Here’s yet another way to get your money back if you find the airline you’ve booked tickets with should suddenly cease to operate: trip insurance may be one of the default benefits on your credit card. If you booked with a credit card, call up the company and ask. For instance, Citi PremierPass Elite MasterCard comes with Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance for free. Reader Jhayme says they are refunding ATA Airlines passengers who purchased their ticket in full on the card up to $1500. The number to call to submit a claim is 1-800-950-5118, and there is a claim form that should be submitted American Express has a similar program called Travel Delay Protection, that will reimburse passengers if they cannot be rebooked on a new flight within a certain time period. I believe this costs $9.95 per trip. With two airlines going bankrupt, it may be a good idea for people to look into these programs.” Those credit cards may be evil, but for big ticket items, their buyer protections can come in handy sometimes.
Reader Jake writes in to share the story of how he came to be the proud owner of a now-worthless ATA voucher:
ATA airlines abruptly ceased to exist this morning, leaving travelers to scramble for refunds and alternate booking arrangements. An ATA insider took time out from looking for a new job to give The Consumerist the inside scoop:
The reason ATA died, and died so abruptly, were rising fuel costs and that they lost a key contract with Federal Express for flying military personnel on ATA aircraft. [Bloomberg]
What do you do if you have a flight planned on one of the three airlines, ATA, Champion and Aloha, that filed for bankruptcy and terminated all flights this week? First thing to do is if you paid with a credit card company, call them up and ask for a refund. An ATA insider tells us, “When an airline bills you for your ticket, they don’t receive payment–the money’s escrowed until you fly or the terms of the contract are met, i.e. one year validity limit, so the bankruptcy doesn’t affect those customers.” Elliot.org has the run-down of other options: On the press release level, United Airlines has agreed to take on Aloha Airlines passengers, but anecdotal evidence suggests the ground-level customer service reps are bungling the hand-off. Southwest has agreed to rebook ATA passengers, but the language suggests this deal is only good for flights that were codeshares between the two airlines. Lastly, if you bought your ticket with ATA by check or cash, you can claim a refund, for probably a fraction of its value, after the airline is liquidated.
ATA airlines is dead. [NYT]
Here are the lowest performing airlines, based on comfort, food, service and website, according to a recent Zagat’s survey. Scores are out of a total possible 30.
The iPhone has a setting that makes it safe to use on an airplane. So-called “airplane mode” disables cell phone, radio, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth signals, thus allowing you to watch movies staring Jennifer Love Hewitt while flying through the air.
We’ve been looking over the Department of Transportation’s spiffy new report about “tarmac strandings” (or “long on-board delays” as their now being called,) and have located some pretty interesting stuff.
Josh C writes:
Recently, I flew Airtran to get to a family gathering. Normally I like them; their rates are low and upgrades are cheap. But I had two problems that I want to warn your readers about: