Thursday, December 29, 2016

Lending A Hand

Dec. 29, 2016
2016 year-end insights from your letters!
Read a few of our best saves:

Subject: Missed flight. Need info.

Dear FlyersRights:

On April 22, 2016 I booked tickets on Delta Airlines several months in advance. It was the first evening of a religious holiday my family was scheduled to travel to visit my sick mother in Florida. We arrived two hours early with our boarding passes in hand they airlines were backed up  at luggage check-in we were told that we could no longer make our flight.  We were also told that we should have gotten to the airport earlier. I don't know anyone who would have gotten to the airport earlier than two hours on a domestic flight from New York to Florida. They wanted to charge us $900 per ticket to change our flights and get to West Palm Beach airport which was the airport we were scheduled to arrive at   We had to wait in the airport until 345 pm for them to schedule us on a flight going to Fort Lauderdale. Without any vouchers for meals or future airline tickets.  And we were charged 150 per ticket due to their inability to check us in in time. With that,  my sick mother had to spend the Passover holiday trying to find someone to drive her to our relatives home.  As she is unable to drive due to open-heart surgery.  I just noticed that we have rights as a flyer I wanted to know if you could recommend how we should handle this matter.  Thank you so much for your time.


Karen H.
Hello Karen,

What a shame that you missed your events due to the intolerable acts by Delta.

I have several suggestions for you.  We would advise that you take the position that you were involuntarily denied boarding and are due the "bumping" compensation of four times the price of a one way ticket and a refund for what you were charged the day of your flight.

Start by filing a complaint with the US Department of Transportation at  Summarize what happened and what you were charged.

Next send a copy of what you sent to the DOT to this contact at Delta:

Heidi Gould
Manager, Customer Care

If you do not get a satisfactory response from Delta, we would advise that you file a small claims court lawsuit for any monetary damages you incurred.  Unfortunately you cannot sue for your mistreatment, only monetary losses. 
Please keep us informed as to your progress.

If you found this advice helpful, please consider a donation to FlyersRights at

Joel J Smiler DVM

Hotline Director

Subject: Missing Baggage - Airlines is NOT paying the Compensation

Dear FlyersRights:

I flew on Ethihad airlines in Business class from Chicago to Abudhabi to Hyderabad (India), Leaving Chicago on June 8th 2016 and arriving in Hyderabad (India) on June 9th 2016.

I checked in 2 suitcases in Chicago. When I reached Hyderabad (India) only one checked bag arrived. I filed the complaint for the delayed baggage. In a hurry I just mentioned that I had clothes in the delayed baggage. In fact all these are business formal clothes including formal dresses, suit, formal shoes etc.

They DID NOT PAY any interim compensation for the delayed baggage.

After 21days also the baggage could not be traced by the airlines.

In the meant time I purchased all the items that were lost and needed for me. Including the new suitcase. The total amount came to be around USD 765.00.

In the meantime my mother passed away in Hyderabad (India) and I was busy with those arrangements and activities. I filed the claim (via email) on July 21st with the Etihad Airlines staff at Hyderabad.

Today (August 1st 2016) I got an email that Etihad is going to pay me ONLY HALF of the claim amount ACCORDING TO THE ETIHAD Policy.

My contention is that as the flight originated from the US, they need to follow the US Aviation Regulations and (or) International Aviation Conventions.

Please help me in getting the claim of $765.00 paid by the Etihad Airlines.

Attached are the documents that I sent to Etihad. They are saying that I submitted the "Estimations" only and not "Invoices". In fact all of them are Invoices except 2 receipts where I bought from a small local stores.

Thanks and Regards

Rao D.

Dear Rao,

If you do not get the results you are looking for you can sue the airline in small claims court in any venue where the airline has a presence. 
Best of luck.  Please keep us informed as to your progress.  Also please consider a donation to Flyers Rights at

Joel J Smiler DVM

Hotline Director  

Dear Joel,

Thanks a lot Joel. Sure I will send the complaint to that Etihad HQ. I will keep you posted.
Rao D.

Hello Rao,
You are asking a very reasonable amount and they should pay you.  You are well under the amount that is called for in the Montreal Convention rules.  I would complain to the Department of Transportation at  I would send a copy of your complaint to the airline at:
Calum Laming
Vice President of Guest Experience
P.O. Box 35566
Khalifa City A
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Subject: Norwegian Air on Christmas Eve

Dear FlyersRights:

Thought you might be interested in this experience:

Happy Holidays,
Marcy M.

Dear Marcy,
What an awful and mostly avoidable experience!
Delay compensation should be available under the Montreal Convention Article 19 up to $5500 and Possibly also under EU or Canadian flight delay rules. 
Airlines could also possibly be fined up to $28,000 per passenger for 3 hour rule violation of holding passengers on the tarmac without food water for over two hours and on tarmac for over 4 hours. has a rulemaking petition pending before US DOT to require airlines give plain language notice of delay compensation rights to Passengers on international trips. Would be curious to know what Norwegian says about your compensation rights, as many airline customer service persons simply misinform passengers that they have no rights. 
I will send you tomorrow more detail and am also forwarding your note to Joel our hotline director who may have some additional suggestions and contacts.
Paul Hudson

Hi Paul,

Thank you for your prompt response!

Norwegian isn't doing anything.  No contact, no follow up, nothing on the plane in way of information or even compassion.

Your assistance is appreciated.

Best wishes,

Hello Marcy,

As Paul has suggested you can demand compensation under the Montreal Convention and EU compensation from Norwegian Air.  Here is a contact at Norwegian if they ignore your website complaint:

Lasse Sandaker-Nielsen
Vice President of Corporate Communications
PO Box 115
Fornebu, Norway N-1330
+47 45 45 60 12

If you do not get anywhere with the airline I would suggest you try to get the EU compensation by using one of the services that are available that take a portion of your refund for the service of collecting.  They are very successful at getting compensation.  Try or

Please keep us informed as to your progress.


Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director 


FYI EU passenger rights do apply to a trip from within the EU to a destination out of the EU. EU Regulation 261/2004 allows passengers to claim up to 600 euros for delays over 4 hours (I believe this is a Type 3 flight, not a Type 2 flight) (Article 7.1(c)) not due to weather or something out of the airline's control. Additionally, after 5 hours, the passenger is entitled to a refund of unused or useless flights (Article 6.1(iii), OR a trip back to the origination point. (Article 8.1)  
Keep at it. 

FYI see attached for delay compensation rights under the Montreal Convention.


Paul Hudson 
877-FLYERS6 hotline

P.S. If this information has been helpful to you, please consider a donation to  as we depend entirely on public contributions and are primarily staffed with volunteers.  We also have a key staff person in Berlin and are looking to expand to the EU in a major way in 2017 and are looking for volunteers.

Subject: My rights

Dear Flyers Rights,
Please inform me if I must be compelled to go through a full body scanner at the airport. There is no clear indication on your website as to my rights.

Many thanks,
Eric G.

Hello Eric,

According to the newest rules by TSA, they are compelling a small number of flyers to go through the body scanner even if they want to opt out and have a pat-down.  Also, those passengers do not have the option of just not flying that day and leaving, they are required to go through the scanner.  TSA says there will be a small number of people required to be scanned.

I hope that answers your question.  Don't forget to donate to flyersrights on our website


Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director 

Subject: Last Snow Storm

During the last snow storm in January when flights were canceled, we were in Riviera Maya, Mexico for a wedding. One of the bridesmaids was scheduled to fly home on United going from Cancun to Newark airport. Her flight was canceled and she was trying to get another flight out the same day or next day but was told that to do so would cost over $800.00. She was not put up in a hotel and had to pay out of pocket for a room until she could get a flight home which was two days later. That is highway robbery in my book and the least United could have done was to put her up in a room at no cost. I had given her the phone number for Flyer's Rights but don't know if she called.  Just wanted to share this information with you. Thanks for all your help.

Joanne L.

Hello Joanne,

I am sorry to hear of your problems with United during the recent snowstorm.  Unfortunately airlines are not required by the DOT to provide housing or food for flight cancellations for any reason.  They often will provide such assistance when the cause of the cancellation is not due to weather, but no airline provides hotel vouchers for weather delays.  This is not just United but is universal for all airlines. 
You might consider writing to the DOT at to express your displeasure at this situation and urge them to require the airlines to provide hotels and food when they cancel flights.  We will be working for the same results here at Flyers Rights.


Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director 

Hi Joel,

Thank you for your response. My other concern was the fact that they wanted to charge her over $800 for another flight so she could get home. Shouldn't they have done it free of charge?

Hi Joanne,
I guess I misunderstood.  Are you saying that United wanted $800 to put her on one of their own flights?  I assumed that it was going to be $800 on another airline.  United should have put her on it's next available flight with no extra charges.  If they did not, I would file a complaint with the DOT at the same address I gave you in the previous email and copy United at this address:
Laura Mandile
Director, Customer Care 
Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director
Subject: Claim against American - advice needed

Dear FlyersRights:

I have a serious claim against American Airlines and need advice on how to proceed.

My family and I were recently flying from PHL to DEN. We checked in and received boarding passes stating "doors close 10 min prior to scheduled departure time". The security lines were very long, plus American initially sent us to the wrong terminal, but we were at the gate 13 min before departure - to be told that because the flight was oversold, they did not wait until 10 min and gave our seats to other customers.

We were very upset and got into an argument, after which police were called and we were removed from the terminal. The reason given was our behavior - I was accused of threatening the agent (convenient for them, but completely untrue) and as for my wife - the reason was "I don't like your attitude".
Our kids were not accused of anything, but were upset and crying.

We then went to American counter and were told that our tickets have been cancelled and we have to go to another airlines. We bought new tickets from United for $4100 and we lost a vacation day. In addition, my wife's medical condition was aggravated.

I have a lot more details plus a wonderful picture of the agent trying to hide under his desk from being photographed.

My attempts to reach a settlement with American have so far been fruitless - they are offering to refund the original tickets, but that would be a fraction of what we lost.

Their Legal Department is very well protected, and my attorney has not been able to reach anyone at the number given to me by Customer Relations.

Do you have advice for me?

Allen K.

Dear Allen,

If, as is likely, you get nowhere with American, you have the option of a small claims lawsuit.  No attorney is needed.  You can sue in any county where American has a presence.  You can sue for monetary damages only.  If, as is likely, American does not send a representative, you will present your side of the case and will win.  If they do show up, they will try to have the case moved to a higher court, where you would need an attorney.  If you win, you send your judgement to their headquarters in Fort Worth for collection. 

If you want to sue for more than monetary damages, such as pain, suffering, embarrassment, etc. you will need a personal injury attorney willing to take the case.  They normally work on a commission basis so there is no fee unless you win.  If your personal attorney wants to help you he should write to anyone at American headquarters at the address above.   He can send his letter to the legal department or any executive on up to Doug Parker, the CEO.  Again, we advise writing, not calling so anything promised would be in writing.  The airlines are good at promising things that do not happen. 

If you want other contacts at American, or have any other questions do not hesitate to contact me.  We are here to help.  Please keep us in the loop as to your progress.  If you feel so inclined, we always appreciate donations at our website


Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director 

Thank you for all the info, Joel.

I have already had several communications with them so there is more to the story - please see attached the latest communication (April 5) which sums everything up.

When you have a chance, I would appreciate your comments.

I also have a couple of specific questions:

Does American have the right to cancel our tickets (including return tickets which were in fact on a different carrier)?

Is it a violation of any law to take a photo of the gate agent?

Thanks in advance

Hello Allen,

If you were, in fact, at the gate with more than ten minutes before departure and the flight was oversold, then you would all be entitled to the "bumping" compensation, plus they would have had to honor your tickets and get you on the next available flight.  This is complicated by the dust up with the gate agents and police.  That would likely be their argument against compensation of any sort.

I will give you the email address of a contact at American.  You can ask for whatever compensation you feel you are owed, such as the difference in the price of the walk-up fare you had to pay the other airline and what you had paid for your American tickets.  That would be reasonable, but again I do not know how receptive they will be.  We advise doing whatever you do by email or US mail, not by phone, so you have a record of whatever they promise you.  The contact at American is:

Sean Bentel
Vice President Customer and Relations
4333 Amon Carter Blvd
Fort Worth, TX 76155.
(817) 967-2116
Subject: Question

Dear FlyersRights:
I was pleased to find your website and I am writing to you to ask for advice.
I did book a ticket on the American Airlines (AA) website to travel from Memphis (TN) to Casablanca (Morocco), via Philadelphia and Madrid (Spain) on 03/05/2016, returning on 03/12/2106. I was allowed to make that purchase and to board in Memphis (AA 3934). However,  in Philadelphia I was denied boarding on AA 740 to Madrid (Spain) on the ground that my US passport was about to expire in two months (actual expiration date is: 05/18/2016) and in spite of the fact that my boarding pass had the mention "Docs Ok". 
By searching the internet, I verified that this rule about passport having to be within 3 months of expiration date is indeed real. However, I wonder why AA since they knew about this rule did let me purchase a ticket. I contacted their customer service department who declined to issue a refund on the grounds that their policy is that documentation requirements are "the full responsibility" of the traveler.

This to me appears very deceptive: by not disclosing this policy AT TIME ticket purchase AA is misleading its customers by enticing them to purchase tickets while knowing that these tickets have a chance to be declined and to cause substantial hardship and financial loss to the purchaser. There may be some mention of this "full responsibility" policy on the travel documents issued AFTER ticket purchase, but this, to the best of my knowledge, may represent an unfair business practice. 
Is this also your opinion? I did also contact FAA and they were responsive. Any other suggestion?
Omar S.

Hello Omar,
We have had several questions like this one on our hotline.  While the airline (not just AA) are required to collect passport information when making a reservation, the reservation systems of the US airlines at least, do not kick out reservations where the passport expires before the required time for the countries where you are traveling.  As American stated, it is up to the passenger to research the passport and visa requirements of those countries to which they are going.

Where American did make an error was in allowing you to leave Memphis.  You should never have been allowed to go at all.  I would say that the only compensation you might be due would be if they charged you to get you back to Memphis.  If you were charged extra, I would dispute that charge with American, and if needed, your credit card company.

If you still want to make your trip, you should be able to use the same ticket, minus any change fees and change of fare, after you obtain a new passport.

I know that this is not what you wanted to hear from us, but this is the situation as it exists at the present time.  If I can answer any other questions or you need contacts at American, let me know.  I would start at their regular email contact on their website.

Joel J Smiler DVM
Hotline Director 

Dear Joel,
Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Your response is not what I want to hear indeed, but it is comforting to hear this from a source other than AA. 
Let me also mention that in addition to the mishap of letting me board in Memphis, AA did load my suitcase on the plane to Madrid while they knew that I was not on the plane. I have a record of my phone conversation with AA agent acknowledging that my suitcase was in Madrid. (My suitcase eventually made it back home). I have contacted the FAA to report these two mishaps and they are pursuing the case. If this is of interest to you, I will share the outcome with you.
From a consumer standpoint, I believe it is wrong for airline companies to pocket the money without informing the customer of these rules BEFORE finalizing the ticket purchase since in the end it is the airline companies who enforce these rules at time of boarding and/or check in. Why can't they do this checking at time of purchase? This does not make sense.
Best regards,

CC'd to FlyersRights:

Dear friends over my 76 years,

Pass this on to anyone you know in these states: Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington.

 Driver's licenses from nine states won't be valid IDs for domestic flights in 2018.  See that section in the latest Newsletter.

 Forwarded to you, the latest Newsletter from  Costs nothing to join, but stands up for your interests as a passenger, and I've donated about $10,000 since 2007 and I've proofread the newsletter weekly as an unpaid volunteer for several years.

 Join FlyersRights to keep up, and forward this to anyone you know in the states affected.  The processing time for passports is certain to grow, possibly to several months, with applications from those states, so help your friends get ahead of the curve by telling them now.

Dan P.

FlyersRights' founder and spokesperson, Kate Hanni, is available for media interviews regarding holiday air travel!

To reach our airline expert Kate Hanni for interview requests, call +1 707-337-0328.


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