Delayed by a day, and these flight vouchers aren’t gonna cut it

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By Christopher Elliott

Flight delays happen. But the one experienced by Nigel Goring-Morris and his companion on their flight from Tel Aviv to Honolulu by way of Los Angeles was so long, and the initial compensation so inadequate, that I’m considering getting involved.

Maybe you can help me sort this one out.

Goring-Morris’ entire trip was booked through American Airlines, but his first leg was on American’s codeshare partner, British Airways. The first part of that flight, from Tel Aviv to London, went off without a hitch. But the connection to LA was delayed by 10 hours, and they missed their next connection to Honolulu.

Result: The passengers missed an entire day of their planned vacation. But that’s not all.

Inadequate food vouchers

“The food vouchers provided at both Heathrow and LA were insufficient for proper meals,” says Goring-Morris. “Although we were given an overnight hotel voucher by British Airways at LAX, the hotel was full so we spent the night in the lobby.

I’ve had the same experience with American Airlines vouchers in Honolulu, oddly enough. Fortunately, it’s been years since I had to sleep on a bench at the airport. It’s an experience I’d rather forget.

So there he was, homeless and starving and deprived of a full day of his hard-earned vacation. And how do the airlines respond to his complaint?

Let’s just say he’s not impressed. Neither am I.

Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to providing our employees with a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

American initially offered a one-year travel voucher for $350. It subsequently increased it to $500.

I refused to accept them.

British Airways has yet to answer my complaint, although I have made several subsequent enquiries, reminding them of my rights under the European Union rules.

Goring-Morris wants more meaningful compensation, but he hasn’t told the airlines what, exactly, he wants. The responsibility for this reservation, and any compensation, rests with American Airlines, whose rules are spelled out in its international general rules. Alas, these do not give me much hope. They only promise to cover hotel and meal expenses enroute, but they don’t specify how much or what kind.

Seeking compensation for a nightmare vacation

“Our long-planned and hard-earned vacation in Honolulu was shortened by one day, and more due to exhaustion,” he says. “I hope that you will be able to help us receive fair compensation from either American Airlines or British Airways for what we can only describe as a nightmare trip.”

This trip could have gone better. I don’t see any contract language that would allow him to collect more more for his flight. The vouchers, small as they were, seem to be “goodwill” offers.

But European consumer protections would have applied to his flight from Heathrow to LAX, and I think he could make a persuasive argument that American didn’t follow EU 261. (Here’s what you need to know about the EC 261 and European air travel rights.)

I might recommend that as his next step, or I could jump in and ask American to review this delay problem.

Should I mediate Goring-Morris' case?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Rio de Janeiro.

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