The Mil & Aero Blog
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
  Beating the airlines

Posted by John McHale

Let's take a break from blogging about Sarah Palin and the election and talk about air travel headaches.

I do a lot of travel for my job and think I've developed the patience necessary when dealing with the expected flight cancellations and delays, accepting that I can only do so much. I figure writing complaint letters and filing lawsuits will get me just as much satisfaction as losing my temper with airline staff at the ticket counter.

In other words, nothing.

Yet, today I read a story today about a guy who actually sued Delta for canceling his flight and won!

It was an article on CNNMoney.com titled "A Flier Strikes Back" by Telios Demos.

According to Demos' article a passenger had his flight canceled due to weather and was told it wouldn't be refunded because weather delays are not Delta's fault.

However, the passenger, Mitchell Berns, "checked the National Weather Service report. It said snow that day was expected at five the next morning -- hours after his flight was scheduled to land."

The article went on to state that Berns eventually filed a small-claims suit against Delta, and the court ruled in his favor when Delta did not show up.

Where was this guy when I was sitting on the tarmac a couple years ago for five hours at JFK due to thunderstorms? The airline, JetBlue, apologized profusely, but all we received was free animal crackers. It could have been worse; at least with JetBlue we were able to watch satellite television for five hours...

However, on the same trip I was delayed four hours returning from Raleigh/Durham, and this time JetBlue gave us vouchers for a free flight. That impressed me.

British Airways (BA) was a little skimpier than JetBlue. They only gave out food/drink vouchers worth 5 British pounds for a canceled flight I was on -- but you had to ask, BA didn't announce it. A friendly BA frequent flier clued me in to this.

Skimpy, yes, but I enjoyed the free pint of Guinness.

According the AOL piece Berns only had to pay $15 and have a "working knowledge of English" or Spanish to file the claim.

I should mention that the passenger in the article is an attorney, but anybody can file a similar suit.

In the article Berns said "The lesson is, don't let them bully you with bogus cancellations."

Just something to think about next time you find yourself stranded at the airport.
 
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