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"I am going to sue you.... and your Airline!!!"

"I am going to sue you.... and your Airline!!!"

Oct 4th, 2007, 05:52 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 25
"I am going to sue you.... and your Airline!!!"

I AM GOING TO SUE YOU AND YOUR AIRLINE screamed the leader of a huge extended family finally arrived at the PHL Airport from a connecting flight after being held on the tarmac for two hours waiting for a open gate. They missed their next flight to Germany.

They had been scheduled to fly to Munich that evening on an overnight fligt on US Airways. But because their orginal flight was late because of sitting on the tarmac in PHL at arrival, everyone missed their connection.

They arrived at a overwhelmed customer service desk with one person trying to rebook hundreds of passengers waiting in line. Once my friends got to the customer service desk after waiting in line for over 2 hours they were told that they could not get a new flight for 3 days. If they wanted to continue to go to Germany they would have to wait at a Phl hotel for three days, and a new return date could not be given because all fights 5 days after were full. The only options were to fly the people back to MPLS and cancel the trip or wait three days to leave.

My friend went nuts and and told the customer service person that she would sue the Airline for a million dollars. All that got her was a laugh and a visit by a security guard. They were forced to cancel the trip and fly back to Mpls the next day, only a small refund was given. They lost thousands in prepaid non refundable hotel and tour costs.

Can they sue, should they sue?
distant_traveler is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 5,601
Don't know precisely on what basis they'd sue (since they accepted the plan to cancel and go home) -- I've heard that a lot of similar suits haven't gotten far -- but it might be worth having a lawyer look into how often and why similar suits have succeeded.

A couple of questions:

1. Were they booked from their hometown straight through to Germany, or was the flight to PHL on a different ticket? Was it all on USAir?

If they were booked through, then I don't understand why USAir couldn't find them other flights through other cities if necessary, to get them to their destination much sooner than the 3 days they were quoted. I believe the airline IS obligated to get you to your destination within a certain period of time or pay a fine, but that could easily be outdated info.

2. Did they not have trip insurance?

3. Did they happen to use a travel agent? Might be some help there if so.

Suggest they give USAir the full barrage of attention and also look into one of the travel magazine ombudsman columns. A lot of publicity wouldn't hurt.

So sorry for them. A horror story.
HKP is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 06:44 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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I believe the ticketing agreement pretty much relieves passengers of virtually all the possible redress they might otherwise have available for late flights, lost luggage, and so on.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 06:53 AM
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On thinking further about this, I'm guessing the main problem might have been that the group was large and unwilling to be separated -- correct?
HKP is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 06:57 AM
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Another day, another "problem", it's either a friend or the OP, please read the other posts made by the OP.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 07:29 AM
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AAFF, what's your problem with distant_traveler? I looked at the last several posts and they were, for the most part, inviting musings on things like traveling to Europe in the 50s or 60s or cultural differences between countries. Didn't see anything like another day, another problem.

Again, it seems to me you have an unfortunate tendency to pass judgment on some posters or their posts, and then squawk when people call you on that.

Either ignore this post or let's find out "the rest of the story...."
HKP is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 07:33 AM
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Posts: 25
Some answers to your questions:

The group of 11 needed to travel to Germany together, with many children involved. This made re-booking nearly impossible.

They bought a ticket from MPLS to Munich via PHL on US Airways. The problem was in PHILLY.

They had no trip insurance but even if they did I doubt it would not have paid for the $5000 they lost in pre paid non refundable hotels and tours in Germany.

Having to wait 3 days to leave, they would have arrived in Germany only 3 days before their scheduled return, so waiting for a new flight was not logical.

They did not use a travel agency but booked on the US Airways website.
distant_traveler is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 07:48 AM
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This is very sad but a cautionary tale for the rest of us.

For one thing, I would think it would be a fair lesson not to book large parties on line, by yourself. Having a travel agent working for you might or might not have helped this situation, but you would have at least had someone working just for you, not for the whole planeload.

Another lesson might be to book in separate groups or more manageable size, clustering parents and children together. Then you'd probably have to be flexible about arriving at different times if necessary.

You're probably right that travel insurance might have declined to pay for the hotels if they could argue the choice not to use them was your friends', not imposed by the airline. However, you might have gotten back the first 2-3 nights because missing those was out of their control.

And although other airlines can get into this kind of trouble -- even my favorite jetblue (;-) ) -- it doesn't make me want to book USAir any more than I ever wanted to.
cfc is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 08:09 AM
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There have been tonnes of posts on various forums and newspapers about problems with USAirways and PHL, so I won't repeat here. [Though I can understand why the OP is interested. He/she's flying US to LIS soon, right?]

As for the situation with irregular operations, the travelers just have to be flexible and willing to work with the airline. If one loses the cool, or is entirely inflexible, then they get this outcome. AND, they'll be wasting their time to sue anybody.

The way to do it is to call the airlines' reservations. Not to the already overworked, grumpy employees at the airport who have 300 people in front of them. Be flexible. There's no reason why the group can't be broken up, unless you have 1 adult taking 10 kids. Even at the height of the summer season, if one's flexible enough, there are ways to get them to Munich on various airlines with various connections.

But if the leader of the group start threatening someone and has to be taken away by the police, then it's HE who threw away the whole trip for everybody.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 4th, 2007, 04:00 PM
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I wonder if OP suffers from yet unknown side effects triggered by too much exposure to a travel fan when sleeping in small beds in Europe. Also the quest for palm trees in Madrid can do that kinda stuff to you. ;-)

Cowboy1968 is online now  
Oct 4th, 2007, 04:31 PM
Join Date: May 2007
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Was the delay caused by weather? If so, then no one can be blamed. If it was a 'mechanical' then the airline is obligated to accomodate as necessary. If ATC related then this is just another example of the problems of working within a 50yr ATC system! I'd have to agree with rkkwan, it's important to have flexible plans.
ssf14 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 09:46 PM
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Next time, the best thing to do is buy a $50 pass to the lounge and have one of the agents there work on the problem. They are usually less stressed out and much better at finding solutions, especially if you are dripping with sweetness when you approach them. They've worked wonders for me.
hills27 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2007, 11:06 PM
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USAirways current problems aside, the adults in the group (I assume there were at least two) could have tried keeping their heads and arranging for 5+6 to travel on two flights. I can't see this not being done. Without major weather problems or a strike, there is no way the airline won't reroute passengers within about 24 hours - usually less if the passengers use their heads.

Can't say I would admire a passenger who arrives at an "overwhelmed customer service desk" screaming "I'm going to sue you and your airline."

If the facts were all as reported, definitely the thing to do is get out of line and onto the phone. Many of us have been in that spot one time or another - I arrived with a friend at Dulles airport to discover our TWA flight to LAX was canceled. Other TWA problems were happening too, it appeared. We picked up the phone, called TWA's phone agent, and were rebooked on American within 10 minutes, as TWA's other LA flights were overbooked (thanks to the cancellation.)

The true moral: keep your cool and don't take it out on the harried ground staff - unless you absolutely must. Even when phoning, if the first agent you get isn't helpful, just politely say goodbye and then call back. Don't let your problem get tagged a nuisance. Love 'em to death if you have to. Keep your head - your goal is to get to your destination, not to win a lawsuit.

By the way, I LOVE the idea of buying a club pass = in an emergency, it pays to be a VIP. Just don't act like you think you're one!
tomassocroccante is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 03:23 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 371
For me the moral of the story is if getting to your final destination is the most important thing have more than 2 hours between flights. When we go IAD-LHR-BKK next year I orignally had FC seats from IAD-LHR but only a 2 hour connection time. After consulting some experts here, Wally, I changed (at $50 per ticket) my IAD-LHR to a BC seat that gets me there 12 hours early. I would rather kill time in an airport lounge than miss my flight. But that's just me and the wife.
Pulley is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 05:29 AM
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The day-pass to the club is a great idea, but would one pass cover an extended family group of 11?

(AAFF, again, what's it to you? Purportedly, this post - one among many from distant_traveler - wasn't even d_t's own problem. Some posters post "problems" because they think the collective responses of Fodorites might be useful to OTHER Fodorites. Other posters only function to react to other posts. Give it a rest.)
HKP is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 05:32 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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You buy the access to get to the agent in the club. Doesn't matter you have 10 other people outside the club. They'll handle it for you.
rkkwan is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 06:05 AM
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After several days of silence, distant travler is back with another travel problem for discussion. Does anyone believe he is anything but a creative memory?
fmpden is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 08:09 AM
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Pulley, I totally agree. I would never book a two hour connection to an international flight on the outbound. Definitely on the return though. The sooner I can get home the better. And most major connecting cities have a flight to my city every hour or two, so I'm generally not worried about the connection coming back.
hills27 is offline  
Oct 8th, 2007, 09:07 AM
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Faced with the choice of a two-hour connection or a 12 hour layover, I think anyone would be tempted to go the quicker route. Half-a day waiting for a flight?

In truth, this used to be less an issue than it is now, as on-time performance has become so dismal, and these multi-hour runway waits so common. Obviously, better when you have to connect to a once-a-day flight that you have enough time. (also makes baggage transfer more likely) Three or four hours seems about right - travelers who need to make a connection are wise to try very hard to get an earlier first leg. But I know that the FF tix and many of the discount fares require connections and races to the gate.
tomassocroccante is offline  

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