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Compensation for Illegitimate Cancellation

Compensation for Illegitimate Cancellation

  1. 747380

    What is a just compensation for a last-minute US domestic cancellation within the airline’s control (such as unavailability of crew) when it’s the last flight of the day and there are no other alternatives to get to your destination around the same time? Are there really no federal laws in US (unlike EU) compelling US airlines to at least compensate for out-of-pocket expenses (besides goodwill hotel accommodation and meals) if you choose to re-route and fly to a nearby airport so that you are not forced to miss a whole day of work? If so, isn’t it about time that US has laws (like in the EU) protecting passengers when airlines cancel flights at their will (for their convenience and cost-saving measures) so that the airlines have less incentive to cancel flights within their control and disrupt our lives with resulting ripple effects and consequences that airlines are not held liable for?

  2. David W

    I’m not sure cancellation due to unavailable crew is within the airlines control. I’m sure the airline did everything they could to get a legal crew to work. Using Delta as an example, they cancelled thousand of flights after a severe weather system passed thru the Atlanta area. Weather delays cause issues and it up being that crews and aircraft are not suppose to be where they’re scheduled to be. That’s hard to work with when you’re working on a fairly large scale.

    In terms of US law for delay compensation, it’s tough and for now that’s only ever going to be wishful thinking. It’s difficult for lawmakers to get something akin to the EU laws because we have lobbyists that are against these policies.

  3. 747380

    [QUOTE=”David W, post: 29684, member: 29″]I’m not sure cancellation due to unavailable crew is within the airlines control. I’m sure the airline did everything they could to get a legal crew to work. Using Delta as an example, they cancelled thousand of flights after a severe weather system passed thru the Atlanta area. Weather delays cause issues and it up being that crews and aircraft are not suppose to be where they’re scheduled to be. That’s hard to work with when you’re working on a fairly large scale.

    In terms of US law for delay compensation, it’s tough and for now that’s only ever going to be wishful thinking. It’s difficult for lawmakers to get something akin to the EU laws because we have lobbyists that are against these policies.[/QUOTE]
    Thanks for your response. While in instances when a ripple effect due to weather may make crew unavailability outside of the airlines’ control, it is definitely within airlines’ control to maintain a few backup crew to serve some flights. However, airlines do not want to spend money on maintaining backup crew if the scheduled crew become unavailable for whatever reason. I am not talking about doubling the number of FAs and pilots but only a handful on standby (on-call) at the airlines’ hubs for emergency situations (not to cover a systemwide delay but only isolated flights). In my situation, it happened 3 weeks ago out of DFW. There was no weather-related delays or cacellations within AA’s network (unlike Delta’s situation). This was definitely a cancellation within AA’s control. Without any law that protect passengers, airlines can easily cancel flights at their will to save them money at our expense. I am calling all of us to band together to urge and persuade legislators to pass a passenger rights bill similar to the ones in the EU. With numbers and pooled finances on our side, we can defeat the airlines’ lobbyists. Surely US passengers should have at least the same protection as passengers in the EU.

  4. David W

    I’m not sure what you mean by not spending money on maintaining a backup crew. All the major US airlines have reserve crew on hand at their hubs. Quantity may differ from hub to hub and from time to time but they are there, glued to their phone, waiting for a call from crew scheduling. Crew scheduling is a very complex thing and it may not be entirely untrue that AA couldn’t get a crew. Furthermore, there could have been other reasons that lead to the cancellation of your flight.

    Did AA tell you why the flight was canceled? Could it have been mechanical as well? You say that airlines can easily cancel flights at their will to save money but this isn’t true. Amongst the 3 major US carriers, having the least amount of cancellations is somewhat of a competition – each airline wants to have the [I]least[/I] number of cancellations and delays. Canceling a flight means crews and aircraft aren’t where they’re supposed to be. They’ll need to be replaced and the next flight for that aircraft and crew will have to be rescheduled. Depending on the aircraft and destination, this can cause a ripple across the network and costs more than you think. I’m sure that prior to cancellation, various options and solutions were evaluated and that canceling the flight was the best option.

    There was once a flight that went out with a single passenger. There were issues, passengers either cancelled or rebooked their travel except for this one passenger. The airline decided to operate the flight anyway because the crew and aircraft had to be at the destination.

    I’m happy to support a movement that gets travelers the same protections that the EU provides. However, realistically speaking, this is not a top priority to legislators and the lobbyists have the full support of the US airlines. We’re talking about airlines that have the most revenues of any other airline in the [B]world[/B]. As great as it sounds, I just really doubt such a movement could obtain enough traction and support for it to get anywhere in the US government.

  5. 747380

    [QUOTE=”David W, post: 29733, member: 29″]I’m not sure what you mean by not spending money on maintaining a backup crew. All the major US airlines have reserve crew on hand at their hubs. Quantity may differ from hub to hub and from time to time but they are there, glued to their phone, waiting for a call from crew scheduling. Crew scheduling is a very complex thing and it may not be entirely untrue that AA couldn’t get a crew. Furthermore, there could have been other reasons that lead to the cancellation of your flight.

    Did AA tell you why the flight was canceled? Could it have been mechanical as well? You say that airlines can easily cancel flights at their will to save money but this isn’t true. Amongst the 3 major US carriers, having the least amount of cancellations is somewhat of a competition – each airline wants to have the [I]least[/I] number of cancellations and delays. Canceling a flight means crews and aircraft aren’t where they’re supposed to be. They’ll need to be replaced and the next flight for that aircraft and crew will have to be rescheduled. Depending on the aircraft and destination, this can cause a ripple across the network and costs more than you think. I’m sure that prior to cancellation, various options and solutions were evaluated and that canceling the flight was the best option.

    There was once a flight that went out with a single passenger. There were issues, passengers either cancelled or rebooked their travel except for this one passenger. The airline decided to operate the flight anyway because the crew and aircraft had to be at the destination.

    I’m happy to support a movement that gets travelers the same protections that the EU provides. However, realistically speaking, this is not a top priority to legislators and the lobbyists have the full support of the US airlines. We’re talking about airlines that have the most revenues of any other airline in the [B]world[/B]. As great as it sounds, I just really doubt such a movement could obtain enough traction and support for it to get anywhere in the US government.[/QUOTE]
    AA did not disclose the reason for the cancellation in its automated call. The airport agents could not see what the reason for the cancellation was. I called the 800 AA customer service desk and that’s when I was told crew availability was the reason. In addition, it was an American Eagle flight which was not a scheduled flight but an extra flight operating at midnight at the end of the spring break weekend. They could very easily move the few people onboard the extra return flight in the early morning hours onto the next regularly scheduled flight. From revenue standpoint, it made perfect sense for American Eagle to cancel this flight because it was under-booked. I have encountered other cancellations by regional airlines. For those reasons, I was suspicious of the true reason for the cancellation. I feel that regional airlines do not operate under the same regulations as the mainline carriers that they contract with. Their flight attendants also tend to be operating under even lower standards of customer service. So you say the US airlines have full control of the lobbyists and passing legislations similar to the ones in EU would be impossible because of the immense coffers of US airlines. Don’t forget that we are the ones enriching the US airlines and yet we are at their mercy. We should not tolerate such unequal relationship. When flights are cancelled due to reasons within the airlines’ control, the passengers should be compensated at the same rate as involuntary denied boarding.

  6. David W

    What ended up happening with your ticket? Were you rebooked or offered a full refund if you canceled your ticket?

    If the situation is as you described, then yes, this could one of the times when canceling a flight can make sense. Cancellations do happen, even when airlines try to keep it at a minimum. That’s just a part of air travel.

    You state “I feel that regional airlines do not operate under the same regulations as the mainline carriers that they contract with” but this isn’t exactly true. Yes, regional airlines are separate from the mainline carrier in that they are actually a different airline that operates flights on behalf of the mainline carrier. However, they are subject to the same laws and regulations that the mainline carriers are subject to. I cant speak for their customer service on board the aircraft – some crews are simply fantastic whereas other crews are sub-par. This happens on mainline and regional carriers. It really is crew-specific. On the ground, the airline’s agents are all under the mainline carrier. Whenever you have issues, youre not asked to call a separate number for the regional carrier nor are you asked to speak to a different agent.

    I wouldnt say that the airlines have [I]full control[/I] of the lobbyists, but theyre very, [I]very[/I] influential. Not counting for weather related and massive IT issues, flight cancellations are somewhat low. It happens. However, a large majority of fliers are infrequent fliers. Theyre only looking to get from A to B cheaply and quickly. When they run into issues, they complain. Yes, we shouldnt tolerate unreasonable cancellations and delays. Yes’ we should probably be compensated But do we really have a choice? My guess is that unless there is a huge event that gets the attention of the media (like United these last few weeks) change wont occur. It’ll take a massive campaign to petition for something to be done. Even after that it’s a long process to get a law/regulation together, hope for it to pass and then wait for it to go into effect.

    Going back to the EU compensation, do you really think the airlines like this policy? It’s not advertised at all and the burden is placed on the consumer to file a claim and provide all the necessary documentation. The airline isnt going to be proactive and reach out to the customer to let them know that they may be eligible for compensation.

    Cancellations are never fun and no one likes it when their flight is cancelled or delayed (Unless you’re the family who walked away with $11k….) but it’s just something we have to deal with for now. I really hope that you were able to obtain some sort of compensation from AA for your troubles.

  7. 747380

    [QUOTE=”David W, post: 29775, member: 29″]What ended up happening with your ticket? Were you rebooked or offered a full refund if you canceled your ticket?

    If the situation is as you described, then yes, this could one of the times when canceling a flight can make sense. Cancellations do happen, even when airlines try to keep it at a minimum. That’s just a part of air travel.

    You state “I feel that regional airlines do not operate under the same regulations as the mainline carriers that they contract with” but this isn’t exactly true. Yes, regional airlines are separate from the mainline carrier in that they are actually a different airline that operates flights on behalf of the mainline carrier. However, they are subject to the same laws and regulations that the mainline carriers are subject to. I cant speak for their customer service on board the aircraft – some crews are simply fantastic whereas other crews are sub-par. This happens on mainline and regional carriers. It really is crew-specific. On the ground, the airline’s agents are all under the mainline carrier. Whenever you have issues, youre not asked to call a separate number for the regional carrier nor are you asked to speak to a different agent.

    I wouldnt say that the airlines have [I]full control[/I] of the lobbyists, but theyre very, [I]very[/I] influential. Not counting for weather related and massive IT issues, flight cancellations are somewhat low. It happens. However, a large majority of fliers are infrequent fliers. Theyre only looking to get from A to B cheaply and quickly. When they run into issues, they complain. Yes, we shouldnt tolerate unreasonable cancellations and delays. Yes’ we should probably be compensated But do we really have a choice? My guess is that unless there is a huge event that gets the attention of the media (like United these last few weeks) change wont occur. It’ll take a massive campaign to petition for something to be done. Even after that it’s a long process to get a law/regulation together, hope for it to pass and then wait for it to go into effect.

    Going back to the EU compensation, do you really think the airlines like this policy? It’s not advertised at all and the burden is placed on the consumer to file a claim and provide all the necessary documentation. The airline isnt going to be proactive and reach out to the customer to let them know that they may be eligible for compensation.

    Cancellations are never fun and no one likes it when their flight is cancelled or delayed (Unless you’re the family who walked away with $11k….) but it’s just something we have to deal with for now. I really hope that you were able to obtain some sort of compensation from AA for your troubles.[/QUOTE]
    In my case, AA was only going to re-book me on another AA flight more than 16 hours later, which meant I would have to miss an entire day of work. Since there was no other alternatives at midnight, I proactively asked to re-route to a nearby airport, rent a car and drive myself 2 hours home in the wee hours of the night so that I don’t miss work, which would have had tremendous ripple effect beyond just me losing earning. AA airport agents told me that AA would compensate me for the extra costs associated with the car rental but AA refused to do so when I reached out to customer service in writing, stating they don’t reimburse. This infuriated me even more since I know this is not true. This is why the US needs legislation like EU that protects US passengers in cases where just compensation is due, even if it’s up to the passengers to request such compensation (as you stated). Whether or not the passengers need to proactively request the compensation or the airlines willing cut the check without the passengers asking, at least there is law on the passengers’ side. We as passengers are paying more than our fair share of fees to the airlines IN ADVANCE of the actual transportation from A to B and yet we are at their mercy whether that would actually happen (and somehow we are supposed to be prepared that may not happen) and whether we would not be mistreated by the airlines in the process? So should we now pay the airlines AFTER we get to our destination just like we do when we use taxis for transportation so that we should only pay if we get to our destination per agreement of carriage of contract? This way, the airlines would be more willing to treat us better like human beings and as customers because otherwise they won’t receive their payment.
    As for regional airlines, are they really under the same set of regulations as mainline carriers? Do you remember the Colgan Air tragic a few years ago that could have been avoided? It took change in legislation specific to regional airlines to try to avoid similar accident from happening. In addition, do you not know that regional airlines have lower pay scale than their mainline counterparts?
    Of course, any legislation protecting passengers are going to be pushed back by airlines because it hurts their bottom line (and not to mention the big, fat salary, bonuses and golden parachute packages of their CEOs and associates). However, change is possible if we band together, just like the last meaningful passenger protection legislation passed in 2011. After all, we are reason the airlines exist and for their record-breaking profits. Yet, we are still treated like secondary citizens (in some cases, even less than animals) since the laws heavily benefit them. Now is the opportune time given the recent United incident to effect changes which are way overdue to all US passengers!

  8. David W

    I’m not sure whether you ended up choosing the rebooked flight or the car rental but either case isnt great. If you went with the rebooking, AA had to pay for your hotel night, transportation between the airport and the hotel as well as meals. If you went with the car rental, I’m not actually sure that it can be compensated, even if the gate agent told you so. In situations like that, it could be better to deal with a phone agent rather than a gate agent. Also, it’s good practice to get these details in writing. Additionally, assuming you purchased the flights with a credit card, have you checked to see if there are any trip delay protections that are provided by the credit card? You may be able to file a claim and receive compensation from the card company, in addition to whatever you may receive or already received from AA.

    An airline’s contract of carriage does say that they are required to get you from A to B but I’m also sure that there are provisions in that same contract that discuss things like delays and cancellations. I’m not sure the contract of carriage specifically states that the airline needs to get you from A tot B in a specific time frame either. Aside from taxi’s, almost all other forms of transportation is prepaid because you’ve already agreed to pay a price in exchange for a service. That price is predetermined based on different factors. Taxi’s are unique in the sense that the majority of these trips are spontaneous and did not carry fixed prices. There is just too much uncertainty when it comes to roads for there to be fixed pricing. Areas that [I]do[/I] have fixed pricing are usually to/from airports because that’s easier to plan for. BUt think about Uber and Lyft – these ridesharing services are growing (though not with out their own problems) and they’ve both started to provide fares for trips before you confirm so that you know what the price is before youve stepped into a car. Who’s to say that prepaid rides arent in our future? Furthermore, I dont think a promise to pay at the completion of the contract would really motivate the airline to treat you any better than they do now. Either way, youre locked into a contract and you’d have to pay. Delays and cancellations are part of that contract – meaning rebooking you or refunding that portion of your airfare.

    When you speak of regional airlines and regulations, I assume you were speaking about federal aviation laws and regulations, not regulations of each specific airline. So, yes, mainline and regional airlines must abide by the same set of federal regulations, as well as any state and local regulations of places that the airline serves. For company regulations though, yes, they may be operating under different regulations. Part of their contract with the mainline carrier are certain rules so that the overall “brand” can provide a sense of unity and alignment but they are completely separate airlines. This means, completely different crews, training and pay scales. However, this doesnt mean they have complete free will. As I stated above, they only operate flights for the mainline carrier. The customer service and support you receive while flying a regional carrier does come from the mainline carrier. Especially at DFW, you’re dealing with actual AA agents, not contract agents like you would find at airports where they may fly once daily or something.

    I completely get that this was a frustrating situation for you and you are due compensation – which I hope you get from AA (and possibly your credit card as well). Considering the impact this event seems to have had on you, you may be the catalyst that that brings forth this legislation where compensation for delays and cancellations are on par with the EU. Good luck!

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