U.S. Airways Threw Us Out Of Line For Our Flight, Wrongly Says We Were Too Late

David and his wife weren’t allowed to board a connecting flight and had to wait several hours for another flight without compensation. U.S. Airways told them they checked in too late, but David is adamant that they were there in time.

He writes:

I don’t know if this is the proper means to notify your blog about these sorts of things. If it isn’t let me know and I will gladly redirect my email.

My wife and I were returning from our honeymoon last night and ran into huge problems with US Airways in Charlotte. Below is the complaint I am filing with US Airways (which is apparently the only way to have any action from within the company):

Upon returning home from Charleston, we were set to board flight [redacted] on September 12. We were told that a delay occurred due to early morning fog in Charlotte. We were also told that if we had a connection that left after 7:15 we would be able to make that flight. Upon reaching Charlotte, we checked with the gate agent where we landed (at concourse E at around 7:25) who referred to a flight list and said we could make it to our connecting flight (at Concourse C at 7:59).

My wife and I ran to make the flight and were in line before our zone was called. When our tickets were scanned we were informed that we were kicked off of the flight because we came in too late. At this point we were told that nothing else could be done and that we were *lucky* to be placed on the next flight at 10:15. We asked to see the shift manager.

When shift manager Sandra Corral refused to help. She was yelling and interrupting when we tried to explain the situation and refused to provide any sort of compensation for removing us from the flight. While this was occurring, the gate agents were negotiating with another passenger to sell their seat so that another couple could ride on the plane we bought tickets for. A woman was offered $250 in vouchers to I would like to reiterate: Our flight was delayed with a reasonable amount of time to make it to the connecting flight. Until the time our ticket was scanned to enter the plane, we were assured that we would be on the flight, and upon asking for any assistance for missing our original flight we were met with an unprofessional and uncooperative manager.

The part that really sticks out here is that while we were desperately trying to get some sort of compensation ( I would have simply been happy with a gift certificate for one of the nicer restaurants for dinner) they were handing out $250 to another passenger that wasn’t wrongly kicked off the flight. Humiliating.

Veteran travelers, have you seen things like this happen? What could David have done to have prevented it, and what moves should he make now to get some justice?

Comments

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  1. eiberri says:

    Shouldn’t have flown US Airways.

    • OnePumpChump says:

      Shouldn’t have flown in the United States.

    • galaxirose says:

      Agreed!

    • tbax929 says:

      Wow. That was helpful.

      • teke367 says:

        It isn’t real helpful, perhaps. But I’ve only once had a good experience on US Airwaves. On a trip to Florida, they cancelled our 7pm flight around 8, but kept telling us it was delayed until about midnight, when it was too late to switch airlines. And they told us the we were basically SOL. (They actually said SOL)

        On the way back, I came home a few days earlier than my family. I had no problems, but they got delayed again, and considering how horribly they handled the first flight (which including a woman who was distraught because the airline’s incompetence delayed her trip to Florida, to see her dying nephew, who died before she ever got there), they upgraded them to first class. So even the one good flight made me miss the upgrade. I have had bad experiences before, but US Airways always stood out as horrible in my experience.

    • c_c says:

      When I can I use Southwest, but of all the major airlines, I’ve generally been satisfied w/ US Air … I fly with them every month or two (they are the only carrier out of my town’s small airport) and haven’t had any bad incidents, except for weather-related delays.
      Definitely better than my experiences w/ Delta/United/American.

    • Twonkey says:

      And your mother probably should have aborted, eiberri. Sometimes shit is obvious in retrospect.

    • Rickdude says:

      I don’t know why everyone is so down on US Air. They’ve been my preferred carrier for years and I’m Gold Preferred with them because I fly so much on US Air. (In fact, I’ve got a shot at Platinum this year! woohoo!)

      But my point is that all airlines are nowhere near as good as they once were. And you’re going to find problems no matter who you fly with. The fact that I fly as often as I do and only have a bad experience once or twice a year says a lot. Of course these stories make the news and run of the mill experiences don’t.

      Except for United. The times that I’m forced to fly United for reasons of schedule I *always* have a problem either on the flight out or the flight back (sometimes both).

    • Quake 'n' Shake says:

      Sometimes you don’t get to choose what airlines to take based upon origin, destination and feasible schedules.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      I live in Charlotte, and it’s pretty much impossible to get cheap flights out of CLT without flying USAir

  2. lvlass says:

    Redacted the flight number but not the name of the airline rep?

  3. fs2k2isfun says:

    This is an IDB (involuntarily denied boarding) situation. Your are due compensation in cash, not a voucher.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      Absolutely. It sounds like the US system proactively rebooked based on the flight delay. While I don’t find US at fault for that, they were removed from a flight for which they were present. US should have tried to get them back on the flight, perhaps by asking for other volunteers. I would recommend filing a DOT complaint about the situation.

      • keeper1616 says:

        Absolutely. The right thing to do would be to file a DOT complaint. But, I would drop the whole compensation thing. Its not worth it for the 2 1/4 hour delay.

        • Blackadar says:

          You DO realize what IDB is, don’t you? Provided they were checked in, this flight was over-full and US Air started pulling stuff out of their behinds to try to bump passengers. But they’re not allowed to do that without penalty. Under the current rules, they are entitled to 100% of the fare (up to $400) for a delay of two hours and 2x the fare (up to $800) for delays of 2+ hours. Considering that the next flight from their 7:59 AM was 10:10, that’s 2+ hours.

          So if the OP was checked all the way through – which is generally a safe assumption – then I’d file a DOT complaint and sue US Air in small claims court for the $1600 they owe the OP. Perhaps you are different, but to me the $1,600 is worth it to pursue this in small claims court.

          In the future, using a term like Involuntary Boarding Compensation is usually enough to get a gate agent to realize they’re dealing with an experienced traveler and they’ll usually then move on to more clueless targets that they can take advantage of.

          • mobiuschic42 says:

            Good point, but according to the rules you posted, it’s only $1600 if their original tickets cost $400 each. If the original tix were, say, only $80 each, they’re entitled to $320. Still worth it to me, but let’s keep our facts straight, eh?

    • shoyer says:

      According to US Airway’s check-in requirements:
      “All reservations (including those on continuing and return flights) are subject to cancellation without notice if the following occurs:

      If the passenger is not present at the boarding gate at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure time, even if the passenger has already checked-in for the flight at a place designated for check-in (i.e., a ticket counter, web check-in, kiosk, etc.).”
      http://www.usairways.com/en-US/aboutus/customersfirst/customerserviceplan2.html

      Since you weren’t at the gate 15 minutes prior to departure time, you appear to not be eligible for denied boarding compensation.

      • Difdi says:

        And yet, it was not their fault that they were late. It was 100% the fault of the airline. And the airline personnel who checked them in should have reasonably known that they were too late, at the moment of the check-in. Either the first airline employee is guilty of fraud, or the last one was.

  4. partofme says:

    Never fly US Airways again. Try that plane behind it in the picture. Or build your own planes at home… but don’t built it on your yard, or I’ll have the HOA foreclose on your house.

  5. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    My only advice is never fly US Airways, and especially not to NC. I used to date a girl with family there and she’d always fly US Airways because she had a FF card with them. They lost her luggage nearly every single time she flew home. The one and only time I went down with her they canceled our direct flight about an hour before it was supposed to depart, then put on a flight with a connection over in DC where they forgot to load the entire planes luggage.

    All of us were standing around watching the carousel turn and no luggage come out for about 20 minutes. Nobody from US Airways ever bothered to tell us it was lost. I had to hear it from another passenger who walked into the Customer Service booth just off to the right of the carousel and had to ask where our luggage was. Then we had to wait in a line of about 200 passengers to all fill out lost baggage claims. They offered us a $25 voucher for our troubles…thanks.

    One other time a friend of hers flew up to visit. They lost his luggage on the way up and he didn’t get it back until 2 days into his 4 day visit. Then on his way home they lost it again. Incompetence to nth degree.

    • Marshmelly says:

      Really? I’ve flown to NC with US Airways about 3 times this year with no problems (maybe my experience isn’t the norm haha). The only problem I’ve ever had flying to NC was with Delta who didn’t put my luggage on the connecting flight.

    • LandruBek says:

      Sorry to giggle at your misfortune, but that is freaking hilarious. Two hundred people standing, standing, standing; watching the empty belt trundle around and around and around. Nothing happens. “We’re waiting for Godot! Actually we’re waiting for his luggage!”

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sounds like they overbooked the flight and instead of doing what they should have, they decided this was an opportunity to remove 2 people from the overbooked flight.

  7. andyg8180 says:

    Charlotte US AIrways sucks… ive gone thru them and i will never connect to them ever again.

  8. humphrmi says:

    Were they checked in for both legs of the journey at the first departure city? If so, they are always (or at least, supposed to be) considered “on time” for the second flight, until the minute the doors close. In other words, connecting flight passenger’s seats can’t be given away, even if they’re not at the gate 30 minutes beforehand. I think they’re entitled to involuntary bump compensation.

    • FatLynn says:

      Agreed. If they were checked in, and then present at boarding, they should have gotten seats on that flight.

      • jessjj347 says:

        I was kicked off a flight even after checking-in. When there are overbooked flights, this is common. It’s possible that the OP was kicked off because his/her ticket cost the least or was booked last…don’t know.

        I actually didn’t even file a complaint when I was kicked off. It was United and I decided not to fly with them again. Not sure if I should’ve done anything differently.

        • humphrmi says:

          The issue is not being denied boarding – that can happen to anyone. The issue is that when you check in to flight 1 of 2, you’re supposed to automatically be checked in to flight 2 of 2, and if you are bumped from flight 2, that bump is supposed to automatically be an “involuntary bump” even if you show up right before the doors close. For a two hour delay, that’s $400, cash on the spot.

  9. lordrefa says:

    Without further, more complete information, it’s impossible to tell who is in the wrong here.
    The airline is justified if this isn’t actually a connection, and instead a different flight — which may well be the case, here.

  10. sufreak says:

    To continue the echo….shouldn’t have flown US Air. They will never learn if people keep going back to them. I only ever used them because of work, and almost every trip had an incident, from lost luggage, delays, emergency landings…

    Its easier to pay a little more and go with someone else.

    As for your case, just continue contacting the company until they tell you to F off, as they’re likely to do.

  11. FeelinFroggy says:

    They always overbook flights and they are absolutely one of the worst airlines all around. Get used to it as it will only get worse….ContinentalUnited will soon follow suit.

  12. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Obvious question is obvious, but uh…OP, why didn’t either of you ask why you were kicked off the flight or how they were able to determine that you were late? People check in late all the time and run breakneck speed to the terminal to board their flight – how is it that you were supposedly late, especially when you claim you arrived before your section even boarded. Also, why didn’t you broach that the staff on the flight you came from (also US Air, as far as I can tell) said that you would be able to make your connection?

    • tmac40 says:

      It sounds like they did ask why, but the airline wouldn’t tell them. You don’t think while talking to the manager they asked her why they were kicked off? And talk to the staff from the arriving flight? In the other concourse? What are the chances they could even find those people once they walked all the way over there?

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Sometimes you don’t think to ask important questions or make points because you are frustrated. Happened to me many times.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I said nothing about talking to the other staff; I said, why didn’t they tell the staff they were dealing with at the time what the other staff from their flight said about them being able to make the flight.

        Broach: •bring up a topic for discussion

    • djc_819 says:

      I thought the same thing! When you catch a connection, you don’t go through regular checki-n and then go through security (unless you came from a foreign country), you simply go to the next gate and wait in line. So… how on earth were these two people even excluded for being *late*, considering they made it there before the flight was even called to board? Makes no sense… I think maybe they had stand by tickets and didn’t know it or they are lying about the time they arrived at the new gate.

      • tsukiotoshi says:

        It depends on where. Frequently if I have to go through Logan Airport I have to go out of a secured area and then back through security to get to my connecting flight with the same airline.

  13. apple420 says:

    I believe they should be given something for the delay, but I think they are overreacting to a 2 hour delay. It isn’t the worst thing in the world. I would think the newlyweds would be happy enough together to make the two hours pleasant enough.

    • Gramin says:

      Agreed. A former senator from Idaho thought airports were a great place for a quick hookup. Maybe the OP and wife should have taken his advice (sans the arrest).

    • goldilockz says:

      Overreacting for being on time and then being told you were too late to make your flight home? I don’t think so. I would have been livid if I had made it ON TIME and they still booted me.

  14. syzygy says:

    US Airways is not great, and Charlotte is the epicenter for everything wrong with them. I’ve missed three connections through that airport, partly because the layout is so god-awful, but also because the airline left us bare minutes to sprint to our gates. They also seem to have no way to coordinate connections. You’d think that as soon as a plane landed, the gates for their connections could be notified and the passengers given a bit of a window to run to their flights. It was almost like they wanted travelers to be stranded at their airport.

    So, my advice to David: 1) Avoid US Airways, especially connecting through Charlotte, 2) if you must go through Charloote, make sure you have at least an hour between flights (preferably 90 minutes), and 3) remain polite at all times to the gate agent. I know it’s frustrating, but it’s usually not the gate agent’s fault, and an angry gate agent is far less likely to go above and beyond to help you out.

    In this particular situation, though, I don’t see anything more you could have done to make your flight. US Airways was way wrong, and they should have compensated you. It sounds like the gate agent and manager were both difficult and unprofessional. Just count yourself fortunate that you got home that night at all; like I said, I’m surprised you didn’t end up stranded overnight at that hellhole.

  15. Zanorfes says:

    It’s a moot point, but If they had made the flight, their checked luggage would have stayed because of the short connection time. USAir would not only have to deliver the bags to their home, but possibly refund the cost of the checked bags if they had any. It looks like they prevented the compensation, and the extra cost for delayed baggage.

    This happened to us in Philadelphia. We were delayed from another city and got on our connecting flight with only 10 minutes to departure, our bags did not make it at our destination. We were refunded 100% of the baggage fees and had them delivered to our home. USAir should refund these fees to the OP as well.

  16. Magspie says:

    This has happened to me before. I thought it was normal. If you aren’t at the gate 30 minutes before scheduled takeoff they can give your seat to someone else, even if it was a connection. It sucks and it’s definitely bad customer service, but I don’t think they are required to give you compensation.

  17. Urgleglurk says:

    Former airline supervisor here:
    USAir has gone to the dogs, has fleas/ticks and should be put out of its misery. From what I hear, the only reason they’re still around is that no one wants to buy/merge with them.

    Delta/Northwest: Not too bad, but future will tell. Mergers are rocky for all concerned.

    United/Continental: Probably a c—–f—k. One veteran CO flight attendant I know filed to retire the day before the merger was made official. He thinks CO will disappear like a drop of water in an ocean. UA couldn’t run a decent operation before the merger. What makes anyone think the merger will change that?

    American: Decent for now. We’ll see.

    Southwest/jetBlue: Probably your only hope other than AA anymore.

    Me? After 21 years of the business and watching it fall apart since 9/11, I drive for the most part.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I had the darndest time trying to figure out what c——-f–k was! as far as I know cluster isn’t a bad word ;)

    • valthun says:

      My understanding of the UA merger is that the UA management is getting the boot and Continental management will be running the show. If that changed then yes I don’t know how much longer that will last, but they are a behemoth and will probably ask for more Fed money to stay in the air.

      The biggest issue I am aware of with most of these mergers really isn’t a customer facing one. but an employee one with the different unions.

  18. Angry JD says:

    File a complaint with DOT. You were involuntarily bumped and they owe you compensation.

  19. Snowball2 says:

    The problem with vowing never to fly a given airline is that there aren’t that many to choose from, particularly on certain routes, and they all have similar service.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Yeah, exactly my dilemma. It’s easy to say that you’ll vote with your money except when virtually all of the companies are the same :(

  20. Big Mama Pain says:

    Sounds like whatever weather delays they were having put some people earlier in the day out, and they were trying to get them on this flight. The gate attendant saw that this couple’s flight was running late and would most likely not make the connection and gave their seats to someone else too soon. Yep, it sucks-but I’ve never had a delay that didn’t leave me stranded for HOURS with no compensation, and they got on a flight two hours later and are complaining! To me, that’s amazing compensation, they could have been stuck there overnight or something.

  21. tweeder82o says:

    as far as theyre concerned, once the tickets are sold they could careless. new ticket sales trumps customer service who has already bought tickets and may or may not buy tickets in the future

  22. Caveat says:

    Next time you get married, drive or row to your honeymoon destination.

  23. Speak says:

    I didn’t have this happen because there was still room on the plane. I forget where I was flying, but my incoming flight was delayed. When I landed, my connecting flight was also delayed, but with plenty of time for me to still catch it. I turned on my phone when I landed and had a message from the airline that I had been re-booked on the next day’s flight. I got to my gate and checked to make sure I could still get on my original plane. Since it was still there and my seat not re-assigned I had no issue getting home… My bag on the other hand was on the next day’s flight that the airline said I should have been on. If this would have been an over-booked situation I am sure I would have been denied boarding, without compensation because the delays were weather related (or so they claimed).

  24. flip says:

    you werent late but were running to catch the connecting flight?

    i lost all consideration when you tattle tailed on the other passengers getting a voucher. Despite not knowing the reason. Just an assumption.

    • psm321 says:

      Right. Because complaining that one passenger got paid to give up their seat (read the story, it’s not hard) and another didn’t even when involuntarily kicked off is sooooo wrong. /sarcasm. Do you work for US Air?

  25. rooben says:

    Sounds to me that US Air had figured the Charleston to Charlotte flight wasn’t going to make it, and gave the seats away to standby (or gave away for overbooking). Then, once the couple showed up, (surpise, the flight DID make it), US Air simply lied/found exuses/deny everything/ etc to make the couple go away.

  26. scgirl_212 says:

    So this is how it goes. A legal connection is can run from 40- 50 minutes almost everywhere, this means that an airline can bump you if your plane arrives past the minumum connection time. If you landed at 7:25 then by the time you taxi, open the doors, get your stuff and run to the next gate its probably pretty close to push back (hence why they have legal and illegal connections). You then lose priority to those whop were bumped before you and so on.

    Now if the manager was being rude and unhelpful, that is inexcusable, and she had the power to help you, but if the OP was being rude or yelling back, that doesn’t help the situation.

    If the original plane was delayed for weather then all they are entitled to is to be rebooked on the next available (which was 10:15). Often times weather delays have a snowball effect and there probably were a ton of people that had been bumped from earlier flights and the seats went to people who were bumped from earlier flights (and they probably missed all of their connections and so on (hence why people were being asked to sell their seats).

    So yes, you probably WERE lucky to get on the next available flight, because you didn’t have any further connections your priority was down at the bottom.

  27. am32 says:

    This happened to me when I was checking in tonight for a flight out of Charlotte to DC. My confirmed reservation vanished (it was about 32 minutes before the flight). The flight was overbook and they wouldn’t even put me on standby for my original flight until I asked several times.

  28. John B says:

    I then OP had a boarding pass and was at the gate before the flight closed out, US Airways has to board him. Period.

  29. moonunit says:

    I have only once been booted from a flight and had to spend the night in a layover city (I don’t fly much…)

    It was through Charlotte, and it was with U.S. Air. They gave us meal vouchers and sent us to a hotel at 10 at night, where the some of the passengers couldn’t get a room once they arrived (the airline forgot to tell the hotel we were coming) and the restaurants were all closed. If we hadn’t had a one-year-old and a two-year-old with us, it would have been merely supremely inconvenient. As it was, it was a royal mess. We did manage to walk about a half mile to a creepy all-night diner and pay out of pocket for a meal, stomachs growling and kids crying the whole time. Gosh, I had forgotten how sucktacular that trip was. At least it wasn’t a honeymoon. My sympathies.