U.S. Airways: Abandoning Passengers "Is Not A Compensation Issue"

Remember the 274 passengers stranded by U.S. Airways in Punta Cana? According to the airline, compensating those passengers would be unsafe. Seriously, that’s their argument:

In order to ensure that all carriers remain focused on safety, aviation regulations do not require airlines to pay compensation for consequential expenses because of delayed or canceled flights.”

Come on, U.S. Air, at least make up interesting bullshit. Compensating passengers could resurrect mighty Rodan, whose insatiable hunger for man-blood would imperil plump business-class passengers. Stuff like that.

Here’s the rest of their letter:

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you experienced when Flight 1860 was cancelled due to Air Traffic Control. You have every right to expect our flights to operate as scheduled. We certainly don’t intend to cause difficulties for our customers and realize that any service failure, even when the cancellation is mandated by Air Traffic Control, creates a negative impression of our company.

All airlines must adhere to the instructions given by the airport’s traffic tower. We realize the cancellation of your flight was a frustrating situation; however, the flight was cancelled in conjunction with airport conditions and information from the airport tower.

Deteriorated weather conditions made flying to Philadelphia an impossibility. It became apparent an improvement in this situation was not going to happen. Safety considerations are paramount to all concerned and override flight schedules. We realize this was a frustrating situation; however, the flight was cancelled for safety reasons.

In order to ensure that all carriers remain focused on safety, aviation regulations do not require airlines to pay compensation for consequential expenses because of delayed or canceled flights. This would include such items as hotel expenses, telephone calls, lost wages, missed meetings and other personal expenses including purchasing alternate transportation.

I’m sincerely sorry for the difficulties and the inconvenience you experienced on this trip. Regretfully, per policy and guidelines this is not a compensation issue.

Technically, U.S. Airways is correct in that neither the contract of carriage nor federal regulations compel the airline to offer anything, including an apology letter. Still, as travel-meister Chris Elliot points out, “the federal government doesn’t force us” isn’t good enough.

…common sense tells you it should do something, even if it means sending them a couple of hundred bucks in vouchers that will be impossible to redeem (or that the passengers will refuse to redeem). But “this is not a compensation issue” is unacceptable.

So what would the right response look like? Could any airline offer a response we’d find acceptable? Compare U.S. Airways’ response to Southwest’s classy handling of a 2-hour delayed flight.

US Airways to Dominican flight victims: “This is not a compensation issue” [Tripso]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. alyssariffic says:

    I think what they’re trying to argue is that aviation guidelines do not require compensation, because if they did require compensation the airlines wouldn’t care about whether or not their flight would be safe, they’d care about how much money it would cost them to compensate the passengers. The “safety” part of this is that airlines can’t be trusted to look at safety and not the bottom line if compensation is required.

    It’s a really stupid thing to try to argue though, they’re essentially saying that because it’s not required by aviation guidelines, they’re not going to compensate the passengers.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @alyssariffic:

      Ever see “Outbreak?” Remember when Morgan Freeman’s character is telling Dustin Hoffman’s character that he mustn’t get his helicopter in the path of that plane or else they won’t be able to bomb the town?

      This is like that. Only I don’t think it’s intentional.

    • nursetim says:

      @alyssariffic:
      You hit the nail on the head. That was my reaction too. It still wouldn’t be of any comfort if I were in that situation. On a related note, that letter was the most condescending response from any company I have ever read.

    • Fly Girl says:

      @alyssariffic: Nail/Head. You got it. And, from what we learned before, even though US Airways was under no obligation to provide the passengers with ANYTHING– not food, not transportation, not hotels– they ultimately DID bus everyone to a hotel and put them up at the airline’s expense. What more do the passengers want? It was a freakin’ hurricane. Everyone else was grounded. While the tone of a letter is, indeed, a little abrupt, US Airways is right– in this one, isolated case.

      • perruptor says:

        @Fly Girl: You’re back again, still misrepresenting what happened? …they ultimately DID bus everyone to a hotel and put them up at the airline’s expense. What more do the passengers want? It was a freakin’ hurricane. Everyone else was grounded.

        No, they did NOT put anyone up in a hotel. They drove them around in the middle of the night in buses, then back to the still-closed airport. Everyone else was not grounded. There were flights taking off and landing. The airline’s ground reps admitted to some of the stranded passengers that the flight crew had exceeded their allowed flight time. That is 100% USAir’s fault, and had nothing to do with the weather.

        You’re a USAir employee, aren’t you? What other reason would you have for coming back to repeat stuff you admitted in the first thread was wrong?

        • Fly Girl says:

          @perruptor: No, I’m repeating what someone, who claimed to be a passenger on the flight in question, stated in the previous thread: that after a lot of confusion and frustration, US Airways put the passengers up in a hotel. Whether that’s true or not, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. The person who stated that they were, ultimately, put up in a hotel claimed that they WERE there.

          I’m not a US Airways employee. I’m not an employee of ANY airline. I HATE US Airways and refuse to fly them. Ever. And I’ve stated that multiple times, in multiple threads. I believe that they should be held accountable for their shoddy business practices and poor customer service.

          HOWEVER, according to the FAA’s reports (which I took the time to look up and read), when the US Airways flight was grounded ALL flights in and out of PUJ were grounded. That hurricane devastated the DR and killed multiple people. It wasn’t a mandatory crew rest situation and if someone at US Airways claimed it was, they were misinformed. Read the FLIFO.

          Never, ever, EVER is it the airline’s responsibility to transport and house passengers in the case of a natural disaster or weather related emergency. Never. Good customer service would dictate that they give passengers some information about nearby hotels to try out, transportation options, etc… But, again, this is the DR we’re talking about, not a major American city. There isn’t an airport Hilton to go to. There just isn’t the infrastructure. There is only one person to blame for that: the government of the Dominican Republic. I stated that, at length, in the previous thread as well.

          Why should US Airways be expected to foot the bill for something that is NOT their fault in any way? No one is going to pay them back for it, and we’re not talking about an industry with money to spare– even in the best case, all airlines (even Southwest, now) are LOSING money. There isn’t money left over for anything, especially not hotels and meals and transportation for passengers in the case of a natural disaster. That is something that is on the shoulders of the passengers and the government. Period.

          Is there no personal accountability anymore? Everyone wants someone else to bail them out? The Dominican Republic is a developing nation– we’re not talking Hawaii here. Outside of the resort zones, it’s a flippin’ third world country. When you take a vacation in a third world country, you get third world services.

    • godlyfrog says:

      @alyssariffic: I read the same thing, but at the same time, I was also thinking that the statement makes no sense. No company is going to remain in business if their flights are crashing due to poor maintenance, so safety would be high on their list even if it weren’t mandated.

      Nobody’s at fault for not being able to fly during a hurricane, and everyone should expect some level of discomfort because of it. On the other hand, offering a $50 voucher probably wouldn’t have hurt them very much.

    • timsgm1418 says:

      @alyssariffic: that’s exactly what I got out of their response as well.

  2. crazyasianman says:

    so instead of doing the right/fair thing, it’s “we’re going to keep your money and give you nothing because the government doesn’t make us do otherwise.”

    sounds entirely reasonable.

  3. toy_ says:

    The flight seems to have been canceled by the government because it was unsafe to fly to the destination. How does this become the airline’s fault?

    The point the airline is making is that if they were required to provide compensation every time the government canceled flights because of weather, some airlines would try to fly anyway so they didn’t have to pay that compensation; this being an unsafe thing to do for passengers. As a passenger I would rather sit in a airport than take my chances flying into known unsafe conditions.

    Would I like to be compensated? Sure, but I wouldn’t expect to be any more than I would expect the government to compensate me for closing an icy and dangerous road in eastern Colorado which caused me to rent a motel in Limon.

    This just seems like a typical case of everyone thinking they are a victim and wanting someone to pay for them being inconvenienced.

  4. nknight says:

    What they’ve effectively said/admitted is “if we aren’t forced to, we will not put safety ahead of profit”.

    I know this is a naïve, idealistic viewpoint, but if a business cannot simultaneously be safe, keep customers happy, and turn a profit, they shouldn’t be in business. This applies to airlines just as much as anyone else.

  5. Hey, they got complimentary non-alcholic beverages on the eventual return flight. That sounds like above and beyond to me.

  6. mantari says:

    Regulations, rules, and policies don’t matter squat. Class action ‘em.

  7. Gannoc says:

    That’s is some mighty, mighty bold PR spin.

    “The regulations don’t require us to compensate you. If we forced to compensate you, we’d certainly jeopardize your safety to avoid paying you. You should be glad that your government protects you from us by not making us pay you.”

  8. reflection717 says:

    I read that apology letter but all I read was:

    Blah blah blah Not our fault
    Really It was NOT our fault
    We told you already that it wasn’t our fault but it can’t hurt to tell you again that it was definitely not our fault.
    By the way, not our fault.
    We’re sorry… but not really (cause it wasn’t our fault)

    Worst “apology” letter I’ve ever seen.

  9. Sugarless says:

    I wish Rodan really appeared when companies treated customers like crap.

    I’m also never flying this airline. Weather conditions are one thing, leaving your customers stranded is another.

  10. Triborough says:

    A very wise person and seasoned flier told me the following rules for air travel:
    1. If it isn’t Boeing, I am not going.
    2. Never fly on US Air.

  11. jimmydeweasel says:

    It’s too bad US Air went down the toilet. They fly from my closest airport to the places I frequent. I haven’t flown US Air in 7 years. I won’t bore you with the details, but there seems to be a concerted effort to piss off every customer they come in contact with. This story is just icing on the cake.

  12. lukobe says:

    Why haven’t these tools gone out of business yet?

  13. Scoobatz says:

    They sincerely apologized…not once, but twice. What more do you want? That’s just as good as taking things very seriously.

  14. azntg says:

    From the consumer’s perspective:

    “In order to ensure that all carriers remain focused on safety and timeliness, we, the customers don’t feel obligated to pay the carriers until service is actually rendered as agreed.”

    Only wish it would work that way instead.

  15. marks2l says:

    Seriously, these guys do NOT want to be in the airline industry..

  16. soxfan18 says:

    Truly true story…
    Years ago I called USAirways to complain about a flight change. Long story short I asked the customer service rep, “Whatever happened to the policy that says the customer comes first?”
    Wait for it…
    She replied, “We have never had that policy.”

  17. unpolloloco says:

    Unnnnnn………..no one gives vouchers for flights canceled from weather issues – that’s a pretty well-established policy. If they did, they’d lose even more money than they are now. If it’s anything not related to weather, airlines typically will issue vouchers. Weather, however, is beyond the airline’s control, so they do not have to issue anything (other than a trip on the next available aircraft).

    • jamar0303 says:

      @unpolloloco: But it sucks when they use it as an excuse. Take a recent United flight I took, Shanghai-Chicago. At the gate in Shanghai I was told the inbound flight was late, causing a delay. It was coincidentally raining. The plane arrived 4 hours late, missing the last flight out to where I was going. I was told it was a weather issue, so no compensation. Spent the night in O’hare airport. Never again.

  18. dvdchris says:

    This only further cements my hatred of USAir

  19. starrion says:

    I’m not sure what anyone is expecting from US Air.

    They really are that lousy. They don’t care if they strand you. They REALLY don’t care if they lose or abuse your luggage in Philadelphia. They have been doing THAT for years. They don’t care if you think the cabin wasn’t cleaned very well.

    They simply don’t care.

    Got a ticket that you paid a lot of money for? (compared to the other airlines) US Air may get you to your destination sometime in the vicinity of when they promised.

    You want service? Fly somebody else.

  20. bobpence says:

    True, it wasn’t U.S. Air’s legal responsibility to put them up. But they might have intervened when armed guards forced families to leave the airport with no place to go in the storm, just in case that was, you know, a safety issue.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      @bobpence: Everyone knows you’re much safer OUTSIDE in a tropical storm.
      Then if the building collapses there’s no one inside to sue!

      • mac-phisto says:

        @doctor_cos: punta cana’s airport is as close to being outside (while still being inside) as you can get. it’s typical caribbean open construction – a steel structure with a few concrete walls & a thatch roof. it was designed (as most structures down there) to weather extreme storms with limited damage; not necessarily to protect occupants.

        really, we should be lambasting the d.r. officials for not executing an orderly evacuation plan – it was their responsibility to make sure the airport occupants were relocated to a safe place. still, u.s. air could have done more. any half-wit in marketing could have recognized this as a positive p.r. opportunity & acted accordingly.

  21. ironchef says:

    Fly virgin or southwest. There’s less douchebaggery there. USAir deserves to go bankrupt. I have no sympathy for companies with bad business practices.

    It’s the natural way the marketplace weeds out idiots.

  22. hairyseaword says:

    Since when is federal mandate the measure of good customer service?

    These types of corporate conversations are like talking to a 4-year-old kid just learning about social interaction.

    “I thought I said no watching movies until your homework was done?” – mom

    “You never said I couldn’t WATCH TV,” – kid

    There is a way for them to follow whatever obscure rules are out there AND provide top-notch customer care, but you have to make it a priority and enable staff to do the right thing.

  23. perruptor says:

    Here are ALL of the passenger statements from that thread relating to busing to hotels:

    About 2am we ended up in the parking lot of a resort. We stayed there for an hour and a half, sitting on the bus the whole time. Then we were driven back to the airport, where we stayed on the busses in the parking lot, until 6am.

    Armed men escorted passengers to the four busses at 11:00 pm we set out. We drove around for 4 hours before ending up at 3:00 am in the airport parking lot to sleep on the bus.

    Armed men escorted passengers to the four busses at 11:00 pm we set out. We drove around for 4 hours before ending up at 3:00 am in the airport parking lot to sleep on the bus.

    The bus trip was extremely scary. In fact I doubt more and more that there was a hotel and it was an excuse to get us off the property. About an hour into our ride the buses stop and claimed they could not go on because of flooding. The buses then all separated. My bus stopped in the middle of a small village about one in the morning. The bus driver got off and vanished. Suddenly all these men on motorcycles appeared, and a truck dropped a bunch of men off. We are in the middle of nowhere with about 50 people staring at us. We were absolutely terrified they were going to do something. Luckily the driver got on and left. After cruising around for a while we made it back to the airport where we were not allowed to leave the bus.

    We ended up sleeping in a bus because they couldn’t find any hotel rooms.

    Battery dying but usairways is abandoned 200 of us in Dominican republic and saying we have to leave airport without any hotel.

    That’s every one of the statements that mentions the buses or hotels. Several of the statements say that other flights took off after theirs was canceled. Also, Tropical Storm Fay was not a hurricane. Why should we care what BS the airline gave to the FAA for canceling the flight? For that matter, why should we pay any attention to you, when you repeatedly make stuff up? You want to talk about accountability? How about yours?

    • Fly Girl says:

      @perruptor: Okay, I stand corrected that US Airways didn’t put the passengers up in a hotel. Instead, they TRIED to put the passengers up in a hotel and were unable to find any hotel rooms. How is that BAD? And how is that US Airways fault? Should they reserve blocks of hotels for their passengers, at US Airways’ expense, just in case something like this happens?

      And I also stand corrected that Fay never became a hurricane, it was categorized as a “Tropical Storm.” Let’s not play a game of semantics. When the storm hit Hispaniola, it killed several people. It caused massive flooding. It was bad enough that Florida declared a state of emergency, towns were flooded, and people died. No one is denying the strength and danger of the storm.

      The US Airways flight was canceled because of the storm. The airport was closed, and the passengers were forced to leave, by national guardsmen from the Dominican Republic, NOT by US Airways. Why would armed guards of the Dominican Republic shut the airport down and force people out of the airport if the flight cancellation was a crew rest issue? C’mon, that’s absolute nonsense. Even all of the news reports confirmed that ALL flights in and out of PUJ had been grounded at the time that the US Airways flight was grounded, and that it was the decision of the DR government to shut down the airport and kick everyone out. What were the US Airways employees supposed to do? Tell the national guard to go to hell? Riiiiiiiiight.

      Also, the accounts of the people you’re quoting from the previous thread? What are they mad about? That US Airways tried to find them a hotel but couldn’t? That they were put on a bus and then the bus had to stop because of flooding? That there were locals that approached the bus at 1:00 am? If US Airways couldn’t find a hotel to take everyone in, how is that their fault? If the roads flooded and they couldn’t go any further, how is that their fault? If locals *gasp!* approached the busses, how is that their fault? The phrase “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” comes to mind…

      US Airways was under no obligation to even TRY to find lodging for people, yet they did. They tried. There wasn’t any to be had. Like I stated before, there’s no Punta Cana airport Hilton. Outside of the resort zone, it’s a bunch of hovels and poverty.

      The writer of the above referenced comments really needed to do some research before booking a trip to the Dominican Republic, because the writer sounds really, really ignorant. “Scared” of the brown people, huh? Nice. Like I said before, when you book a vacation to a third world country, you’ve got to expect third world resources. And if encountering “scary” brown people on the road in the middle of the night is a terrifying proposition, perhaps the writer should consider vacationing in places where there aren’t “scary” brown people.

      Jesus. Talk about ignorance, a sense of entitlement, and a lack of personal accountability.

      [news.yahoo.com]

  24. lanemik says:

    There have been accidents due, in part, to the crew trying to save the airline money. That was one link in the chain of events in the runway incursion of 2 747s that killed over 500 people in the Canary Islands. The Dutch crew was determined to take off so the airline didn’t have to put passengers up for the night. That lead them to make bad judgments at critical times. Had this one factor not been an issue, the whole accident would have been averted.

    Honestly, as much as it sucks and as difficult as it is to come to terms with, US Airways seems to have done the right thing. It is a good thing to attempt to break potential links in the chain of events that lead to mishaps, even if the airline only gets grief about it from passengers. Grief from passengers is better than grief for passengers, dig?

    I have a bit of a background in aviation and have studied some aircraft incidents in-depth if anyone wonders or cares.

  25. johnnya2 says:

    How in the world does US Air take the blame for this in any way? i am no fan of any carrier, but did the people ever make it back to their destination? So what is in it for US AIR to NOT take them back in a timely fashion? Each airline can make a determination of what they perceive as safety of passengers. In fact, IF the pilot said I am not flying in this, US AIR can not force them to. Final decisions on the plane are up to the captain. PERIOD. Not open to debate. It is a dictatorship. If somebody can show a mechanical issue, or that the crew was over hours then provide proof. I’m sorry these people went to the DR in the middle of hurricane season and got hit with a tropical storm. S*it happens. Deal with it. There are plenty of other things to be upset with US Air about; this is not one of them.

  26. mythago says:

    So, again, USAir has a business flying into the DR during hurricane season, but had no plans for how to handle a flight that was canceled to due a tropical storm or hurricane? But I guess “personal accountability” only applies to consumers. Corporations get a free pass.

  27. perruptor says:

    No, let’s talk about blaming the victims, which you were warned about by the moderator in the other thread, but which you cannot seem to stop doing.

    • charliux says:

      @perruptor: I don’t think fly girl is blaming the victims. She is just saying that it is not US Airways fault that the flight was canceled because of bad weather.

      • Fly Girl says:

        @charliux: Thank you. I don’t know how not jumping on the “F*** US Airways” bandwagon is the same as blaming the victim, which I’m most definitely not. What I am doing is saying that the blame should be directed in the right direction, which is one part mother nature, one part the government of the Dominican Republic, and one part the lack of planning and preparation on the part of the traveler.

        Why is there no Consumerist outrage at the DR for welcoming travelers in with open arms, taking their US dollars, and then not being prepared to accommodate those people when shit hits the fan? Shouldn’t it be the DR that has the hurricane contingency plan, not US Airways?

        And @mythago: Wouldn’t the more appropriate question be why doesn’t the Dominican Republic have a plan for how to handle tourists during hurricane season, rather than attempting to skewer US Airways for not providing services that they not only NEVER promised to provide, but made very clear that they DON’T provide.

        It’s no secret that airlines DO NOT PAY for delays and cancellations caused by weather. That’s common knowledge. US Airways was paid by those passengers to provide transportation from Point A to Point B. Nothing else.

        US Airways flies to the DR during hurricane season because there’s a market for it and plenty of people ready and willing to go there. That’s the free market.

        Why is it US Airways job to have a plan? Why is it their job to inform people that outside of the resort zone, it’s all freakin’ favelas? Even the US government has issued travel warnings for the Dominican Republic, advising travelers to have travel insurance, to have a back up plan if they’re traveling to the DR during hurricane season, and to register with the embassy.

        If all of that information is available to people, and they STILL decide to go to the DR, then why should US Airways refuse to transport them? Why should they pay for their hotels and meals and transportation if the flights have to be canceled or delayed because of storms? Why should they give them any sort of compensation?

        The answer is simple: They shouldn’t.

        Like I stated before, it’s not like the airline CEO’s are rolling around in piles of money. All airlines are losing money. Asking US Airways to give money or vouchers to the people that were on this flight is ridiculous.

        Sure, giving a $100 voucher to 200 people would only cost a $2,000. (And that’s assuming that everyone uses the vouchers, and that’s without taking into account the mark-up on tickets.) Is $2,000 a lot of money? No. But paying that out would set a precedent that would cost the entire industry TONS of money.

        If passengers came to believe that they were entitled to compensation every time a flight was canceled and they were inconvenienced, how the hell would any airline exist?

        We hold airlines to a higher standard than we do any other industry– we want 1960′s service at 1990′s prices and forget that it’s 2008. The cost of a plane ticket, even with all of the surcharges and hidden fees, doesn’t cover the cost of operating an airline– if it did, they wouldn’t all be hemorrhaging money. Even Southwest. They’re all screwed.

        Until we come to the realization that unless we’re going to subsidize our airlines, it’s going to cost $600.00 to fly 1,000 miles, this is going to be the state of the industry. We can’t expect extra services unless we’re willing to pay for them, with our tax money or through the price of tickets, and the average American just isn’t willing to pay it. Period.

        People we should be mad at: The government (for not subsidizing public transportation, for not investing in alternative fuels, for not regulating gas companies, for allowing monopolies in the sake of the “free market”) and ourselves (for not holding our elected officials accountable). A lot of our problems with airlines, and other biggie companies like BofA and Comcast, are just symptoms of a much larger problem, and until we solve that, nothing is going to get better.

        /RANT

        [travel.state.gov]
        [www.usemb.gov.do]
        [www.usemb.gov.do]

        • hills says:

          @Fly Girl:
          I totally agree with everything you wrote – just a minor correction:
          “Sure, giving a $100 voucher to 200 people would only cost a $2,000.”

          $100 x 200 people = $20,000

          Moot point though, since I agree no vouchers were necessary:)

          • Fly Girl says:

            @hillsrovey: I know, I know. I caught that after it was too late. Probably should have done the re-read BEFORE hit submit… I also added an “a” before the $2,000. Whoops.

            I knows my maths and grammers, for seriously! :)

            (And I wish Gawker would add an edit feature to avoid embarrassing mistakes like the one you just pointed out…)

            • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

              @Fly Girl: “…we’re not talking about an industry with money to spare– even in the best case, all airlines (even Southwest, now) are LOSING money.”
              Well, what a shame. This is what happens when you pay your executives too much and the workforce too little, and then shit all over your customers every chance you get.
              But you don’t have to know how to run an airline to run an airline in the US…the taxpayers will be forced to bail your lame asses out AGAIN AND AGAIN.

              In this particular case (as is apparently becoming the norm for most airlines in the US), it appears that USAir did their usual BS of not informing the passengers of anything, other than that they were SOL and there was nothing USAir was going to do about it.

              Please feel free to fire back, as I obviously don’t know what I’m talking about.

        • jamar0303 says:

          @Fly Girl: Sure, but at least Southwest helps their customers even as they lose money (seriously, they are? news to me). Better to lose a little more now and gain it back later than to lose less now and fall into Ch7 later.

  28. fisherstudios says:

    well, if air traffic control canceled a flight, there HAS to be a reason for their decision to do so.

    in this case, it was concerns regarding the weather conditions that day, which falls under an ‘act of god’ and therefore legally the airline is not responsible for delays due to that reason.

  29. ArdelisLawliphile says:

    I’ve also had issues with US Airways. Flying out of SFO, I along with
    many other travelers ended up stranded at the Las Vegas airport, due
    to “air traffic delays”. It smelled fishy to me, especially when that
    sort of issue could easily be considered out of the control of the
    airline. So, I went online and checked the official FAA air traffic
    flight delay site using my laptop and cell card. (http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp
    ) No delays anywhere in the country.

    U.S. Airways = FAIL

  30. unpolloloco says:

    The real problem was that DR authorities forcibly kicked out the passengers, then left US Air to find a non-existent open hotel. US Air tried to accommodate the passengers (going above and beyond their responsibility), but couldn’t properly. How is this US Air’s fault? In most other situations, everything is US Air’s fault, but this situation is not.

  31. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Oh, their CEOs base salary? Somewhere in the neighborhood of $600,000.
    And he is eligible for yearly bonuses ranging from $750,000 to $3.3 million.

    I’m sure the ground crew, pilots, and flight attendants are all happy to give him some of their money.

    • Fly Girl says:

      @doctor_cos: No, I wholeheartedly agree that airline employees are disgruntled, overworked, and poorly paid– that’s why I no longer work for an airline. (A mandatory 27 days straight with ACTUAL 8+8 double shifts, three hour splits, and five hour turns for the entirety of the MANDATORY– meaning don’t do it and you’re fired on the spot, to hell with the joke of a Union– overtime will do that to a person.)

      While $600k may seem like a lot of money to the average person, like you and me (shit, it IS a lot of money…), it’s NOT that high as far as CEO salaries go. My point wasn’t “Poor, poor airline CEO! He’s barely making $800k a year!!!” It was more along the lines that airlines, ALL airlines, are in the red– giving out $20k (thanks for the math help, hillsrovey!) in vouchers every time a flight cancels because of a storm/weather irregularity/terrorist attack/air traffic control delay/other thing beyond the control of the airline wouldn’t do anything but assure the ultimate and immediate bankruptcy of every airline.

      Like you pointed out, the taxpayers ultimately eat the cost whenever airlines go under– our government isn’t smart enough to subsidize our airlines and to set up guidelines, a passenger’s bill of rights, and strict regulations. Nope, instead they declare it a “free market!” and only step in at the end to bail the airlines out.

      Who does that help? No one. Not the airline, not the airline’s employees, and most DEFINITELY not the traveling public and average tax payer.

      @jamar0303: It was in the news a month or so ago– that for the first time EVER, Southwest is anticipating losses (and at LEAST remaining stagnant) for this (the 4th) quarter. So, even the best customer service in the world isn’t enough to keep an otherwise well-run airline afloat. There’s serious trouble brewing for the entire industry, and while some of it has to do with mismanagement, obviously a lot of it has to do with something greater. (“Something Greater” = “Fuel Costs”)

      [www.usatoday.com]

  32. AnnCachai says:

    I think there is several issues with logic when it comes to this
    argument.

    The first being, the clear distortion of what US Airways is saying
    here, they are saying that there is a reason why the government dose
    not require compensation and that they will not violate the spirit of
    that reason and set a benchmark for a unhealthy trend in this highly
    competitive industry. The government knows that if airlines had to
    compensate for all cancelled or delayed flights, that some airline,
    whose to say which-one, would disregard safety over the bottom line.
    If US Airways had compensated any ways, if would sent a blueprint for
    doing so for other airlines, and could lead to the same airline making
    a call to watch the bottom line over safety. US Airways would not want
    to be responsible for that kind of flying and risk by another carrier
    and so they choose to not only fallow the spirit of the government,
    but they were willing to share there reason for doing so, although it
    was poorly explained.

    I know you are now saying, but Southwest did it, but did they really,
    NO! The comparison is total “apples and oranges”, what Southwest did
    is what the law requires them to do. This argument you are making here
    even validates my point above. The US Airways cancelation was due to a
    weather event and a air traffic control ground stop order, compared to
    a mechanical malfunction on the Southwest flight. A mechanical
    malfunction is controllable by the carrier or should be, but things do
    fail, and the government says that is the cost of doing business and
    that cost can be minimised by an airlines maintenance program and that
    the airline is responsible for mechanical issues on all sides. Now, if
    you can find me an airline CEO that controls the weather, then you
    have an airline that should pay for weather cancelations.

    Southwest’s delay, due to it being a mechanical delay, requires the
    airline to compensate there passengers, be it with little more then a
    meal voucher since it was a two hour delay. Southwest did go above
    what was required, but I would say why did they do so, was it out of
    good will or a public relations bandaged to there recent disregard to
    there passengers and the FAA safety inspection system. If you have
    forgotten they are the airline that pandered to and bribed corrupt FAA
    inspectors to cover up cracks in the fuselages’ of tens of there jets.
    Cracks that they were not fixing and cracks that we know kill
    passengers’ and crew, my example would be Aloha flight 243.

    I say US Airways did the right thing, even if it did hurt the image of
    there airline, but it is less of a impact then if they flew that
    flight and had to sit 274 passengers on a runway somewhere for hours
    or worse yet crash trying to land in a massive storm over Philadelphia.

    • Fly Girl says:

      @AnnCachai: Amen!

      @itmustbeken: I see what you’re doing there… And you’re kinda right. I mean, not in the “do they compensate people when buses break down?” comparison, because that’s wrong– US Airways, and all airlines, compensate passengers (by law) when there is a mechanical delay or cancellation. But what you ARE onto is that people need to expect the same of airlines as they do of Greyhound– if a road flooded/blizzard struck and Greyhound had to cancel a departure, would you really expect Greyhound to drive you to a hotel, put you up for a night, and pay for your meals? I don’t think so. So why would you expect the same from an airline?

      • itmustbeken says:

        @Fly Girl: “But what you ARE onto is that people need to expect the same of airlines as they do of Greyhound”

        Exactly!
        We’re in that transition stage. Between what we had and what reality is. The glamorous days of the “jet set” are gone.
        The airlines don’t care about the “experience” any more and they have given up any pretense that they ever did.

  33. itmustbeken says:

    Dear U.S. Airways Customers,
    When are you people going to realize that we are now Greyhound with wings. Do they compensate people when buses break down? Puh-lease!

    Be happy we empty the toilet tanks and check for knives on every flight.

    KMA,
    U.S. Airways Management

  34. reflection717 says:

    I think everyone understands that US Air wasn’t required to do anything and why. The reason the article is here and why I, for one, am not impressed with them is this apology letter.

    Step one in an apology, apologize.
    Step two – DON’T take it back by saying it wasn’t your fault.

    I understand that might be tough legally speaking because if you apologize you’re admitting fault, however, there are some very good writers over at Southwest who could probably have taken a shot at it for them.

  35. Wynner3 says:

    Great, I am using U.S. Airways to go to Philadelphia and a few weeks. I hope they don’t screw up my flight.

  36. thebluepill says:

    If this happened to me, I would simply visit their corporate office and demand to be heard. Upper management doesnt tend to care unless it is in their face. Get 250 people in your corporate HQ with the media in tow and you have a real problem.

  37. nicleo says:

    I thought this post was funny because something similar happened to me last week. After checking my flight status on the US Airways website 10,000 times throughout the day, I went to the airport thinking my flight would be business as usual. I went to the gate, waited for boarding, only to find out that my flight was cancelled due to “air traffic control!”

    so, everyone waiting for that flight sulked down to the ticket counter, where we were rescheduled for the next morning (at a different airport with a different airline), but then there was the problem of hotel accomodations and cab rides. the people at the desk would NOT budge and said they wouldn’t pay for anything. nothing. nada. no hotels, no cabs, nothing. i had no way of getting home for the night besides a cab ride, which i was obviously NOT going to pay for out of my own pocket, and i would not take no for an answer. i spoke to 3 people, acted as devastated as i could (the people who were angry didn’t get squat), and the supervisor finally called a cab to take me home on their dime.

    you bet i’ll never attempt to fly us airways again.

  38. JetBlast says:

    This is my say on this article which I only found out about goggling US Airways. I am a US Airways employee (Ex America West) and I feel everyones anger towards the airline when we cancel flights. Air traffic control issues are a very touchy issue. In this case, obviously not a perfect day to take off. We do as much as possible to accomodate passengers in irregular operations with what means we have possible. People think that we don’t care, which I’m sure some of us don’t at times when people are yelling at the top of their lungs at something that is uncontrollable. Safety is obviously first and foremost. Being that there was a storm, umm yeah, I wouldn’t want to be on a plane. It’s damn if you do and damn if you don’t. If we would have taken off and something happened to the plane, that would have been a big issue. Being we didn’t take off due to safety, now we are the bad guys cause other airlines are taking a chance. I’m sorry, but I rather know I’m getting home rather then trying to get home. Is there anyone in their right mind that would want to fly in a storm? I say if you do, then good luck to you. Just cause I work for US doesn’t mean I’m defending them, but in this case, there was not much we could have did.

  39. reflection717 says:

    JetBlast, are you authorized to speak on behalf of US Airways? Probably not. (Some advice… don’t do that!)

    No one is saying US Air should have flown that day. Many people aren’t even saying that the passengers should have been compensated. What is being said is this; US Air COULD have done more to assist their customers. The way the customers were treated demanded an apology. This letter is not an apology. That’s it.

    Anyone can understand a legitimate weather delay/cancellation but it is how the airline handles such an issue that makes them good or bad.