Special Blog Post from the CEO of Hawaii Discount about Airline Rules and Compensation for Denied Boarding and Delayed Flights from Major Airlines.
I am the owner of HawaiiDiscount.com. Hawaii Discount offers Hawaii activities and Hawaii tours and I travel often. I know that most of our customers fly to Hawaii from many different locations around the world. This blog post about airline rules is long overdue but it is important enough to me that I have saved the information since June 2012. I hope to help my customers and anyone else who feels that they have been taken advantage of by the airlines. My flight was from Charleston, SC to Las Vegas, NV so in this post, I am going to focus on Airline Rules for US domestic flights.
I want to quickly give the story of what happened to myself and my girlfriend. First, we were on time for the flight connection. We had flown into Chicago, IL from Charleston, SC and our next flight was to Las Vegas, NV. For some reason we were involuntary bumped from the flight. Our luggage was on the flight, but we were denied boarding. United Airlines said they could get us there the next day, but we had tickets to a show that evening that we did not want to miss. United Airlines did not seem to care. We ended up booking a flight on Delta ourselves with no help from United.
There is detailed information about the airline rules below, but unless it is weather related or they have to change to a smaller aircraft you are entitled to compensation. A United Airlines representative in Chicago told me the reason why we were bumped is because they changed to a smaller plane. She did not know I actually made it on the plane, and then was told I had to get off of the plane. I felt humiliated and like a criminal as I was seated toward the back of the plane and had to get my carry on and walk past all of the passengers as they stared at me, surely wondering what I had done wrong. Do not trust what the airline representatives tell you – confirm they changed to a smaller plane and ask for proof.
I sent numerous emails yet it seemed to get me nowhere. I finally got my money after I made a phone call explaining that I was tired of sending emails with little to no response. I told them the next time they would hear from me would be small claims court. I got a call within 1 hour from a supervisor to get my address so they could send a check. Be prepared to go to court, but I have never heard of them fighting this in court, because if they do not pay, they are breaking the law and they know they will lose.
This is what I recommend that you do if you are bumped. I recommend filing a claim with your small claims court if they do not offer what they owe you by law, which is explained below:
On August 23, 2011, new passenger protections and airline rules were introduced, one of which increased the amount of involuntary denied boarding (IDB) compensation.
First, the new airline rules are as follows:
Domestic flights within the United States: No compensation is due if your airline finds alternate transportation that will get you to your next stopover point or final destination within one hour after the scheduled arrival time of your original flight.
For flights getting you to your next point or destination more than one hour but less than two hours, cash compensation equivalent to 200% of the one-way fare on the flight you were bumped off to a maximum of $650.
Flights getting you to your next point or destination more than two hours from the original time will net you cash compensation of 400% of the one-way fare to a maximum of $1,300.
I will go into more detail later about the above airline rules.
I want to give you a couple of phone numbers for United Airlines to start off. The first phone number is 877-624-2660 which will get you to a United Airlines supervisor. Another phone number is 800-932-2732 and one last number to call is 800-864-8331. I would go straight to the United Airlines Supervisor. Do not waste your time with the customer care form. They never responded to me.
Here is an excellent link to get additional information http://untied.com/complain/tips.shtml
I do recommend sending a complaint on this site http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/CP_AirlineService.htm
Back to the story and how to fight back.
I was lucky enough to get a yellow pamphlet from United Airlines with airline rules (see photos at the end of the post). It is nearly a year old so I will give an overview of what it says:
Compensation for Denied Boarding
If you have been denied a reserved seat on United Airlines, United Express, Continental Airlines, Continental Express, Continental Express, Continental Connection, you are probably entitled to monetary compensation. This notice explains airline rules, the airline’s obligation and the passenger’s rights in the case of an oversold flight, in accordance with regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
If you are denied boarding involuntarily, you are entitled to a payment of “denied boarding compensation” from the airline unless:
You have not fully complied with the airline’s ticketing, check- in and reconfirmation requirements, or you are not acceptable for transportation under the airline’s usual rules and practices; or a smaller aircraft was substituted for safety or operational reasons. (I was told by a United Representative that the aircraft was changed. What they did not know was that I saw the aircraft pull out and I am familiar with aircrafts because I went to a Military College, The Citadel.)
You are denied boarding because a smaller aircraft was substituted for safety or operational reasons or you are on a flight operated with an aircraft having 60 or fewer seats, you are denied boarding due to safety related weight/balance restrictions that limit payload or you are offered accommodations in a section of the aircraft other than your specified on your ticket, at no extra charge (a passenger seated seated in a section for which a lower fare is charged must be given the appropriate refund or the airline can get you to your destination within one hour of the planned arrival time of your original flight).
Method of Payment
Payment is due within 24 hours.
Acceptance of the compensation clears the airline of any wrongdoing, so if you take a $200 Voucher, they are in the clear! However, the passenger may decline the payment and seek to recover the damages in a court of law or in some other manner.
In closing, note the email address of Customer Care from United, firstname.lastname@example.org
And, DON’T GIVE UP! That is what they want you to do. I finally got two checks for $1300 each. I would have much rather been on the flight to Las Vegas. United does not take into account the stress it can put on your family or travel companion. There was a family that was denied boarding also.
If this helps 1 person, then this article was worth writing. Airlines are a business, and I understand that, but they are not in the business of taking advantage of people.
Again, I hope this helps. If you happen to be flying to Hawaii, please check out our site for Hawaii Tours and Hawaii activities, HawaiiDiscount.com.
*Next time you are in the airport, ask for this pamphlet that has the airline rules and your rights as a passenger. I have asked over the past 7 months and they never have any or say they don’t know what I am talking about.