Crew is a no show and they're stranded in Atlanta

George Hobica, March 10, 2007
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q: I hope you can help me resolve a dispute. My husband and another couple recently booked flights with Delta from Boston to Cancun through Cincinnati, OH. We arrived at the airport at 3:30 am for a 5:50 am flight. By 7:30 the flight had not boarded and we were told that the first engineer had not shown up, and by 9:00 am it became clear that we would not make our connection and we were advised to find another flight. Due to an earlier snow storm we were unable to get another flight that day. After spending the day at the airport we found a flight to Atlanta, but were unable to get out of Atlanta until the next day. Consequently we lost a full day at our resort.

    Q: I hope you can help me resolve a dispute.
    My husband and another couple recently booked flights with Delta from Boston to Cancun through Cincinnati, OH. We arrived at the airport at 3:30 am for a 5:50 am flight. By 7:30 the flight had not boarded and we were told that the first engineer had not shown up, and by 9:00 am it became clear that we would not make our connection and we were advised to find another flight. Due to an earlier snow storm we were unable to get another flight that day. After spending the day at the airport we found a flight to Atlanta, but were unable to get out of Atlanta until the next day. Consequently we lost a full day at our resort.

    We were put up at a hotel in Atlanta and given $7.00 in food vouchers (hardly compensation for a lost day in an inclusive resort in Mexico). No other compensation was provided. Other passengers who were bumped or did not get on flights due to weather conditions received $400 cash or free flights. It seems unfair that we were not compensated when the problem was clearly the fault of the crew while those who were inconvenienced due to overbooking and problems not the fault of the airline (weather) were compensated.

    Is this common practice? What recourse do we have? Any help you can provide would be welcome!

    A: I'm amazed that Delta would hand out vouchers in the case of a weather delay, which is out of their control, and not in the event of missing crew, which may have been more in their control (or at least was probably not an "act of God"). If a passenger is bumped against their will, then yes they get up to $400 in cash or vouchers (it's better to take cash). If in fact Delta was clearly at fault in causing you to miss a day of your vacation, then certainly they should provide you compensation. (The key question is whether or not the crew member was late because of weather; good luck trying to get a straight answer on that from Delta.) This is why we need a passenger bill of rights. What if you had missed a $1000 cruise because of Delta's negligence or the negligence of one of its employees. I would definitely write to Delta's customer relations department. Delta Airlines, Customer Care, P.O. Box 20980
    Atlanta, GA 30320-2980, or call (404) 715-1402, and ask for a travel voucher equal to the value of your missed day of vacation. If they refuse, you might consider taking them to small claims court in your local jurisdiction. That might get their attention.



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