Compensation for airline delay - esp Air NZ, Star Alliance?
April 3, 2004 7:06 PM   Subscribe

Airline woes
I'm currently sitting in a hotel at Auckland Airport (New Zealand) when I should be loafing on a beach on the island of Raratonga in the Pacific as the flight I was due to take at 11.15am was cancelled due to a mechanical defect. I'm not happy (more inside)...

I've been put up in the hotel, 'allowed' lunch & dinner (no drinks of any kind) & transfers from & to the airport. I'm on the next flight out of here...the bus leaves the hotel at 4.30am *whimper* tomorrow morning.

I know that the airline (Air New Zealand, part of the Star Alliance) are proably doing what their terms & conditions state ut as I'm missing out on a day of beach & sun (I only get 5 nights in Raratonga now) I'm I out of line for feeling under-compensated?

Anyone with similar experience with other airlines (esp. other Star Alliance memers, eg Singapore Airlines, Virgin)?
posted by i_cola to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
They are under no obligation to give you any more than that. I'm sure they've said something similar to everyone waiting for the plane. By the end of the event they're probably saying "What do you want us to do, fly with one wing!?" That said, I've been in situations where my travelling has been screwed up, usually not on purpose, and I've written a nice letter to corporate HQ and managed to get some of my ticket cost returned. The tips I have are:

1. have your most polite letter writing voice on. Make the assumption that there has been a problem/error/misunderstanding and that you and the airline have a responsibility to work it out together
2. make specific claims as to how you were inconvenienced [did you have to cancel a hotel reservation, make $10 worth of phone calls, buy a sixpack to calm your nerves, make your mother worry?] and how while you acknowledge that it may not be their fault [this seems to be key for legal liability reasons] it is certainly not yours and expenses have been incurred. make these expenses reasonable, and don't expect the airline to care about your pain and suffering.
3. offer specific remedy of what you would like them to do and make this offer reasonable. This has, in my cases, been a) an overcharge by refunded b) a Greyhound ticket refunded after a scary harrowing ride post 9/11 c) $100 for me and my companion each when we got stuck overnight in Boston an additional day by American Airlines d) a rental car instead of a next-day flight when I got grounded 4 hours drive from my destination
4. threaten to follow up, and follow-up. If you sent a letter to corporate HQ, follow up with an email or a fax or a phone call. Send documentation, receipts [copies, natch] and letters of support if you were with other people. Try your best not to take no for an answer.

You won't get that time back, but you just might get some $ [AUS$] back from the airline, especailly if you haven't already hauled off and yelled at someone.
posted by jessamyn at 7:20 PM on April 3, 2004

At least you know the planes are being looked after and you have the warm, relaxing gusts of air from me waving my kilt at you to look forward to in new york.
Many grateful ladies will attest that the mixture of tartan and testosterone is surely more fragrant than the most gentle pacific breeze my friend.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:33 PM on April 3, 2004

If you're using the same Star Alliance airlines for the whole round-the-world trip, they'll respond nicely to any letter you write--they like the loyalty thing. Enjoy the hotel (and maybe it rained in Raratonga today anyway?).
posted by amberglow at 8:21 PM on April 3, 2004

you just might get some $ [AUS$] back from the airline
Why AUS$?
posted by nomis at 12:10 AM on April 4, 2004

They've actually been pretty good to you, by US airline standards. (I've only been stranded by US airlines, and have had extraordinarily good luck with foreign carriers, at least insofar as mechanical delays.) So you may not get much.

But, as jessamyn points out, it doesn't hurt to ask nicely, and all her tips are spot-on.

And next time around, if the thought of missing a day of vacation is a sufficiently big enough issue, you might consider getting trip cancellation/interruption insurance. (This is especially a good idea if you're going on an escorted tour or a cruise or something with a definite start date that would be inconvenient to miss.)
posted by Vidiot at 4:22 AM on April 4, 2004

Not much to add, other than that Singapore Airlines is probably the best airline I've ever taken... If you're trying to decide who to take, go with them.
posted by swank6 at 9:43 PM on April 4, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks all...esp. jessamyn who is becoming my own persnal guru on AskFi ;-)

I'd pretty much suspected what you've all written. I'm with swank6 with Singapore Airlines & I think their extra-good service has made ANZ's look a bit shoddy in comparison.

But we made it to Raratonga & it's hot & sunny so I'm happy now ;-)
posted by i_cola at 7:16 PM on April 5, 2004

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