Spring break plans sunk by airport
By Stephanie Zimmermann July 15, 2011 10:10PM
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Updated: November 1, 2011 11:50PM
Dear Fixer: We booked a cruise on Royal Caribbean that was to depart on March 25, 2010. I was traveling with my two children and my cousin and her two children.
We flew to Washington, D.C., on US Airways, and we were supposed to fly from there to Tampa, Fla. We arrived in D.C. on time, but then we were told there was a three-hour delay. Later, the flight to Tampa was canceled due to a mechanical error.
My cousin waited at the special services counter for over three hours while I watched the four children, ages 3, 6, 9 and 9. There was a man walking around with a small card with an 800-number but he would not answer any questions.
My cousin finally talked to a US Airways representative and was told there were not any flights that would get us to Tampa in time for our cruise. Our only option was to fly home on a connecting flight through Philadelphia. The rep did not even apologize for our troubles. Two of the children stood there crying as they realized what was happening.
In Philadelphia, we had a couple hours to kill. To our shock, 20 minutes before departure, we were told our seats had been given away and it was our fault for not checking in. The ticket agent who issued the tickets never told us to check in — actually she told us we were ready to go. Also, the ticket agent had told us the gate was C17 when it was actually C20.
We had to wait for the next flight, two hours later. We boarded that one and then sat on a runway for over two hours.
We had arrived at O’Hare Airport that morning at 4:30 a.m., flown to D.C. and Philadelphia and arrived back in Chicago at 9 p.m. We did not make it to the cruise, which ruined our children’s spring break and also made for one of the worst days of our lives. We came home depressed, exhausted, angry and frustrated. As one worker told the kids, that is “disappointment, and they might as well get used to it.”
I complained to US Airways and they sent me to United Airlines, because the tickets were on United’s ticket stock. United said they would issue a refund. They even sent me an email saying they had issued a refund, but they put it on a credit card number that is not mine! I don’t know where they got this account.
I have emailed them several times, telling them to contact me for my correct account number, but they do not respond. Can you help?
Melissa Kronenberger, Oak LawnDear Melissa:
The Fixer suspects that missing a hundred connecting flights would be preferable to telling an excited 3-year-old, 6-year-old and two 9-year-olds that their dream cruise for spring break was ending before it began. Nice work, US Airways.
We had high hopes for this to be fixed, since you’d already spent a year complaining and had managed to get a promise of reimbursement. From there, however, the story got weirder.
For starters, the amount of the promised refund was $654.66 per ticket, which was more than what you had paid for the tickets. And there was no indication of whether only your party was being reimbursed or whether your cousin and her kids were, too.
Then, while The Fixer was attempting to straighten this out, you got another notification saying your refund would be a measly $43.53 per ticket, which was far too low.
The folks at United finally solved the mystery. United spokesman Mike Trevino said the first refund was calculated too high and didn’t include your cousin’s money, so they recalculated it with the correct amount and made it for six people. The final result was $1,047.30 per family.
Next up was figuring out where the money was sent. Trevino told us it went to Royal Caribbean’s account, as they had booked your travel. Armed with that information, The Fixer went to Royal Caribbean and asked them to go through their accounts. It took a few more weeks, but they finally sent the refunds back to you and your cousin.
United wanted to make amends for your long wait in getting this resolved, so they’re issuing six electronic vouchers that your and your cousin’s families can use for future travel.