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Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-18-2007, 10:04 PM   #1
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Is this normal airline practice?

My 16yo brother was going to fly from Dayton,OH to New Orleans,LA on Saturday on Airtran Airlines. Due to the weather in the Northeast, the plane never arrived from Baltimore so they canceled the flight. I thought in a situation like this, Airtran would try to rebook you on another flight using the fare you already paid, but they wanted $900 more so my brother chose not to go and got a refunded fare. Is this standard practice or just Airtran?
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 12:17 AM   #2
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

I have not have it happen to me.... and I have never heard of them trying to charge more money... they were supposed to get you there at the price you paid... they should fulfill the contract...
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 01:41 AM   #3
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

Probably just Airtran.

When this happened to me with American, they actually booked me on another airline (United) to get me to my destination on time.

I was highly appreciative given the fact that this was the day after my wedding, and if we didn't make our connecting flight we would be stuck in Los Angeles for an extra 24 hours instead of being on the beaches of Moorea (small island near Tahiti).
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 07:46 AM   #4
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

After the Jet Blue fiasco last month, you're going to see more & more airlines just cancel flights rather than take a remote chance that passengers will sit on the ground for 10 hours.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 08:04 AM   #5
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjpatt
I thought in a situation like this, Airtran would try to rebook you on another flight using the fare you already paid, but they wanted $900 more so my brother chose not to go and got a refunded fare. Is this standard practice or just Airtran?
It will become standard practice. Have you noticed that every plane you fly on lately is full? - There are not the available seats on airlines that there used to be.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 10:48 AM   #6
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

We had a great little trip to New Orleans on American Airlines last month from Los Angeles connected through Dallas. As we were landing in Dallas we remarked "Oh-look it's snowing how pretty". Well we got off in the airport to discover that 85 flights were cancelled including ours. Nobody was at the gate to tell us what to do. Nobody was available for imediate help. We eventually went outside of the secure area to "rebook" our flight on the advice of a gate agent at another gate (not ours). The line to rebook was at least 3 hours long and only 5 or so ticket counter agents were working. All of the passengers were steemed at the very poor service and lack of information. There were no flights out that day or the next day. We ended up spending an unplanned night at an airport hotel in Dallas. What a maddening experience.

After about a dozen phone calls we were able to fly the next day to New Orleans and were able to catch our Caribbean cruise leaving the next day.

After our (great) cruise we caught a cab back to the New Orleans airport only to learn at the airport that our flight had (again) been cancelled. They tried to reschedule a flights back via Chicago that got in at 2 AM. But luckily we got a gate agent to give us the "better" flight back to Los Angeles via Miami that got in earlier at midnight. What was supposed to be a relatively short flight turned into a marathon all day and night event.

So we got screwed both ways on our trip.

This winter travel really sucks and I will be reluctant to do it again anytime soon.

The one very small upside is that I got lots of frequent flier miles

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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 11:26 AM   #7
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

This does not sound like my idea of fun!! I'm glad that I don't have any desire to travel a lot in retirement.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 11:45 AM   #8
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

These problems are less of a problem in retirement. They are a BIG problem when traveling on spring break with kids where you don't have a lot of flexibility.

IMHO, when traveling in winter get trip insurance if booking forward travel (like a cruse) and leave at least a 24-hour cushion for disruptions if you really gotta be somewhere by a specific time.

There just aren't the empty seats available to accommodate a lot of re-booking.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 12:48 PM   #9
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
These problems are less of a problem in retirement.
Being retired won't save you from delayed and cancelled flights. You'll have to endure this just like the rest of us if you travel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
IMHO, when traveling in winter get trip insurance if booking forward travel (like a cruse) and leave at least a 24-hour cushion for disruptions if you really gotta be somewhere by a specific time.
24-hours would not have been enough time for our little disaster trip. Luckily we went out 2 days in advance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
There just aren't the empty seats available to accommodate a lot of re-booking.
That is the problem in a nutshell. When they cancel 85 flights there just aren't enough left over seats to book the canceled people on. That's when you get stranded for a day or two in airport-hell limbo.

For what it's worth, this is the system that we must want cause none of us will pay a nickel extra for a flight. We all vote every time we fly for the worst flight experience ever if it can save us a few dollars. It's a race to the bottom.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 12:58 PM   #10
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

One of the differences is if you have a paper ticket or an eticket... not sure about this, but I have read that if you have a paper ticket, they are supposed to book you on any available flight on any airline if they can not get you on one of their flights (it comes to mind 2 hours)...

BUT, if you have an eticket... you don't have this right to use another airline... they can just make you wait until they have a seat on one of their planes..
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 01:10 PM   #11
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

It's not paper versus electronic tickets.

When we had our little travel mishap we had electronic tickets. American Airline whom we booked with would re-book you an any airline of which they had a code-share agreement with. The problem is that all of the available seats filled up. There was absolutely nothing to book. Just do some math. If 85 flights with maybe 250 people each gets canceled then over 21000 people need seats. So if the other flights have maybe 10 spare seats each then it will take over 2000 flights before they can rebook all of the stranded people. That can and did take days to get everyone traveling onward.

That's the system we have now. There is just very very little spare capacity. LAck of capacity means that when flights are cancelled it can be a major inconvienience.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 01:20 PM   #12
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

Your treatment after a delayed or canceled flight depends greatly on the price you paid for your ticket. Most people get the cheapest fare they can find. That's fine, just understand what happens when the flight doesn't make it.

The smaller airlines like AirTran are less likely to be able to put you on another airline even if they wanted to.

Full fare refundable tickets cost a lot more than what most people pay.

I used to fly standby a lot, but after 9/11 it got vastly more difficult to find any open seats on planes. That was part of why I moved back near family...too difficult to fly cheaply and frequently. I hear nowadays that they're doing other tricks to fill up unsold seating with frequent mile travelers and other incentives. I'm guessing it's darn near impossible for a non-rev passenger to get anywhere reliably these days.

Since fewer and fewer people are paying anywhere near full fare, most people are going to be sorely disappointed when flights are canceled or connections are missed.

Anecdotal story: My last holidays before moving back I booked revenue tickets a month or two in advance. I flew AirTran on Thanksgiving because AA only had higher priced seats available a month in advance. There was a terrible wind storm on my outbound flight, and I was delayed a few hours on the ground (in the plane) along with all the other planes and missed my connecting flight in Atlanta. It was late, and all they could do was put us on the next morning's flight. They gave us a phone number to get discounted hotel rooms and I think a voucher for some airport food. Most people were really ticked off at this and throwing a fit trying to get more, but I don't think anybody got more.

I'm not picking on AirTran here, I'm just reiterating that low priced tickets don't get you much help if there are delays. I don't expect any other low cost carrier or likely even cheap big airline seats will get you more. And apparently the discount food an hotels is farmed out to a 3rd-party company that did a pretty decent job I think, although my hotel room was directly under the approaching landing traffic...maybe 10 feet under it max if my ears are any judge.

By the way, although AirTran is a low cost carrier they have nice new planes, for what that's worth.

EDIT: In response to the original question, that doesn't really sound like standard procedure to me. However they're not going to bump revenue passengers off a future flight to make room for other delayed passengers, and they're not that big of an airline. I wonder if they just didn't have the capacity to make up the difference and were fully booked. Was the $900 extra for an AirTran flight or another airline? Or perhaps they just couldn't get any extra capacity in the time your brother had available. Or maybe things are worse than last time I flew.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 01:34 PM   #13
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

By the way, passenger volume is a factor to consider when getting cheap tickets. In Indy, AirTran had only one gate and just a few flights a day to Atlanta. Such a presence may have a lot of trouble getting access to a second gate in case of a delay that causes two planes to be there at once, thus delaying things further. Also, a plane out of commission just exacerbates the problem of small volume and few flights.

An airline with more flights in and out of that airport will better be able to manage a planeful of people who didn't get to go when they should have. With one gate and a handful of flights a day a missed planeful-worth of people may take two or more days to get out via their available excess capacity.

It's also handy to know where the airlines' hub cities are and how much capacity they have at the destination city. Again, where there's more capacity there's more ability to get people moved after missing a flight.

Airlines don't have spare planes and crews sitting around to add make-up flights. Those planes are scheduled for maximum usage to get the most revenue out of their expensive investments. A plane sitting on the ground and not about to head somewhere is just sucking money.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 02:28 PM   #14
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peaceful_Warrior
Probably just Airtran.

When this happened to me with American, they actually booked me on another airline (United) to get me to my destination on time.

I was highly appreciative given the fact that this was the day after my wedding, and if we didn't make our connecting flight we would be stuck in Los Angeles for an extra 24 hours instead of being on the beaches of Moorea (small island near Tahiti).
Not sure what the official policy is (there is a technical term for it, will try to find it) for when you miss these flights.

I once missed a flight out of DC to CA and it was the last one for the day, they told me, "go see if someone else will take you" - i basically went to the next counter (united) and they took my ticket from the other company (a low budget airline) and i even got a one way ride vs. my previous one w/ a connection...no questions asked, no fees paid.

I think this applies to all airlines...
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 02:31 PM   #15
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

http://www.airtran.com/faq/q/will_airtran[...]

look what i found..i think it works the other way around too...perhaps the rep he talked to didn't know what they were talking about - and was not being helpful to a teen...

EDIT: Link shortened - BMJ
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 04:58 PM   #16
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Masterblaster
It's not paper versus electronic tickets.

When we had our little travel mishap we had electronic tickets. American Airline whom we booked with would re-book you an any airline of which they had a code-share agreement with. The problem is that all of the available seats filled up. There was absolutely nothing to book. Just do some math. If 85 flights with maybe 250 people each gets canceled then over 21000 people need seats. So if the other flights have maybe 10 spare seats each then it will take over 2000 flights before they can rebook all of the stranded people. That can and did take days to get everyone traveling onward.

That's the system we have now. There is just very very little spare capacity. LAck of capacity means that when flights are cancelled it can be a major inconvienience.
What I was talking about is your LEGAL rights... of course they will put you on a code share... but what if a non code share airline has empty seats I believe if you have a paper ticket they put you on that flight... with an eticket, you wait...

Anybody here know of what I am saying??
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 05:18 PM   #17
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

OK... did a search.... I was wrong...

http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publi...ts.htm#delayed

3. DELAYED AND CANCELED FLIGHTS
Airlines don't guarantee their schedules, and you should realize this when planning your trip. There are many things that can-and often do-make it impossible for flights to arrive on time. Some of these problems, like bad weather, air traffic delays, and mechanical repairs, are hard to predict and beyond the airlines' control. If your flight is delayed, try to find out how late it will be. But keep in mind that it is sometimes difficult for airlines to estimate the total duration of a delay during its early stages. In so- called "creeping delays," developments occur which were not anticipated when the carrier made its initial estimate of the length of the delay. Weather that had been forecast to improve can instead deteriorate, or a mechanical problem can turn out to be more complex than initially determined. If the problem is with local weather or air traffic control, all flights will probably be late and there's not much you or the airline can do to speed up your departure. If there's a mechanical problem with the plane for your particular flight or if the crew is delayed on an incoming flight, you might be better off trying to arrange another flight, as long as you don't have to pay a cancellation penalty or higher fare for changing your reservations. (It is sometimes easier to make such arrangements from a pay phone than at a ticket counter.) If you find a flight on another airline, ask the first airline to endorse your ticket to the new carrier; this could save you a fare increase. Remember, however, that there is no rule requiring them to do this. If your flight is canceled, most airlines will rebook you on the first flight of theirs to your destination on which space is available, at no additional charge. If this involves a significant delay find out if another carrier has space, and ask the first airline to endorse your ticket. Finding extra seats may be difficult, however, especially over holidays and other peak travel times.

Each airline has its own policies about what it will do for delayed passengers waiting at the airport; there are no federal requirements. If you are delayed, ask the airline staff if they will pay for meals or a phone call. Some airlines, often those charging very low fares, do not provide any amenities to stranded passengers. Others may not offer amenities if the delay is caused by bad weather or something else beyond the airline's control. Contrary to popular belief, airlines are not required to compensate passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled. As discussed in the chapter on overbooking, compensation is required by law only when you are "bumped" from a flight that is oversold. Airlines almost always refuse to pay passengers for financial losses resulting from a delayed flight. If the purpose of your trip is to close a potentially lucrative business deal, to give a speech or lecture, to attend a family function, or to be present at any time-sensitive event, you might want to allow a little extra leeway and take an earlier flight. In other words, airline delays and cancellations aren't unusual, and defensive counter- planning is a good idea when time is your most important consideration. When booking your flight remember that a departure early in the day is less likely to be delayed than a later flight, due to "ripple" effects throughout the day. Also, if an early flight does get delayed or canceled, you have more rerouting options. If you book the last flight of the day and it is canceled, you could get stuck overnight. You may select a connection (change of planes) over a nonstop or direct flight because of the convenient departure time or lower fare. However, a change of planes always involves the possibility of a misconnection. If you have a choice of connections and the fares and service are equivalent, choose the one with the least-congested connecting airport, so it will be easier to get to your second flight. You may wish to take into consideration the potential for adverse weather if you have a choice of connecting cities. When making your reservation for a connection, always check the amount of time between flights. Ask yourself what will happen if the first flight is delayed; if you don't like the answer, pick another flight or ask the agent to "construct" a connection that allows more time.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-19-2007, 05:19 PM   #18
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

Last week my wife and I came back from a trip to the Caribbean. We missed a connection in Atlanta. We were put on another airline by Delta (to American Airlines). They sent us via Puerto Rico for a connection to St. Martin. Except the PR to St. Martin leg was standby. Didn't get out that evening. As our delay was weather related the airline wouldn't pay for our hotel ("not our fault"). That evening stay in PR cost us $320 plus food, $60 bucks each way to the hotel and $200 dollars for a five hour nap. Got to St. Martin the next morning and couted ourselves lucky.

Flying is tedious and to be avoided.
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?
Old 03-20-2007, 09:01 PM   #19
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Re: Is this normal airline practice?

Just to disclose the rest of the story that I learned today so that Airtran does not recieve blame where blame is not due. Airtran did book as many people as they could, but there were not enough seats. The $900 fare was for another airline that Airtran did not have an agreement with.
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