EECB Forces US Air To Help Stranded Marine With Dying Grandmother, But Not In Time To Say Goodbye

date Aug 23, 2007 5:08 PM
subject Distressing travel not yet completed

Ms. Dawes,

My dilemma, which I am hoping that you can resolve satisfactorily, is of an urgent nature.

My (step)son, a newly graduated US Marine, is stationed in California. My mother, his grandmother, has been ill for a long time, but earlier this week she became terminal. We let him know what was happening, and he arranged for Emergency leave through his command and the Red Cross.”

The earliest flight he could get was your flight #2793 on 8/22 from Palm Springs CA leaving at 9:00PM, connecting through Las Vegas, and arriving at 7:06AM at JFK airport. His ticket is #3721440267926.

The flight was overbooked and they were going to put him on another flight that would have arrived at 9AM in Newark. Something else occurred and they didn’t put him on that flight. If they had actually put him on that flight, he would have gotten home in time to see his grandmother one last time before she passed at 11AM.

They booked him for another flight, that would connect through Phoenix this morning (where he is still sitting as I write this), to arrive at approx 7PM. It has now been delayed for at least another 2-3 hours.

Your terminal personnel made no attempt to get him on a flight in this dire circumstance. He had to sleep on the terminal floor last night. He missed saying a final goodbye to his grandmother before she passed. He is still sitting in Phoenix with no idea when he can get home.

He paid $554.10 for a round trip ticket, and he isn’t much closer to coming home to be with family in these trying times. His emergency leave is ticking away as he sits in the terminal waiting.

I need to know what you (US Airways) are going to do to compensate him for this debacle. How you are going to make changes to correct the total overbooking of flights. How you are going to make this right. We are grieving, and having to deal with this disaster, and it is extremely stressful.

I await your reply.


From: ben
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007 9:57 AM
To: kurt
Subject: Re: Distressing travel not yet completed

Mr. Greiner,

Sorry to hear of your loss. Has US Airways replied yet?


to Editor
date :Aug 30, 2007 10:29 AM
subject: RE: Distressing travel not yet completed


Thank you for your condolences.

My son finally made it home by 11PM (3 hour delay from the original arrival time of that flight) on the day I wrote the original email. He was too late to say a final goodbye to his grandmother, but he was able to be there for the memorial service. He returned to the Marines in California on a flight this morning.

I want to thank you for the service that you provide with the Consumerist, it has helped me greatly with this incident and also in the recent past in dealing with Sprint. It is nice to have this resource that help you to know what to do in a bad service situation to get things resolved satisfactorily.

US Airways had one of their CS people call my son on his cell the next day after his arrival,. Obviously the list of addresses that I sent the mail to poked someone with a sharp stick to cause them to take action. Perhaps they realized how it would look that they subjected a Marine to this situation.

I think my son said the woman’s name was Sandy, but I couldn’t be sure. She was very apologetic for the problems he encountered, expressed her condolences for our loss, and offered the following remedies:

  • An upgrade to first class for his return trip this morning.
  • A $400 travel voucher to be used any time. That will allow him to come home at holiday time for very little cost.
  • She offered to personally waive the $100 change of itinerary fee at any point in the future if he needed it, by contacting her directly.

Even though these things helped soften the insult of what happened, I must say that I (and my son as well) would be very hesitant to fly US Airways again if any other choices are available. Unfortunately for him, Palm Springs is such a small airport that there aren’t a lot of choices to be had.


Kurt used the tactics spelled out in our post, “How To Launch An Executive Email Carpet Bomb” to get resolution for his son. It’s comendable that US Airways stepped up, eventually.

The US Airways gestures were generous and their apologies appreciated, but they’ll never bring back Mrs. Greiner.

In the hurlyburly of numbers of airlines delayed, the industry blaming its difficulties on the air-traffic-control system, and travelers worrying over how many miles they’re accruing, it’s easy to forget the human lives and stories that are affected. In essence, because of budget cuts, the Marine never got to say goodbye to his grandmother before she died.

(Photo: dykstranet)

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