/content/travel/destination/international/eudenied. aspx

    1. Katherine and Matthew Ostroff would like to know after a recent US Airways flight they took to their honeymoon cruise.

      Is July 2013 recent?

  3. Same old story. Don’t book a flight to arrive too close to when the cruise leaves because that causes trouble. Get flight insurance. Use a travel agent if you don’t know what you are doing.
    I fail to see why this is US Airways’ fault to any significant degree…although no one should promise what they won’t or can’t deliver.

    1. It amazes me that we live in a digital world full of YouTubes and etc but none of the LWs in these cases ever record the “promises”.

      Given the stress and anxiety of the LW in this situation, they could clearly misunderstood the verbal offer that was given to them…the manager could have been telling them what to do to get to the next port of their cruise since it seems like their travel agent (if they had one) was worthless or they were DIY travel agent. Or maybe not…the manager could have said that to get rid of the LW in PHL.

      Based upon my experiences in business and personal, people only want to hear what they want to hear. Without something in writing or a recording or collaboration from another passenger on the same flight, I must say that the offer didn’t exist.

      Here are the learning experiences from this case:

      1. Get promises in writing. If you can’t get it in writing then ask why and call them on it in a polite way. You can record the conversation but given the amount of the transaction or the delivery of the productservice…a verbal offer could not be legally binding.
      2. Deal with a travel agent…yes, anyone can buy tickets online by themselves and we read about those cases on this blog all of the time. A competent brick & mortar travel agent would have told the LW of the risks of a 9-hr window.
      3. Purchase a travel insurance policy for those special trips and international trips…it is a cost of traveling…it is no difference in having car insurance or homeowner insurance…it is a cost of owning a car or house.
      4. Arrive at least one day to two days earlier for tours and cruises. It could take two days to get another flight to Europe during the high season especially given the lower capacity in the industry. A LW could say that “we don’t have the money for an extra day or two”…I think that you shouldn’t be traveling to location where you are hoping that everything will go well.

      1. You have to be kind of sneaky when recording individuals in those situations, many employees are trained to go silent when someone produces a recording device and refer them to someone else. Especially at times such as this where there is no benefit to promise anything, and the strategy is that the majority of those promises are not going to be fulfilled.

        1. And depending on the state your in that recording is either great or legally useless.

          It’s great to shame a company anytime, but legally it might not be worth anything.

          1. No matter where I am, I have someone in the Commonwealth initiate the call to ME and to the scumb… err… victim, er….. mark… errr.. OTHER PARTY. Since the call originates in the Commonwealth, it’s a one-party notification. The person who initiates the call notifies himself that he’s recording it. Problem solved as to the legality. Even if the person called is in some crap-hole such as The Peoples Soviet Socialist Democratic Respublik of Merryland, it won’t matter because it’s the origination of the call which is operative in assessing legality of recording.

          2. Which doesn’t even apply in this case as we’re referring to a live conversation among parties in person, not a phone call.

          3. Fine, but it could be useful if you are in some place such as the Peoples Republic. Call someone in the Commonwealth, and let them record the festivities…..

  4. The reason US airways never got back to you was because a supervisor made promises he wasn’t authorized too, and the airline wasn’t going to keep. You need to get those things in writing and at least have tickets issued there on the spot, not thousands of miles away. Airlines and MANY travel operators often just want to get rid of a whining and unhappy traveler and promise them whatever it takes to get the line moving and to shut them up. Promises are cheap, they cost nothing.

    What really should have happened is these DIY’s should have used a proper travel agent, and if not should have planed their schedule to allow a full day (24 hours) for making these types of trips where you really have to be their or quite literally the boat will leave without you. A real TA could have gotten them on another flight or routing to get them their in time for their cruise.

    1. I think that is ONE possible reason.. but to be fair, there is no proof of that.. it is just a hypothesis which “fits” the facts that we know to this point.

      There could be other possibilities that we are not privy to that could also be possibilities.. Lost correspondence, etc.. I don’t know.. I’m not defending the carrier here.. Only to say that based only on what’s presented here, I find it a stretch at best, to then make the assertion that the carriers no-reply was a direct result of their refusal to honor the alleged deal.

      To me, the larger “sin” here is the carrier act of not replying.. At lease then we’d have their “side” to the story… and their side may or may not be the same as the LW.. Like the LW, it may be less than wholly factual, or something in between.. but at least we’d have something to go on.

      but even with that, I can’t agree that a no-reply is the same as or should be seen as an admission of fault or guilt.

      I’d expect they reply, *even if* that is to say essentially “we have no record of this interaction” or similar.. at least that gives you some basis to formulate wat your reply might or might not be.

      1. This is Chris were talking here, he has a “red phone” and a bat signal. Chris doesn’t get “forgotten” he gets immediate if not sooner attention, or he’s being ignored deliberately and with for-thought.

        Who do you think you are dealing with? This is the big C.E., this is how the system works:

        *(Chris’s Wife)

        When God has a problem with travel he calls Chris, when he wanted to know how birds should fly south, he consulted Chris, when the wind blows, it checks with Chris to see if that’s okay. All under the assumption that it’s okay with Mrs. C, for Chris to play.

        What’s the upside of giving their side it’s one of three things:

        1) Our supervisor on the ground made a huge error, we’re not paying.
        2) The LW’s are liars, we promised nothing, prove we did.
        3) How much will it take to make this go away?

        None of those are good options.

  5. When we got to Rome, our flight to Athens wasn’t purchased, only reserved, and the same happened when we got to Athens.
    In duress, with no means of contacting a US Airways representative, we purchased both the flights, from Rome to Athens and from Athens to Santorini.

    What, no tickets? How come? There must be a blackout in someone’s brains (and not just in PHL airport).

    1. same with the hotel. they claim US made all the hotel arrangements, but they say there was no hotel booked. were they given a hotel name? a confirmation number? a booking locator? or did they expect someone to meet them at the plane with all this info? i just don’t get it.

  6. Travel insurance for one of the most important trips they would take as a couple would certainly have helped. Getting the details of what US Airways would do in writing was important. Asking for copies of the tickets before the plane departed for Rome would have been really smart. And leaving a day before would have been the best decision–as flight delays are common.
    Without any written paperwork from US Airways this comes down to a they said/we said situation. Maybe US Airways said they would make a reservation for them for onward flights or maybe they promised tickets. Maybe the airline said it would reimburse all expenses and maybe the airline said to send in the receipts and they would consider reimbursement.
    I think US Airways should have done more but with nothing to back up what the LW is saying this is simply another case that cannot be solved. Maybe US Airways said all of this and maybe this is simply what the LW wanted to hear.

    1. I had this exact same thing happen to me in 2009. We were flying from DFW to Rome to catch a cruise. Due to weather we were held in Dallas for 8 hours and missed our connecting flight from Chicago to Rome.
      Because of this we missed our cruise leaving from Rome. The next port was Santorini.
      We had travel insurance. They advised us to fly into Rome as ticketed then book new flights to Athens, then to Santorini with an overnight at the hotel in the Athens airport.
      We did as instructed and the insurance company covered all extra expenses.
      We arrived in Santorini at 7 AM and had the town to ourselves for several hours before the first cruise ship showed up. A marvelous bonus.
      Now we schedule our travel to arrive at the departure city the day before the ship leaves. We still take insurance on each trip also.

      1. Wait a minute, now. Are you saying that these folks could have been on a similar cruise STARTING FROM CIVITAVECCHIA, and missed it so they flew to Santorini to meet up with the rest of the cruise?

        Added: Yeah you are right! Thanks.

        1. That’s how I read their story. Our adventure turned out to be an advantage. We had the expenses covered by insurance and had a night in Athens, albeit at the airport, and a whole morning in Santorini with almost no other cruise traffic, which we enjoyed. Even walked the rim of the crater that forms the lagoon where the ships anchor.

  7. We never have such a tight window before a cruise or next leg that isn’t associated with the original airline–we always arrive at LEAST ONE DAY EARLY to give a cushion because shiz happens.

  8. In my opinion you are all off base. Assuming (BIG IF) everything they said is factual, then U.S. Air is at fault, no one else.
    The fact that won’t return with a response is indicative of the real problem – U.S. AIR!
    It seems to me this company has a ton of complaints against it. Their are many naïve clients out there & instead of blaming them, I blame U.S. Air.
    I would never book with them based on this & many other tales of woe.

    1. Except that when an airline ACTUALLY re-routes you, they give you TICKETS! They waited till they got to Rome? And THEN into Athens? Smells fishy on the LW’s part.

      1. I believe them, I just imagine the gate agent told them whatever would make them go away, promises are cheap when you don’t have to follow through.

      2. A rep of the airlines wanting to get rid of them & promising them tickets would be there, BUT NOT PAID FOR (not telling them that part)? Oh that would never happen to 2 young inexperienced travellers. I say again U.S. Air never for me!!! Too many complaints.
        All you smug, experienced travellers! Blame the unwitting, instead of the airline.

  9. ALWAYS arrive for a cruise the day BEFORE… If it is international or more than one flight to get there, then I would be make it two days. Just to be safe!

  10. I would never leave a 9-hour window in regard to an international flight. I know this may not be what people want to hear – if you are going to meet a cruise, I would arrive at least a day or even two at the city where the ship will depart. Yes, it is more money and expense, but what price do you put on a stress free trip?

  11. Why in the world people do not understand they should fly in a day or two before a cruise to avoid these scenarios? They could have paid for 2 nights in Rome instead of $2000 in expenses that US Air didn’t cover.

    It is getting to the point you need to pull out your cell phone and video the employees as proof of their false promises.

  12. This is a tough life (travel) lesson I hope this couple has learned. We’ve been on cruises that departed out of the U.S. and overseas and always have gone days or a day before departure. If they booked a cruise directly with the cruise line and opted to use their air services (i.e. RCI and Cruise Air), they may have had more options if a flight was delayed. Rome’s seaport (Civitavecchia) is also a good 30-45 minutes away from the airport. Without any proof of who said what, it is next to impossible to argue a case like this one. US Air’s main fault in this instance is not getting back to Chris when he made the inquiry or even presenting their side of the story (if there is one).

  13. Let’s see. They were going to miss their honeymoon cruise due to a cancelled flight. They get to the next port of call and the honeymoon is saved, mostly. They are out $2000 for “flights, food, water, hotels, transportation, and ATM transaction fees.”

    How did this happen? They are at the airline desk and the airline person says they can get a flight the next day, here’s a voucher worth $93 for hotel and meals until tomorrow. Tears. Airline person clicks the computer. “Good news! I got you onto flights to Santorini. You will need a hotel there for one day, then you are back on your cruise.” Realizing they are youngsters on a honeymoon, the airline person reminds then to keep receipts, assuming they will have to collect on their trip insurance. Pats self on back, goes on to help the next passenger.

    The honeymooners get to their cruise, paying $2000 in costs. Although they miss 2 days on ship, they get an extra day on Santorini. Now they want their money for “flights, food, water, hotels, transportation, and ATM transaction fees.” No flight insurance? Ask the airline. Oops. No go.

    One thing strikes me as inconsistent. Anyone as detail-oriented as to keep records of water and ATM fees is not a clueless newby. Insurance for a honeymoon cruise would not escape the eye of such a person. So a decision was made not to spend, say, $500 to insure a $10,000 honeymoon (I’m making up the numbers), betting that nothing would happen, and the bet lost. Tough. Or, even worse, they DID have insurance and the keeper of every little receipt was trying to double dip. Double tough.

    But I’m not as cynical as others on this blog. So I figure that in the chaos of a wedding, nobody planned, and a life lesson was learned for the low, low price of only $2000.

    Case closed.

  14. I have experiences cruising in Europe so here goes:
    Why didn’t the person who booked the trip purchase trip insurance? To book a trip, no less a honeymoon without trip insurance is sheer madness.
    Hindsight is always 20-20, but come on. Trip insurance for them would have been so inexpensive, as to make it a no-brainer.

    1. They were a budget couple, and they probably didn’t book this as a sea and air package. They booked the cruise and then booked separate airfare. The insurance options they were likely presented with were no different then the insurance presented to every traveler booking an online fare. The cruise insurance would have likely only covered them in case of a medical emergency barring travel. They probably didn’t know how or even have it occur to them that insurance covering delayed air travel would be available, or how they would go about getting it even if it did occur to them.

      1. As the saying goes, ‘Without a Travel Agent, you are on your own”. There are just so many more issues these days due to DIY’ers.

        1. It’s more inexperience then anything. Travel “looks” easy enough that everyone thinks they can do it, and really most travel (air, hotel) doesn’t need a TA. A honeymoon is just one of those events you should go with a pro.

  15. I’ve cruised twice in Europe on river cruises and book my flight through the river cruise travel agent and I buy travel insurance. On one flight we had a medical emergency that delayed us several hours. Quite a few people for the cruise was on the flight. The cruise waited for us. Maybe if the LW had booked the flight through the cruise line, the cruise line would have helped with compensation. P.S. Booking through the cruise line, they book your flight to arrive the same day the ship is leaving.

          1. Packaged airfare is usually less expensive when I look at it.

            But, the departure times, routing, and choice of airline are usually not to my liking so I book airfare separately.

            Maybe the couple used miles to pay for the airfare which the cruise line would not let you do so they booked it separately.

          2. Maybe the airfare OR the cruise were wedding gifts.

            I’ve only cruised a few times, one was a booze cruise, one was sailing (Wind Jammer) cruise, the most recent was a Disney cruise (and that was a booze cruise for me at least), but in all three the packaged airfare was about twice what the going rate was for cheapest ticket prices.

  16. Who did they speak to at USAir and did they get anyting in writing. The agent can place any information into the PNR and the refund department can retrieve that information forever. PROOF, there is no PROOF. Where is the paper trail? Why did you try to book this yourself? So many questions, so sad of a situation, so sad that you have nobody to blame but yourselves. Nothing has changed in 35+ years of having been behind the airline counter, tell them anything to make them leave! I never believed in that credo, so I quit, but promises are non enforcable without a paper trail.

  17. When purchasing a cruise, no matter where it leaves from, unless you buy air from the cruise company with it, they ALWAYS tell you get there 24 hours before. 9 hour window wouldn’t have worked in the States if leaving from the States! So then add the fact that you’re going to a foreign country. They gambled, their loss–as for the agent saying save receipts, if not in writing, it didn’t happen!

  18. I have a suggestion here that can minimize travel/cruising issues. We see too many of these problems around here.

    First – this can actually be a complicated travel planning problem. Use a cruising expert like our own @Lindabator:disqus The more expensive your cruise, the more expertise you will need.

    Two – either buy a package (cruise, air, hotel, transfers, insurance) from a good agency; or all from the cruise line itself. Yes I know you are cursing me because you don’t trust the cruise line’s travel protection plan. Well if you don’t, then buy the whole package from a good cruise agency. And, here’s why — there are so many moving parts to your whole vacation that it is so easy to overlook something. Most times the package will cost cheaper from a good agency than if you DIY each part.

    Finally, if you really want to DIY a complex (international) cruise, then be prepared to waive your money goodbye if something wrong happens. Coming here to recoup some of your expenses would not work. You need to PREVENT them from happening in the first place. The least you can do is buy the correct travel insurance.

      1. It’s a knowledge thing. Either they read forums and learn or hire a pro.
        Wonder how much more their trip and cruise would have cost if they simply used a pro.

          1. Yeah more or less, because with cruises, I doubt DIY is cheaper.
            I don’t follow cruise fares so I would not know the comparison data.

  19. Not sure what could have been done differently at the airport, but there was a reservation for flights, meaning that the airline fulfilled their promise partially. I don’t think getting their promise in wiring or recording is realistic, but maybe they could’ve asked for a printout of that reservation or at least obtained a reservation number. Then they could have checked the reservation online while waiting for the flight to Rome. The same applies to the hotel. The agent should give them the name of the hotel, so the couple could’ve called the hotel ahead to confirm the payment.
    Another thing might have been done is to change the flight next day, preferably directly to Athens. If the agent was showing willingness for compensation, then it might have been easy to talk her into waiving the penalty and the fare difference. Also, they could’ve asked for hotel and meal vouchers for the night in Philadelphia. Getting something redeemable on the spot is better than getting promises in a far away place.

  20. I’m not sure if they offered enough compensation or not, probably not, but I just don’t buy that this happened:

    “She said US Airways would book us a hotel in Santorini. She told us to save all of our receipts for any additional expenses, including transportation and meals, and US Airways would reimburse all of our expenses.”

  21. My guess is that the supervisor at PHL wanted to help but didn’t want to get in trouble for it. They got new itinerary to Santorini but tickets were not pushed to the operating airline. Similar happened to me several years ago but it ended up to be okay because I made a few extra phone calls to a reservations. Two years ago during peak Christmas travel Delta’s revenue management made a huge boo-boo, most flights were overbooked by 10 or more people and not many wanted to give up their seat because Delta would not re-book until Christmas night or day after Christmas. Everything was sold out for days. They were giving $1500 checks (not vouchers) to people who were denied boarding. So I found a nice supervisor who found a flight for me next day. But the class of service and routing was against company policies. After he finished punching keyboard on his computer he gave me a paper and said here is your itinerary for tomorrow, come to the airport a little bit early because you need your ticket to be re-issued. I asked why can’t you reissue it now ? on which he replied that he is already helping me and doesn’t want to get in trouble. Instead of taking a chance and coming to the airport early I called reservations. After talking to a whole bunch of people someone finally agreed to re-issue my ticket.

    1. Don’t fly any US-based airlines to Europe or Asia. I think that the product and services on some of the European-based airlines and the Asia-based airlines are far superior than the US-based airlines. Granted, some US-based airlines have made gains recently but they are still 10 years behind their competitors.

      I can always remember Ned from Consumer Traveler (the former sister site of this blog) ‘arguing’ with me that the 135 degree seats on US Airways planes along with it limited (i.e. less than 10 channels) in-flight entertainment system is the same as lie-flat seats and 50+ channels IFEs on the European-based and Asian-based airlines.

      I can’t recall an US-based airline being in the Top Ten for international first class or business class categories. The top airlines are Asian-based, Middle East-based and European-based airlines.

      1. The Asian airlines that are great are almost always cheaper than these lousy American airlines. Although, I still miss the old Northwest Airlines.

      2. I will and do fly UA when ever possible. So far, they have been the best internationally to Europe for us. I wasn’t that pleased with LH or LX in Biz class. I didn’t like BA is coach, but did like them in Biz class.

          1. Will do. The worst FA’s I have encountered was in FC to Latin America with AA. Our flight home on UA in FC from LHR was fabulous and the FA’s were wonderful.

          2. They’re not all bad on Unexcused Absence. I met a nice Japan lady whose Ænglish was so perfect I didn’t catch that she wasn’t from California – a Tokyo lady who had never set foot in the Golden State. This was years ago, and I’m still impressed with her command of Ænglish.

            I just don’t like the pit vipers. Unfortunately, there’re some of ’em on Untied long-haul, or, there WERE the last time I went on one of their a/c a long time ago. I have never seen a nasty one on my fav Asian airline.

        1. I found AC to be better than UA going to Europe in Biz class — a lot lower price, a lot more comfortable seats, and exceptionally friendly FAs. And AC actually serves real food (more than cheese and crackers) in their international lounges. Of course this means a stop in Canada, but for me it is worth it.

          1. Nonstop is always a better way to fly, but each has to decide on what is important. From the west coast, we don’t have a lot of nonstop airlift as the east coast does. I prefer flying as close to my destination before connecting.

          2. I agree on the non stop. That’s why I fly LH or BA from DEN into Europe. Then it is just a short hop to whichever European city I am visiting. And it allows options such as trains when there is a problem with air travel

            However, the price differential between AC and either UA of LH out of Denver is several thousands of dollars for Biz whenever I want to go lately. So the short stop in Canada works. 🙂

          3. Oh I sell a lot of AC, as their pricing is good, even through our consolidators. I just prefer, for my travels, getting as close to my destination as possible, so if there is an issue, I can use other transportation to get there if needed.

    2. From PHL, US has nonstop flights. From SFO to FCO on US, there have been very low fares. I am not a US fan. They dropped a lot of onboard services before the other carriers and I have steered clients away from them. However, since the other domestic carriers have followed suit, it doesn’t matter as much.

  22. Here we have a well-known tale of travelers who make some unfortunate assumptions/omissions when planning their trip. Something unexpected happens and they miss their flight. An airline representative allegedly tells them not to worry, everything will be taken care of. It isn’t. They write to Chris. Even assuming the facts are true the airline generally has the upper hand (see further discussion) and there isn’t much Chris can do.

    As the comments suggest, many people don’t do things we experienced (and perhaps better off financially) travelers would have done to avoid this. So on a factual level, they probably could have avoided either missing the start of the cruise or the extra expenses.

    But does it really matter in terms of consumer advocacy? To me the story is whether the airline representative lied to these consumers and if this is a standard practice. I think we’ve seen enough of this to suspect that all of these customers aren’t lying about what was said to them all of the time. Who cares if it was recorded or they got it in writing – that is another way to blame the consumer and all the airline has to do is disavow their representative anyway. Because of the adhesion contract that is laughingly called an airline ticket, the airlines have the superior legal position in most cases even when it truly is their fault. Where there is no accountability to customers because the “contract” says there isn’t, employees have no reason not to lie (or over promise if we want to be charitable) if it will resolve a tense situation at the time it occurs. And they might even get in trouble if they help a customer against policy and it costs the airline money.

    I think the question here should have been “Do airlines encourage or tolerate lying to customers because they hold the upper hand in the consumer transaction?” In my opinion the answer to that is a resounding “yes.” I see no solution for the average consumer until they wake up and realize how one-sided their interaction with an airline truly is. Then everyone can make truly informed decisions about personal financial risk while assuming that something is going to go wrong and it may cost them.

    Sadly this environment most impacts people who can least afford the financial loss or expense. Telling them to just stay home if they can’t afford the risk may be practical – but it is not compassionate and does nothing to hold anyone accountable for dishonesty or over-promising when it occurs.

  23. I do a lot of cruise bookings and always strongly recommend that clients buy trip insurance. Further, when traveling to Europe (Asia, Australia, etc), I always arrive a day ahead of the cruise; anything less, is against the odds. Cruise line flights are not necessarily less expensive; however, there are advantages. Booking one’s own cruise/flight isn’t difficult, but the pitfalls can be numerous. Bottom-line: know what you’re doing or hire an expert. The travel industry does very well to protect itself. Woe to those who fall into the web of (big-time) DIY planning. Remember, when you DIY, you have little to no recourse; the blame-game stops at the mirror.

  24. Another sad story about people who don’t know what they’re doing. Can you say “Get a Travel Agent” REALLY loudly? A GOOD travel agent … one with references who will take good care of you.

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