Q. I had a seat on Alaska Airlines to Oakland leaving Portland at 2:45 p.m. and arriving Oakland at 4:47 p.m. I was flying down for a Bruce Springsteen concert. If you’re not a fan, you could be forgiven for saying, “Oh, a concert." But this is an important part of my life. I have seen about 200 shows over 35 years. Tickets are very hard to come by.
I was meeting friends from London, Barcelona, Indianapolis, Boston, New York and throughout California. People I only get to see on such occasions. The only reason for this flight was to see this show and be with those friends for the experience. I paid $360 for my seat. At 2:45 they announced the plane would be delayed. The flight was canceled and I missed the concert, which was to begin at 8 p.m. I’m sure Alaska will throw me a bone, like some miles. But what am I entitled to in this situation?
A. Because your flight was severely delayed, you could have decided not to fly at all, asking Alaska for a full refund of the fare paid, even on a non-refundable ticket. Alaska may indeed offer you a voucher or whatever, but you won’t get back the value of the experience or the money you paid for the concert. What I don’t understand is why you played it so close, planning to arrive at the Oakland airport just three hours before the concert. Since this was an important event, you should have left earlier in the day or even the night before. Hundreds of flights are canceled or severely delayed every day, and that’s just the way it is. I give this advice to anyone who needs to be on time for an important event—a cruise departure, a funeral, a wedding, important business meeting, or a Bruce Springsteen concert. Assume that your flight will be delayed or canceled and be sure to get there the day before or at least in plenty of time.