Panic Attack and Missed Flight

Feb 22nd, 2004, 05:40 AM
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Panic Attack and Missed Flight

On a flight from Detroit to Paris, our plane had to turn around on the runway and return to the gate due to a woman having a panic attack before departure. She was let off of the plane and her bags removed which made us over an hour late in departure. We then missed our connecting flight to Rome on Air France and had to purchase new tickets (I think Air France could have gotten us on that flight -we were there but they said we were too late to board). Anyway, the credit card company has been trying to fight Air France and Northwest but has had not luck. We have documentation from Northwest that this in fact happened but neither Northwest nor Air France will budge. We booked the Northwest flight on free miles and our travel agent booked the connecting Air France flight with a two hour layover. I felt sorry for the woman but she cost us over $700 in additional tickets. Are we screwed or should we keep fighting? What did we do wrong?
Conway73 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 08:03 AM
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This misfortune was obviously beyond your control and you did not do anything wrong! Northwest and Air France should have handled this or rectified this for you immediately. People with "panic attacks" should either not fly or take appropriate meds. Period. I wonder how many other people's plans and pocketbooks were affected by her "conditon".
Rosemary1 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 08:05 AM
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In addition, yes you should keep fighting, IMHO. Good luck!
Rosemary1 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 09:07 AM
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buckeyemom is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 09:25 AM
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I would not be overly optimistic about making a recovery on this one. This is one of the problems of booking tickets with carriers that are not affiliated. Northwest did what it said it would do, which was get you to Paris. Air France had a boarding time window that you didn't make and they are not responsible to provide a remedy for a problem that they were not involved with creating. It's an unfortunate situation, but from what I can understand of it, neither carrier owes you compensation. Your best bet might be to try to make some sort of mileage recovery from Northwest, but don't hold your breath. (They didn't fail you, but simply had to deal with a passenger problem.) When you book this type of itinerary, you're rolling the dice that things will come off very close to schedule. You rolled snake eyes and it's not the fault of the carriers involved, so far as I can see.
Flyboy is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 09:44 AM
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Next time make sure we book with affiliated carriers? That's not always possible. Thanks though. Makes you think twice about connecting flights and the risk you take. Doesn't seem fair. We had plenty of time originally to make that second flight. My husband would like to go after the woman who caused the problem to begin with. Maybe people who are nervous fliers should think twice about those they may be affecting. Oh well - we had time at CDG for a beer and a baguette.
Conway73 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 10:34 AM
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All the flights need to be booked as the same itinerary, then the connecting tickets must be honored or refunded. We are not talking about compensation.

This may or may not be possible if frequent flyer awards are involved.

Alternatively buy travel insurance.

Travel tips:
ajaynejr is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 10:45 AM
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I agree that the passenger with the panic attack would seem to be the responsible party, but the prospects for recovering anything via that route may not be very good, as I'm sure you realize. Is it different than, say, someone having an untimely heart attack and could a passenger adversely impacted sue for the loss? You might want to check with a small claims court to see if that type of action might apply to this particular situation. (Of course, securing a favorable judgement is not the same as successfully getting the cash.) Carriers can place notations in customer records for future reference and that may already be the case in this instance. This individual's problem obviously created plenty of problems for the other passengers involved. In your case, it can be measured in dollars and cents. It's a drag, no question.
Flyboy is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 11:31 PM
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This is why that if I am booking non-affiliated carriers, I try to have to least one overnight in between flights.
WillTravel is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2004, 11:33 PM
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As Flyboy says, neither NW nor AF owe you anything. You could PERHAPS get compensation from the person who had the panic attack, assuming you were:
a) able to find out her identity
b) win a case in small claims court
c) actually get her or her liability insurance to pay up...
So I would just swallow hard and forget about it.

As far as avoiding this type of incident in the future, the only way it can be prevented is by flying on a SINGLE TICKET. It doesn't matter if carriers are "affiliated" or not - if you had 2 separate tickets for 2 flight segments on the very same carrier and missed the second flight you would have the exact same problem.
A ticket is a contract and obligates the airline issuing it to get you to your final destination, so if your entire journey from Detroit to Rome had been on the same ticket, you would have been rebooked for free.

Hope this helps,
Andre is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 04:13 AM
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Conway73, did you finally get to Rome? Did you enjoy your stay in Italy? How long did you stay there? What places did you visit and enjoy? Did you upload your pictures? Did you share them with your friends and family?

What I am trying to say here, maybe it is time for you and your husband to start focusing on positive things about your trip. We all agree it was a very unpleasant experience but just think the next time you fly you will arrange your travel a little differently. As someone suggested maybe staying overnight somewhere or buying two tickets or maybe you come up with something what will work for you. Good luck!
earlxx is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2004, 04:46 AM
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We had a great trip! We tried to make it all the way to Rome using Frequent Flier Miles on Northwest but could only get as far as Paris (where we spent the last three nights of our trip, by the way - should we have spent nights in Paris coming and going "just in case" ???), worked with a very competent travel agent who arranged the Paris to Rome segment and feel sorry for the woman who caused us the delay. As I said, we had a chance to have a cold beer and a baguette at the airport in Paris so all was not lost. I was just wondering if we had any chance of recovering money that I still don't feel we should have had to pay. C'est la vie........
Conway73 is offline  
Feb 24th, 2004, 12:17 PM
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Don't let anyone ruffle your feathers, Conway73! The tone of your OP was totally OK! And if having to pay $700 for snacks at CDG isn't a major bummer, what is?

One more piece of advice: a good travel insurance policy SHOULD also cover you for this type of incident. The trick is, you need to know what minimum connection times the insurance company requires for your itinerary to be covered (and try to get that from them in writing - ha!).

Hope this helps,
Andre is offline  
Feb 25th, 2004, 07:05 AM
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I wonder why you describe the travel agent who set up this event as competent? I would expect a competent travel agent to anticipate a possible missed connection and recommend travel insurance. Its not as though this is the first late flight in the history of the world.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Feb 25th, 2004, 12:44 PM
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Yeah, you're probably right. I never realized how important travel insurance can be. I'll sure think about it the next time.
Conway73 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2004, 12:23 AM
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I don't know about the competancy of the travel agent or not. I sincerely hope they suggested travel insurance and going a day early. But, having worked in the travel business myself, I know that a lot of people don't want to hear what they are told. Everyone wants to travel the quickest, cheapest way possible. If your travel agent did not make these suggestions, then I suggest that you use another agent next time.

I, too would be upset, at the missed flight. But, when doing something with FF miles and two different tickets you should allow a lot more connection time than normal. Going the day before would have been great.

While the urge to go after this woman may seem like a good idea. I'm sure after you think about it you will not do so. I doubt a judge or jury would give you a cent. The poor woman may not have even known she had this condition.

The big point is that things happen - it's called life. Lake of planning and preparation is no reason for compensation. You flew two airlines on two tickets and were late for the second flight. This isn't really the airline's fault or the poor woman's fault.
kkj is offline  
Feb 28th, 2004, 05:37 AM
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As good customers of American Express, they have agreed to compensate us for some of our losses. I don't recall hearing about travel insurance from our agent but she might have mentioned it - I have never felt the need for it on our trips. I have been traveling for years and have never had a problem like this but we usually get to where we are headed with either a purchased ticket or a freebie with frequent flyer miles - not a combination of both. Now we'll know better.
Conway73 is offline  
Feb 29th, 2004, 12:58 AM
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Actually a 2 hour layover was NOT enough. So I too question your agents competency. That was too close being that the min. amount of time for international flights is 2 hours, you would be considered a foreign passenger. You probably wouldn't have made the cut off if the fight was on time. Definately in the future- if using 2 different tickets, internation, overnight 1 night at least.
BudgetQueen is offline  
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