Don’t fly US Air!

I need to get this down before my anger overflows and I have a meltdown. As you all know, flying anywhere really sucks these days. It’s amazing that the airlines don’t even care to make it better. It’s become way more expensive (you now pay for baggage check, food, drinks, security). You have to deal with ridiculous searches by the TSA, you usually have to connect, bags get lost all the time, etc.

I’m used to all of that. I’ve reluctantly grown to accept that a sucky experience is part of the deal.

But what happened to me on this trip, thanks to USAirways went way beyond the normal.

So, I made a reservation to fly to New Orleans and back. Your standard round trip non-refundable, non-transferrable crap ticket. It cost about $700 (paid a little extra for direct flights). All was well in the world.

Until I realized I was not going to be able to make it on to the outbound flight. I knew this about a week before the flight so I called USair to see what I could do to change it to Friday (2 days later)

The call went something like this:
“We’d be glad to fly you out on a later flight on Friday, but oh, I see this is a non-refundable non-transferable ticket. There will be a fee”,

“Yes, I understand, that’s reasonable, how much will it be?” (and it is reasonable, bad customer service yes, but reasonable).. but here’s where it gets good.

“Ah sir, it will be $150”

“excellen..”

“…Plus a $20 fee, plus applicable taxes, plus any change in the flight cost which in this case is $335…” (note of course that it’s the same flight, just 2 days later)

“um…”

“that brings the total to $575 shall I make the change?”

“um. wait a second. I am looking at a direct flight on another airline for $275. Why would I pay for this flight? Is there anything else you can offer?”

“no sir. I’m sorry.”

“you realize that I’m going to book the other flight and miss your flight and you will now be flying an empty seat down to New Orleans without me right? One that you could have sold to someone else. You get that right?”

“I’m sorry sir there’s nothing I can do.”

“Ok then, thank you” (and I hang up and book the other flight)

So at this point I’m out about $800 for my trip. Sucks, but since its virtually impossible to get a refundable/transferrable ticket anymore that’s the price I had to pay to make the change. Fine.

The beauty happens today, as I sit here in New Orleans ready to go home. I check the website to check in (don’t even get me started on that crap) and low and behold, my reservation is gone, replaced with a phone number I’m to call.

I call.

“Hello sir, how can I help you?”

“Well, there must be a mistake..” (and I explain the last phone call and the attempted change of flight, etc.)

“Well sir, since you did not make that flight we listed you as a ‘no show’ and cancelled your return flight as well. It’s clearly stated in the regulations that for round trip tickets if you don’t show up for one leg, they are all cancelled. You could have alleviated this by calling us on the 22nd when you were due to fly out.”

“um? I did call a few days before the 22nd.”

“well sir, there’s nothing we can do. You bought a non-refundable and non-transferrable ticket”

“but I’m not trying to get a refund or make a transfer”

“sir, there’s nothing we can do. You have been removed from the flight. You should go to our website, click complaints and post your complaint. Someone will be in touch with you between 1 and 3 days.”

“Um. I need to get home today. Can you not help me? Connect me with the department that can help me please”

“sir, you will need to file a complaint on our website”

“supervisor please”

(explain again)

“Certainly sir. I can assist you. What I can do is transfer your ticket to a one way ticket for a $150 change fee, plus some other fees plus the difference in cost which is $165 bringing your total to $405” {by the way, note that the difference in cost is for the SAME FLIGHT!}

(this begins a huge argument (mostly one sided)) where I tried to make the point that I was being refused a flight that I had already paid for. Weather I fly or not, the seat should be mine right? No luck with the supervisor. I then proceeded to complain and argue some more, explaining how horrible this makes me feel about USair, etc.. Blah blah blah. Finally when I asked how much of this is being recorded on my record (since I intend to sue) I was hung up on.

Of course this meant I was literally stuck in New Orleans. I had to buy another flight (this time on delta, this time with one stop, this time leaving 5 hours later and arriving at 1AM) for another $300 while USAir has my original $700 and is probably filling my seat as we speak.

Fine. I agree that we always should read the fine print. I agree that they probably were interpreting the policy correctly. I also agree that they are a private company and they can do whatever they want (but guess what? I’m never flying them again and I hope you consider my experience next time you book with them). What I don’t agree with is the fact that this policy is enforceable. If I pay for a seat, I should have that seat. I’ve done nothing to deserve loosing it. At the least I should be given a refund right? Or perhaps the first guy, when I explained I’d be missing the flight could have said “sir, please be aware that if you miss a flight we will cancel your return flight” right??

I’m filing a claim in small claims court. I’m not sure what to ask for. Should I ask for the cost of my flight home? Should I ask for a full refund? Would anyone like to take my case?

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