Reader Jake writes in to share the story of how he came to be the proud owner of a now-worthless ATA voucher:
Last September I had to sit in an airport for 10 hours. I was in Chicago, flying home from a work conference, and ATA Airlines dropped the ball. First they said the plane was at the wrong airport (I was at Midway, they said it was at O’Hare), whatever that means. Then they said the plane was at the right airport but the pilots were at the wrong one. Whatever, after many, many delays the plane took off and I had the pleasure of arriving at National at 3 in the morning. It was, all things considered, a fairly awful experience. If I had been unable to pay for wireless internet (with work picking up the bill) I’m not sure I would have made it.
The only bright side to this whole ordeal was that ATA offered everyone on the plane a voucher for a free roundtrip ticket anywhere in the continental US ATA serviced. Quick side story: A co-worker and I were on the same flight and he ran into someone he knew also on the flight. Apparently his friend had been on an ATA flight a while back that had also been delayed and she had been offered the same roundtrip voucher and was using that voucher on this flight WHICH HAD ALSO BEEN DELAYED, meaning she got another voucher.
Anyway I tried to use the voucher when I went to Jacksonville, and later Lake Tahoe, but I found it fairly hard to use as ATA didn’t fly to those places and weren’t very helpful either way. The guy I talked to on the phone suggested I pay to fly myself to Dallas where I could then fly for free to Jacksonville. I pointed out that if I was going to pay to fly to Dallas, why not just pay to fly straight to Jacksonville in the first place. He had no comeback. Since it was proving so hard to use and I’m not planning on going anywhere in the near future, I had kind of forgotten about the voucher. Until today.
As I was driving in to work I heard a news story that ATA Airlines had declared bankruptcy and discontinued all operations. The company website confirms this, as does this Bloomberg story. The FAQ’s on the company website helpful point out that all vouchers are no longer valid.
I don’t know what the moral of this story is, if there is one, but I do know that I hate ATA Airlines now more then ever. Unfortunately for me, there doesn’t seem to be anything left to hate. You win ATA. You win.
Those of you holding ATA frequent flier miles are in the same boat, sadly.