There are few things more frustrating than to have a need to be somewhere only to discover your flight’s been delayed due to a weather related issue. In fact, the only thing worse is discovering your airline isn’t as accommodating as you’d hoped. This week, it’s all about Tropical Storm Isaac and if Mother Nature has forced you to define a plan B, you might want to know what your airline is doing to help you. Here’s a hint: your travel rewards might not be as big a motivator for those airlines as you might have hoped.
The good news is Tropical Storm Isaac’s inconsiderate intrusion has put at least a few airlines in a generous mood. If your plans to the southeast were delayed, you might discover your airline is willing to forgo the fees. This can easily save you hundreds of dollars that frankly, you shouldn’t have to pay. Fair warning: your carrier might have other restrictions, such as a limited block of time that you can take advantage of that fee waiver. Some are allowing several days while others are extending it out to a year – or maybe more.
Airfare Watchdog founder George Hobica says in his experience, the airlines “are all over the place”. A lack of standardization would be good as well as an elimination of excessive requirements.
It’s not the passengers fault that a hurricane happened.
As of the time of this writing, there have been close to 1,300 flights canceled everywhere from Houston to Gulfport to Mobile to Miami – and the list is growing.
No Government Oversight
One thing that’s important to keep in mind is that the government has no say or rule making authority – which is one reason why CFPB hasn’t gotten involved. The airlines can dictate time spans, fees or fee waivers or other perks (or lack of perks). There is one exception, however – if your flight is canceled for reasons out of your hands, the airline must offer a refund.
If you’re wondering which airline is most generous, it’s United Airlines. Also, Frontier Airlines, which is a part of Republic Airways Holdings Inc., has also upped the generosity ante.
Ah, but the disappointments are coming from some of the biggest airline names in the world, including American Airlines, part of AMR Corp., Delta Air Lines, JetBlue and US Airways Group Inc. They’re restrictive and not consumer-friendly.
One example provided to us includes a man who’d planned a vacation to the Bahamas with his wife. They’d booked their flight out of Miami – a quick romantic getaway. The flight was canceled and he could have received a waiver, however, American Airlines don’t allow those carryovers until a week later. There are instances when it can be more than a week. Suddenly, a quick trip out of town became a frustrating experience that ended up costing him. He told a reporter,
I find American’s policy very cold-hearted, particularly in comparison to United’s very reasonable policy. It’s certainly not consumer friendly.
Every airline has its policies posted on its respective websites, however, here’s the list of what each airline is doing – or rather, not doing.
- With United, you get three options: a full refund, re-booking your flight anytime within twelve months of the flight with no change fees (though you will have to pay the difference in any pricing changes) or they can rebook the flight within a week and face no fee or fare differences.
- As mentioned, Frontier is another carrier that is lenient with its policies. You can rebook any flight to another one that’s already available on its schedule. Keep in mind, though, this is only good through March 17 and if your flight was affected by Tropical Storm Isaac.
- If your flight was booked and subsequently canceled by American Airlines, you have one week (Wednesday, September 5) if your tickets were to the east coast of Florida. If your flight was to the Keys or along the northern Gulf Coast, you have until Sunday, September 9.
- Delta’s rule is that you must revise your plans if your flight was in Florida no later than Friday; for the Gulf Coast, you have until Sunday.
- Delta is requiring travelers to or from Florida to start their revised plans by Friday and those to or from the Gulf Coast by Sunday (September 1).
- If you’re holding a JetBlue ticket, you must fly by Friday August 30. Same thing with US Airways – except canceled flights to the Gulf Coast are good only until Saturday.
- Southwest Airlines is giving you a fourteen day window from the original date of travel and it waives the change fees, though like United, you must pay any difference in ticket increases.
The airlines are doing things to make money. I think they’ve given up the whole concept of being fair,
says says Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance
For more specifics on your carrier, visit its website.
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