#1  
Old Nov 1, 2012, 1:49 PM
rgoldbaum rgoldbaum is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
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Default Delayed Refund

I was booked on flight 1553 on 11/1/12 from RDU to San Francisco. The flight was cancelled without explanation on 10/31/12. None of the flights offered to re-book worked for my travel plans. Because of the cancellation, my entire trip had to be cancelled and I lost $500 on a cottage rental in California. Now I am told I must wait 7 to 10 days to have my refund confirmed. Why is that? It only took minutes for my credit card to be charged when I booked the flight. When United cancels the flight, why can't they credit my account immediately?

I usually fly Southwest because they tend not to lose luggage or have delayed or cancelled flights. However, United's offer of a non-stop flight with the option to pay a reasonable fee for more foot room was very attractive. I don't mind paying a little more for better service. I also understand that flight operations on the east coast were disrupted by Hurricane Sandy. However, it would have been helpful for United to explain why my flight, originating in a city 700 miles away from the worst weather, was cancelled. Furthermore, there is absolutely no reason why it should take over a week to refund my money. Unnecessarily holding onto my money for several days when it could have been credited back to my account with a few keystrokes is clearly a shady business practice. I won't be flying with United again.
  #2  
Old Nov 1, 2012, 2:20 PM
Matt_FLL Matt_FLL is offline
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 100
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Flight cancellations are horrible—but lack of communication from the airline is even worse. No one deserves a prompt refund more than you after such a horrific ordeal. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to make that happen. All airlines take several days to process a refund. Like you, I am also a fan of Southwest, but even they take up to seven days (http://www.southwest.com/html/custom...STOMER-REFUNDS).

For next time, you can always consider…

TRIP INSURANCE – In most cases, you could insure and then recover the $500 loss of your cottage in California. Unfortunately, the airlines are protected from liability for these costs.

ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS – You can demand for your ticket to be transferred to another airline if the flight is cancelled or significantly delayed due to mechanical reasons. Gate agents are trained to NOT mention this to you. I’ve never had a gate agent claim it was weather when it really was mechanical… to my knowledge. But here is a trick if you’re ever flying on AA (and I hope you don’t have to!). You can check AAcargo.com which will sometimes list the reason for delays or cancellation.

Those cottages in San Francisco are fantastic getaways… I hope that you are able to travel successfully sometime soon and enjoy yourself after going through such a horrible ordeal. I hope you get your refund faster than the policy permits.

Safe travels,
Matt
  #3  
Old Nov 1, 2012, 3:28 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
 
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Posts: 745
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HURRICANE SANDY. Jeez, what other explanation could you possibly need for flights all over the east coast being cancelled. Airlines aren't going to take chances with passenger safety, and while the "worst weather" might have been north of you, there was plenty of bad, non-flyable weather to go around elsewhere. Sandy's path took it right along the entire eastern seaboard, and until it actually made landfall, no one could be sure where it would hit. And some of the worst damage was barely 300 miles from RDU. The storm left destruction for several hundred miles.
  #4  
Old Nov 1, 2012, 5:04 PM
Matt_FLL Matt_FLL is offline
 
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Posts: 100
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Gromit is 100% correct... while they still should have explained, it was most likely due to the hurricane. Which means that it may take the full 7-10 days since the volume of refund requests are high. I hope you get it sooner.
  #5  
Old Nov 1, 2012, 10:13 PM
rgoldbaum rgoldbaum is offline
 
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I filed a complaint with the DOT about United's statement that it would take 7-10 days to consider a refund. I got a reply from the DOT in a matter of hours, citing the specific federal regulation that requires airlines to credit your account with a refund within 7 days. While I understand that there is a great deal of disruption in air travel from Sandy, granting a refund for a cancelled flight really should only take a few keystrokes from the customer service agent who acknowledges the flight was cancelled and that they couldn't put me on another flight that met my needs. I suspect there is a benefit to the airline to hold those funds as long as possible, therefore they manufacture an unnecessary waiting period.
  #6  
Old Nov 1, 2012, 10:25 PM
rgoldbaum rgoldbaum is offline
 
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Regarding Gromit's assertion that it should be obvious that safety considerations are the cause for my flight cancellation, there were no extreme weather conditions within 200 miles of Raleigh either yesterday or today, and the flight in question was a non-stop flight originating in Raleigh and flying non-stop to San Francisco. In North Carolina, we have hurricanes all the time, but jets still seem to fly. So it is not intuitively obvious why the flight was cancelled. It may have been that the plane was delayed by conditions elsewhere, but it may also have been, as an acquaintance connected with the local airport explained, that the airline requires a minimum number of passengers to make a profit on those long distance, coast to coast flights, and they will cancel the flights if they don't have sufficient passengers. In any event, my main complaint was the delay in refunding my money. I understand that, especially nowadays, you pay your money and take your chances that the plane will actually leave on time when you book a flight.
  #7  
Old Nov 1, 2012, 10:48 PM
Gromit801 Gromit801 is offline
 
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Talk about looking under rocks for conspiracy theories....

Everything about Hurricane Sandy pointed to one of the biggest hurricanes to hit the east coast in a long time. None of the airlines was going to take chances with human lives.

I was once stationed at Keesler AFB, which houses a Hurricane Hunter squadron of C-130's. One of the birds actually got it's fuselage twisted by a 'cane during an aerial survey of a 'cane, and had to be scrapped. That's a military plane designed with combat in mind. An airliner would have been shredded in flight.

Stop having a tantrum about your missed vacation issues, and face up to the fact that mother nature had other plans, and the airline cares more about your life than you evidently do.
  #8  
Old Nov 2, 2012, 1:52 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Location: Shropshire, England
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Gromit, I know you enjoy the trolling, but can you at least troll on what he is actually saying? He states that he recognises that the delay may have been weather related and also states that he recognises that the aircraft disruption may have been related to weather elsewhere. The real complaint is a reasonable one. The processing of a financial transaction these days is one which takes a few key strokes. WHY is it possible for an airline to process the charge within seconds, but take 7 days for the refund. I can understand if the passenger cancelled, as the airline may have to check that the conditions of the ticket were met for a refund, but in this case the airline cancelled the flight and could not offer a suitable alternative. In these circumstances, and instant refund is fair and reasonable.
  #9  
Old Nov 2, 2012, 4:44 AM
rgoldbaum rgoldbaum is offline
 
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Thanks, jimworcs. I couldn't seem to make that point understood.

I also agree that flying directly into a hurricane would be dangerous and unwise, but the weather here in the North Carolina Piedmont has been settled for over 48 hours, with a mix of sun and clouds, light winds, and some short periods of light rain yesterday. There have been no hurricanes between here and the west coast. Between 5AM and 7AM this morning, United had 3 flights depart for San Francisco, connecting through Charlotte, Atlanta, and Chicago. The only flight cancelled was mine, a nonstop flight at 7 AM. Whatever the reason for the cancellation, it wasn't because of weather between here and San Francisco.
  #10  
Old Nov 2, 2012, 12:40 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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The only snag with this scenario is that the aircraft may not have been in position as a result of disruption the previous day. For example, if the aircraft was due to fly a leg from say Newark to RDU the night before and stay overnight at RDU to fly the segment from RDU to SFO. There is no way of telling, because airline employees routinely lie to passengers and even the most tenuous link to weather will be used to justify a cancellation. It is time the US adopted the European approach which requires them to compensate even if the cancellation is due to the weather. Weather is something which you can anticipate and plan for and the airlines need to have contingency plans for them. The airlines in Europe predicted armageddon when consumer protection rules were put in place requiring them to compensate passengers for cancellations due to weather. No one went bankrupt because of this and the number of cancellations is down dramatically. Why? Because the financial incentives were changed. Currently, flight ops in the US when disruption occurs take the easiest option... even if this costs thousands of people lots of money, stress and disruption. Change the financial incentives by imposing penalties and flights ops suddenly start finding solutions. The US airlines industry is seriously under-regulated and has turned into a series of abusive local monopolies and duopolies.
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