Should we tell people like Howard Uman to get lost?

Yesterday’s update from the trenches of consumer advocacy sparked an interesting debate. Do we leave consumers who don’t have a case to fend for themselves?

I ask because some of you apparently believe we should. If consumers are unaware of a company policy or aren’t following the rules, we should tell them to get lost. Nicely, but firmly.

Beat it. We only help deserving consumers.
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Forced to check my laptop and now it’s in pieces

La Freta Carter Dalton’s son was boarding an EasyJet flight from London to Barcelona when the overhead bins ran out of space. A crewmember told him he couldn’t board with his laptop computer — it had to be checked.

You can probably guess what happened next, right?
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How long is too long for an airline ticket refund?

Talk about an airline delay! / Photo by Phil Ostrow - Flickr
Question: We have been trying to get a refund from Southwest Airlines for almost one year. It’s a refund that Southwest fully admits it owes, but always finds another excuse not to pay. I hope you can help us.

Last spring, my family had tickets to fly from Fort Myers, Fla., to Milwaukee, Wis. When we arrived at the gate, a Southwest agent told us our flight was oversold and that all seats had been assigned. We were denied boarding.
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Can this trip be saved? “I fail to understand the behavior of your shuttle bus driver”

Christine Glovier didn’t have an ideal travel experience when she flew from Philadelphia to Manchester, NH, on US Airways. But is an apology enough for what happened?

Glovier is a loyal US Airways customer and has never missed a flight. But when she arrived at the airport, a ticket agent sent her to a shuttle bus. She had to go through the security line twice, which ran down the clock.

There was still plenty of time to make her flight. But then the fun started.
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The American way to handle a mechanical delay — or not

About half an hour into the redeye flight from Maui to Los Angeles last Wednesday, the cabin lights abruptly flashed on. But that didn’t wake me up. It was the captain’s announcement that jarred me to alertness.

“We’ve had a fire in the forward galley,” he said with the professional detachment you’d expect from an airline pilot. “The fire has been put out. We’re diverting to Honolulu.”

It was stranger-than-fiction way to end a fascinating trip to Maui with my son (more on that on National Geographic Traveler’s Intelligent Travel blog next week). Our adventure began with a tsunami warning a week before and an evacuation from our ground-floor room at the Grand Wailea.

I didn’t think it could get any more interesting than that. I was wrong.

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“We knew something was wrong when there was no place to check in for our flight”

Flight schedules change. It’s a simple fact of life in the air.

But timing is important. If the flight is rescheduled before your departure, you normally have an opportunity to take another flight of your airline’s choosing or to get a full refund. If it’s canceled at the time of your departure, you’re entitled to more compensation.
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