Here we go again! Another tarmac stranding incident — beware of outraged talking heads on TV

It seemed eerily familiar: A JetBlue aircraft, a freak storm, passengers stranded on an aircraft for hours — and all happened near the media capital of the world.

Except that it wasn’t Valentines Day 2007, the infamous ice storm that cost JetBlue its golden reputation, made a small-minded mainstream media obsessed with tarmac delays and led to tough but largely unnecessary new government rules on tarmac delays.

It was happening right now, in real time.
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Is this enough compensation? Stranded in Mexico City, and that’s your offer?

Something went wrong on Karen Huntoon’s trip from Reno, Nev., to Oaxaca, Mexico. Very wrong.

Her itinerary, which included stops in Phoenix and Mexico City, was confirmed by US Airways, she says. But it shouldn’t have been so confident about getting Huntoon to her final destination.

“When I went to check in for the next leg of my flight from Mexico City to Oaxaca I was told that my seats had been cancelled — both coming and going,” she says. “For five hours, I tried without success to get on the flight. I got absolutely no help. Finally, at 10 p.m. I had to go and find a hotel and then the next day take a cab to the airport and ride a bus for seven hours to Oaxaca.”
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Help! American Airlines stranded me in Dallas

Question: My wife and I just had a terrible experience with American Airlines. We went to Nashville to see my daughter graduate from a nursing graduate program at Vanderbilt University. We had confirmed tickets at 6:30 p.m. from Nashville back to San Jose, Calif. We got to the airport very early and asked if we could change to an earlier flight.

The attendant said there were plenty of standby seats and gave us tickets to Dallas and then from Dallas to San Jose. He also told us, “If you don’t get on, you just use your original tickets.” That was our first mistake. I didn’t process the fact that if we could not get on in Dallas, how could we take our original flights?

When we got to Dallas and tried to make the transfer, we were told that while there were empty seats on the plane and we were at the top of the standby list, the seats couldn’t be filled because of a “weight restriction” on the flight.

The ticket agent told us that there was a flight to San Francisco leaving soon with 56 empty seats on it. We raced across the huge airport to the San Francisco flight, which was just boarding. We were then told at the gate that we couldn’t make the switch, because our tickets were to San Jose.

Finally, we called for a supervisor. While he was pleasant, he reiterated the statement that we had to go to San Jose on our tickets. We could, however, get on the San Francisco flight for $780. The next day’s flights were full, so we paid another $780 to get on the plane.

I am very upset that American Airlines took no responsibility for the errors on their side, and made no attempt to compromise in any way with us. What do you think? — Stewart Kiritz, Monterey, Calif.

Answer: I’d be very upset, too. An American Airlines representative dispatched you to Dallas with the understanding you’d be able to make a timely connection to a San Jose flight. But thanks to a series of misunderstandings, you found yourself with only one option: buying two new one-way tickets.
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Good advice: Read every email twice before your first cup of coffee

Here’s a life lesson, courtesy of my friends at Starwood Hotels & Resorts: If you haven’t had your first cup of coffee in the morning, do yourself a favor and read every email twice.

In a pre-caffeinated state yesterday, I only skimmed Sandra St. Germain’s missive, which began,

I am writing to see what you suggest to resolve this before I am stranded in Egypt with my grandson and no hotel room.

I have been calling, several times, and even emailing as Le Méridien customer service representative told me to do, attaching a copy of my reservation, in an attempt to resolve the lost reservation issue.

Oh no! Grandmother. Stranded in Cairo. Needs help now.

I immediately went into rescue mode.
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