The Travel Troubleshooter: How much is that coffee spill worth?

Question: My husband and I recently flew from Berlin to Newark on Continental Airlines. After about 45 minutes in the air, the flight attendants offered beverage service. I politely requested coffee.

There was no turbulence. When the flight attendant reached over my husband to serve me in the window seat, she spilled the entire contents of a cup of scalding hot coffee directly into my lap. I jumped out of my seat and took off for the restroom. I was scalded, traumatized and very embarrassed. Everyone up and down the aisle was staring.

My pants were soaked through to my underwear. The seat cushion was soaked and my husband’s shirt and pants were wet as well. Both seat cushions had to be replaced. The flight attendant was apologetic and upon my return from the restroom, realized that I was hurt and in tears. She offered me ice. I declined. Another attendant came over a while later and offered me aspirin.

The attendant informed us that we would be required to complete an incident report, which we did. We were also given a voucher to have our clothes cleaned.

In consideration of the pain, embarrassment and inconvenience, I asked Continental to reimburse my frequent flier account 100,000 miles, which is what I paid for my ticket. Continental has refused. Can you help? — Sheryl Siegel, Wellington, Fla.

Answer: Continental was correct to apologize and offer you the cleaning certificates. But how much more are you entitled to? What’s your pain and suffering worth?
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