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Compounded Delays and Airline Responsibilities
Something that I’ve never really gotten a handle on is when the airline *must* compensate you or at least make alternate arrangements instead of just telling you to piss off. I know the basics of airline-induced versus weather-related delays, but what about a confluence of both?
I live in San Francisco which is often subject to either wind or fog delays as takeoff and landing windows are adjusted to account for safety as a result of weather conditions. Recently I was on a flight on UA that was delayed nearly two hours due to “late inbound aircraft” and that flight was late due to maintenance delays at the airport prior. So, because of the domino effect, I would be arriving at *my* destination at least two hours late due to UA’s maintenance issues. Clearly an airline-induced delay.
While I was waiting, I could see the fog rolling in over the hills just to the west of the airport. Things didn’t bode well. I could easily see my flight being delayed further or outright cancelled due to weather. But the only reason weather factored into the equation at all is because of an airline-induced problem.
Of course UA will claim it’s a weather delay or cancellation and do the minimum required to get the paying passengers where they need to go, but has anyone ever questioned what’s expected when an airline screwup leads to the weather delay? I view this scenario as an airline effectively cancelling a flight because of their ineptness but blaming weather. What, if anything, do you think is due to the passenger? And what if there’s a missed connection as a result? It seems like this is a loophole the airlines could exploit to their advantage.
In the USA, the airline never has an obligation to compensate you for delays or cancellations for any reason. Anything they do (and most network carriers will do something for customer goodwill or other commercial reasons under some circumstances) is purely voluntary. If they wanted to “exploit to their advantage” they could just tell you to sod off and accept a refund, or come back next week when the next open seat is available (see : Spirit, Allegiant, etc..).