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Entries during 2015-06

Changes to Cabin Class

Q. I recently booked a first class flight from Norfolk to San Diego on Delta using only SkyMiles. The flight Norfolk to Atlanta was first class but when boarding for the next leg in ATL, I was told that I had been reassigned to an economy seat. I checked before leaving home and the entire flight had been confirmed by Delta. Is this legal?

A. When it comes to airline travel, all is fair in seat assignments. Flights, seats, and schedules are not guaranteed. All you can do is request a refund (or partial refund) of the SkyMiles you used to "buy" the seat. Actually, Delta should have automatically refunded the miles or a portion of them without being asked.

Chip & PIN vs. the Swipe

Q. I'm planning for an upcoming trip to Europe. I was hoping to use my ATM card to get money while there, but I've heard from friends that places in Europe are switching over to "another system" and that it will be more expensive for me to change money. Doesn't sound as simple as I remember it being. What do you know about this?

A. I think what you are referring to is the chip and PIN card system commonly used in European bank cards. It's true that US banks have been dragging their feet when it comes to chip and PIN technology, but don't worry. You'll still be able to use your bank card for cash withdrawals at ATMs as well as most debit purchases at hotels, restaurants, and tourist hot spots. Most places in large cities will be familiar with swiping a US card and give you little to no hassle, but it wouldn't hurt to pop by a local ATM for pocket cash should you stray to less traveled areas. You should also check with both your bank and credit card company to see what EMV/chip and PIN options they currently offer. 

Late Connection, Seats Given Away

Q. I recently read that if a passenger on Southwest has a nonrefundable ticket, and a portion of the flight is not used and not canceled or changed by the passenger prior to schedule departure, unused funds will be lost and the remaining reservation will be canceled. Would that apply to passengers who are on a late arriving flight and miss their connection, having had no opportunity to contact the airline to let them know that they can't use a portion of the ticket because the plane did not arrive in time?

The reason I ask is because my husband and I recently had a flight on Southwest from Charlotte, NC to Oakland, CA, with a plane change in Chicago and stop over in Las Vegas. The plane left Charlotte two hours late due to weather. We arrived in Chicago, found out the gate number for our flight which was in a different terminal and ran like the dickens as the plane was scheduled for departure in minutes. We had our boarding passes in hand but when we arrived at the gate our seats had been given to two standby passengers. Luckily, Southwest honored our boarding passes and made the two standby passengers deplane.

A. First of all, most airlines would not do this. They'd let the standby passengers stay in their seats, unless those passengers were on a "buddy pass," airline employees who didn't have an urgent need to travel, or other passengers traveling on non-essential airline business. So kudos to Southwest! Anyhoo, the answer to your question is no, you would not be penalized in this scenario. You're not at fault for the flight running behind schedule, and even if you didn't make the connection, Southwest would put you on their next available flight.

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