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scchambers
06-30-2011, 10:08 PM
In November of 2010, I purchased four round-trip air tickets
from MSP to Spain for my family. My travel agent called
USAirways to inquire on policies regarding traveling with a
cello before purchasing the tickets. He was told we could
gate check the cello. We were allowed to gate check the
cello on our outbound flights in January, 2011. But when we
checked in for our return flight from Madrid on 06/04/2011,
we were required to purchase a ticket for the cello. We were
told the price was $1200 US, though it turned up as a credit
card charge of 1200 euros ($1740). The flight attendant was
surprised we had been required to purchase a seat and stowed
the cello in the overhead compartment. Upon my return, I
filed an online complaint with Customer Relations requesting
a refund, and a subsequent appeal when refused. First, I
believe that the airline should be responsible for
information given out by its employees; had I known in
advance I would encounter problems I could have checked with
other airlines, traveled without the cello, or purchased a
cheaper seat. USAirways on the other hand holds customers
responsible for knowing baggage policies. Second, The policy
does give passengers the option of signing a waiver to
relieve USAir of any responsibility for musical instruments
checked as baggage. In Madrid I requested that option, but
was refused. I attach copies of my correspondence with US
Airways.


ME:
Dear USAirways Customer Relations (06/06/2011 online):

In November of 2010, I purchased four round-trip tickets from MSP to Spain for my family. My travel agent called USAirways to inquire on policies regarding traveling with a cello and was told that we could gate check the cello. We had no problems on our outbound flights (MSP to PHL to BRU to SVQ: 1762 and 750 on 01/08/11 and 3747 on 01/09/11). On our return (MAD to PHL to MSP: Flights 741 and 1849 on 06/04/11), the ticket agents in Madrid would neither let us gate check the cello nor check it as luggage and instead required that we purchase an expensive one-way return ticket for the cello. When we boarded the airplane, Flight Attendant [name omitted] (employee ID [omitted]) was very helpful and said he would put the cello in an overhead compartment. When we informed him that we had been required to purchase a seat for the cello, he was surprised. He determined it was safer for all to put the cello in the overhead compartment and says that he will certify that the purchased seat was not used. I am requesting a refund for this ticket. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely, S. C. Chambers

Here are all the ticket numbers and names in our party [omitted from the post]:


USAir:


Dear Dr. Chambers [email response dated 06/08/11):
Thank you for contacting Customer Relations. We appreciate hearing from our customers and having an opportunity to address their concerns.

We apologize for any confusion created by our employee on your outbound flight departing from Minneapolis when you were incorrectly advised regarding travel for your cello on a US Airways flight. The agent in Madrid correctly charged you for acceptance of the musical instrument therefore no refund request will be honored.

For more information regarding this issue we invite you to visit our website at www.usairways.com and choosing the Baggage option under Travel Tools. Once there select Special Items and scroll down for information on the transportation of a musical instrument. The customer must purchase an extra seat for the instrument. Cost of the seat is the applicable adult fare for the portions of the flight that the extra seat is requested plus sales tax. The musical instrument must be secured in or against a window seat (not in an Emergency Exit Row). Our Flight Attendant should not have stowed your cello in an overhead bin. The customer must be seated in the seat directly next to the instrument. The last article in this section states the following: Cellos and bass violas will only be accepted as seat baggage. We will contact your Flight Attendant and the appropriate Inflight manager for a discussion of the handling of this situation going forward.

Again, thank you for contacting US Airways. We appreciate your giving us the opportunity to explain our position. Thank you for understanding.

Sincerely,

Deana Worth
Representative, Customer Relations
US Airways Corporate Office

ME:



June 15, 2011

To a Supervisor in USAirways Customer Relations:

I am writing to appeal the refusal of a refund (I have attached my original complaint submitted via the USAirways website and the initial response of Customer Service regarding Case: [number omitted]). I am appealing on several grounds:
1.A customer should not be held responsible for incorrect information provided by official employees of USAirways. If we had been informed that we would not be allowed to check the cello when we purchased our original tickets, we would have had the option to fly on another airline. We would not have put ourselves in a situation where we were forced to buy a last minute one-way ticket that was substantially more expensive than our original roundtrip tickets. My travel agent called again this week and was given the same information by a ticket agent: that the passenger has the choice to either purchase a seat or check the instrument.
2.The response refers me to a webpage with information on traveling with musical instruments. The website says: “Musical instruments are considered a fragile item. Fragile items will be accepted as checked baggage if they are appropriately packaged in a container/case designed for shipping such items. Fragile items without appropriate packaging will be accepted upon the execution of a release furnished by US Airways relieving US Airways of liability for loss/damage of checked baggage. Musical instruments are permitted as carry-on baggage as long as they can be safely stowed and have dimensions no greater than 75 in/190 cm (length + width + height).”We offered to the ticket agent in Madrid that we would sign a waiver that would not hold USAirways responsible for damage to the cello, but he informed us that was not an option. Moreover, the case of the musical instrument was able to be stowed safely in the overhead compartment, meeting the second condition. We did not use the purchased seat.
3.The ticket agent in Madrid informed me that the price of the one-way ticket was $1200 US dollars. Now that I have been in touch with my bank, it turns out we were charged $1200 Euros ($1739.56 plus a $17.40 international transaction fee).
I trust that with this additional information, a supervisor will be able to approve a refund. We made every effort to comply with USAirways regulations, but ended up with substantial unanticipated charges owing to confusion among all levels of USAirways employees over those policies. Thank you for your assistance.
Sincerely,
S. C. Chambers


USAir:


Dear Dr. Chambers [email response 06/19/2011):
Thank you for you additional correspondence regarding your ticket purchase for your cello. I appreciate the opportunity to review your concerns. I apologize for any conflicting information regarding special items. We are unable to offer a refund for the seat you purchased. Our baggage allowance agreement is on our website and these terms and conditions are agreed upon prior to purchasing a ticket with US Airways or through a third party travel agency. In addition after the purchase of your ticket for your cello, it is considered your choice to not occupy the seat purchased for the cello and place it into the overhead. Once again I apologize for the difficulties you encountered with your special item.

Thank you for taking the time to share your travel experience. We appreciate that you had chosen to fly US Airways. We encourage you to try us again, and look forward to welcoming you back onboard another US Airways flight.

Sincerely,

Rose Novelli
Representative, Customer Relations


MY travel agent sent in a letter. After which (though without reference to it), I received the following:


Dear Dr. Chambers [email 06/27/2011]:
Thank you for contacting Customer Relations at US Airways. I appreciate this opportunity to address your concerns regarding the transport of your cello during you recent travel.

Our baggage policy as it pertains to cellos specifically states that, "Cellos and bass violas will only be accepted as seat baggage". The baggage policy specifies musical instruments' treatment as baggage, including cellos. The musical instrument policy can be found on our website as listed below:

http://www.usairways.com/en-US/traveltools/baggage/specialitems.html

The policy states in full that:

Musical instruments are considered a fragile item. Fragile items will be accepted as checked baggage if they are appropriately packaged in a container/case designed for shipping such items. Fragile items without appropriate packaging will be accepted upon the execution of a release furnished by US Airways relieving US Airways of liability for loss/damage of checked baggage.

Musical instruments are permitted as carry-on baggage as long as they can be safely stowed and have dimensions no greater than 75 in/190 cm (length + width + height).

US Airways allows customers to carry their musical instrument in the cabin with them if the instrument exceeds the size restrictions for carry-on baggage and/or the customer believes that the instrument is too fragile to be handled as checked baggage. To do this:
• The customer must purchase an extra seat for the instrument. Cost of the seat is the applicable adult fare for the portions of the flight that the extra seat is requested plus sales tax.
• The musical instrument must be secured in or against a window seat (not in an Emergency Exit Row).
• The customer must be seated in the seat directly next to the instrument.
• Seat baggage must not weigh more than 170 lbs/77 kg and must meet the size restrictions based on aircraft type.
• Cellos and bass violas will only be accepted as seat baggage.

The agents handling your luggage should have charged the extra seat fee. The fact that one agent mistakenly did not does not change our policy and adherence to it.

I have reviewed both your original request and the details of your case. After careful evaluation, I am unable to discover any additional concerns causing me to change the original decision. Regrettably, I am unable to alter our previous resolution, and I apologize that you are dissatisfied with this resolution.

Your displeasure with our baggage policy as it pertains to the treatment of cellos has been forwarded as feedback and allows us to learn where we need to make improvements in our service. We appreciate your business and hope to see you on another US Airways flight very soon.

Sincerely,
Nadira Burns, Representative, Customer Relations
US Airways Corporate Office

bilingual
07-01-2011, 09:50 AM
UsAirways are correct, you have to pay an extra seat for the cello, it is clearly written and not to misunderstand.

However if you can prove that your travel agent has told you that you do not need a extra seat, then he must compensate you.

scchambers
07-21-2011, 09:40 PM
Musical instruments are considered a fragile item. Fragile items will be accepted as checked baggage if they are appropriately packaged in a container/case designed for shipping such items. Fragile items without appropriate packaging will be accepted upon the execution of a release furnished by US Airways relieving US Airways of liability for loss/damage of checked baggage.