That’s one fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into with your OneWorld flight

turbo83 / Shutterstock.com

When I read about flights like Prabir Mehta’s, I can’t help but exclaim: airline alliances! Curse you, airline alliances!

You might do the same when you read about his flight from Atlanta to Bombay via Amman, Jordan. They were tickets by US Airways and Royal Jordanian, both of whom belong to the OneWorld airline alliance. Mehta had booked them using his frequent flier miles.

Now, I should say right up front that I’m deeply skeptical of airline alliances. Sure, they allow frequent fliers to collect and redeem “miles” on reciprocal carriers, but they also give airlines broad permission to collude with each other. Too often, these alliances are good for airlines, but bad for consumers.

And loyalty programs? Oh, don’t even get me started.

That’s my bias. If you disagree, have at it in the comments, but you are wrong.

Anyway, here’s what happened to Mehta. Two weeks before his departure, the connecting flight from Amman to Mumbai was canceled and he was rebooked 2 days later. His original flight had him overnighting in Amman, and since he was flying in business class, Royal Jordanian had agreed to cover his hotel expenses.

Bear in mind, though, that US Airways “owns” his ticket, so it has the final say-so as to what happens with the scheduling.

US Airways did not inform me of these flight changes despite having my e-mail address and phone number on file. I happened to notice there was an issue when I tried to pull up my itinerary on the US Airways Android app.

US Airways agents refused to give me any other options besides the ones I had been presented. I could either accept the new flights and dates or US Airways would cancel my scheduled trip. This, despite there being multiple US Airways and OneWorld partner flights to Mumbai on my original dates with seats available for purchase.

As a result of these changes, I had to pay for three nights’ stay in Jordan. Royal Jordanian refused to compensate me for the hotel stay, including the original one free night promised at the airport hotel.

US Airways agents could have offered travel vouchers, miles, cash to help me out but refused to do so. They could have rearranged my flights on other airlines but they refused to do so. I felt like a hostage with two bad choices.

Let’s take these one at a time. The scheduling — yes, US Airways should have notified Mehta as soon as possible. It’s not entirely clear why it didn’t. In terms of scheduling the next flight, that’s also up to the discretion of the carrier. Award tickets are based on availability. As of now, there are no rules in place that would allow a passenger like Mehta to select his replacement flight. US Airways can choose a new flight three days later, and he has to live with it.

Is that fair? You tell me.

Could US Airways have been more helpful? Based on what Mehta has told me, the answer is “yes.” But I wanted to get another perspective on this, so I contacted US Airways on his behalf. It responded directly to him by phone:

I got a call back from Wayne at US Airways customer relations citing your contacting US Airways.

Unfortunately, he was barely sympathetic and not helpful at all. I guess passengers who redeem miles are second class citizens.

He said that since this was a schedule change, there was nothing US Airways could do. He suggested that I contact Royal Jordanian, which I have already done. They pointed me right back at US Airways, since this flight was ticketed through US Airways. So I’m now without recourse.

I personally think it is absurd that an airline can get away calling a canceled flight a schedule change and not offering any compensation.

US Airways could have helped me out by either:

1. Putting me on one of the many OneWorld flights from ATL-BOM where plenty of seats were available for sale, or

2. Compensating me for my hotel nights and expenses. I am willing to accept miles, vouchers, cash.

Am I being unreasonable here?

I don’t think Mehta is being unreasonable. I mean, he earned those miles to get him from Atlanta to Mumbai in business class. As a loyal customer, you’d think he would be given extra-special treatment — not forced to languish three days in Amman to wait for the next flight with a mileage seat. But maybe I’m being idealistic here. Maybe miles really are as worthless as I’ve always said they are.

There’s one last thing I can do, but it’s a long shot. I can contact Royal Jordanian and ask it to help Mehta with a combination of miles or a voucher. But I’m pretty sure that the airline was just following its own rules, too, and shouldn’t be on the hook for three hotel room nights.

Should I mediate Prabir Mehta's case with Royal Jordanian?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend