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View Full Version : Family kicked off flight due to "weight restrictions"


JohnBrewer
09-14-2009, 04:03 PM
We are from the UK, and in Sept 2008 I booked 2 internal flights for our family of 4, for flights on August 18th 2009; LAX to Phoenix (0630 departure) then Phoenix to Flagstaff (0856 departure). We have 2 young children and, having just started a 2 week vacation and flown in from the UK, wanted to minimise travel time to the Grand Canyon, hence deciding to fly to Flagstaff. However, having completed the 1st leg with a very early departure from LAX, we were denied boarding due to "weight restrictions" on the flight. Apparently we were last to check in, although I find this hard to believe since we checked in nearly 4 hours before the flight departed, when at LAX early in the morning. We had booked and confirmed seats, and were travelling with young children, yet no effort was made to accept our situation, or indeed to get us on the next flight. They refused to put us on the next flight at midday, but did find us seats on a flight at 1510, which was then delayed for a further 90 minutes due to maintenance issues! We had to spend the whole day at Phoenix airport with two young children, instead of our plan which was to arrive at the Grand Canyon for lunch time! We were offered, and eventually very reluctantly accepted TFC's - these are of little use to us since we live in the UK and have no intention of returning to the USA or using any other US Airlines destination for the foreseeable future. We were denied seats on the next flight at around midday, and eventually left on the 1510, which was delayed until 1630 due to maintenance issues. However, just prior to our eventual departure, one of their staff came onto the plane asking for our address, since she said they had agreed to send us cheques for "euro dollars" to replace the TFC's. This would be a more realistic form of compensation for us, since the TFC's are of no real value in the UK. However, having now returned to the UK, there is no sigh of the promised cheque! I cannot believe the way in which US Airways operate. We have contacted them since we returned, but with no positive response.

abutterfinger25
09-14-2009, 05:44 PM
I jsut checked the OAG (Official Airline Guide) and it appears your flight was operated by a Dash 8 aircraft and as as such, you should have been entitled to cash compensation, not vouchers, for your denied boarding under our regulation. If you have not already done so, please file a complaint with us at airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems.htm and we can see what we can do to get your your entitled cash compensation.

JohnBrewer
09-14-2009, 07:04 PM
You are right - it was a Dash 8. Thanks for the advice, I will file a complaint at the url you have given me.

PHXFlyer
09-14-2009, 07:26 PM
I jsut checked the OAG (Official Airline Guide) and it appears your flight was operated by a Dash 8 aircraft and as as such, you should have been entitled to cash compensation, not vouchers, for your denied boarding under our regulation. If you have not already done so, please file a complaint with us at airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/problems.htm and we can see what we can do to get your your entitled cash compensation.

Unfortunately, US Airways is off the hook for cash compensation due to the size of the aircraft:

Sec. 250.6 Exceptions to eligibility for denied boarding compensation.

(b) The flight for which the passenger holds confirmed reserved space is unable to accommodate that passenger because of substitution of equipment of lesser capacity when required by operational or safety reasons; or, on an aircraft with a designed passenger capacity of 60 or fewer seats, the flight for which the passenger holds confirmed reserved space is unable to accommodate that passenger due to weight/balance restrictions when required by operational or safety reasons;

The Dash 8 aircraft that Mesa (US Airways Express) operates between Phoenix and Flagstaff have 37 seats. August was an unusually hot month here in Phoenix. The heat certainly played a role in the aircraft's weight and balance issues.

It's too bad the OP wasn't aware of Horizon's (Alaska) non-stop service from LAX to Flagstaff. They could have skipped the connection in Phoenix.

abutterfinger25
09-14-2009, 07:30 PM
The Dash 8 aircraft that Mesa (US Airways Express) operates between Phoenix and Flagstaff have 37 seats. August was an unusually hot month here in Phoenix. The heat certainly played a role in the aircraft's weight and balance issues.



I thought the Dash 8 was configured for 70. My bad.

PHXFlyer
09-14-2009, 07:36 PM
I thought the Dash 8 was configured for 70. My bad.

The 400s can hold up to 78 depending on seat pitch and galley configuration. Most operating n the US have between 70 and 74. Mesa (US Airways Express) operates 100s and 300s with 37 and 50 seats respectively. The 100s are getting a bit old and I've heard they have mechanical issues with them often.

abutterfinger25
09-14-2009, 07:50 PM
I just rechecked the OAG. And unless my eyesight is worse than usual, it says that all US flights from Phoenix to Flagstaff are "DH8" which corresponds to Dash 8-400 series which seats 70-80 passengers. However, I don't see a flight 856 (which would be US Airways mainline). All flights on this route are, as PHXflyer states, are US Air Express and operated by Mesa.

Either way, I am glad Mr. Brewer sent his complaint to us. I will keep an eye out for it and see if I can get US Air to give you check in place of the vouchers, even if the flight is not covered under our rule.

JohnBrewer
09-14-2009, 08:22 PM
It was a 37 seater, but I will still log a complaint. I was aware of the Horizon flights, but when I book with US 12 months ago, I don't think Horizon were flying that route. Once I knew about them, it was too late to cancel the US flights. I still can't believe we were the last 4 to check in (0520 am for an 0856 local flight). To make things even more annoying, we only had 2 hold bags between the four of us, and we are a "small" family, so our total weight impact on the aircraft wasn't that great. They could have halved their "compensation" and saved as much weight by kicking off two adults of a more "average" weight! If they have to implement weight restrictions for safety reasons, maybe passengers who are either elderly, have disabilities, or who are with young children should be exempt? And they should really make it a priority to get you onto the next flight.

azstar
09-14-2009, 09:36 PM
If US Air had checked them in properly in LAX, they would have been "checked-in" when they got to PHX. So, either US didn't check them in all the way, or they were the last to arrive at the gate. Either way, US Air should have asked for volunteers first before involuntarily denying anyone.

PHXFlyer
09-15-2009, 01:01 AM
JohnBrewer, when you checked-in @LAX had you also checked-in online or was that the first time you were checking in for your flights? You do realize that online check-in begins 24 hours prior to departure and that anyone using online check-in would be higher on the list. Also PHX is US's major hub and in the summer we are on the same time as California. Anyone connecting through Phoenix who had checked in for a flight anywhere east of Phoenix would probably have checked in sooner than 520 AM PDT. Also the majority of PHX-FLG are connecting passengers (we Phoenicians just drive to Flagstaff and the short flight is very expensive - even with a 2 or 3 week advance its around $330 round-trip!) so there probably wasn't anyone from PHX who checked in for that flight after you.

Your suggestion about prioritizing denied boarding by people traveling with children or those with disabilities wouldn't fly legally. It's discriminatory.

azstar, if they got boarding passes for the PHX-FLG flight in LAX then they were checked in for it. If it's a small aircraft (under 60 seats) and it's not due to overbooking but for weight and balance (safety) the airlines don't pay out for involuntarily denied passengers so what would be the point of asking for volunteers? Perhaps Mr. Butterfinger can confirm this but I don't think they even need to ask for volunteers.

abutterfinger25
09-15-2009, 11:24 AM
azstar, if they got boarding passes for the PHX-FLG flight in LAX then they were checked in for it. If it's a small aircraft (under 60 seats) and it's not due to overbooking but for weight and balance (safety) the airlines don't pay out for involuntarily denied passengers so what would be the point of asking for volunteers? Perhaps Mr. Butterfinger can confirm this but I don't think they even need to ask for volunteers.

Nope, they don't need to ask for volunteer if it an aircraft that is exempt from our overbooking rule.