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11 November 2009

Airline Delays Lead to a Missed Flight and the Passenger Is Forced to Pay the Hotel Bill

Michael sent in this complaint about a recent flight from Mexico that included significant delays and extra unexpected travel expenses.

On a flight from Cancun to Dulles connecting to Norfolk, VA (UA 7709).
The airplane arrived at our Cancun departure point about an hour late. the plane experienced a minor mechanical problem that lasted another 20 minutes of delay. We finally departed Cancun about 90 minutes late. About 80 passengers missed their connections in Dulles, me included.

The United customer relations people booked us all for a flight the next day. We, however, we were told to pay for own hotel rooms because the delay was due to ATC (air traffic control).

Well, I say it was due to a late arrival at Cancun and a mechanical at Cancun. Even the Captain said we were delayed for a mechanical. I was an airline pilot for 5 years and no way was ATC to blame for this delay. There were also about 20 of my co-worker pilots on board that will attest to these facts. United is trying to use a bogus ATC delay to avoid paying for their shortcomings. So, I am paying for my own meal and room. Responds
The sad fact is that it does not matter why the plane was delayed because for the most part airlines that fly in the US are not legally obligated to provide any compensation for a delayed passenger, even if that delay results in a missed connection or unexpected hotel charges. It is possible that an airline will offer some kind of compensation, but that is up to the airline, or more likely the top airline customer service representative you can find after you find out you will be delayed. goes into some detail about when you can get compensation from a US air carrier, typically for cases where you are bumped from an oversold flight.

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