Missed my uncle’s funeral – how about a refund, American?

Markus Mainka / Shutterstock.com

If Bonnie Kaster didn’t know that an airline’s published schedule is meaningless, she does now.

She learned it under difficult circumstances: Her uncle in DeRidder, La., passed away, and she needed to get from Minneapolis to DeRidder just after Christmas. The most direct way was a flight to Beaumont, Texas, on American Airlines via Dallas.

Kaster and her sister arrived at DFW on time. But you can probably guess what happened next (after all, she was connecting to a crop duster).

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“After about 30 minutes, we started hearing chatter about there being a delay in our flight,” she says.

Then the gate changed. Finally, her flight was canceled.

Why? No one knew.

“When I asked, they would just say that they didn’t have that information,” says Kaster.

The American agents at DFW didn’t offer to find her another way to get to the funeral. American did, however, offer her a hotel, meal vouchers and a new flight at 6:30 a.m. — still plenty of time to make it to the funeral.

But the morning flight was delayed and then delayed again, and didn’t depart until 11 a.m.

“We arrived at the funeral just as the funeral procession was leaving the church heading to the cemetery for graveside burial,” she says. “Needless to say, this wasn’t the end result we were working toward.”

Kaster thinks American should be held liable for its failure to get her to the church on time.

She wants the airline to refund her tickets, plus cover the $392 she had to pay for a rental car. (She’d originally arranged a ride to the service from a family member, but that person had to be at the funeral, which was now in progress.)

She wrote to American. Here’s how it responded:

I am truly sorry for your loss. I know that words alone cannot express our sympathy or the sadness you must feel.

We are also sorry to hear of the inconvenience you encountered during your recent trip. From your description of what happened it certainly sounds as if the entire experience was frustrating. We apologize for not providing the level of service you expected and deserved.

We wish we had it in our power to guarantee that planes would always arrive on time and that delays and cancellations just wouldn’t happen. Unhappily, we don’t — but what we can and should do is make every attempt to minimize the inconvenience for our customers whenever we do encounter operational problems. We are disappointed that we didn’t do a better job of making the situation a little less trying.

While airline schedules are never guaranteed and we don’t assume the cost of ground transportation cost [sic], I am sorry to disappoint you by declining your request for a refund of your used nonrefundable tickets.

American offered her a $150 certificate by way of an apology. But Kaster thinks it can do better, and wants me to help.

Under its own conditions of carriage, doesn’t the airline offer a refund when a flight is canceled? Kaster pointed to another airline advice website, in which it suggests she should be entitled to a complete refund. (No need to name names; I try not to give bad advice good SEO).

The way I read it, American is responsible for a refund of only the unused portion of a ticket when a flight is canceled and it fails to get you to your destination. Also, unbelievably, it isn’t responsible for keeping its schedule, so you can’t make a claim if your flight is late or canceled. Quite the adhesion contract you have there, American!

What bothers me the most about a story like this is that if the roles were reversed, an airline like American might not be as sympathetic. If Kaster couldn’t make it to the airport in Minneapolis because of a blizzard, would American have put her on the next flight without charging her? It probably would have branded her a “no show” and charged her for a new ticket, forcing her to pay a pricey walk-up fare.

If she had to change her plans because of an emergency, American would have charged her a $200 change fee, which it says covers the missed opportunity cost of selling an airline seat. Yet it won’t pay when she missed the opportunity to get a ride from the airport with a relative and had to rent a car.

I know that American is technically correct, and I know that it didn’t even have to give her a $150 voucher. But you don’t have to be a consumer advocate to know that something is still not right.

Should I mediate Bonnie Kaster's case?

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271 thoughts on “Missed my uncle’s funeral – how about a refund, American?

  1. it depends- what do you think you can get for the OP?

    she got to her destination.

    she missed the EVENT for got to the DESTINATION.

    so if airlines start to compensate people for EVENTS how many people would claim-
    “I had tickets to a Broadway show!” or
    “I had reservations at a restaurant with a 6 month wait!”

    try to get the OP something if you think you can- but she is not entitled to much since she made it to the destination on her ticket.

      1. A Broadway show could be a once in a lifetime experience. Maybe you’re meeting your aging parents there, maybe it’s a one-time show, maybe your friend is debuting in it, etc…..

    1. I completely agree with you polexia, and posted the same.

      Plus, what’s to stop every delayed passenger from claiming that they are late to a funeral, cruise, 80th birthday celebration, etc???

      Shit happens. Make your arrangements as far in advance as possible, with as little room for error as possible. Although you can’t plan in advance for a funeral, there are other things you can do to make sure you get there in plenty of time.

      1. it was like 2 days of delay… unless she has a psychic friends network app that will text her when someone’s going to die i dont see how she could have ”planned” any further in advance. she bought the ticket to get her to a destination AT A SPECIFIC time if they cant get her there on time or even within 5 hrs of that time (which i deem the most reasonable for travel Issues that may arise) they need to look into their business and figure out WHY.AND they should drop their $200 charge for changes unless they give $200 vouchers PER change of flight

        1. 2 days of delays? She was on the last flight out the night before the funeral, and based on the fact that her flight left at at 11am, and it’s a 1 hour flight, and she got to the church after the service, then most likely the service started by 1pm. She was delayed less than 24 hours. Her delay still stinks, and I feel badly for her, but lets call it what is is.

        1. Welcome to the internet. People may use words that you don’t like. Unfortunately for you, the internet is not here to satisfy your every whim. Shit happens.

    2. it was a series of cancelations and delays. under your “logic” people should make sure to give themselves 3 days to go to an “event”

      1. Series of cancellations? I thoguth there was only 1. I feel badly for the OP, but she should have tried to take something sooner than the last flight out the night before the funeral, or when it did get canceled, driven from DFW.

      2. I actually did something like that for my parent’s 60th wedding anniversary.
        I think I arrived at least 3 days prior.

        1. Yes, but you knew the event was coming up – for 60 years before it happened!

          If you would have been late for an event known that far in advance, then you didn’t plan well. Something requiring last minute travel doesn’t give you that window of planning time.

          1. I would still take the earlier flight.
            FYI, if it was a parent, child, spouse, sibling that died, I will most probably fly immediately.
            Uncle, probably not. But that’s me only.
            However, I would not be making irrational demands from the airline.
            This is what this piece is all about.

          2. I’m going to call all my relatives and find out which ones are planning on dying in the next six months. That should solve everything.

          3. Cybrsk8r, I actually had a uncle and an aunt that died fairly recently and a cousin a few years ago. I was close to all three of them.
            The lived half way across the World. My uncle and aunt were old and sick and I suspected they were not gonna last long. So here’s what I did – I went to visit them while we still could have happy moments together. We had feasts and enjoyed each others company.
            They did die after a few months of my visit. Same thing happened with my cousin, I did visit him when he was fine, after I left he was diagnosed with a very bad case of cancer.
            OK so here is my point – I wanted to have memories of my loved ones while they were STILL ALIVE and happy. Those are the memories that stuck with me. I did not go to their funerals. But I came BACK after it. I visited each of their graves (well crypts to be exact) and paid my respects. I still remember the happy moments we had before they died. This was my personal choice and I was NOT needed to bury them. Of course, if my own folks pass away, I certainly hope to be there. But then again, I am actually taking early retirement so I can see my them more often. They are both cancer survivors and have been given a longer lease by their creators. Life’s short, enjoy it.

  2. I think that the thing that would get on my nerves the most is that they couldn’t give me a reason as to why the flight was canceled. Unless it’s an “act of God,” aren’t they supposed to try to get them out on another flight, another carrier or by a different mode of transportation?

    1. They did – when you take the last flight of the day, they put you on the next one in the morning. And this was over Christmas, which was a major headache due to weather at most airports. She is being unreasonable here.

  3. As far as I know, no carrier guarantees timeliness, and everything involves risk. Yes, the traveler here could have boarded the Greyhound Bus that evening in Dallas, at 10:35 p.m., and after a transfer in Houston, arrive in Vidor (near Beaumont) the next morning at 6:05 a.m. But then Greyhound Lines could also mess up! One might offer incentive–a large tip–to a taxi driver to ensure timeliness, but tips generally do not work on public transportation. What would be interesting is to find out the reason for the flight disruption. Was it for something unforeseen, such as mechanical reasons? Or was it for economical reasons (i.e., the carrier did not have enough passengers to make a profit)? The latter reason would be truly disgusting, and in such cases the carrier should be held liable.

    1. This was a Christmas Eve flight — NO FLIGHTS went out empty – and due to the weather, there were a lot of problems at that time anyway.

  4. I’m curious, how did she justify $392 for a rental car? That is one expensive afternoon rental. My guess is she rented the car for a few days and in her anger, wants refunded for everything.

    I’m also wondering, how late in the day was her flight canceled? I usually try to fly in the morning, because if an evening flight is delayed or canceled, there’s a greater chance of getting stuck overnight. If it was a morning flight that delayed her an entire day, then I’d say she deserves more compensation. Otherwise, I feel like paying for the hotel plus food plus $150 voucher was enough.

    1. $392 could be the walk up rate for the rental car. There is a big difference between reserved prices ahead of time Vs going to the counter.
      I also suspect that she was just trying to get a flight home. If it was on Christmas eve it is highly possible that all the earlier flights were booked solid. When someone dies you try to find the best flight available. Usually that is a very limited selection unless you are willing to put out money for a business or first class ticket.

      1. Also remember this is during the holidays. She needed to get there on Christmas Eve. (It isn’t exactly clear if this is the day of the flight or the day of the funeral.) Either way, I think it is not unexpected to find very few available rentals on December 24 or December 25.

    1. It’s a business. It’s not supposed to go both ways. If you made a hair appointment and you didn’t show up at the last moment, wouldn’t you expect the hair stylist to be mad? Many even require partial or full payment for their loss of time/money. But if she can’t make it, you wouldn’t ask her for reimbursement for your time.

      1. Perhaps you wouldn’t ask the stylist directly, but wouldn’t you ask if someone else was available since you’re there anyway? Your time would remain intact and the stylist loses out on a tip…and possibly a regular customer.

  5. I think what bothers me is that it is a double fault. The first flight was cancelled and the second one delayed. Ms Kaster relied on information that the airline provided – that there would be another flight early in the day to get her to the funeral. If the airline had provided her the truth (not another flight until 11:30) then she may have made other plans to get to the funeral. She would have been able to rent a car and drive through the night from Dallas to DeRidder. I’m also disturbed that the airline trivialized her delay as an “inconvenience”. Missing the funeral of a beloved relative is far, far more than an inconvenience.
    The airline faulted her not once, but twice. I think that $150 in funny money is insufficient compensation.

    1. Agreed. Of course, they’d need to fetch her luggage and promise not to invalidate her return ticket (if any) but it is a five hour drive from Dallas to DeRidder. That evening flight is canceled 10% of the time, according to flightstats.

      Of course, she’d have had the same issue with a holiday rental in Dallas. At that time, during a holiday, they should have just put her on a bus.

      (Indeed, it is a 17 hour drive from Minneapolis. Sounds like driving is faster than flying.)

  6. There is important information missing—How long did she stay in DeRidder? And out of curiosity–was she actually flying on Christmas Eve for a funeral to be held on Christmas Day? That is what the timeline presented suggests and ew churches would actually hold a funeral on Christmas day. Or did she mean fly on the 23rd for a funeral on Christmas Eve? (The old teacher in me likes concise writing!)
    The cost of the car rental is high—but if she stayed longer than just for the missed funeral then that would explain the cost.
    Did she choose Beaumont because the cost was lower or it was the only flight open? After all Lake Charles and Alexandria airports are closer. (I lived in the area 30 years ago and still visit regularly.)
    I am skeptical when writers demand a full refund for a trip or provide a laundry list of complaints. I would not mediate if you do not know how long she spent on the trip. Without additional information I think the $150 voucher is good, though I would prefer cash.

    1. If the family is Jewish they do. And they also bury quickly, so having to fly with 24 hour notice is not unusual. If she did indeed stay more than the day for the funeral then I do agree they shouldn’t ask for more than a one way car rental would have cost.

    2. FQTVLR: It’s all about you, right? Does it occur to you that not everyone does things the way YOU do? Your comments in your first paragraph are irrelevant and I find it offensive that you simply assume that everyone subscribes to the same practices as you. Not everyone goes to CHURCH. For example, Jewish people don’t go to CHURCH. And Jewish people have a funeral and bury their dead within 24 hours of the death. And Christmas isn’t a factor for them.

      1. As a practicing Jew, I want to clarify that the burial must occur by sundown the following day, except in Israel where it is sundown the same day. Also, if the following day is a holiday, the body cannot be buried until the day after the holiday (Christmas doesn’t count). Also, it is the OP who said they were leaving the Church, I have yet to meet a fellow Jew who refers to Synagogue or Temple as “Church”.

        1. I don’t even think there is a synagogue in De Ridder. Google Fu says the closest one is in Lake Charles. Incidentally, Lake Charles (LCH) is a better place to fly into compared to Beaumont (BPT) since there are more flights. I see (in google maps) that LCH is closer to De Ridder.
          Maybe choosing the wrong airport doomed it.

      2. Dear Guest, It is not about me. But what I mention is rather logical. People of Jewish faith do not go to church—and that is what the writer referred to. Those of the Jewish faith go to synagogue or temple; Muslims go to a mosque. Other faiths might refer to their house of worship by a name unique to that religion. I simply questioned the facts—flying on Christmas eve to a funeral at a church on Christmas Day. It is more than likely that the writer would not have used the word church if the funeral was held at a synagogue or a mosque.

    3. Actually, it says “she needed to get from Minneapolis to DeRidder on Christmas Eve”. Christmas eve was the day of the funeral. She was flying on the 23rd. You can find the announcement on this page: http://www.americanpress.com/2013_12_23_Obits.

      Funeral services for Randy L. Schmidt, 59, of DeRidder, La., will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, in Church of God in Christ Mennonite Highland Congregation, DeRidder, La., with Minister Larry Schmidt and Minister Kevin Schmidt officiating. Burial will follow in the Church of God in Christ Mennonite Highland Congregation Cemetery under the direction of Labby Memorial Funeral Home of DeRidder.

      You can find anything on the Internet…

      1. As the sister involved in this maybe you should get your facts straight before making comments. For one thing you’ve got the wrong funeral information and where did it say we were flying on Dec. 23rd? We flew to Dallas on Dec. 26 and the funeral was the next day, which should have still allowed us to get there in plenty of time 🙁

        1. Please see where I have posted a reply to Charles Owen about your Uncle “Nordy”. He sounded like a great guy and I’m sure he will be missed.

      2. Following Pat’s reply to you, I decided to do a little Google-Fu of my own. Here’s the correct name:

        Funeral services for Nordahl Schroeder, 83, of DeRidder, LA will be held at 1:00 PM Friday, December 27, 2013, at First United Methodist Church of DeRidder, LA with Dr. Wayne Evans and Rev. Bob Rutherford officiating. Burial will follow in Beauregard Cemetery, under the direction of Labby Memorial Funeral Home of DeRidder.

        Visitation will be held from 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM, Thursday, December 26 2013, at the funeral home.

        I confirmed that the OP is indeed related to one of those people listed further in the obituary itself at www dot meaningfulfunerals dot net

        Christmas Eve isn’t in the picture AT ALL!

        1. Thanks for the sleuthing. I can only go on what Kaster told me originally. It’s great to have all the facts, but none of this would have affected my decision to post the story or to mediate the case (unsuccessfully, it turns out).

          I think it’s great to want to have all the facts, but in a case like this, I just needed to know if I should mediate the case based on what the OP was telling me. I presented her case as accurately as I could and without verifying any of it through Flightstats or Google.

          By the way, I have a group of editors who review every post I write. If you’re interested in joining the team, let me know.

          1. In backwards order:
            I sorta, kinda am interested, and I’m incredibly honored by the invitation. I realize that actually doing rather than arm-chair quarterbacking is much harder than one might think. Let me think about it.

            Either the OP misrepresented the facts or the facts got garbled in transmission to you. I think you stand on much firmer ground when mediating or advocating when you have all of the facts in order. I know that you’ve posted stories where you’ve found out later that things weren’t as represented, and I could feel your pain oozing out between the sentences. Guess that’s just my sympathetic side, looking out to protect you.

            Which leads me to your first paragraph in response to me. I don’t know if you would have asked for a public vote on whether to mediate the case if you’d had all the (correct) facts. Posted the story, maybe, since you’ve done that, and included a few hints on what to do when things go wrong, as you’ve been doing lately. (Which I very much appreciate, because I learn from every one of these cases.)

            As I said originally when you first started putting polls on the stories, YOU are the only person who gets to decide which cases you wish to mediate or not. It’s your site, it’s your time, it’s your caring nature. I won’t ever knock you for that. Period.

          1. How do you check historic flight records? Since I no longer travel as much I stopped paying for that tool I used to use, is there a public way to search?

          2. flightstats dot com
            Search by route DFW – BPT 24DEC 2013
            you must register so you can see longer history

          3. Interesting, on 22-DEC, the first and last flights of the day were canceled, though it looks like the last flight was cancelled only 51 minutes after the scheduled departure if I am reading it correctly. The flight the next morning was delayed by 50 minutes, leaving at 10:20am, and they made up some time in the air. Maybe the dates were changed for the article?

          4. Yes the last flight of 22DEC makes sense. It was cancelled.
            If pax was reaccommodated to first flight out 23DEC, then that had a delayed arrival by 43 minutes.
            Absolutely nothing on this record suggests the AA did anything wrong.
            Pax bought ticket to Beaumont (BPT) and not De Ridder. How she gets to De Ridder (e.g. by driving, walking, hitchhiking ) is not AA’s problem. Flight times and schedules are not guaranteed.
            Finally, she used up all her coupons so there is nothing to refund.
            If you take the last flight out then you must know the CONSEQUENCES of doing so.
            I still don’t understand why the article mentioned Christmas EVE.

          5. Hyperbole? 🙂

            But seriously, maybe CE or the OP meant during pre-Christmas season, which is notoriously nasty for travelers. There are a couple of places in the story which aren’t written as clearly as they could be and this is simply an editing error.

          6. I find the “extreme” hyperbole and misstatement of facts detracting. Why is Christmas Eve mentioned? Why are ERJ’s and CRJ’s compared to “cropdusters”? And…what was the point of the original complaint again?

          7. Here is a photo from AAs own website of the interior of the plane on that route (The last flight of the day). Of course, they are showing the F cabin, but its 2X2 in the back, and the photos of the back look pretty nice too. CR7s are actually really nice RJs.

          8. Well, I thought I live in one of USA’s most expensive counties.
            Our local airport is HPN. The standard equipment for most flights is this so-called crop duster.

          9. For some reason the picture didn’t show up in the last post. So CRJ interior, compared to a high end crop duster.

          10. My friend who lives in Canada told me that also had video on demand in the CRJ, this was about 4 years ago too. I was trying to route on them intentionally once just to check it out. They have some 4+ hour flights on CRJs, but with leg room, video on demand, and no middle seats, it sounds like it would be better than most of the mainline narrow bodies from the US carriers.

          11. I am no doubt it happens. Right off the bat I questioned why she didn’t pick up a car at DFW and drive so she got there, not waiting for the next day, which could have delays…and did The drive isn’t that great.

          12. It makes even less sense after knowing the date, as all of the flights flew on the 23rd with minimal delays. The first and last flgith were canceled on the 22nd, so if she flew on the 22nd her flight was canceled, she would have gotten there on the 23rd, a day before the funeral, with a delay of less than an hour. Knowing the date of the funeral and the actual flight states makes her story totally bogus.

          13. Wasn’t Christmas Eve at all. Maybe you can check 12/26/2013 and let us know? Sister Pat reprimanded Charles Owen for posting the wrong obituary and date. Here’s what I posted to Charles Owen:

            Following Pat’s reply to you, I decided to do a little Google-Fu of my own. Here’s the correct name:
            Funeral services for Nordahl Schroeder, 83, of DeRidder, LA will be held at 1:00 PM Friday, December 27, 2013, at First United Methodist Church of DeRidder, LA with Dr. Wayne Evans and Rev. Bob Rutherford officiating. Burial will follow in Beauregard Cemetery, under the direction of Labby Memorial Funeral Home of DeRidder.

            Visitation will be held from 5:00 PM until 9:00 PM, Thursday, December 26 2013, at the funeral home.
            I confirmed that the OP is indeed related to one of those people listed further in the obituary itself at www dot meaningfulfunerals dot net

          14. So how did the dates get screwed up in the article? Did the OP mess them up in her letter? Very strange to ask for help and not give the correct information.

          15. Last flight out of Dallas to Beaumont was cancelled that night. Correct.
            But, all the flights the next day (including the alleged 930AM one) all arrived ON TIME.

          16. Thanks, Tony. The article, as written, mentioned a 6:30 a.m. flight – but I didn’t see that when I looked, so thought maybe someone with far better flight tracking skills (like you) could come up with that 6:30 a.m. flight. I’m very confused. It’s still an hour and a half drive to DeRidder from Beaumont, so I’m sure the OP wouldn’t have agreed to a 9:30 flight, given the poor chances of making a 1 p.m. funeral on time.

          17. The plot thickens!

            Lands at 10:43, gets luggage and car by 11:30 at the latest, would make it to the church by 1pm, but cutting it close. Perhaps it was a very quick service and there was traffic? So why lie about the date and delay?

            So if the was the funeral, the flight was on X-Mas. I actually try to fly on X-mas, as it’s the one day very few people fly and flights are cheap. My typical NY trip home is to fly out on 25-Dec, return on 31-Dec or 1-Jan. Usually the cheapest least crowded way to travel on the holidays.

          18. @Jeanne_in_NE:disqus, @emanon256:disqus
            The sad part about all of these “inconsistencies”, is that they will cast a shadow of doubt to all future requests for help here.
            Why do people have to make us investigate and search for the facts so that we can make sense of their stories?
            This is not a game (or is it?).

          19. It’s not a game. People lie. People don’t remember dates correctly. Sometimes, I misunderstand what people are telling me when they complain.

            Fact-finding like this is really important, but I could use your help. Questioning the veracity of a poster after it’s gone up is useful, but there’s a better way to do it.

            So I’m ready – send me an email and I’ll get you set up with advance looks at my stories.

          20. Hi Christopher,
            Ah, I already have an advanced look at your stories.
            I am in your google drive list (and I do make comments).
            I had offered the other members of the team my “investigative” skills but they have to forward the details of the case to me so I know and understand what they want me to dig up.
            Essentially, if someone complains about a flight we need to make sure what their original itineraries were and what happened.
            I agree there is a better way to do it.
            In fact maybe the better way is to offer some kind of (paid, reasonable fee) service to provide sound travel consulting so less problems happen. The fee can be split to pay for the site and the time of the consultant.

          21. I mentioned to Bodega, I believe, that when I used to be in charge of appeals at an old job, a good number of appeals simply had the facts made up. There was some general truth to the appeal, but everything around it never happened. I could never explain it, and it really bothered me. I think some people have no problem making up stories and laying to they and get something they believe is owed to them, and they waste everyone’s time.

            I think in this case, the OP’s flight was canceled, she took the first on-time flight the next day and possibly got to the funeral late. The rest was simply made up to try and gain sympathy and the dates were changed to make it harder for CE to find out the flight wasn’t delayed. I believe that there are a large number of narcissistic people who skew the facts and try to hide it, so they can get more for themselves. Its very sad, and its hard to believe, but I need to accept it as the way some people work.

            Even in my current job, someone will contact the help desk who will assign something to one of my employees who starts actively working on it. They the same person contacts one of my user managers who starts working on it. They keep working the system and get 3 or 4 people working on the same thing, duplicating their effort, which wastes everyone time. So now I have to have my staff meet more often to make sure we don’t duplicate work, which also wastes are time. This even happened back in my call center days too, people call and get help, then they dont do what they were supposed to do and call back and lie, and then they find the name of a supervisor and write them, and eventually 3 or 4 people are working on the same thing, each one given a different yet seemly truthful sympathetic story.

          22. To be honest, I have given up on this one.
            I only help people who (really) want to be helped.
            This does not smell right to me.
            I’ll go use my skills elsewhere 🙂

  7. No transportation provider has ever been responsible for you not getting to do what you wanted due to delayed transportation; this is not the airlines looking for some novel way to work you over. The criteria to complete your contract is getting you and your stuff to your destination in one piece.

    And the rental car is asking way too much… she could have turned in that car once she arrived at her destination (even at walk-up one-way rates, it should not have come to $392.)

      1. Yes. DeRidder has an Enterprise, and there are several Budget and Enterprise locations 20-odd miles away. Hertz is a bit farther (an hour) but not an insurmountable distance.

        Certainly it would have been a better idea than expecting American would cover the cost, because they won’t.

        1. Do you really think she had the time to research all of this when her flight already got her in late to the funeral? Come on, be a little realistic here. She needed to get a car as quick as possible.

          1. I am still amused at the theory that AA is on the hook for a rental car to DeRidder. The contracted destination was Beaumont airport. They got her there.

          2. If this story is true, she was traveling on a busy travel day. She took charge of her reservations, so she has some responsibility here. You should always be prepared for delays or cancellations these days. Been there, done that and it makes for a less painful travel experience if you do. Too emotional, too stressed? Call a TA.

      2. Not trying to sound cold-hearted, but people are forced to do all sorts of things around the time of funerals, including worrying about rental cars and the like. Most every funeral I’ve been involved with included multiple people dealing with travel issues like figuring out where they were going to stay, how they were getting to/from the airport or their lodging, etc.

    1. Agreed, I have paid lower walk-up rental cars for a 4 day rental in major citis on holidays. In small cities, I’ve found the walk up price isn’t much higher than the advanced purchase price. The rental car price baffels me more than anything. If I were the OP, I would have rented a car in DFW when the flight was canceled and driven the rest of the way while making an arrangement with the airline to refund the R/T DFW-BPT portion while keeping the DFW-MSP intact. Ive done that many times when regional connections have been canceled at multiple airports on multiple airlines without issue.

      1. Will the airline do that? I don’t think that they would allow her to use just the return portion, even though it was there fault.

        1. I’ve done it many times, in some case I’ve canceled just the regional flight portion and driven both ways, in other cases I’ve canceled just one portion, did a 1-way rental, and flew the remainder. They have often had to find a supervisor to figure out how to do it, but Ive never been turned away. I even had one airline change my plane ticket for a train ticket due to a canceled flight. You just have to get creative.

        2. They will – and have done so for clients (just this morning, as a matter fact!) If they are informed at the counter immediately, they can ensure the downline ticket is kept intact.

    2. Here’s how it can come to $392. Car rentals on Xmas can be super expensive. She rents a car but the location is not open on Xmas so she has to keep the car for an extra day. A sample search shows total out the door cost for a full sized car on Xmas day can run you around $140 per day. If she kept it for two days that’s $280. Add insurances to that and you hitthe $400 range.

      1. I have worked on Xmas day. Every rental company was open at the airport. Local branches won’t be but it’s a safe bet the airport locations will be open normal hours. And if she did get insurance that should be on her.

        1. That’s right, the AIRPORT location are open, but not the local ones for a one way rental. And she DID get the car back to the airport. So what is the point here?

          1. I was simply saying that the airport locations are open on Xmas but the local branches aren’t. Carver’s original post suggests locations are closed on Xmas day. No need to get rude.

          2. I should have been clearer. Some locations are closed on Sunday. I wouldn’t expect any major airport locations to close, but I would be curious whether some locations at smaller airports close.

            For example, at LAX the major rental companies are open 24/7. But smaller ones have specific rental hours. I wonder if those smaller rental companies might close for a holiday if they were located at a small airport?

    3. And she would have STILL needed a way to get from the airport to her destination – not their problem, after all.

  8. “Kaster thinks American should be held liable for its failure to get her to the church on time.” Ummmm, just because you THINK it does not make it TRUE.

  9. I wonder how much an airline or any ticket would cost if every passenger received a refund for not arriving on time for an event plus other costs unrelated to the travel? I think $150 is more than enough.

  10. Hold on… “cover the $392 she had to pay for a rental car. (She’d originally
    arranged a ride to the service from a family member, but that person had
    to be at the funeral, which was now in progress.)”

    Uhm, no. All other travel issues aside, she has an argument for them to cover the rental car for a single day, when she had to get from the airport to the funeral, but as soon as it was over she had family who could have given her the local transportation she had originally intended to have. Covering the cost of the car for the entire trip is ridiculous, and if that was the cost for one day, she should have gotten something cheaper.

    1. What was she supposed to do- a one way car rental? She has an argument to rent the car to GET her to the funeral but what do you expect her to do to get the car BACK to the car rental place?

      Your statement makes no sense.

      1. but what do you expect her to do to get the car BACK to the car rental place?

        Its a car, why can’t she drive it back?

      2. She was already going to be having somebody drive her around during her stay; that person could have run her to the rental place to return the car.

        1. That person could not pick her UP from the airport to get her to the funeral. So she had to rent the car to get there. How was she supposed to get the car back to the airport? Do you expect the person who was going to drive her to follow her to a local car rental drop off?

  11. i usually fly southwest but the last two times I have flown the plane has been delayed at least half an hour each way. If airline companies cannot reasonably let its customers know what the delay is, then they need to lower their fares. We pay an exorbitant amount to fly from here to there and expect to get there at a time mandated by the airline via their schedules. I for one, think we are being held “hostage” by their prices and their schedules. If there were another way to get to my destination as quickly as the airlines, then believe me I would do it!

    1. You are flying through the sky more than 9X faster than a car can go. You are FLYING. IN. THE. SKY. You are doing something that man was not meant to do. We have defied nature and now we can go 9 miles a minute, blasting through the clouds. How would you feel about walking from California to Massachusetts? Millions died just trying to get from one side of this country to the other.

      I think you can handle a 30 minute delay. Unless you would like to take a 3 month trip and probably die to get to your destination.

    2. “We pay an exorbitant amount to fly from here to there and expect to get
      there at a time mandated by the airline via their schedules.”

      “Mandated”? ROFL! Airline schedules are not mandates. There is no law or rule requiring them to keep to their schedules. In fact, the opposite is true: their contract of carriage makes it legally acceptable for them to not follow their schedules at all, and you have no legal recourse. That’s just the facts of it.

      I know there’s going to be a huge amount of hilarious responses to your post, First, the idea that airline schedules are a mandate…BAHAHAHAHA!!! And second, getting all up in a lather over a 30 minute delay. To this crowd, a delay of only 30 minutes is a major success!

      Time to break out the popcorn. 😉

    3. Actually airfares are not exorbitant if you understand what you are booking and when you are booking. Please call a travel agency for your next flight and they can explain all this to you so you can understand how this all works..

    4. Try taking a bus sometime, it costs more in many cases, takes 5 to 10 times longer, and extended delays are much more common.

    5. No, we don’t pay exorbitant fares – and there in lies a major problem, and why they went to unbundling rates to begin with. And delays happen for many reasons – to expect an airlines to refund every delay is just ridiculous.

  12. I’m sympathetic to this traveler, but I don’t see what any intervention from Chris can achieve. The airline got her to her destination (albeit about 14 hours late) and met its responsibilities in the contract of carriage. By paying for a hotel and meal vouchers, the airline even acknowledged its own responsibility.

    Now to get real. If the OP was really concerned about making the funeral, Deridder is only a 4-1/2 hour drive from Dallas, so she could have made the funeral with ease if she’d rented the car and drive from DFW … likely even if she’d gotten some sleep at left first thing in the morning. But that’s what I would have done myself. And she might even have gotten a refund on that flight segment from AA. Now that’s something Chris could have negotiated for. With this situation, I don’t see anything anyone can get out of this except a hard lesson learned.

      1. It’s not about not trusting an airline. It’s about being realistic and picking the thing that is guaranteed and that YOU HAVE CONTROL over. You don’t have control over an airline’s schedule, but you do have control over your own ability to drive from point A to point B.

    1. But how was she to know when she booked the flights that there would have been these delays? It is easy being a Monday morning quarter back but when she booked she assumed the flights would reasonably be on time.

      If it was one delay, it would be one thing. But there were two errors by the airline.

  13. What I like about the readers on this site (as oppose to other consumer advocacy places) is we do hold the traveler responsible. We expect the traveler to plan for bad luck, weather delays, unforeseen situations, woe to the traveler who makes a trip with no room for error.

    In this case she did everything right. She gave herself plenty of time to get to the funeral. Heck it seems like the 6:30 am flight could have been delayed by two hours and she still would have made the funeral.

    But a cancellation one day and a five hour delay the next? That’s something we as a consumers shouldn’t budget into our itinerary.

    American Airlines failed her, and a $150 travel voucher isn’t fair compensation.

    1. What about a multi billiion dollar business meeting with thousands of jobs at stake? What is the compensation there? What about the old couple’s last vacation before a health crisis. What about a newlywed’s honeymoon? What about, what about, what about……..The reason for the flight is not the airline’s problem. That is the flyer’s problem. Everyone had a reason for taking that flight. I guarantee not one person on board was there for no reason and was simply bored that day.

      1. Correct but the question is how much “error” should a reasonable traveler need to build into the itinerary? Should all travelers now be expected to build 3 days worth of delays in their travel?

        1. All? No, not all. But to what I believe is your point, the OP had their reason for being on the flight and so did every single other person. Some may be more tragic. I have had many travel situations that resulted in devestating circumstances for me. I had no option but to fly and when travel reality does not work in my favor, I know I did all I could and held noone else responsible for my personal issues.

          1. No, my point is she gave herself plenty of room for error, and if she was aware of realistic probabilities American Airlines’ incompetence and failure, she would have had plenty of time to make alternative plans.

            She had alternatives, but because of American Airlines’ dishonesty, she wasn’t able to get to the funeral on time.

          2. Everyone had some reason for that flight and the circumstances ranged from disappointing to tragic. The OP may believe theirs is most tragic but they don’t and won’t ever know. Perhaps someone didn’t get to say ‘I love you’ one more time to someone still alive but was no longer upon arrival. But all passengers arrived and did so safely. A refund is not in order.

          3. I don’t care about her reasons why she had to be at a certain place by a certain time. I care about the fact she had a deadline, made a boatload of reasonable accommodations to meet the deadline and American Airlines failed in providing the relevant information so she could have made a better decision.

            The Airline has the responsibility to give the flyer accurate information so the flyer can make an informed decision.

            In traveling there’s a difference between bad luck and incompetence. Bad luck is having the last flight of the night canceled on you, and we should plan for bad luck in traveling. Incompetence is canceling the last flight out and delaying the first flight out by 5 hours.
            American Airlines incompetency was the reason why she missed her deadline.

          4. It is highly unlikely that the knowledge of the death and the date of the funeral were within 1 day. It is highly unlikely there were no earlier flights to be taken. The OP had choices and made them.

          5. Yes you did.

            If everything went right, she would have been at her destination the day before the funeral. If she ran into bad luck, she would have been at her destination the day of the funeral, with a few hours to spare.

            How many flights do you think go from DFW to Beaumont per day?
            So she would need to plan on arriving at DFW at least a day before. So that’s three days planned for travel.

          6. No. She made a choice from many options and it didn’t work out for her. If it was that important she owed it to herself to ensure she was there and not rely on anyone else. She opted to rely on external forces. That was her choice. Perhaps due to it being a holiday the cost made her choose that flight. But she chose it. Free will exists. Sometimes it bites you.

          7. Yes, clearly that is exactly what I meant. I am glad you finally caught on. Walk. Yes.

          8. No, I guess being raised in a Jewish household and having lost almost all of my family members renders me stupid.

          9. Had AA told her in DFW that the flight the next morning wasn’t getting out, she could have booked a car at that point and driven. They gave her every indication the flight was getting out on time the next day.

    2. For travelling during the Holidays – when winter weather can ALWAYS be considered a factor (and this last year was a bad one). Sometimes you just gotta chalk it up to an act of God, and not expect someone else to pay for a car you would have needed anyway. And as already stated, she could have opted for a drive down if she HAD to be there for an early event. And could have chosen an earlier flight out to begin with, and not the last flight of the night.

  14. 1. There are three choices to get to DeRidder, Beaumont, Lake Charles and Lafayette. Lake Charles is closest. When the first flight was cancelled, then Bonnie should have sorted out her options to the other two destinations from DFW. Likewise, the next day she should have investigated her options. And, all three REQUIRE a rental car.
    2. Can’t ask for a rental car when it is needed to get from any airport to the rural community of DeRidder.
    3. As others have noted, you don’t leave with less than 24 hours to spare when heading to an event you absolutely, positively must make on time. Even if you simply “stand by” at the airport for earlier flights.

    1. Sometimes you don’t have a choice with 24 hours to spare if the family arranged a funeral almost immediately after a death. Having recently lost a husband and wife family members in two weeks, I can fully understand this happening when planning a funeral.

      I usually side with the suppliers but this time, having seen two funerals planned quickly after a death, I can understand how this could happen and the Kasters not having more notice to get flights. I am also sure they paid through the nose for the last minute flights.

      This woman had two problems with the flight to the funeral city, neither of which she had any control over- both the first flight to the city requiring the hotel when cancelled and then the delay. According to her post, she had arranged for someone to pick her up at the destination airport which obviously couldn’t happen with the flight getting in when the funeral had already begun.

  15. I think Bonnie was expecting a lot on Christmas Eve. Also, if you absolutely want to be somewhere you do need to travel well in advance especially at Christmas.

    I just had a grueling journey from London. The first flight was delayed by an hour, I missed my connection then the next flight was delayed three times. They eventually found a new aircraft but I lost my exit row seat allocation. The agent at the transfer desk said “have a beautiful evening” when she issued the new seat where I was trussed up like a chicken next to a woman with a baby on her lap who screamed for three hours. It’s the way it is and we all need to get used to it or stay home.

    1. Why should the fact that AA had flights available on Christmas Eve make this client think otherwise? The flights were available and not once but twice did AA blow it. Whether it was Christmas Eve or not has nothing to do with it- if they had the flights a available they should have made sure they had enough personnel to fly them or make sure the flights were mechanically ready. It apparently had nothing to do with weather. If it WAS weather delays that is one thing but there is no mention of that.

      1. It’s a very busy travel time, delays are more likely to happen. Airlines are not working on making our lives easier, they are working on making themselves more profitable and couldn’t give a rat’s you know what about whether we get to our destination on time.

        1. It’s a huge opportunity for an airline. The ones that treat passengers with the least grief also seem to be more profitable. It’s an easy way to beat the competition. Many people will pay at least $50 a seat more if they know that the hassle factor is less and the airline will actually get you to your destination on time.

          1. “Many people will pay at least $50 a seat more…”

            I’m calling BS on this one. One of the reasons for the sorry service you receive from airlines is that the vast majority of consumers shop on price alone. What incentive does AA or any of the others have to improve service if the customer will fly a different carrier next time for $15 less?

          2. Southwest regularly charges more than the other airlines. Yet they repeatedly are profitable and don’t seem to be lacking for passengers. Why? Because they perform consistently.
            At some point people realize that there is a difference between cost and value.

          3. Southwest has the reputation of being the low cost carrier, whether it is on any given flight. Southwest doesn’t allow most of the major mega engines to display its prices making comparison shopping difficult.

          4. Sigh. No they don’t usually charge more that other airlines. What you see online is what is available, not necessarily their lowest fare in that market.

          5. Southwest, as a newer carrier, does not have the legacy union issues. They also have negotiated very good long term fuel rates. They also generally fly into lesser cities which reduces their gate fees. Their out of pocket costs are lower so charging the same (ish) as other carriers allows them to be more profitable as they keep more of the customers money than their competitors.

          6. Southwest pulled out of that airport. At least AA still flies there. Maybe some gratitude is needed.

          7. I am not sure if that applies anymore. The number of people traveling is rising exponentially. We are going to see the hassle factor get worse. I think the system overall is much improved but traveling is a huge pain in the rear with long security lines, packed planes and delays.

          8. Actually, Spirit Airlines is the most profitable AND the most complained about airline as well.

          9. Indeed. It appears that there is a disconnect between people mouths and their wallets.

  16. I always find it amusing when people on here armchair quarterback the situation rather than discuss the article/problem being presented.

    What she could have done doesn’t matter, IMHO. She did what she did, left when she left, rented a car because her ride couldn’t pick her up (due to needing to attend the funeral) and got there late, all because American didn’t fulfill their obligation to her. We don’t need to discuss why/how she did what she did…

    I vote for mediation. She should have been able to get to her destination on time, regardless of where she was going.

    1. I find it amusing that people on here believe they are owed something when things do not go their way. The OPs reason for their flight was their own, the airline fulfilled it’s obligation. If getting there on time was that paramount the OP had the responsibility to make it so. I travel frequently, do not work in the travel/hospitality industry, but take personal responsiblity for my own needs. Try it, it can be quite liberating.

      1. Her NEED was to get to the location of her uncle’s funeral when the airline ticket she bought said she would get there. The airline’s NEED should have been to get her there when the ticket she bought said she should get there.

        Short of sprouting wings and flying there herself, I simply don’t see what else she could/should have done.

        We are not privy to the back story of the people in these articles. When my grandson was killed, my husband took a lot of heat for flying to Denver the morning of the day my grandson was going to be taken off life support and he had to be in Denver before 9:00 PM. Though he got to LAX WAY early, the lines were so long he nearly missed his flight. Were it not for a caring and thoughtful pilot holding the plane for him (for 20 minutes, no less!), he’d have never made it. People also questioned why he didn’t just fly straight to Denver, rather than make the stop in Tucson.

        Now, the BACK STORY on this is:

        we’d only gotten the call from his daughter at 11:00 PM the night before that my grandson had been mortally injured and was being taken off life support the next night at 9PM.

        He was also on a business trip with a government contractor and had to complete the trip his ticket said he was doing or the government wouldn’t have reimbursed his employer for the entire flight.

        He had a 7AM meeting with people from the Pentagon and DOD, all of whom had flown in from DC for this meeting, and since he was the one they were all coming to see, he felt he couldn’t miss it. The meeting ended early only because someone in it saw my husband texting (with me, I was sending him his flight and rental car information) under the table and demanded he “share what was so damn important with the rest of the group so we can have your full attention”. He told them exactly what was going on and, yes, they ended the meeting with an extremely embarrassed DOD official leaving the room w/o another word, due to his gaffe.

        He asked for help at the airport, I’d even called Southwest myself to try to get him help, and no one was willing to help him get through the lines faster. He was even scoffed at by a TSA agent with, “Yeah, dead grandson. I’ve never heard THAT one before”.

        Again, we don’t know the back story on this woman nor any of the other people Chris writes about. Maybe she was told by her employer she couldn’t leave any sooner than she left, under threat of loss of her job or pay. Maybe she was on a business trip and this was the earliest she could get away. Maybe she was ill and needed a doctor’s approval to fly. Maybe she’d only been told the day before the funeral was on this day. Some religions require burial w/n 24 hours or before the sun goes down. We just don’t know anything more about this than what’s on this page. To try to assign any sort of “blame” towards the OP is simply extrapolating information that’s not there and assigning it to the story.

        It’s called “compassion” and “empathy” and “not judging when you don’t know all the facts”. Try it, it can be quite liberating.

        1. I take responsibility for myself. I do not assume the airline will do it for me. Her start and end points indicate she could have driven (she did in fact rent a car) or be driven (as it appears she did not travel alone).

          1. I take responsibility for myself as well. I always contemplate alternate arrangements when I travel. But things don’t always go in a manner that allows for any alternatives to be practical.

            So I guess you have never been at the airport waiting to board when the delay happens and the airline repeatedly tells you it will just be a few more minutes until they board and get on the way. And they keep doing that over and over until they cancel the flight which is usually too late to either get a rental car (many rental companies are no longer open 24 hours even at major airport hubs) or so late you are no longer alert enough to actually drive any more that day. Compound that with being in a place you are not familiar with and many people won’t be comfortable driving. And then the airline promises you that you will be on the early morning flight so you will have no issue reaching your destination in time to make your event. And then the delay repeats itself.

            And driving from Beaumont to the funeral is nothing like driving from Dallas or Minneapolis.

          2. That’s okay, you’ve got my sympathies when those unfortunate situations do occur. 🙂 I’m profoundly grateful to those who have helped me when I needed, but wasn’t expecting any, help.

            It’s only because I read this forum (and maybe a certain book hyped on here) that I can recognize the options available when everything goes wrong. Like you, I don’t see any options available after the fact. I don’t think there’s anything to mediate here, although I am very sorry that all this happened to the OP.

          3. Would you ask for a ticket refund and a rental car reimbursement under the same conditions?
            Let me guess 🙂

          4. No. But I’m sure I would have been stressed out and upset and second-guessing myself the entire time during the trip itself. Been there, done that.

          5. IAH used too as well. But only Avis and Budget are open round the clock now, especially on holidays like Christmas Eve. And no guarantees that just because they are open they have a vehicle to rent on major holidays.

          6. Driving that far may not be an option for everyone. I fell and hurt my back. Up until recently, sitting for much more than 30 minutes means excruciating pain. The kind that makes you wish for death.

            If it was late at night, it may not have been safe for the OP to drive if she were tired.

            And the list continues.

        2. So if the OP does not get the compassion she thinks she “deserves”, the airline must pay up. Really? Why?

      2. The airline did NOT fulfill their obligation because they failed to give Ms Kaster full and accurate information. Ms Kaster then relied on the false information to make her decisions. If there were full disclosure by the airline then I might agree with you. But it didn’t happen.

    2. Transportation schedules, no matter the transportation method, have always been “best effort”. Consequential damages have never been part of the deal; this isn’t an obscure quirk introduced by airlines. Once you complete your round-trip, you don’t get a refund after-the-fact; the only way to get one is to cancel the remaining segments of your trip and do something else (either alternate transportation or going home.)

  17. I voted no on this one. The travel industry has never been responsible for missed events, not just airlines. I realized that funerals are often last minute, but there are better ways this could have been handled, and delays are often a part of air travel. I feel very badly for the OP, but I dont’ think the airline owes her anything either.

    My suggestion to anyone connecting to a regional flight, and finds that regional flight canceled or delayed substantially. First, ask if the airline can re-book you on an on-time flight to another near by airport if such a flight exists. If not, ask for the final R/T portion of the regional flight to be refunded while keeping the ticket intact and rent a car and drive the last stretch. The car rental may cost more, or may cost less that the refunded portion, but you will avoid the delay.

  18. The OP deserves a full refund. This wasn’t a weather delay (which American could have easily gotten away with claiming). It was an outright cancellation of the connecting flight.

    The form letter and voucher that American flipped at her by reflex action was a response to a weather delay, not to what actually happened.

    1. She could have asked for (and received) a refund for at least her connecting flight if she turned around and went home, or rented a car from DFW and drove. But since she waited around for, and took, her connecting flight, she can’t receive a refund for trip arrangements she actually used. She’s trying to double-dip here…

    2. Read the contract. Unless she was bumped, there is no compensation to speak of. It does not have to be caused by a weather event.

      1. If I’d have been this woman, the minute AA started tap dancing around when her flight would leave, I’d have been out of there like I’d been shot out of a cannon.

        1. Yeah, she and her sister could have taken turns driving 5 hours to De Ridder.
          Did you know that the on-time performance of the 8PM flight is about 40%. And it has a “probability” of being cancelled about 10% of the time?
          Those are publicly available information.
          Knowing that you don’t have much alternate flights to Beaumont, Lake Charles or nearby at 8PM or so at night from Dallas, then getting a car and driving about 300 miles is a smart choice.

  19. My way of seeing this is….. the uncle didn’t die and buried in 3 days, soooo she had plenty of time to book an earlier flight and why not fly into LA and bus or arrange a ride from like Baton Rouge or New Orleans? I always pay the extra 30.00 for insurance in case my flight is canceled due to weather or mechanical problems, saves a ton of headaches.

    1. How do you know that? In the Jewish religion, people are buried within 24 hours. Where do you see she had 3 days?

  20. You can mediate but I don’t think you’ll get anywhere. No doubt AA’s terms and conditions cover them completely for instances like this one. I also believe AA’s cancellation of the first flight was probably their own fault (clearly not weather-related), that’s why they aren’t saying why it happened.

    1. Since her connecting flight was on what Chris eloquently termed a “crop duster”, it was most likely one of many regional carriers who contract with the major airlines for short “commuter” flights, and not AA itself. Good luck dealing with them!

  21. The legal term for this situation is called “trip in vain.” and applies when, through no fault of their own, a passenger cannot attend the event for which the trip was booked. Generally speaking, the courts have held that a refund is due, but that is tempered by the nature of the event that was missed. for instance a missed business meeting would not carry the came weight as a funeral or wedding, or in my case, my son’s retirement ceremony. I would try using the term “trip in vain” nect time you communicate with American. Tghat should at least get their attention

    1. The things I learn from this website. Thanks! I am making a mental note of this (while hoping it never happens to me). I’ve also just downloaded the Flightstats app.

    2. I don’t think that is some kind of legal doctrine. It (trip in vain, futile trip, etc.) is just the terminology used by an airline internally to document the reason for a refund.
      Regardless, the OP should have requested the refund in Dallas for this concept to make sense.
      And the $392 rental car reimbursement demand, that is truly bizarre.

  22. American is the biggest joke of the airline industry. I wouldn’t spend a penny on them in the worst situation.

  23. I don’t believe there’s anything to mediate. Plus, the “reverse scenario” isn’t fair. There isn’t a responsibility of the airline to wait for or to accommodate every passenger’s schedule if they’re running late. You’re not going to make all the other passengers pay for the error (or lateness) of one. If any airline had to issue refunds for every time a passenger was late, it would go bankrupt. And plus, what’s to stop every person stuck in a delayed flight to claim that they missed “something important”? That’s why you’re told to arrive the day before (and with plenty of time) in order to not miss your cruise, etc. This is definitely a buyer-beware situation. Lastly, it’s up to the customer to come up with creative solutions. One of my flights was delayed one time, and I looked up the schedules and demanded that I be placed on another airline in order to make it to my destination. Did these passengers do everything within their power to solve their own dilemma?

  24. $392 for a rental! Wow. She sounds like she’s trying to milk someone by asking for a refund for her bad decision making. A taxi would have cost less!!

  25. I’m sorry she missed it, but both technically and logically she is not entitled to anything. Everyone knows that Christmas airline flights are notorious. A company has the right to follow its own contract, which she agreed to by purchasing those tickets. If courts intervene, the company isn’t in charge of itself any more, and prices will simply skyrocket so they can have a ‘contingency’ fund for these kind of arbitrary problems. People aren’t entitled to anything, suing rarely helps a situation, and she’s lucky they even offered her the $150 voucher.

  26. Really Chris?

    “Kaster and her sister arrived at DFW on time. But you can probably guess what happened next (after all, she was connecting to a crop duster).”

      1. “. . . every now and then”. I see you’re also entitled to a little litotes every now and then, as well.

        (I’ll wait while you look it up.)


  27. I feel for her and I get that funerals don’t give you much time to plan ahead. I would be pretty devastated too, and furious, but that’s life. I’m sure there were earlier flights she could have taken but she chose that one. Maybe she’s just unlucky. Personally, I always check the weather for my destination to try to anticipate delays. There’s no reason for American Airlines to accommodate only her just because she missed her uncle’s funeral. She can’t expect full compensation if she got to her destination. That’s called a free ride, which she is not entitled to. At least she arrived SAFELY with enough time to grieve with her family. Granted, she didn’t make it on time to the funeral but it’s not like she missed the mourning period. Count your blessings, especially given the circumstances. I would be more focused that the fact that life is short, so let it go.

  28. I had an airline refuse to change my tickets due to my mother’s death…their reason? A death in the family is not a sufficient reason to change tickets. I had to buy new tickets.

  29. Honestly, they gave her a hotel room, meal vouchers, rebooked her at no cost and also offered her $150? That’s a whole lot better than a stick in the eye!

  30. Not trying to beat a dead horse here but what she should have done is rented a car and driven from DFW. It’s a 5 hour drive.

    1. That assumes that

      1. She was sufficiently awake to drive
      2. Her health permitted her to drive
      3. She had sufficient credit on her card(s) to rent a car.

      For several months I could not sit for more than 30 minutes.

      1. True – but she STILL needed transportation when she arrived, and however that was arranged would NOT have anything to do with AA

  31. Let’s focus in here for a moment on why the first flight )the one the day before the funeral) was canceled. AA refused to give her any information. Why was that flight canceled? If it was mechanical, then AA probably owes her some money.

    1. Based on what contract or obligation?
      They already put her up for the night. Is there anything else AA failed to do under the law or their contract?

      1. Right – once she took that offer, rather than a refund of the tickets and buying with someone else, they put her on the next available. Oh, it was delayed (big surprise during the winter holidays travel season!)

  32. Wouldn’t the fair result — in terms of the airline and the passenger being treated equally — be for the airline to have to pay the passenger a $200 change fee? I say, push for another fifty bucks, and for the payment to be in cash.

  33. There is unfortunately, no such thing as “emotional compensation” and that’s really what the OP wants. She’s hurting at not making the funeral and angry and wants the airline to pay for that. The point of compensation is to make the wronged party “whole” and that simply won’t happen here. The whole situation sucked and my heart aches for her not having been able to participate in this important “goodbye” but a couple hundred dollars really is unlikely to make her feel any better. Having said that, the offer of a voucher is kind of offensive IMHO. If the airline is willing to give her $150, they should have made it cash, not a voucher; to me.that’s sort of like them essentially saying, “Here use this for your next funeral trip on us!”

  34. Hyperbole and Lying are 2 different things
    Quoting the article:

    she needed to get from Minneapolis to DeRidder on Christmas Eve. The most direct way was a flight to Beaumont, Texas, on American Airlines via Dallas.
    Kaster and her sister arrived at DFW on time…
    “After about 30 minutes, we started hearing chatter about there being a delay in our flight,” she says…
    Then the gate changed. Finally, her flight was canceled…

    Did anybody bother to check the records for DFW-BPT for 24DEC 2013?

    If all of these supposedly went down on Christmas Eve 24DEC 2013, then it most probably didn’t. There is no record of cancellation of any of the AA (codeshared) flights from DFW to Beaumont, TX (BPT).

    FYI the earliest flight the OP could have been on was the 310PM one since the flights from MSP to DFW get in too late for the 930AM flight. Both the 310PM and 800PM flights from DFW to BPT were on time!

    Maybe this happened another year? 🙂

    But if the OP said it was 2013, then we have a serious problem at this site.

    1. That’s FlightsStats (dot) com, but I can’t make it pull up anything older than yesterday. Is there a paid version that gives you more information?

    2. Try checking on the 23rd. She had to be there on Christmas Eve. She traveled the day before. Found the funeral listing online.

      1. Yes that makes sense. She flew out on the 22nd and got stuck in Dallas that night instead since she was on the LAST flight and it got cancelled. [See my reply to Emanon with the pics of the flight status.]
        She was only able to get to Beaumont on the 23rd, I guess too late for the funeral. She also missed the ride (shared) from Beaumont to DeRidder.
        Not sure how any one can blame the airline for it was well within its contractual rights to cancel and reaccommodate the pax on the next available flight.

        CLARIFICATION: After reading Charle’s post of the obituary, she needed to be there by the MORNING of the 24th of December. That means she had to leave MSP latest on the 23rd and arrive Beaumont the same night.

        But the cancellation were on the 22nd and not on the 23rd. That meant that she would have made it to the funeral regardless.

        1. She had to get from MSP to her destination on 12/24, according to the article. She therefore arrived the next day, which was 12/25. So who screwed up the story, the OP or Chris?

          1. bodega, the story and the data does not jive.
            The cancellations for DFW-BPT were on the 22nd, and not the 23rd.
            The funeral was on the 24th. So why didn’t she make it?
            Even if she was detained overnight in DFW on the 22nd, she still would be in BPT by the 23rd.
            If she left MSP on the 23rd, she would be in BPT also on the 23rd.
            Both scenarios get her in before the 24th.
            If she planned a flight for the 24th, then that was completely infeasible.

          2. But if she arrived on the 25th, how did she get to the church as the procession was leaving for the cemetery on the 24th? Time warp.

          3. Notice how the dates are not being addressed but a post defending the negative comment is. This whole thing is warped!

          4. In two previous jobs I had to deal with escalated complaints and appeals, it was a small part of my job, but every once in a while we got some outlandish complaints where the facts reported were not even close to what really happened but it was clear that the case was partially true. For example, the OP is real, her uncle really died, and she possibly missed the funeral, but something else happened causing her to miss it, we have no idea, an the OP made up all of the flight stories. Just a theory, but I always saw things like this an they were weird. Or people would combine two different issues that happened to them, that were unrelated. It was quite bizarre. Thatch the theory I am going to apply to this case. Why its not addressed, I don’t know, as CE is usually a fan of posters cyber sleuthing.

          5. You’re missing the point of “Can this trip be saved?” – it is a borderline case and I’m asking if I should mediate. I did pass this along to American, and it turned me down.

          6. I’ll pass this back to you in that someone found the Obit and the dates in the article don’t match up.

          7. Thanks for sharing that information. I’ve already asked American to review this; it did, and has decided to let things stand where they are. I also note a comment from Kaster’s sister, in which she says the dates were different than the ones initially given to me. Good to know, but it changes nothing. The case is already closed.

          8. Yes the case is closed as it should be. Such a weird story. How did the dates get so messed up? You might hired some of your readers to do some checking on facts, they seem to do a pretty good job of finding things!

          9. Well sleuthing is really not the goal of anyone in this site.
            I really believe that the site is dedicated to LEARNING – so others won’t make the same mistake.

  35. If it is very important to attend any function, go a day earlier, definitely less chance of missing the event. For instances such as cruises and other planned activities, you can get there a day early to prevent any last minute delays. Yet there are instances when getting to the event early are not an option and it is unfortunate that there was a long delay when she had limited time to get to the funeral.

    1. Agreed. When possible. A funeral is unexpected and tends to have a short time frame for action. Arriving a day early could easily be impossible.

    2. Yes, people should give advance notice of dying.
      When a good friend of mine’s wife died, I had to take a very circuitous route. Instead of $500, it ended up costing about $1500. Got to the hotel about 1 am, slept a few hours, went to the funeral.

      Just about didn’t make it, can understand how that happens.
      Condolences…but it is a circumstance, don’t hold AA responsible.

    3. If you read the story, she did go the day before — the flight the day before was cancelled, then her reschedule flight was delayed — as a rolling delay, until it was too late to drive.

      Unfortunately, because she did take the delayed flight, there may not be much of a legal leg to stand on (though I think a “voucher” of more than $150 would be a good gesture). If she had chosen not to go, she could have demanded it be a “trip in vain”, be flown back to her starting point, and get a full refund. But I’m sure it was worth being with her family even after the funeral service. I can’t fault her for that.

  36. People want cheap airfare. Now you get what you pay for, unfortunately. It’s sad that she did not make t to her uncle’s funeral on time but these sorts of things happen every day. Litigation only drives up costs for everyone. Pay more for the refundable tickets or purchase trip insurance. Or, leave the day prior.

    1. I would also add, have a back up plan. Know what car companies are at the airport, know the travel time to you destination, know what hotels are at the airport, check out both prices to get an idea of what you might expect to pay should you need to pay out of pocket. Have cash and credit cards (yes, more than one) with you. Know what other flights your carrier has after your arriving or departing flight. Know what other carriers fly to your destination just in case you need to ask for your ticket to be endorsed over (not often done anymore, but can be). If you think this is silly to know all this, then use a TA or stay home. Delays and cancellations happen more and more than ever before. Be prepared!

  37. The whole idea here people is that she needed to vent and probably look for some “sympathy” among others who have experienced the same. All she got is a bunch of negativity from people who have nothing better but to write nasty comments and make fun of others. Sad world it is indeed. Sure glad I don’t know any of you. Must be to stay on that pedestal that you put your perfect selves on.

    1. She got plenty of sympathy. What she didn’t get was a full refund. Neither did I in a similar situation. I blame myself for not planning better. You sound like the one on a pedestal preaching to a bunch of unsympathetic Neanderthals. If you feel so strongly about it, why don’t you send her a check for the money she spent on her ticket. All this because she arrived late for a funeral.

    2. No she didn’t need to vent. She wanted something more than she thought she deserved. Travel has glitches, so be prepared.
      We don’t know their ages, we don’t know if she had taken the time to check out car prices before hand to know if she could do a one way rental, just in case. You need to be prepared for something coming up.
      There is also something funning in this story. How many funerals are held on Xmas? She doesn’t use the term, mosque or temple but she does use the term church. How many cemeteries are open on Xmas for burials and how many funeral homes are open on the holiday, too?

    3. I’ve never seen you here before, so I assume you are new. Might I gently suggest that if you would like to continue, it might not be such a great idea to insult the regulars (which I have seen twice)? Not the way to make friends and influence people. Other suggestion is to read, read, read before you post. You will get to know the regulars and their personalities. Sometimes people can be opinionated and the comments can get heated, but it usually comes from a good place. And most of the regulars are either very experienced travelers, or airline employees/travel agents. So much you can learn.

    4. I am gonna try to stay positive and summarize the suggestions already mentioned by all of us:
      (1) arrive at least a day early
      (2) avoid the last flight out (you have no or less fallback)
      (3) check flightstats dot com for the flights’ on-time performance history. The more unreliable, the more buffer or options you need.
      (4) plan for failure – what are your alternatives if Plan A fails?
      (5) don’t blame anyone else except yourself 🙂

    5. She got sympathy, but she’s being unrealistic in her claims – if she can’t take the truth, don’t ask for assistance from Chris!

  38. This happens in the airline world. Especially at Christmas. It is unfortunate but it is probably one of those things that just needs to be let go.

  39. A few comments about the comments.

    We don’t allow salty language or ad hominem attacks. If you see a comment, flag it. We’ll delete it.

    I’m allowed to call an RJ a crop duster if I want to. You’re allowed to post pictures of beautiful RJ interiors if you want to.

    You’re allowed to be disappointed that I’m not an airline fanboy. But I can recommend a blog or two written by unpaid airline employees, where they’ll call an RJ by its proper name and give it the respect you think it deserves. One of them even features goofy photoshopped images as a bonus, if you’re into that kind of thing.

  40. Don’t do anything for her. She made it there. Missed the service, but why couldn’t she drive from Dallas?

    Anyway, we don’t know the reason for the cancellation and that has an effect on my opinion. Regardless, she got there. She got $150. Would just move on to the next case.

  41. There are no guarantees. The carrier offered a $150 voucher. Their spokesperson wrote a letter of apology.
    In my estimation, if anyone is in the position where they must get to a place at a certain day and time, I advise them to drive.
    1200 miles in two days is not unreasonable for most people.
    I am no fan of air carriers. Through the years, air carriers have gone from service oriented companies who bent over backward to ensure the comfort of their customers to cattle carters in an aluminum tube.
    That said, AA did get this woman to her destination. Not on time, but they fulfilled their end of the contract.

  42. My husband and I live in a smaller town, leaving via the airport is great except that flights are often delayed or cancelled and you simply have to plan for that. We have come to believe that the airlines are prioritizing their resources. IF they need that plane in some other locale that has more passengers, they’ll cancel the flight out of our town and utilize the plane there. There just isn’t any more reasonable explanation for what they do.

  43. After reading many of the comments, I feel compelled to fill in the blanks and set the record straight. When I contacted Mr. Elliott, I included my original letter to AA along with all the documents I had with regards to the trip which clearly stated dates, times, etc.. There should have been NO confusion as to dates, etc. if whomever would have looked at the attachments. FACTS: my uncle passed away Dec. 23rd and we needed to wait for a funeral date (which was Friday Dec. 27th at 1:00 pm). We spent part of Christmas Eve looking for airfare. We were booked for a flight on Dec. 26th thru Dallas and than into Beaumont. Our flight to Beaumont was canceled as we should have been leaving. Very little wiggle room for making other arrangements. We were re-booked on a flight out of Dallas the next morning going into Alexandria as it was an earlier flight. When that flight got delayed 3 times we finally left Dallas at 11:00 am for a 45 min flight. Than we had to do the paperwork for the rental car which got us on the road at 12:15 for a 1 1/2 hr drive. The car cost us the $392 for 48 hrs. because our return flight was out of Beaumont so we were returning the rental car to a different airport. You all seem to think that it’s so easy to make changes on the fly and anticipate all the things that can go wrong. I have never been in this area before so for us to commit to a 5 hour drive in the middle of the night wasn’t something I was ready to do. As far as calling me a liar….shame on all of you. I have better things to do than make up a story because I was out of “coupons” (whatever the heck that means). I have followed Mr. Elliott’s column in our local paper for awhile now and have admired him for other cases he has accomplished to “fix”. I just thought I would ask for his help on this because none of us should have to just accept this kind of treatment as the normal. Airlines are big business with little regard for people who have to rely on them for certain services. I am just amazed at how many of you just accept this as a normal way of doing business. I certainly wouldn’t over look that kind behavior when I buy something and part of “it” is missing. All I wanted was something I paid for – and don’t feel that any of us should have to settle for anything less. By just accepting this treatment, we are condoning their behavior.

    By our accepting the voucher for $150 limits us to having to travel with AA again and more than likely having to spend more money with them. How is that “making it right” for us? I would have much rather been able to spend more time with our family than try to keep one step ahead of the airline.

    Perhaps more of us should try to stand up for what is right than just accept what is wrong. If any of you still have questions about my request or still see holes in the story, please just ask me. It’s better to go to the source rather than try to fill in the blanks with your own thoughts.

    Thanks to those of you for your vote of confidence. For those of you “doubters” ……. I have no comment.

    Bonnie Kaster – aka…..OP

    1. Just like you, many of us also stand up for what we think is right.
      But unlike you, we don’t go around demanding that the airline refund our whole ticket after we have used it and we do not demand the airline pay for our car rental charges.

      The way I see it, you can’t accept the fact that the outcome of a flight is probabilistic.
      Your flight from Dallas to Beaumont has a historical on-time performance rating of only 43% and gets cancelled about 10% of the time. That is exactly the odds you bought. Just like most things in life, sometimes you pick winners and sometimes you pick losers. It’s your choice.

    2. Bonnie, thanks for clarifying the timeline. To the extent that I misinterpreted what you said in your original letter to me, I apologize. I was disappointed by American’s response, and like you, I really don’t have anything to say to your critics. If we accept this customer “service” we are condoning it. I choose not to accept it.

  44. I agree that stuff happens and AA met their contract. But, I bothered that they got the run around about flight delays and cancelations. If they had known how delayed they were going to be, they might have been able to make different arrangements for a ride to the funeral, but with just, “the flight is delayed” every half hour for a few hours. Granted the airline obviously doesn’t necessarily know how long the delay will be, but even telling the OP that it’s weather vs mechanical gives them an idea that they need to make alternate arrangements.

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