Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Distressed Passenger Benefits Evaporate

"We Don't Do That Any More"

I flew to Nashville from Phoenix last week. Sadly, in both directions my aircraft experienced mechanical issues resulting in significant delays and connection issues. The mechanical delay on my return flight resulted in rebooking on another airline (Delta) and stranding me overnight.

In the past, when passengers were stranded due to weather, you were on your own. The airlines did not pay for hotels and/or food.

But when a passenger was stranded due to a bump (no seat available) or equipment failure, most airline's provided the distressed passenger an economy hotel room and meal vouchers.

This week Nashville's USAirways counter staff informed me that if I flew on my first leg to Charlotte US Airways was already "out of hotel rooms for the passengers we are stranding". However, if I overnighted in Nashville I might still get put up for the night by the airline. When I went to claim a room they told me that nowadays they set aside just a few rooms for distressed passengers and "when they're gone, they are gone".

As for meals, the agent said "we don't buy meals anymore".

So make a note of it.

My strong recommendation is to select flights with longer layovers to allow for (seemingly more and more common) mechanical delays. Especially wen connecting through increasingly bad hubs like Charlotte, Dallas, Atlanta and Philadelphia. The fact is the airlines are flying 100% full planes. There is no margin for error.

I don;t care what the statistics say, my experience says that delays are becoming more common and I contend a 30 minute layover in Charlotte is not reasonable.

Also, it is not a bad idea to ask the counter staff as you are checking in what your airline will provide if a failure in their system or its equipment strands you somewhere. Until they start getting asked they will continue to shirk their ethical responsibility to take care of the travelers they strand.

Roadboy's Travel © 2014

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