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.
A few minutes after Michele Loftin’s recent commuter flight from Sacramento to San Francisco pushed back from the gate, it made an abrupt U-turn and returned to the terminal. A United Airlines crew member told passengers that the aircraft’s de-icer test had failed, and the airline eventually canceled the flight. Read more “Are airlines bending the truth about weather delays?”
Anyone who thinks tarmac delays are dead was in for a little shock this week. Hundreds of flights were delayed in a series of powerful blizzards, and a few sat between the runway and the terminal for hours, waiting for the weather to clear.
The Transportation Department, which hasn’t fined a single airline for a tarmac delay since instituting its three-hour rule last spring, will almost certainly have to take some enforcement action this time. And, of course, there’s a big loophole: International flights remain exempt from the turnback rule.
More than two dozen international flights waited more than three hours from Monday to Wednesday to get to an open gate in New York, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
When it’s unable to operate the property safely. In a multiple-choice survey about hotel room refundability, 83 percent of readers voted “yes” on that option. There were 678 responses to the poll.
Another 65 percent said rooms should be given their money back when a guest has a verified emergency, such as a death in the family. Roughly half of the respondents said refunds should be given when a guest can’t make it because of an Act of God, like bad weather.
A majority of travelers (69 percent) said change fees and penalties should be suspended when bad weather prevented “a significant number” of travelers from from reaching the airport, hotel or port. Slightly fewer (62 percent) also said they should put the rules on “hold” when bad weather prevents the travel company from operating safely.
More than one-third (35 percent) said the rules should be waived when bad weather prevents an individual traveler from reaching the airport, hotel or port. And only 3 percent said a weather-related exception should never be made.
Last weekend’s blizzard was a warning to air travelers: Winter is only starting, and when bad weather moves in, your flight schedule isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Nicholas Holland learned that when he tried to fly from Reagan National Airport in Washington to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a Christmas party on Dec. 18. US Airways canceled his original flight and rescheduled him with a connection through Cleveland. But when a record snowstorm slammed Washington on Saturday, US Airways canceled the new flight, too. Read more “Flying in the snow: 6 lessons for coping with winter-weather delays”