Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   United States (
-   -   When the airline strands you overnight (

Litespeed_Chick Dec 29th, 2003 07:11 AM

When the airline strands you overnight
What would you do?

AA flight left the gate at Madison, WI 30 min. behind schedule...all I know is they were waiting on the plane to arrive. After leaving the gate, taxi-ing to the runway, pilot announces that O'Hare tower has planes holding and has asked them to sit for awhile. About 15 minutes later we take off.
After landing at O'Hare, we waited about 10 minutes for our gate to open up. We had a 50 min. layover, and thus missed the plane by minutes.

AA gate agent says we missed the flight due to air traffic control, and thus they owe us nothing for the hotel, etc. I say 40 minutes of the 55 we were delayed was AA's problem, only 15 due to air traffic.

What do you think? Would you call/write etc. and demand satisfaction? If so, any ideas how to go about? Or would you chalk it up to "the way it goes" when traveling during the Holidays AND an orange alert?

BTW, they delayed our flight from SC to O'Hare by about 45 minutes as well. A mad sprint throught the terminal got us on the connection to Madison thanks to some very friendly, kind gate agents on x-mas eve who were actually on hold with "operations" when I ran up, asking if they could hold the plane for us. The evil, sullen, un-communicative troll who "helped" us when we missed our flight was the antithesis of those two.

Patrick Dec 29th, 2003 07:16 AM

Well, let me put it this way. I'd never, ever make a reservation with only a 50 minute layover at O'Hare in the dead of winter during the holidays. I think you were running about a 10% chance of making it and a 90% change you wouldn't, from the time you booked.

postwhileworking Dec 29th, 2003 07:35 AM

Why should they "hold the Plane" for you. The 200 or so people on the flight waiting to take off will be delayed and will likely miss their connecting flight. All because they held the flight for YOU!

Budman Dec 29th, 2003 07:45 AM

I've been held up many times waiting for connecting flights to arrive. It mostly happens on overseas flights. ((b))

carrolldf Dec 29th, 2003 07:46 AM

There are very few cases where the airline will pay for your hotel anymore. Delayed flights is not unusual at any large airport -- but you can't count on your connection being delayed as well. I'm never comfortable with a short layover unless I know there is another flight. But even that doesn't help as the next flight may be full. I have often asked for longer layovers than what I'm offered to begin with -- I'm very uncomfortable with any layover of less than an hour at a large airport.

carrolldf Dec 29th, 2003 07:48 AM

And I guess to answer your question, you can always "call/write, etc. and demand satisfaction" but I believe you are wasting your time and not entitled to anything in this case. But it might make you feel better to try.

Patrick Dec 29th, 2003 07:51 AM

I remember the time our American Eagle flight from Naples, Florida to Miami was delayed almost an hour while they tried to find 15 people (out of a total of 31) to agree to a later flight. Seems the pilot wasn't licensed to fly more than 16 people or some such nonsense. There were 6 of us that were connecting to the same American flight to London. we arrived in Miami, we were about 3 minutes ahead of our scheduled departure, but the plane had LEFT EARLY! No, problem in this case. They put us all on a flight about 45 minutes later to Gatwick, bumped us to first class instead of business and the others to business instead of coach, and even paid for our connecting flight to Dublin because we were missing our "non-refundable or changeable flight" on AerLingus.

obxgirl Dec 29th, 2003 07:52 AM

Realistically, you'll probably have to chalk it up to how things are in the airline industry post 9/11. But an articulate letter of complaint is always worth writing, and who knows, it might be received by one of the good guys.

I had a similar experience leaving DC on a much delayed AA flight trying to make a connection to Alburquerque in Dallas. An announcement was made at the start of the flight that AA would not be comping anyone who missed the their connecting flights. Tough nuggies. Shortly thereafter the flight crew came around and told everyone "off the record" that anyone who was stranded should complain up and down the customer service chain for compensation. I eventually got a form letter of apology and a discount off my next AA flight. Not much but something.

Meesthare Dec 29th, 2003 08:01 AM

This kind of thing is the norm in North America - it's happened to us numerous times over the years. However, we had amazing experiences in Australia with Ansett (now defunct - although I don't think their humane business policies led to their demise). They held a plane for us in Melbourne, and when we ran up to the gate the flight attendant said "Don't rush - it's OK - we knew you were coming!" A few weeks later we were leaving Alice Springs and they held the plane for a good half hour because some tourists had "gone walkabout" and couldn't be found. They were worried about the tourists being lost and this was the last plane out of Alice Springs until the next day. Nobody was upset about the delay - in fact they were happy when the missing wanderers turned up. Totally different attitude from what you see in this part of the world.

Patrick Dec 29th, 2003 08:10 AM

But I think it's a no win situation for the airlines. As postwhileworking says, holding a flight for YOU may cause other people to miss their connections later on. I'd be even more angry if I were sitting on a plane late to depart and heard an announcement that they were holding the plane for some connecting passengers, and as a result I'd miss my connecting flight at the next point.

AAFrequentFlyer Dec 29th, 2003 08:44 AM

Holding a plane for some lost tourists? Why don't I call the airline next time because I overslept and I'll be about an hour late, but trust me I'll be there :-) or, ask the bartender at the airport bar to call the gate and ask them to wait because I just met a wonderful young lady and we're getting on so well. I just need another 30 minutes or so to really get to know her. After all it's in the name of love, the airline and the other paxs should understand :-)

Get real Meesthare. Airlines are in the transportation business. They provide a schedule and I pick the flight that meets mine. If I pick a flight that's suppose to get me to Chicago at 10am, I expect to get there at 10am. Sorry about the lost tourists, late connections and any other reason. I have my reasons to be in Chicago at certain time and I have just as much of a right to expect to get there as anybody else. Maybe to you it's a NICE thing to do for an airline if you only travel once or twice a year, but you have to realize that many. many people fly every week for business and to them any lost time could mean loss of business, loss of family time, etc...
If you want to be nice why don't you get off the plane , find the lost tourists and make sure that next day they find their way to the right plane.

I've traveled over 100K miles this year and my luck has been good overall. I've only had about 2 or 3 major delays and never missed a connection where it was the last flight of the day. I do understand mechanical or weather delays, but I would be very upset as a pax to find out that I'm sitting on a plane because some tourists are wondering around the airport. I would seriously consider taking my business to another airline if I found out that the one I'm giving my business to has such a NICE attitude to wondering/lost tourists.

AAFrequentFlyer Dec 29th, 2003 08:59 AM

I also want to add that there is another VERY important reason for keeping schedules by airlines. US air space is heavily used and the major airports assign certain time slots for the plane to take-off from one and land at the other one. If a plane misses the departure time slot that it had been assigned by the air traffic controllers then it could be stuck for some considerable time sitting on the tarmac waiting for a new time slot to be assigned.

GoTravel Dec 29th, 2003 09:06 AM

Litespeed, if it is the airlines fault, they pay to put you up. If it is out of the airlines hands (weather), you are on your own.

I'm in total agreement with AA.

Litespeed_Chick Dec 29th, 2003 09:16 AM

I was actually surprised that they were considering holding the Madison flight for us.

Come to think of it though, it does seem that there is a bit of difference when you hold a plane that is heading for an "end-of-the-line" destination. Especially late at night. Also, seems their computers should let them know if a plane w/ connecting passengers is arriving at another gate so that a 5-10 minute hold would suffice. I certainly think it would be bad policy to hold a plane going to a hub long enough to endanger other pax connections.

Patrick, I love your London story...I had a similar experience once (although the destinations were not as exciting). Same excursion to Madison, we had taken a flight to Chicago because it was so much cheaper than flying to Wisconsin, and were planning to rent a car and drive 3 hours to Madison. In those days there was no direct flight to O'Hare and after flying to Charlotte to connect, they cancelled the Chicago flight. We were put on another airline, in first class, to Milwaukee, which was actually closer to our real destination in the first place. Too bad the happy endings are so rare :-)

Litespeed_Chick Dec 29th, 2003 09:22 AM

Go Travel - can you clarify what you meant by total agreement with AA? There were no weather problems whatsoever. It is also my understanding that they owe you nothing for weather, but I weather on either end, and AA does not claim there was weather.

GoTravel Dec 29th, 2003 09:30 AM

Litespeed, I'm in agreement because I would be pissed if I found out the airlines were holding my flight because of other pax.

I've been in AA's shoes and flown over 100,000 miles a year and it is a big difference from leisure travel.

I want to get there, get done with my business and get home.

Since I've stopped working, you can't get me on a plane.

Litespeed_Chick Dec 29th, 2003 09:37 AM

Oh, I see.

Appears the direction of the thread has moved to "should they have held the plane?" instead of my actual question which is "should they compensate me for my hotel room?"

I'm just curious what other's experiences have been. The only other time this happened to me, US Air comped the hotel room.

Meesthare Dec 29th, 2003 09:54 AM

I see your point, AAFrequentFlier, and the situation was obviously different in Australia. Alice Springs is not exactly a teeming metropolis. I'm not suggesting that North American airlines should do things differently, merely deploring the fact that they can't afford to. In Australia, at least when we were there, passengers were prepared to put up with delays because the planes were often held for latecomers. Here, we're prepared to put up with missed connections because the planes don't get held. It's just a matter of which inconvenience you have to endure.

AAFrequentFlyer Dec 29th, 2003 09:58 AM


I would e-mail the AA CS from their site

They will probably reply with "they don't owe you anything", but from mine and other AA loyalists experience they may offer to either pay for the hotel after you mail the hotel folio or give you a voucher for future travel, or if you're AAdvantage member, offer to deposit some miles to your account.

The plane was held up by air traffic controllers, so ultimately they are not responsible for your missed connection. And this also validates my points in the previous post, how when a plane is running late, it looses it's slot, thus it could possibly become a long wait.

Do you know the reason why the plane was 30 minutes late departing? Did it arrive late, had a mechanical or maybe it was held back because of some wind bursts at your airport or weather problems where it came from?

I do agree that the GAs should be more forthcoming with the paxs in situations like that, but generally they're not. Their jobs are not as easy as they seem. They are held responsible for any delays, at the same time they may have to work with an overbooked flight, special requests, etc...etc... They are graded how smoothly every flight they get assigned to departs and how much money they did NOT spend from the AA account. Their job security depends on this.

It's always good to have some status with the airline you fly most as that allows you call call the respective status desk and the agents there have the power and authority to help in special cases like this. I do understand that not everybody can attain status, I'm just pointing out the facts.

monpetit Dec 29th, 2003 10:36 AM

In a majority of situation, it's not the passenger who plan his itinerary but
the airlines company which proposes it...
If I go to my travel agency and ask for a Paris-Tucson flight, they ask to
a company, delta ,i.e. and i'll receive
my itinerary on a delta ticket.
If there is a short connexion, and if I miss it, even due to a too busy air traffic, it's Delta fault not mine...
They have not to give me such tickets...
If I buy a Paris Atlanta ticket and then an Atlanta-Tucson ticket independa
tely to try to have a short connexion
it would be my fault, but who acts like this...
In the railway connexion, in France when time seems to short to the
SNCF agent who sells me the ticket he
didn't sell it and sell me an available ticket which allows me to the connexion.
So, for me if the whole schedule is on an unique company receipt, they have to honor what they have sold.
NB : anytime I've had some misconnexion,
in Atlanta, Delta have given or a room
coupons or at the return in France a
voucher to use on other flights..(2 years ago, a 500 $ voucher for each of
us-we were four-for a misconnexion in
Atlanta...).I've to said that since 6 years, we are or silver or gold medallions...

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:26 AM.