Can this trip be saved? Flight attendant spills boiling water on my hand

Tea time didn’t go as planned for Star Rivera.

On a recent Virgin America flight, an attendant accidentally spilled hot water on her hand, she says. Accidents like this happen all the time — in fact, I’m surprised they don’t happen more often, with all the turbulence planes encounter — but she needs to know what to do next.

I’ll get to the specifics of her case in a moment. But first, a few words about mishaps that occur when you travel by air. There’s no easy way to know where to turn when something goes wrong, and it all depends on what phase of your trip you’re in. If you’re at a screening area, and you slip and fall, it could be the TSA’s jurisdiction. At the gate? That’s the airport. On the plane? Start with the airline.

Every airline has a special department for claims. In Virgin America’s case, it’s referred to as “guest care.” Details are in its contract of carriage (PDF).