No one likes having their flight canceled.
Especially in the middle of winter, seated in a plane, waiting for takeoff on the Chicago airport tarmac, a day after Christmas.
Having your flight canceled can be a wildcard looming over any holiday air travel, but Pat Case took the gamble. Case and her spouse were ready to taxi for four hours while waiting for a break in the weather. But no dice.
United Airlines did not get her home to Baltimore because it couldn’t. Case eventually got herself to Philadelphia because she could.
With her flight canceled, what can she do now?
When an airline cancels a flight, it’s obligated to reroute passengers to their destination on its next available flight. Of course, conditions and seat availability permitting.
United’s policy appears a bit more open to variation and flexibility than others depending on interpretation.
When an airline is forced to cancel your flight, reimbursement for ancillary expenses such as overnight accommodations and land transportation is at the discretion of the good (or bad) will of the airline agent at hand. And even that may be subject to a myriad of rules and policy complications.
Wait — what if the passenger must cancel? Never mind. Don’t get me started.
Case was aware of the trials and tribulations of planning air travel during the holiday and winter season. So she waited for United to take another crack at getting her back home. Soon the airline found her a seat on an earlier flight to Philadelphia.
She went for it. No time to care about the loss of economy plus seating or worry about the two-hour drive to Baltimore from Philadelphia.
A two-hour drive? For many, that is not that much more than a drive to their closest airport. For Case it was better than not going anywhere at all.
But what about reimbursement for the cost of a one-way car rental? Good luck with that.
Will United Airlines refund her economy seating on the canceled flight?
“Several weeks later, I contacted United via their web page and requested a refund for the economy plus seating we didn’t get and our car rental to get from Philly to Baltimore,” said Case.
“I received the seat refund promptly,” she went on.
Should she go for the gold and ask again about the car rental?
While some might argue a two-hour drive is close enough to Baltimore to fulfill United’s contractual obligation, Case decided she might as well ask. She received a nice email from an executive customer service representative. That employee promised to look into the car rental reimbursement.
“Later, I received a check that covered the car rental expense as well as two generous travel certificates good for 12 months,” she exclaimed. “Way more than I expected!”
Just like that. Even weeks after the fact.
That kind of accommodation shouldn’t be unusual. It should be routine.