What to do about the ‘circumstances beyond our control’ excuse

The excuse had a familiar ring to it.

Craig Zimmett’s daughter, Alissa, was supposed to fly from Miami to Gainesville, Fla., but she didn’t. Instead, her commuter flight took an unexpected detour to Jacksonville, Fla., after pilots were erroneously notified that some airport communication systems in Gainesville had stopped working. The airline said these circumstances were beyond its control.
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How travelers can challenge the industry’s “act of God” excuses

cephotoclub/Shutterstock
cephotoclub/Shutterstock
It’s the time of year when the travel industry likes to play the weather card. Couldn’t check into your hotel? Blame it on that distant tornado. Flight canceled? It’s the hurricane’s fault, even though it’s hundreds of miles away. A big repair bill for your rental car? Thank last week’s hailstorm.

Usually, the weather — often referred to as an “act of God” in a ticket contract — is a perfectly legitimate reason for a delay or a service interruption. But not always.

Shannon Duane remembers a recent US Airways flight from Jacksonville, Fla., to Charlotte on a holiday weekend. As she prepared to board, she saw a bolt of lightning across the airfield. The airline announced that it would delay boarding for another 15 minutes because of the thunderstorm.
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