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Customer Service
Mom Disappointed in US Airways Treatment of US Soldier

 
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  #1  
Old Jul 30, 2012, 11:03 PM
ArmyMom ArmyMom is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3

My son is US Army soldier, currently serving in Afghanistan. Since he will be back on his base by the Christmas holidays, I helped him purchase his ticket home through Priceline on June 30, 2012. Because he is in a remote outpost somewhere along the border of Afghanistan, phone calls, information, and communication is very limited. He was given the wrong return date for his leave, and the ticket I purchased for him got him back to the base one day too late. I called US Airways yesterday afternoon, after speaking with Priceline. At their suggestion, and in light of his situation, and because Priceline told me I might have to negotiate a transfer fee of up to $150, I called US Airways. The representative I spoke with was a nice lady, but she did have some difficulty finding my son’s ticket information since the departing ticket was not a US Airways’ jet. All she did to change his ticket was to move the dates up one day keeping the times, airlines, etc. the same. There was a cost of a little over $100 for the difference in the price of the flights. She then told me I would be responsible for the additional $150 transfer fee for, I guess, not getting my son's dates right the first time I booked my flights. In the past, my son had flown back and forth to his base on two different airlines. And even though I had to change his dates a few times before, I have never paid any amount other than the difference in ticket cost. Both Delta and Continental waived the transfer fees because we had no control over the changes. But not US Airways; a total amount of $279 was the cost of making one little change in their computer.
So, God willing, my son will arrive safely from Afghanistan and will not have to change his flight dates again. Anyway, when I spoke to my husband after all this he was surprised that any airline would do this to military personnel especially someone who coming home from fighting and will see his family for the first time in 11 months. He encouraged me to write this complaint, and this man never believes in filing complaints. My sister, who is in the television news industry, called me later and demanded I contact US Airways Customer Services and if that doesn’t work, to get in touch with an investigative reporter, because as she said, "This is not right!"
From reading posts here, I doubt I will get my money back. And US Airways can be grateful that I am not like the marine mom who was disciplined for taking her son's phone call at the boat factory in Tennessee that she worked at in February, 2011. Just google "Marine's Mother Receives Apology for Phone Call Suspension" to see what I mean. She single-handedly nearly shut down that business. As I told US Airways in my complaint, "I am proud we live among people who care so much for their soldiers; you know, those men and women who now risk their lives in a war on terror. They are the ones who knew their calling after the World Trade Center in New York was attacked using to US Airplanes filled with passenger. And now your airline can't even give one of those soldiers a $150 break! I find this very disappointing and hurtful, and worse, I doubt your airline would have even missed the $150 if you didn't get it because it bought nothing. The representative I spoke with was on the payroll anyway and the only other entity working on my problem was a computer that she input the changes to."
Any suggestions as to what to do if my complaint to US Airways does not work will be greatly appreciated. It's really not about the money anymore; it's just disgusting what big corporate businesses think they can get away with.
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  #2  
Old Jul 31, 2012, 1:03 AM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 745

First off, you're Priceline's customer, and they very nicely passed the buck and shifted responsibility.

You'e lucky they were able to change the dates at all. If the new flight had been sold out, you would have been completely out of luck.

I'm an eight year military vet, and am sick of this hero worship for the military. Unless they walk home with the Silver Star or above, they're not hero's, they're just doing their job, as I did (and many others). Goes hand in hand with the self entitlement generation. Don't expect your mistake to become someone else's problem. Own up to it, you made a mess, and expect to be bailed out of it claiming some sort of military privilege.
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  #3  
Old Jul 31, 2012, 9:56 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

On the whole Gromit, I agree that special pleading by specific groups is a problem. Is a soldier on the front in Afghanistan braver than a firefighter who went into the twin towers? Are nurses working in far flung war torn countries braver than a policeman on the streets of Detroit?

However, the poster has a basic point. A simple mistake was made by the poster and the remedy required that she pay the difference as if the mistake hadn't been made. She had no objection to this. Both parties are whole. The poster has corrected their error, paid the costs they would have had to pay had they not made the mistake and the airline is whole having sold a ticket for its full cost to the poster.

It is exploitative to then demand "compensation" of $150 for the error. As almost all airlines have jumped on the bandwagon and impose this fee and many operate local monopolies the customers have little choice.

The airlines could argue that customers could gain an advantage if they correct the error for free, as they are effectively securing a non-refundable, non-changeable ticket (which is what Priceline offers for its lower prices) which becomes changeable. However, they are protected because the customer will have to pay the going rate for that ticket at the time of the change. If the ticket had been $400 more expensive to fly the following day the customer would still have had to pay the extra... it is the fee only that the poster complains about.

The fee is exploitative for all customers. A simple keystroke error can cost a customer thousands of dollars and this is unfair and should be regulated away. Whether the person making the error is a hero or not, it is WRONG to exploit customer errors in this way.

I am also a war verteren although served in the British Royal Navy. I also find the distinguishing of the bravery of certain groups a bit uncomfortable. But it has to be said, the US military is an entirely voluntary force, which has been in continuous combat since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Any soldier who has volunteered since that date has fully understood the risks they face, in seeking to serve their country. That, even from the perspective of a foreign national, deserves recognition as a brave and honourable thing to do and it would do no harm in cases such as this to waive the charge.
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 12:28 PM
The_Judge The_Judge is offline
Former Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 1,109

Since you opened the can of worms, Mr. Worcs..........I disagree with the waiver argument SOLELY for military members. Are you saying for any military member who enlisted after 2001? Or any military member at all? Well, what about the doctor who puts that soldier back together? Or his nurse? Are they any less of a hero? Then what about that doctor's father and mother? Without them, there would be no doctor. What about a policeman that saves a busload of kids? Or a firefighter that pulls an old lady from a fire? Those professions are volunteer only. Where is the line drawn?
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  #5  
Old Jul 31, 2012, 1:46 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Location: Shropshire, England
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No, Judge I don't... You might read my post again more carefully!!
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  #6  
Old Jul 31, 2012, 2:02 PM
stonecold_1981 stonecold_1981 is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 124

This is one place where I tend to agree with the airlines. You raise a good point, Jim. Why should a customer have to pay $150 for an error. The issue is, at least from the airline perspective, there is no way to differentiate between an error/mistake and some 'change of plans'.

As far as the error is concerned, most airlines give you the option of making any changes (without a change fee, just the fare difference) or even refund the money in 24 hours of booking.

Now, if the change fee is taken out, customers can just book a ticket at any time and when they have change of plans, they will just pay the fare difference. There is no penalty to the customer but the airline now has an open seat that it needs to sell (one that it had assumed sold).

Judge - you seem to have jumped the gun. Jim's point was exactly the opposite of what you said. see below

Quote - The fee is exploitative for all customers. A simple keystroke error can cost a customer thousands of dollars and this is unfair and should be regulated away. Whether the person making the error is a hero or not, it is WRONG to exploit customer errors in this way. - End Quote
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Old Jul 31, 2012, 3:18 PM
ArmyMom ArmyMom is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3

I can surmise from the replies that my initial post was severely clouded by my emotions and maternal instincts to protect a child who no longer needs me to run to his defenses and who would be mortified if he knew I posted this experience. What can I say? I am a mother, and for that I make no apologies. However, I do want to apologize for any misunderstandings regarding my initial concerns and dealings with US Airways. Thank you, Mr. Worcs, for clarifying and succinctly stating (interpreting) my complaint. I had no problem paying the difference in flight costs due to the change in flight dates; as we have once paid an additional $1,700. during the holidays to do just that. And before anyone assumes it, we don't make these mistakes frequently, we just fly frequently for both business and pleasure. Let's all face it, $150 to change dates in a computer is absolutely ridiculous and needs to be challenged.
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  #8  
Old Aug 2, 2012, 2:04 AM
ArmyMom ArmyMom is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3

UPDATE
I received an email from US Airways today offering to help me with my request to waive the change fee charged to my son currently serving in Afghanistan. In order to do so, I will need to fax or attach scanned documentation, on official US Military letterhead, stating he must report back for duty on the date of the returning flight. (Not a problem; my son can print those orders easily and soon enough.)
US Airways also wrote they were handling this as a one-time courtesy due to the circumstances I described and that it is not a normal practice in regard to their non-refundable tickets. (As some of you so quickly pointed out to me in your replies.)
In their email closing, US Airways extended a thank you for my son's honorable service to our country.
Hopefully this is the start of a really good outcome. US Airways still needs to follow-through to make me a believer, but if they do, they may move up there (in my books) with Alaska Airlines as an airline with some semblance of humanity. And, NO, I do not have family members working for Alaska Airlines.
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  #9  
Old Aug 2, 2012, 6:24 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Location: Shropshire, England
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That is a great outcome.... hopefully all will be well that ends well.
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