Alaska Cancelled Return Flight

May 31st, 2008, 12:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 3
Alaska Cancelled Return Flight

Our return flight on Alaska(non stop Cancun to LAX in September on a Tuesday) has been cancelled.
I just happened to just check it on-line to make sure no changes had occurred. Of course there was, Alaska has decided to not fly the day we booked and ticketed for our return.
On first talking with an agent they offered returning a day earlier or a day later. We are travelling with another group(besides the one on our flight), so that is not an option.
I mentioned we would like to be accomodated on another carrier, she gave me an option for an American flight through DFW. I needed to talk to the other 3 in my group before proceeding so I would call back.
An hour later I get another agent and nothing in the record of my prior converstaion with "Linda" and now they are saying it's a refund or nothing.
I ask if rule 240 is valid in this instance, and the new agent heads for a supervisor.
After 25 minutes on hold(during this time I am reading the contract of carriage for Alaska), the super comes on the line and She states that the change in schedule and the fact they have no planes into or out of CUN that day means they have nothing for me but a refund.
(Now why would I take a refund for a 312.00 ticket I bought months ago and try to buy a new one now for probably over 600.00, sorry not to get off the subject!)
The Alalska contract of Carriage states under schedule change exactly this, (They would use their planes, but they don't fly that day. Or give a refund.
On the contract of Carriage they have Schedule Irregularity?
Schedule Irregularity states that they must put you on another carrier to get you to the destination.
Does my problem constitute Schedule change or Schedule irregularity?
Once again I stated the rule 240(I'm not that much of a seasoned traveller, but do travel 3-6 times a year). She says a call is in to a more authoritative person but will have to get back to me.
How can I make a good faith purchase of a ticket(ridiculously cheap, I know!) and then a few months later Alaska say...Oh Sorry we decided not to fly that day!
Can anyone give me any advice on what other points I should bring to Alaska's attention so I may get them to ticket me on another carrier that day they cancelled our group?
Any help would be greatly apprecieated.
GnittoJ is offline  
May 31st, 2008, 06:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You're dealing with a schedule CHANGE, not an irregularity. Contrary to popular belief, Rule 240 is NOT a federal requirement and different carriers are governed by their contracts of carriage. Rule 240, to the extent that it exists, is more about what happens when you en route and dealing with cancellations, delays, etc. It is NOT something that would apply to an airline changing its flight schedule for next September and you dealing with them in May about it.

In short, remember as you deal with them that they absolutely do NOT have to book you on another carrier to depart on the date that you would like. They have the option of re-accommodating you or they absolutely CAN refund your money and you would have no recourse. With luck, there is a codeshare option that they can work out for you, such as the option for the American flight through DFW. If not, consider the feasibility of changing your schedule by a day or taking the refund and starting from scratch with flight arrangements (probably not an attractive option.)
Flyboy is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 03:49 AM
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When will we as consumers reach the point of saying that we've had enough of all this? The airlines seem to have totally lost sight of the notion that we are customers, and that we should be treated as such.

If Alaska is unwilling to book you on another carrier on the day you want to travel, AND if you are willing to invest some time and energy, you can go to court. This is what you should do:

- Get a refund from Alaska, the purchase the lowest-priced ticket you can find for your original dates of travel. Be certain to document everything.

- Do a bit of research on the small claims court system in your state. The first thing you need to find out is where you can file your small claim. In most states, you'll have the option of filing either in the district where you live or in the district where Alaska has a place of business, but you'll have to do the legwork.

- A very good source of info in found at the website
DonTopaz is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 12:06 PM
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has it right.

accept the change or get a refund.


good luck with your theory.

You will only spend extra money for filing your lawsuit. That's as far as it will go.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 01:33 PM
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AAFF, I can think of no one I'd rather face in a legal action than someone who is certain of the outcome.

Especially regarding small claims actions, where, among other things, many states do not allow a defendant to enter a motion to move the trial to Superior court. If you can get the case to trial, it is very likely that the airline will default. If you file in a state where a written defense is allowed, the airline might provide that (but maybe not). In either event, all you need to do is show that (1)you and the airline entered into a valid contract, (2)the airline did not fulfill its contractual commitment -- that is, they didn't provide the flight on the day they agreed to, and (3)you suffered a financial loss directly because of the airline's failure to meet their obligation -- the only tickets available were more expensive than the ones that were available when you entered into the contract.

You can torpedo your case in a hurry if you start including stuff like inconvenience. The only loss that you're likely to collect is the price difference in tickets.

If it were me, I'd have to be in a mean and nasty mood to file. The couple of hundred $$ that I'd likely collect would cost me a lost in time and energy, and it could easily take a year (or more) for everything to get straightened away.

I'm hardly a fan of suing everyone for everything, but the airlines are completely out of control.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 02:29 PM
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If we take the "valid contract" as a deal maker/breaker, then perhaps the purchaser should read the Conditions of Carriage before making the purchase, as it is part of the contract.

AFAIK, the CoC states and I'm just paraphrasing, "The airline does not guarantee schedule, the airline will try to provide transportation from A to B in a timely matter, etc..."

Since transportation business is not an exact science, the schedules are fluid, etc. the government does not have a problem with the above. Neither do the courts.

The only time that the rules change is when the passenger is in transit, not before.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 03:11 PM
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AAFF, are you making this up as you go along?

In contract law, many issues are based on the concept of reasonable performance, and things are hardly ever either-or. If the airline changes the flight schedule by 5 minutes, it's extremely unlikely that any court or any jury would consider that to be a substantial change in the contract. And no one would find the airline liable for non-performance if the flight time is changed because of something outside of the airline's control -- weather, for example.

But when the airline unilaterally elects to cancel a flight and is unable or unwilling to provide you with a reasonable alternative, that will be non-performance in a great many jurisdictions.

All of this is moot, however, as it will generally cost the airline less to default a small claims court action than to contest it.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 03:13 PM
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as I said,

good luck with your theory....
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 05:14 PM
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What recourse do you have with a foreign airline. Or suppose you are in Europe and Ryan AIr leaves you stranded? What then?
travelme is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 05:18 PM
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"But when the airline unilaterally elects to cancel a flight and is unable or unwilling to provide you with a reasonable alternative, that will be non-performance in a great many jurisdictions."

* * *

No, it wouldn't be. This is a prospective matter and it is dealt with in the contract of carriage. If you file the action, you can kiss your filing fee goodbye along with anything you expect to recover, (which is completely unclear and would change many times between now and the travel date.)
Flyboy is offline  
Jun 1st, 2008, 06:22 PM
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If the OP sues, his position essentially will be that the contract does not say what it says, that he apparently didn't bother reading it before entering into the contract, and that he thus deserves more than the amount set out in the contract. That will probably cause a lot of amusement in the overcrowded courts.

It is probably true that the OP would have a better chance in small claims court, assuming he could keep the referee from reading the contract. For such a small amount, the airline would probably just fail to respond and let you get a default judgment, as it would cost them more to make an appearance. Of course, the OP would have to put in a lot of resources to get the case tried, and would end up with a judgment order from the court, but also with the problem of actually collecting the judgment, which would require more resources. So your prosecution would cost you far more than you would recover; hardly a good way to manage your resources. Of course, if you want to make an example of the airline, perhaps it is worth it to you, but I would be very surprised if the board and executives of the airline would even hear about the judgment, much less make any changes in the way they do business.

Realistically, it makes good business sense for the airline to stand on its right to resolve this by giving a refund, as prices on other airlines have probably gone up and it would cost them more to put you on another airline. On the other hand, they always want to avoid making a customer unhappy.

If frequent flyer miles are valuable to you, they might offer you some, even if they won't arrange a flight.

I would also peruse their web site and find out which airlines they partner with, and which alliance, if any, they are in, then ask if they can put you on one of those airlines (they usually have special relationships with such airlines).

Finally, you indicate that returning a day later is not an option; its not clear why returning home a day later is not an option. Perhaps you might want to revisit that option; possibly asking the airline to see what kind of break they could get you on a room for another day?
clevelandbrown is offline  

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