Alaska Airlines Cancels All Your Wedding Guests’ Flights, Forgets To Tell You

Rochelle has a destination wedding planned this November in Mazatlan, Mexico, and she and most of her guests planned to travel on the same Alaska Airlines flights from Seattle. They reserved this travel far in advance. Too far in advance, apparently. Alaska Airlines has since cut their number of weekly flights to Mazatlan, forcing the couple and their guests to find different flights on different days. The schedule change prevents some guests from attending altogether. The problem: the airline didn’t actually tell the couple about this, instead letting them find out from another guest who booked her travel through Orbitz.

For most travelers, five months’ notice for a ticket change isn’t much of a big deal. For a tightly planned destination wedding designed around the Alaska Airlines flight schedule, only five months’ notice is apparently a disaster.

Rochelle writes:

I planned a wedding in Mazatlan for Nov. 10, with travel down there from Seattle on Alaska Airlines on Nov. 7, returning on Nov. 13. Several other guests also booked the same flights so we could travel together.

On June 17, my aunt received an email from Orbitz (who she booked through) that the flights were cancelled. We called Alaska Airlines directly to confirm this and they said that yes, our flights were cancelled. They changed their schedule and were no longer flying to Mazatlan on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, so we had to change our travel dates to fly on the days that they had service (only Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).

Because of this, we had to change our wedding date to November 14, and our whole trip dates to November 11 to 17. Because of the date change forced by Alaska, several of our guests now cannot come due to other commitments on that week. Alaska has been very condescending and rude during this entire thing.

One guest spoke to an Alaska representative who told her own story of having a travel delay and accused my guest of not being compassionate to the representative’s own travel issues.

We have been offered no compensation, upgrades, or credits for this disaster. Alaska has been rude to us via both Twitter and telephone calls. I am angry and disappointed that Alaska did not notify us of the cancellation (we had to find out via Orbitz), that they have not been apologetic or given us any compensation for this mess, and now several guests cannot come because of Alaska cancelling our flights.

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Looking through Rochelle’s Twitter exchanges with the airline, nothing stands out as especially rude. The representatives just don’t seem to understand why having to reschedule an entire wedding around their flight schedule changes is a problem.

The most practical solution would be to allow some guests to cancel their flights with no penalty or fees so they can travel on another airline with a more accommodating schedule, assuming that there is one.

Comments

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  1. crispyduck13 says:

    If they canceled the flights why weren’t all of these people immediately refunded their money? Next question: why are these people rebooking with the same airline that just screwed them over?

    Is Alaska Airlines the only airline flying from Seattle to Mexico?

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Well I figured it out for myself. Maybe Alaska Air was the only direct flight provider, but according to Travelocity there are two one-stop providers available for her original flight dates.

      Now I’m even more confused, I mean yes AA screwed up by not informing everyone of the cancelations (or giving refunds) but why would they reschedule an entire wedding to accomodate an airline? Was it that important to fly down together?

      • Sneeje says:

        Well, we’ve all been there right? You have a vision for something that’s very important to you and you take steps to realize that vision and it seems like all is well.

        Then something happens and you have to adjust–not just the steps, but also your vision (having fun flying together). That’s hard for many to do. Not saying you shouldn’t just suck it up (that’s life, right?), but I can understand why it’s hard.

      • AllanG54 says:

        I call bull shit on this. First of all, Alaska Air would have sent everyone an email, I had this happen to me on an American Air flight and I was notified as soon as it happened. Second, they’re under no obligation to do anything but change her reservations to another flight.
        Third, they would have refunded the money as soon as people asked since it was the airline’s change that caused the problem. This gal may be upset but, tough darts, the airline is under no obligation to make sure her wedding comes off as she planned.

        • KommonCentz says:

          Had this happen to me on continental, and was not notified – it was only after I checked my reservation about a month before that I saw a notice on my account page. They had cancelled a tuesday arrival. To their credit, when I called to ask, they switched me to another day no charge.
          I am sure United nowadays would tell me to catch a bus….

    • Jawaka says:

      Where does it say that they weren’t offered a refund for the cancelled flights. I only see where the OP complains that they weren’t offered any upgrades or compensation.

  2. FatLynn says:

    Is Alaska the only airline that goes from Seattle to Mazatlan? Why would they change the wedding instead of the airline?

    • rugman11 says:

      Looks like they should book US Airways. They’ve got flights from Seattle to Mazatlan for less than $500, round trip.

  3. kreiach says:

    … disaster.

  4. longfeltwant says:

    I don’t use Twitter; can anyone explain what “^DS” means? To me it sounds like “dat sucks” or “[you’re a] damn sucker”.

    • jeb says:

      It’s likely a way of signing the post (thus, DS is the initials of the Alaska Airlines rep that responded.)

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      I thought it was dip shit with an arrow pointing at her post.

    • ScottG says:

      It’s the representative’s initials. Most company twitter pages include a list of the person’s real name and the initials on a side bar

      Dave Somebody ^DS
      John Nobody ^JN

  5. j2.718ff says:

    “The most practical solution would be to allow some guests to cancel their flights with no penalty or fees so they can travel on another airline with a more accommodating schedule, assuming that there is one.”

    This implies that the guests have been unable to cancel their flights. This makes no sense, considering the airline canceled the flight. If true, the airline sucks. If they cancel the flight, they should most definitely refund the passengers’ money!

  6. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    Destination wedding = hassle and expense for everyone involved. You have to kind of expect that whoever is able to show up will show up and not try to plan too much around who is going to be there and who isn’t.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Yeah I wanted to say something similar. If your family is the Bloombergs or the Rothschilds or the Kennedys, then by all means have people fly around the earth for your twenty-minute ceremony, and do your flying on your uncle’s pair of corporate jets. But if your family isn’t full of millionaires, then why don’t you cool down on your third-grade-girl-fantasy-pink-ponies-and-princess-gown dream of a wedding at sunset on a tropical beach. Srsly.

      But, it still sucks to have an airline cancel your tickets.

      • kreiach says:

        +1

      • MMD says:

        Obvious misogynist is obvious.

        What people choose to do for their wedding plans is none of your business.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          What people choose to do for their wedding plans is none of your business.

          LOL – If they don’t want people’s opinions, they shouldn’t submit it to Consumerist because that’s what they’re going to get.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            Why do you assume Consumerist submissions are for to judge them personally?

            I thought it was to judge companies’ actions…

          • MMD says:

            You yourself admitted above that your comment wasn’t relevant to the story.

            People post to Consumerist because they want help. The downside to that is irrelevant trash talk. If that’s the side you want to be on, fine, but I’m not sure what you get out of that aside from some sense of superiority.

            • TheMansfieldMauler says:

              but I’m not sure what you get out of that aside from some sense of superiority

              I don’t know how anything I’ve said would give me a sense of superiority, but keep on with the ad hominem putdowns – they’re really working well for you.

      • El_Red says:

        A full week in a 4 starts all inclusive can be bought for under 1000$. If everyone is OK to combine someones wedding with their vacation, I don’t see any problems. Especially when it is planned months in advance, allowing everyone that wants to participate to adjust their schedules.

        You don’t need to be rich to afford a beach wedding, just middle class.

    • Ben says:

      I agree. A destination wedding basically says that the location of your wedding is more important than who is there. If that’s where your priorities are, then fine. But don’t act all shocked or hurt when a bunch of your friends/family can’t go.

      • FatLynn says:

        Well, I’m considering a destination wedding because I don’t want my extended family to show up.

      • tungstencoil says:

        That’s what it says to you? What about a wedding where people are split across the country (real world: some family in MI, some family in TX, some family in FL… no matter where you have it, someone has to travel or not attend).

        Destination weddings are most appropriate for people “not just starting out” who want to throw a great party instead of get gifts. I have several family/friends who had the destination, paid for close family who couldn’t afford it, and then everyone else provided their own transportation/lodging but didn’t bring a gift or anything. The couple gets a great party, minimizes expenses, minimizes planning headaches, and guests get a great mini-vacation OR can choose not attend without it being awkward.

    • Captain Spock says:

      I am having a destination wedding myself, but it is only a less than 2 hour drive away. Whoever doesn’t want to come, doesn’t have to come.

    • MMD says:

      Thanks for your opinion.
      Care to comment on the problem posed in the story?

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Destination weddings can make life a lot easier when one partner has several family members living in a different country. It’s typically very easy for an American citizen to travel abroad but with visa requirements and exchange rates, it’s a much bigger hassle for those abroad to come here.

    • j2.718ff says:

      While I agree with you, none of what you say is really relevant to the problem.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        While I agree with you, the problem cannot be solved by Alaska Airlines. They simply aren’t going to have that many flights. Other than getting money back (which will have to be done through Orbitz anyway), there isn’t much else to say.

    • finbar says:

      Some people use it as a strategy for preventing family you have to invite but don’t want to attend from actually participating. Maybe you don’t want drunk uncle Lenny to show up so you have it somewhere he can’t afford to fly to.

      • MrEvil says:

        Too bad drunk Uncle Lenny became drunk Uncle Lenny because he got in on the Google IPO and basically lives off the returns from his investments.

        In that instance you just get hitched at the courthouse and then announced you’re married.

    • El_Red says:

      +1

  7. changeyez says:

    I don’t understand what the complainer is wanting Alaska Airlines to do. They cancelled a flight. It happens all the time. At least in this case they found out months in advance. Do they really expect Alaska Airlines to bend over backwards for them just because they’re getting married?

    • changeyez says:

      And why would the OP expect Alaska to tell them they cancelled their guests’ flights? Someone is asking for/expecting way too much.

      • rugman11 says:

        Agreed on that, but from the OP’s letter, Alaska Airlines didn’t inform ANYBODY that their own flights had been canceled. The only way they found out was because somebody had booked through Orbitz and Orbitz informed them.

        • changeyez says:

          not exactly. OP says Orbitz told her aunt. OP may have been flying on a flight that was not cancelled.

          • crispyduck13 says:

            I planned a wedding in Mazatlan for Nov. 10, with travel down there from Seattle on Alaska Airlines on Nov. 7, returning on Nov. 13. Several other guests also booked the same flights so we could travel together.

            Do you work for Alaska Airlines or are you just an asshole?

          • rugman11 says:

            The second line of the letter reads: “Several other guests also booked the same flights so we could travel together. On June 17, my aunt received an email from Orbitz (who she booked through) that the flights were cancelled. “

            Reading is your friend.

        • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

          The Orbitz email may have arrived before the AA email. That could be possible if the aunt phoned the OP immediately upon receiving the email.

    • kreiach says:

      That is exactly what she wants. After all, her Wedding is now a DISASTER!

      • MMD says:

        Please don’t let your obvious bias against weddings or brides or whatever color your opinion.

        The wedding is a relevant factor here because it illustrates that flight cancellations and/or poor communication do actually affect peoples’ lives and plans. A fact that businesses should be more aware of.

        • Doubting thomas says:

          Wow your panties are really twisted. How many commentors are you going to accuse of being misogynsts simply because they have no sympathy for bridezillas?I don’t think any of us would change our views if it was the groom whining about a cancelled flight that is 4 months away.

          • MMD says:

            As many as can’t see past the word wedding to deal with the actual issue in the story.

            Ultimately, the real issue at hand transcends this wedding, or any single incident.

            Why are airlines publishing flight schedules so far out in advance if they’re not willing to honor them? People make plans (and not just wedding plans) based on this information. Airline cancellations have real world implications for all customers.

            Is the OP being a “bridezilla” by wondering why people weren’t informed about the cancellation?

    • crispyduck13 says:

      No, but when an airline cancels a flight they should tell all the passengers that have paid in advance to be on said flight. That’s not asking for special treatment, that’s common sense.

      They should have been refunded their money so that they could book on another airline that could accomodate their schedule, I’m still not sure why this was not an option.

      • changeyez says:

        Where exactly did it say they were not refunded or offered another flight? OP is complaining that now some people can’t attend. Sounds like a personal problem to me.

      • kreiach says:

        Perhaps they just cancelled the flights and they haven’t received the email yet.
        Perhaps they input their wrong email.
        Perhaps they never asked for a refund.
        Perhaps Orbitz has a quicker email notification system.

        She states she haven’t been offered any compensation, but not that the Airline hasn’t refunded or offered to refund their money.

        In the end, the entire story is… a flight was cancelled.

      • Jawaka says:

        The article doesn’t mention any thing about any of the flyers not being offered a refund for their flights, only that they weren’t offered any upgrades or compensation for the flight being cancelled.

      • JJFIII says:

        They booked through Orbitz. Orbitz is acting as their agent and therefore is the one responsible to inform them. IT IS FIVE MONTHS AWAY. Changing airlines is a far easier solution than changing wedding dates. Read your contract for carriage and you will see that cancelled flights are addressed in it.

      • njack says:

        It doesn’t say a refund isn’t an option. It says they got no compensation, upgrades, or credits. Airlines cancel flights all the time due to changing their schedules. Sure it would be nice if AA said hey you’re right, this sucks, the bride and groom can have a first class upgrade, but they are under no obligation to do so.

    • Jawaka says:

      Of course they do. They’re special little snowflakes and clearly Alaska Airlines should comp a private jet to fly them all out to their destinations.

    • Scoobatz says:

      Problem solved, In the future, we should all be required to state the purpose of our travels when booking a flight (e.g., honeymoon, funeral, just for fun, terrorist, business). Then, the airlines can take this into consideration before making any changes that may not be to our liking.

    • BennieHannah says:

      I understand that airlines restructure flight schedules all the time. This time it caused a sincere inconvenience for a group of travelers who thought they were doing the right thing by booking their flights early. The assumed that was one task (in a long list of tasks when planning a wedding) that was checked off. So I can see why the OP is upset and I’m sympathetic to her situation. I don’t think it’s asking too much for the airline to be sympathetic, especially customer service reps who are, you know, paid to be customer servicey. They should at least know how to pretend sympathy without actually promising anything other than sympathy. I could write a call script like that in about two minutes. And it wouldn’t take much effort on the part of a customer service rep to get a superior to authorize a few upgrades for the inconvenience the flight cancellation caused.

      It’s true that some customers cannot be made happy, but most of them can be mollified by a kind ear and an honest apology.

  8. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sue them – why not?

    Given the circumstances, Alaska Airlines should be booking guests on any airline that gets them there on time for free regardless, the costs to fix this.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Better idea – Alaska should keep the money paid so far for tickets, and pay for a chartered flight there and back.

    • kreiach says:

      Because it’s for her wedding?

      Or because Airlines should not be able to cancell flights months in advance?

    • Jawaka says:

      The airlines game them five months notice, its not like it was five days.

    • sirwired says:

      Schedule changes happen. Technically they don’t have to give any notice at all and never owe anybody more than a refund; they can even cancel it the morning of the flight…

      Five months notice is more than enough. That’s plenty of time to make alternate arrangements, and still be eligible for advance booking discounts with any other airline that serves that airport.

      They aren’t owed anything because notice was supplied this far out. (It appears Orbitz wasn’t too great relaying that notice, but that’s not Alaska’s problem.)

  9. ORD75 says:

    If this is 5 months away, they should have no problem booking flights on another carrier who also serves Mazatlan. Schedule changes happen all the time and what is missing from the story is that the they are able to cancel their original flights and get a full refund.

  10. changeyez says:

    I’m tired of people being inconvenienced and bitching/moaning about it like they’re special or owed something. Flight changes happen all the time. It’s a risk you take when having a destination wedding.

    • wade says:

      “But it’s supposed to be the happiest day of my life!!!! I’m speciaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll. . . . . .”

  11. selianth says:

    Last fall JetBlue cancelled our Monday flight to Cancun and automatically rebooked us on the Sunday flight instead, but claimed that was just “our flight times have changed.” JetBlue told us that because the times had moved by more than 4 hours, they would allow us to change or cancel our booking for no penalty. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only “compensation” that Alaska Airlines owes them. Obviously, they should have informed the passengers as soon as possible that the flight had been cancelled, but it’s not like they’re leaving you in the lurch only days or weeks before the wedding – you have *5 months* to figure something out here.

    (In our case, the changed flight was way more convenient for us except for the fact that our hotel had been booked under a promotion that had expired and rebooking could potentially cost us hundreds of dollars. A quick call to our travel agent got it changed for a $25 fee and “disaster” was averted.)

    • dullard says:

      I agree.

      And, why would the OP have to change her wedding date? There is still 5 months left to put this together.

  12. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I still see many options available to travel on the original dates:

    https://www.google.com/flights/?hl=en#search;f=SEA;t=MZT;d=2012-11-07;r=2012-11-13;q=seattle+to+mazatlan

  13. Lyn Torden says:

    Alaska Airlines should find them a charter airline to contract the whole wedding out to, at the cost of the original fares. Or just make a schedule exception on that one day.

    • changeyez says:

      are you kidding me? what fu(king world do you live in?

    • RedOryx says:

      Would you expect them to do that for a plane full of strangers?

      Flight cancellations happen. The fact that many people on this flight happened to know each other and are going for a wedding doesn’t change that fact.

  14. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    1: cancel all flights
    2: rent a private jet. for the cost of 5 tickets you may be able to haul everybody on your schedule.

  15. ckspores says:

    Does it suck? Yes. Does it require you to completely change around both your wedding and travel dates and then bitch and moan and expect everyone to bend over backwards for your spayshul day (WAAAAAA)? No.

    AA probably should have gone out of their way to inform everyone immediately. Maybe Orbitz has a faster notification system? But, flights get cancelled everyday and I consider five months a reasonable amount of time to make changes/cancel.

    Her wedding plans are no one’s business BUT when she comes on a major consumer website whining about something that, in the scheme of things, was made a bigger deal by her than it needed to be, you really can’t expect different.

  16. schmittymcdougal says:

    first world problems

    • pk says:

      my thought exactly!

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      You’re reading The Consumerist. If ‘first world problems’ are beneath you, maybe you should try another site.

      • pk says:

        I believe that was a polite way of saying “OP is a whiner”

      • schmittymcdougal says:

        there are legitimate consumer complaints out there that don’t deserve a “first world problems” response. an airline canceling its flight in the face of your “destination wedding” plans is not one of them

  17. pk says:

    Did OP ever think, maybe the invited guests were just using this an excuse not to go to her obnoxious “destination wedding”? Oh, the airline cancelled the flight! Oh darn, guess I’ll have to find something else to spend $1000 on.

  18. wade says:

    The worst part is that one of the guests had planned on proposing during the flight. NOW WHAT IS HE SUPPOSED TO DO?!?!?!?!?

  19. wade says:

    The representatives just don’t seem to understand why having to reschedule an entire wedding around their flight schedule changes is a problem.

    No, the representatives just don’t seem to understand why having to reschedule an entire wedding around their flight schedule changes is their problem.

    It’s five months away. Sorry that the apparently one and only airline that has any flights going to Mexico had to change their schedule and ruin your life forever by not offering you some kind of compensation.

    Why, out of 1)the date, 2) the location, and 3) the airline, did OP only think to change #1???

  20. andsowouldi says:

    I guess I’ve just been lucky to never have it happen to me (from looking at other people’s comments), but why is the airline allowed to cancel a flight with no compensation beyond a refund?

    If I can’t make a flight, I’m screwed. If an airline cancels the flight, I’m screwed. I would think buying a ticket should enter us into a contract on both sides, not a one-way contract where the airline has zero obligations. Is there some amount of abitrary time they must allow between the flight and the notice of canellation? Can they cancel up until the last day and I’m just SOL?

    • jeb says:

      Because the two-way contract stated that’s what all she is entitled to. Check the contract of carriage:

      Change in Schedule: When a ticketed, confirmed passenger will be delayed because of a change in AS’s schedule as defined in Rule 5AS, AS will arrange to:
      1. Transport passenger to his/her destination or next ticketed stopover point on another AS flight (without stopover) on which space is available in the same or higher class of service than reflected on the passenger’s ticket at no additional charge; or
      2. Refund according to Rule 260. Exception 1: When an AS schedule results in the cancellation of all AS service between two cities, AS will reroute passengers holding confirmed reservations on AS between such cities over the lines of one or more other carriers at no additional cost to the passenger. Exception 2: Change in schedule does not include force majeure events as defined in Paragraph I).
      (http://www.alaskaair.com/as/www2/company/tariff/domestic/tariff_domestic_section1.asp)

      Now, granted, if it was only a few days (or even a couple weeks) in advance, I would compain if they only gave me a refund; I would expect them to use option 1 instead. However, five months is more than enough time to find a flight at about the same price.

  21. spidra says:

    A little surprising to read all the sarcastic vitriol being slung the way of the consumers here.

    At the very least, the airline should have proactively contacted the ticketholders to let them know the flight had been cancelled. They didn’t. The only reason they found out that something they had paid for and were counting on was cancelled was because one of the guests booked her flight through Orbitz and *Orbitz* the right thing. Alaska Airlines didn’t. If they hadn’t heard from another guest that the flight was cancelled, who knows how late in the game they would have heard, giving them less time to make other arrangements.

    “Flights are cancelled all the time” Does that make it right to treat the consumer as if their needs are as nothing compared to the needs of the airline to do what they need to do to increase their profit margin? Cancellations may be a fact of life as an airline passenger but how the airline handles it is where the airline shows what it’s made of. It doesn’t matter whether this was one ticketholder or an entire wedding party. Most people have to rearrange their lives to make time for and to afford a trip. Some of those arrangements are difficult to make (like getting the boss to approve the days off). Every day that goes by, ticket prices to that destination are likely going up.

    Alaska Airlines didn’t help the customers at all here. In fact, the CS rep asked for sympathy from the aggrieved customer. As someone who has been a CS rep, I would say that’s a major fail.

  22. pot_roast says:

    Airline schedules are subject to change. OP is a whiny bridezilla and no, she doesn’t deserve any compensation. Alaska Airlines did not make them pick a PITA destination wedding. Not their fault that the other guests are unable to (or perhaps unwilling) change their plans to accommodate your wedding in a foreign country.

    I stamp this post “WHINER.”