Flight from Hell to Paris

Old Jul 29th, 2009, 01:46 PM
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Flight from Hell to Paris

I'm curious what you would do:

I commited a major splurge and bought Envoy class tickets for our 20th anniversary trip to France. My husband HATES long haul and is a big, tall guy so I dropped $3,000 plus 160,000 ff miles to get these tickets so he might have a reasonably decent experience and possibly go to Eurpoe again some day. I also had hopes of enjoying the little luxuries of first class.

Well. There was something wrong w/ the plane. USAir backed it up from the gate and took it on a test spin around Charlotte. They didn't make any announcements until the 3rd time they delayed boarding. Depending on which (very annoyed) gate agent you asked, they told you a different story. We either got a new plane from Philly, or we got a new plane from the hanger, or we used the same plane. 2 of 3 were lying. In the end they gave us $10 airport credit, told us to go eat something and report back. We took off around 5 hours late.

OK, so after we finally left, the service was nice, I was starting to relax. Then somewhere in the middle of the second course, the pilot came on, said there was something wrong w/ the plane and we better not continue over the ocean. We turned around and flew to Philly, where we sat on the ground for hours, and finally left around 1 or 2 in the morning. Same plane...they worked on it some more and pronounced it good to go. Nervous flyers were traumatized. The flight crew they got out of bed (since our original crew was now illegal) didn't have the greatest attitude.

We landed in Paris about 8 hours late. I had to pay $125 to change my train tickets, and of course I lost 1 day of my 5 day vacation.

So here's the question: Does US Air owe me anything? They did after all get me to Paris. On the other hand, it was a horrible experience. Sitting in one place for an 8 hour flight is something you dread, but doubling that was ridiculous. The luxury experience I paid for was instead a nightmare. If I asked for a refund of the diff between coach and envoy, what do you think they will say? How would I request this? What if I had been in coach (as is normal)? would I have any recourse at all? I know when delays are weather related or air traffic related, the airline owes you nothing...but what if it's their plane/maintenance that's the problem?

Thanks for listening to the whining!
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Old Jul 29th, 2009, 01:52 PM
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We had a very similar experience on two other airlines (i.e. this isn't just a US Air problem) and I don't think there is any recourse. I also am not sure what your claim for the difference between an Envoy and Coach ticket would be as you actually got to sit in Envoy - your beef is really with the delays - not the actual in flight seating. I think you will have a hard time making this case.
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Old Jul 29th, 2009, 01:54 PM
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Would you have preferred being on an aircraft which had safety problems?

Hell? Maybe Purgatory Lite. You were only 8 hours late. The airline got you there in one piece. And apparently nobody rudely yelled at you.

They will probably give you a few FF miles.
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Old Jul 29th, 2009, 02:10 PM
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Oh, don't get me wrong...if the pilot doesn't like the plane, *I* don't like the plane. And God knows I'm grateful I wasn't sitting in coach. I've been to Paris before in a coach seat that was broken and wouldn't even recline the 5 degrees they give you.

Honestly, though, we WERE on a plane that had safety problems. I'm pretty sure they were lying about the "plane from Philly" and the "plane from the hanger in Charlotte". It's too much of a coincidence and the pilot seemed to spill the beans when he said something along the lines of "we thought it was OK." It was more the disrespect of the way they withheld information, I suppose, than anything, that made me angry and distressed.

But...you know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and I'm just trying to figure out the best way to squeak. Thanks.
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Old Jul 29th, 2009, 02:45 PM
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You did get a pretty good chunk of the Envoy experience in terms of the spacious seats and better food. I take it your flight home in Envoy class went off without a hitch, so you certainly did use the service. I can't see where they're going to refund you anything, let alone the difference between the fares.

They did get you to Paris. Airlines generally take no responsibility for expenses you incur from their delays once you arrive. Whether that's just or not, it's the way it is.

It sounds like an awful experience though.
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Old Jul 29th, 2009, 02:56 PM
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Good grief. USAir is easily, far and away, the very worst int'l business class around. Why you chose to fly on that skank of an airline when you could have used you miles on Lufthansa or Swiss, or even Air Canada, is the first question.

Also, how did you spend $3000 plus 160k miles?
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Old Jul 29th, 2009, 03:28 PM
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My guess is that the $3,000 bought one ticket and the 160,000 miles bought the other.

If you complain, you'll probably get an apologetic letter and a voucher (or two vouchers). US did what they were supposed to do when the plane gave trouble indicators and they got you to Paris without too much delay. Plus you got an education in why people hate PHL.
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Old Jul 29th, 2009, 11:09 PM
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count your blessings - in 2007 we left LAX on Thursday and got to Paris via Santiago Chile (don't ask - true story re-routed) on Sat. afternoon. Stuff happens when you fly. I am always just glad to get there in one piece. Hope your time in Paris was wonderful!
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Old Jul 30th, 2009, 01:17 AM
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I had a similar experience on two international United flights about a year ago. Both flights were delayed due to mechanical problems and I had to scramble to change my hotel and car rental as I arrived 24 hours late. I was flying in business class.

I wrote a letter to United and they gave me two free vouchers for domestic flights, which were kind of useless as I don't live in the US. I found a way to use both of them though.

I never hesitate to write an airline if they've done something to let me down (which is more often than not). Sometimes nothing comes of it, but often they'll at least make a gesture, which is good business sense and placates the customer.

If nothing else, writing the letter can be therapeutic.
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Old Jul 30th, 2009, 06:03 AM
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Rizuto - I have to say I wasn't aware that other airlines would accept US Air miles. Actually, I LIKE USAIR. They are the only airline that has ever admited they were at fault and paid for a hotel room when they delayed me over night. Everyone else pretends it's "weather" even when there's not a cloud in the sky. I have high hopes they'll throw me a bone here so I can continue to be a fan.

Eric - exactly correct. more precisely, $2500 for 1 ticket, miles for the other, and the rest (unbelievably) taxes and fees on both the paid and the "free" ticket.

MomDD - bless your heart! I think I would have gone completely insane.
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Old Jul 30th, 2009, 06:15 AM
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I would absolutely write to the airline about this. I think it is important for US Air's management to hear from customers, especially when safety isues are involved. And that, to me, is the main concern - sounds like they ended up using a plane that some of their own people had worries about. You may not get any sort of compensation, but they should hear the passenger's perspective.
And, for what it is worth, I have never had problems with US Air. Fly them fairly often NY to Buffalo & NC.
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Old Jul 30th, 2009, 07:01 AM
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litespeed - I believe I *was insane by the time we arrived

write them..let us know what comes out of it.
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Old Jul 30th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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litespeed - I think the point that was "trying" to be made was that US Air is a member of StarAlliance. Often, you can use miles from one airline (like US Air) to book flights on other members like Air Canada, Lufthansa, SAS, United, etc.

Regardless, that point is irrelevant at this point and doesn't help you. As bad as your experience was, I also think it probably didn't create a right to any compensation.

That said, I totally agree with the suggestions about contacting them with your experience. Explain objectively as possible what happened. Ranting usually doesn't get any results, or offers of compensation in some form. Point out how much this trip meant to you as it was your 20th anniversary and you were trying to create a very special trip. I'd mention how much you've flown US and used a lot of those miles plus $$$ for this trip. And how much you've been a fan of theirs for so many years. I wouldn't "demand" anything specific [let them come up with something], but discuss how disappointed and frustrated you were, how it was handled, the effect it had on your vacation time, etc. - all in a straight forward and rational manner, but still getting across the problems this created.

How they respond should tell you whether you want to continue being a fan.
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Old Jul 30th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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You had my sympathy till you threw in the ignorant bs about "Everyone else pretends it's "weather" even when there's not a cloud in the sky."

Clearly shows you have not a clue that planes actually don't sit around all day waiting just to take one flight - they zig/zag all over the place, including somewhere else that might not have clear blue skies.

USAir got you where you paid them to. They diverted the plane when they suspected something wrong, and had it fixed in PHL. Stop your whining.
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Old Jul 31st, 2009, 06:27 AM
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thats right, robbie, airline employees would never lie to you...enjoy your Koolaide.
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Old Jul 31st, 2009, 04:30 PM
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They got you there, but late. Their contract of carriage does not say anything about compensation for such delay, only that they will provide amenities. Sucks. I'd write a complaint letter, including mention of your FF status, and hope they respond with at least some FF miles or a voucher or two. If this had been the return trip originating in the EU they would have been required by law to provide you with specififed compensation, but ex-US no such protection applies.
Interestingly, their CoC (section 9) at http://tinyurl.com/2v74kz does state that they will keep passengers informed during delays. It would probably strengthen your letter of complaint if you mention that in this case they failed to meet their own published standards.

robbie's somewhat abrasive comment is, I think, meant to reflect that the weather that causes a delay may not be in the area where the affected flight originates. For example, if the flight out of XYZ uses aircraft coming in from ABC, weather at ABC can cause a delay of departure from XYZ, where the weather may be just fine.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 10:30 AM
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Had a similiar type of incident several years ago while flying UAL from Chicago to Paris. Opted to get off of the flight rather than lose a day of a long weekend and be afraid the whole flight. They credited us the miles used to buy the ticket without a fee and got us our luggage off plane. Can't see where you have a beef but never hurts to write a nice letter, explaining your issue and hope for some compensation.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2009, 04:50 PM
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My own feeling is that anybody who willingly flies internationally with US Airways gets what they deserve. It's not like a bad experience with them is anything new. It's well documented.

As well, if you are going to fly with premium seating, why on earth would you choose this airline? Their Envoy class is easily the worst business class experience for TATL flights of all of the various choices.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2009, 12:17 PM
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First of all...thanks for all the suggestions, I wrote a nice letter (email, actually) emphasizing that it was the disrespect and inefficiencies on the ground in Charlotte that had me most upset. USAIR responded w/ amazing speed and gave us each $200 vouchers.

I think that's reasonable. Of course, my husband says he's not going on any more airplane-related vacations within the year that it's good...but I'll work on that ;-)

Rick C - I'm not trying to be argumentative, but let me try to help you understand why someone would fly premium on USAir. My home airport in Greenville SC. I fly most often to NYC and Hartford on business. Thus all my air miles are USAir, because that is BY FAR the airline with the most comprehensive service up the east coast from G'ville. It was the only non-stop to NYC from G'ville up until they cancelled that service recently. (now there are ZERO nonstops to NYC, unless you count Continental to Newark, which I will never, ever do again) So...I had 160,000 ff miles to use.

Even more to the point, USAIR has a non-stop flight to Paris out of Charlotte, which is my closest airport of decent size. I'm not aware of any other airline that has one, at least Expedia doesn't think so.

And...USAIR has recently refurbished Envoy in the 767. The seats lay back to 170 degrees, and we had personal TV-thingies that worked nicely. Having flown Envoy in 2002 before they did this...I understand why someone might use the term "skanky" as they did above...but the new seats were pretty sweet. I suppose that's all the more reason I'm SO bummed about the 16 hour marathon, because otherwise, I was well on my way to convincing my husband that int'l travel is not a form of torture.

thanks again for listening to the saga...I feel cleansed ;-)
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Old Aug 3rd, 2009, 04:36 PM
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Glad it worked out. Amazing that they responded so quickly. How un-airline like.
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