FlightAware Discussions

Is it legal for the airlines to pull this on a passenger?

My SIL purchased his tickets for the family to come home for Christmas some 6 months ago. They are flying with a 2 month old and a 2 year old. Tickets were paid in full and confirmed. A month or so ago, the airline contacts him about the return flight, and they changed his flights on him to leave them with a 7.5 hour layover in Denver.

7.5 hours in BFE Adams County, Colorado with two tiny kids. There is no where near the airport, and nothing to do to keep these poor kids happy for 7.5 hours.

They gave their seats on the original flights to other customers and rescheduled his. WT??? The previously scheduled flights have absolutely NOT been cancelled. I just verified this fact. The jet was taxiing on the runway for take off just as I joined this forum.

How can this be legal?

There is nothing “illegal.” Poor customer service, perhaps. Find the “Contract for Carriage” for the air carrier in question. Here’s a chunk of Alaska’s Contract. All are pretty much the same and have this nifty little Rule 240:

Rule 240AS - Flight Delays/Cancellations
A. Liability of Carrier: Except to the extent provided in Paragraph D.4 of this rule,
AS shall not be liable for failing to operate any flight according to schedule or for
changing the schedule of any flight, with or without notice to the passenger. This
exclusion from liability includes actual and consequential damages.
B. Options of Passengers: The provisions of this rule apply only to passengers
who have a valid ticket reflecting a confirmed reservation on a flight affected by a
Schedule Irregularity.
C. Definitions - Schedule Irregularity means:

  1. Delay in scheduled departure or arrival of flight resulting in a
    misconnection, or
  2. Flight cancellation, omission of a scheduled stop, or any other delay or
    interruption in the scheduled operation of an AS flight, or
  3. Substitution of equipment or a different class of service, or
  4. Schedule changes which require rerouting of the passenger at departure
    time of the original flight. Exception: Schedule irregularity does not include
    force majeure events as defined in Para. I).

Oh… and KDEN is a rather large airport. Yes, it is located in a rather remote location, but I would imagine there’s a few things to see and do…

Did they file a complaint? Were they provided recompense of any kind? Keep us posted.

Recompense? For what? They bought transportation and they were provided transportation. I agree with Jim, it is poor public relations and terrible customer relations.
I also have a couple of questions though.
You say they bumped your family and gave the seats to somebody else. How do you know that? Unless you happen to know the people that “got your seats” it is not public information. Did the airline have to downsize to a smaller airplane? If that was the case it is perfectly legal to bump or move the requisite number of passengers which, in the case of a future flight, is normally done randomly. Poor consolation but at least they kept the family together. I’ve seen them split up when nobody in reservations is paying attention.
Remember the airline groups get to sit with the FAA and/or congress when rules are written, you can bet anything on paper favors them. Passenger groups are a fairly new thing. That is how it can be legal.

You say “they sold his seats on his original flights to someone else”

Chances are the airline changed the schedule and the original flights no longer exist.

It was a question. Period. When I am inconvenienced, it is quite common for a business to upgrade or throw something in without me asking. And I have always and continue to do the same with people who do business with me - an extension of <ahref=“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagniappe”>lagniappe if you will. I was in Starbucks the other evening and they were out of brewed coffee. The Barista said they were brewing a new batch and it would be 5 minutes but he would brew me a special cup that would take 2 minutes - no extra charge - some special brewing machine - I forget the name. A couple of years ago we were flying Alaska and there was a mix-up of some sort - no big deal to us and the agent checked one of our bags for free.

For me to form a judgment, I would need more info. Its part of the story.

There was nothing to be compensated for. They had seats. It was just on a different flight with an enormous layover in Denver. Raise a stink in Denver. Get some food vouchers. Airlines are giving nothing away for free. Saw a guy try to squat in an F seat last night. FA kicked him out not to upgrade but because he didn’t pay or earn the seat. By your logic, the airline should just say, aw, what the heck stay… Never going to happen in commercial aviation these days. You pay for it all.