I witnessed a murder and I needed to cancel my Spirit flights

After witnessing a horrific crime in front of her home, Holly Jackson needed to cancel the Spirit Airlines flights she purchased through CheapOair.com. The online travel agency wouldn’t help her, and Spirit initially said it “couldn’t” help her. Now what? Read more “I witnessed a murder and I needed to cancel my Spirit flights”

“Most horrible service and support from Travelocity”

How do you even respond to someone like Harley Feldman? There are no words.

“Never do business with Travelocity,” he writes in our help forums today. You can read the entire painful thread here.
Read more ““Most horrible service and support from Travelocity””

Here’s an update on yesterday’s Southwest story — and how you can help

The response to yesterday’s story about how a Southwest Airlines pilot held the plane for the grandfather of a murder victim has been overwhelming. Here’s an update.

A lot of readers have asked how they can help. Nancy, the toddler’s step-grandmother, has asked that donations to be made to the Aurora, Colo., location of the Ronald McDonald House, which has arranged for her husband and step-daughter to stay in a local hotel at no charge. Donations should be made in the name of Caden Rodgers.

Here are a few details about the case. The boy, Caden Rodgers, was reportedly body-slammed by his mother’s live-in boyfriend, last week. He died of his injuries on Thursday, according to reports. Here are a few more specifics on this horrific case. I can’t bring myself to write more.

Nancy also had a few comments after reading some of the feedback on the original post.

Yes, Mark works for Northrop Grumman. However, as all his flying is done under a government contract he is required to purchase the lowest fare possible per a DOD directive. That is usually SWA when it’s factored in there’s no checked baggage fee.

2. While Mark DOES work for Northrop Grumman, all travel purchases are made via American Express Travel. There’s nothing on his account or ticket that says, “Hey, this guy works for Northrop Grumman!”

3. Mark is a minion at NGC. His bosses might fly business class, but he doesn’t, much to his chagrin.

I’m grateful to the readers of this site for their compassionate response to this case, and to Southwest Airlines and its principled pilot for holding the plane.

“My aunt and uncle have both been shot and killed”

To those of you who say airlines don’t have a heart and who think they never bend a rule for a customer in need, let me introduce Teresa Stewart. She was on a cruise vacation recently when tragedy struck, and she needed to reschedule her Continental Airlines flight.

Did the airline throw the book at her? If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might be forgiven for thinking it would. But it didn’t.

Here’s what Stewart sent to Continental:

I am very sad to be writing this email to you both, but I very much need your help. I am writing this email on the Explorer of the Seas, which is at sea and due into Newark tomorrow morning.

I received tragic news from my mother yesterday — my aunt and uncle have both been shot and killed. As you can imagine, my entire family is reeling from this tragedy, and there is nothing I want more than to be home with them.

Our original intention on this vacation was to stay a few days in New York City before returning home to Austin. Understandably, I no longer want to do that. I have no option other than staying on this ship until we return to Newark, but once back on land I would like to take the first available flight home (preferably to Houston, where my family is).

I have contacted Continental reservations to try to change my flights, and was told that I could not return to Houston without buying a new ticket, and changing my return to Austin would cost close to $700 for the three of us.

I am a travel agent and I’m aware that those are your rules and that your contract of carriage supports the $700 charge. However, I’m afraid that at the tail end of a two week vacation, my family simply does not have $700 to spare right now. I am at your mercy to get home to my family as soon as possible. Please help me.

Under normal circumstances the death of a relative wouldn’t qualify for a waiver of an airline’s strict nonrefundability rules. But these were tragic circumstances (Stewart shared some of the details with me privately, and I am certain that Continental felt the same way).

Stewart followed my advice and send a polite letter to two Continental executives. Here’s the response:

Please allow me to first express our deepest sympathy in the tragic loss of your loved ones. I have booked you for travel from Newark to Houston on tomorrow March 6, 2009 flight 811 this flight leaves Newark at 3pm and arrives into Houston at 6:04 pm.

I have booked your daughter and husband on a return flight on tomorrow March 6, 2009 flight 450 leaves Newark at 2:15 pm and arrives in Austin at 5:33 pm.

I have waived all fees as a gesture of goodwill.

Wow. It’s comforting to know that people with compassion are still in charge at Continental. It’s just a matter of finding them, says Stewart.

Because of your column, I knew exactly where to turn for the contact info of someone who could help me, and I knew to tell them exactly what I wanted.

Not only had I called Continental once from the ship, but my co-worker had called their travel agent desk for me twice…all three times we were told it would be almost $700, and there was no way to change my destination city. Without the email addresses on your site, I am confident that I would not have made it home on Friday.

Nice work, Continental.