Delta Canceled My 10AM Flight Over 3PM Snow Storm, Can I Get A Refund For Hotel Reservations They Ruined?

Andrew writes:

[My mother and law] and her boyfriend are on a multi-stop vacation and are currently stuck in Palm Beach FL (not the worst place to be considering the weather up north). Well they were supposed to leave for NYC this morning but they’re flight was canceled by Delta and according to CNN it was done “out of an abundance of caution”. I assume that this is due to last month’s PR debacle that all the airlines got themselves into.

Anyway, they were rebooked for Monday. The problem here lies in the fact that they have hotel reservations (3/16 and 3/17) in NYC as well as Broadway tickets. The hotel has canceled their Saturday reservation but is still going to charge them for Friday’s reservation given the short notice. I’m not sure what the story with the Broadway tickets is at this point.

My question to you is, do you have any advice or suggestions to help them get Delta to reimburse the hotel cost given the fact that the flight (which was to arrive in NYC at 10 am) was canceled “out of an abundance of caution” for a snowstorm that isn’t supposed to hit NYC until 3 pm?

Beyond the normal prescription steps (call customer service, escalate, write a letter to the CEO), no. This one has us a bit stumped, though we suspect your should be focusing on the hotel, not the airline. Readers, thoughts? — BEN POPKEN

(Photo: code poet)


Edit Your Comment

  1. c26nyc says:

    Good luck.
    A friend of mine who works in the hotel business says they’ll charge you for the room anyway, regardless of the weather.

  2. brooklynbs says:

    The folks here should be complaining about the hotel and not the airline.

    It’s been raining ice here for at least a couple of hours, so Delta’s decision to cancel the flight was wise. Regardless, because it’s a weather-related cancellation, the airline is not going to help you out, and they shouldn’t if the circumstances dictate safety first.

    I would call the hotel back and tell them that it is ridiculous for them to charge you. Get a manager on the phone and ask him/her how they would feel if they planned a trip out-of-town and it had to be cancelled because of a big winter storm that grounded flights. Then, to top it off, some asshat hotel manager made them pay for a room they literally could not get to.

  3. Kornkob says:

    It’s one thign for a hotel to charge a late cancelation fee when the hotel is fully booked and has had to turn customers away. This does happen, but nowhere near as frequently as a hotel would like.

    It’s quite another when the hotel is half empty. There’s really no excuse for a hotel to charge you for a reservation— they incurr no significant costs because you ducked out.

  4. tnk207 says:

    It’s been sleeting all morning in New York and has already begun to snow.

    The storm is in full effect here, and though the airlines may have been premature in canceling flights at the time, it probably turned out to be the right thing.

  5. kimsama says:

    I agree that this is the hotel’s responsibility. Get them on the phone and ask to speak to a manager. They should be flexible considering the circumstances.

    If they’re not willing to act reasonable, then I would think it’s time for a chargeback.

  6. Sudonum says:

    As someone who worked for a major hoel firm for a number of years your insight into hotel thinking is reversed. Hotels usuallt start “walking” people until late in the day, even sometimes in the middle of the night. They are waiting for various other departments to try and get every possible room ready for sale. If they know they are truly in a sold out situation they will gladly accept a cancellation and not charge the customer because they know they will still make revenue on that room that night and it will be one less person they will walk.

    BTW, when a hotel sends you to another hotel when you have a confirmed reservation usually it costs them a lot of money. They usually comp you the room for your inconvenience and then have to pay the other hotel for your room, plus give you a cab voucher.

    Conversely, if they are not sold out they are loosing revenuethey counted in their forecasts and are less likely to want to cancell your reservation without some penalty. Remember hotels are actually selling time. Once that night has passed they can’t sell that room on that night again. At least that is the mind set of hotel managers.

  7. Sudonum says:

    Chargebacks won’t work in this instance since the hotel has a cancellation policy that you agreed to when you made the reservation.

  8. madktdisease says:

    Sorry, life’s not fair allt eh time. Suck it up and move on if after contacting the manager and asking really nicely, it doesn’t work. Sometimes things happen that aren’t anyone’s fault, but it shouldn’t be everyone else’s responsibility but yours to assume the cost. If you wanted to play it safe, you could’ve assumed yesterday that the flight may be cancelled and cancelled your room and booked a new one when you got there.

  9. muddgirl says:

    I would try to get the manager to waive the cancellation fee contingent on making reservations at the hotel for Monday and Tuesday night (or whatever). If they won’t waive the fee, then tell them you’ll simply take your Monday/Tuesday business to another hotel.

    This may not work.

  10. Kornkob says:

    @Sudonum: Changes nothing. If they are half empty any sale is extra money. Anyone who doesn’t show up costs them nothing extra— it’s jsut ‘lost’ revenue. There’s no significant expense to a hotel when you cancel— because they don’t do anything to the room unless you use it.

    Now– once a hotel is turning people away because they are full– then a cancellation represents a lost sale. Your cancellation caused them to lose a potential sale. Now, granted, a full hotel that gets a cancellation now has an opportunity to make a deparate custoemr very happy (as well as charge a premium price for that rack now that supply and demand kicks in). So, yeah, when they are full a hotel is far more likely to waive the cancellation fee– because they know they can make their numbers.

    I stand by my statement: a cancellation at a half empty hotel does not cost the hotel anything but they are more likely to try and stick you with the bill not because you’ve caused them to incurr costs, but because it makes their ledger sheet look better.

  11. Sudonum says:

    @Kornkob: I am not saying your opinion is wrong. I am just telling you what the perception is from the hotel side. I agree with you they should make the cancellation and not charge the customer because they haven’t lost anything and have everything to gain by doing the right thing. A lot of hotels don’t look at it that way though. That was the only point of my comment.

  12. infinitysnake says:

    Yes, this is about the hotel. The airline didn’;t screw up, so they shouldn’t have any respinsibility (not that I think they would even if they were at fault).

  13. Kornkob says:

    @Sudonum: I misunderstood.

    As a consumer, I could care less what their perspective is, unless I am causing them to incur costs I was unaware of. If I cost a company money, I think it is fair and reasonable for them to expect compensation. If I don’t cost them any money I think it is unreasonable for them to expect compensation.

  14. Kishi says:

    I worked in hotels for a couple of years, and I’ve had to deal with this sort of thing. I’ve had one manager who would have been understanding and canceled, no problem, and one who would have charged you anyway, possibly after saying she wouldn’t. Yeah, that manager is why I’m not working at hotels anymore.

  15. Sudonum says:

    @Kornkob: As a consumer knowing the other persons perspective is sometimes half the battle towards getting the outcome I want.

  16. ValkRaider says:

    This is not anyone’s responsibility except the traveller.

    Look, when you book travel – there is risk. Neither the hotel did wrong, nor did the airline.

    This is why – if you are really concerned – get travel insurance.

    Otherwise, this is the risk you take and the price you pay.

  17. Ass_Cobra says:

    The traveler is toast. The Hotel has a policy, they could hopefully work something out with the traveler, as suggested, and get two nights of business on Monday/Tuesday versus get the Friday for nothing and lose the customer forever. The hotel does not however have an obligation to accomodate the customer’s travel difficulties. Imagine how incensed a consumer would be if they showed up at a heavily booked hotel and were told, well hey, there’s been weather problems, we’ve got people with canceled flights staying here longer than we thought. We know you have a reservation but we’re canceling it. Oh wait that does happen.