Rebook or Refund

Tracy Stewart, September 28, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q. My wife and I, and my daughter purchased round trip air fare nearly two months in advance. The airline, Sun Country, flew out of Branson, MO to Dallas, TX three times a week, including on Wednesday. About a week before our scheduled flight they called and left a message on our answering machine stating that they were eliminating their Wednesday flights and that they would refund our money or put us on another of their flights. I told them neither of those options helped since their next available flight would arrive nearly when I was supposed to be returning. They basically said "tough," that's all they can do, and legally that is all they have to do. Is there anything more I can do?

    A. Other than writing your elected officials and demanding that they pass some regulations dealing with this increasingly common problem, not much. This country needs a regulation requiring that, when a flight is eliminated, all airlines try to put you on another airline offering alternate transportation at the same fare you originally paid. Even Robert Crandall, former CEO of American Airlines and hardly a champion of airline regulation, is in support of such a measure. Unfortunately, we will see a lot of this in the future as airlines continue to eliminate flights from their schedules, and the uncertainty it creates will do nothing to encourage more people to fly.