Tag Archives: Airlines

It takes a pandemic to get airlines to be reasonable…and finally drop charging change fees

It’s about time these airlines finally do what southwest has done for years. Now let’s get rid of checked baggage fees!!

Business updates: Delta and American follow United in permanently dropping some change fees.
https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/08/31/business/stock-market-today-coronavirus?referringSource=articleShare
Sent from my iPad

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Filed under airline fees, Airlines, Uncategorized

More on flight refunds – don’t settle for less….

If you discover that the airline’s refund is less than you paid for your ticket — as I did, specifically $68 less for my ticket, $50 less for my husband’s ticket – here are words to the wise:  Call again and ask what’s up. I did and found out that the shortfall equaled the cost of choosing seats, which is deemed “an additional purchase.” It is also refundable but the refund must be done separately from the rest of the ticket. It’s not clear if an additional refund REQUEST is required, i.e. if I would have been refunded for this additional purchase had I NOT called the airline.

Don’t settle for less.

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Adventures (I’d rather not have) on American Airlines but they did try to remedy

We didn’t have much luck with our flights to and fro on American Airlines between Austin-Des Moines. Our outbound flight was cancelled due to weather. That was somewhat expected. Our return flight was cancelled just as boarding began — due to mechanical problems. Which meant we had to stay overnight in Dallas. Not fun.

I get that planes sometimes have mechanical problems (although two flights in a row from Austin-Dallas had mechanical problems on the night we were traveling). My issue is more with the “customer service” reps whose mercy you are at. The reservation agent I got on the phone was snippy and not the least bit sympathetic. The gate counter agent in Austin was kinder. (She assured me that yes, we’d get a voucher to stay at a hotel once we got to Dallas at 9:30 p.m. The reservation agent on the phone made no such guarantee).

In Dallas, at the “customer service counter” I had a really nasty guy. He asked if I had my boarding passes for the next flight. I replied “yes.” Then he said “You told me ‘no.'” Then I countered “No, I told you ‘yes.'”

It was downhill from there. He booked us at a hotel for the night and gave us a voucher. It was 10:30 p.m. and the airport was shutting down. When I asked how we got to the hotel, he mentioned a shuttle. Where do we pick up the shuttle?  He wasn’t sure. The agent next to him chastised him and told him to call the hotel and arrange the shuttle and pickup spot for us, which he did begrudgingly. He also gave the shuttle driver our cell number. I asked how long it would take for the shuttle to arrive? He said 20 minutes.

Outside the terminal, in a dim garage area that I wouldn’t have enjoyed waiting in on my own (one poor older woman was waiting solo and she looked nervous), 20 minutes came and went. I called the “Country Inn.” The shuttle was coming, I was told.  Another 15 minutes came and went. By this time several other people were waiting. I called the hotel back. Oh, the woman at the hotel desk said, “the shuttle driver went home for the night. He couldn’t find you.” GRRRRR….It was now almost 11:30 p.m. We ended up getting an Uber with a young guy who was supposed to be in Florida early the next morning because his dad was having open heart surgery.  The next morning, we took an Uber — we missed the shuttle driver again.

I did get an email from American two days later, apologizing for the flight mishap and giving me 5,000 miles on my frequent flier account. Thanks. I emailed my account of  what followed the flight cancellation. Surely they can do better. They agreed, responding promptly with a personal email that included another apology and 5,000 additional flight miles. That was a pleasant surprise and made me feel they were listening. Maybe others won’t have the same bad experience…

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Aggravation with plane tix to Vietnam and Cambodia

Hoping this is not a bad sign but man, it’s been tough getting plane tix for our trip next month to Vietnam. I was braced for issues with smaller airlines like Cambodia Angkor Air and Vietnam Airlines but not with Delta. Issues all around unfortunately.

Here’s some words to the wise:

Be patient (or have someone nearby to calm you down)

After booking online, copy whatever info (including confirmation #) pops up on the screen – because you might not get the email confirmation or tix you were promised.

Don’t trust – instead verify. For example, if Delta books you on Vietnam Airlines for the third flight of your 24-hour journey, check with Vietnam airlines to see it can give you a seat assignment – since Delta says it couldn’t do- and better yet see if they’re aware you are on their flight! (They weren’t.)

If something doesn’t seem right, it may not be right . So, for example, call back Delta  if the flight it booked you on via Vietnam Airlines doesn’t seem familiar to Vietnam Airlines.  Demand a fix! Ask for a supervisor if need be.

Be persistent. Keep holding on the line for a Korean Airline agent to pick up, even if you have to listen to excruciatingly bad tinny muzak. Someone will finally pick up. And if that agent tells you that — contrary to what Delta just told you —  they can’t assign you a seat on the Korean Air flight that Delta booked you on, call back Delta — and find another agent who WILL give you a seat assignment. (At least on one of your two Korean Air flights…)

Look in your Junk Mail/Spam – You must might find that missing e-ticket from Cambodia Angkor Air. (we did!)

Be polite. I can’t say I always managed this. But I tried.

Here’s more of the gory details:

With Delta, first they charged us twice for our tickets (once was enough) and it took me more time than it should have on the phone to confirm this and get one of the charges dropped. Then the third leg of my flight — with Vietnam Airlines, booked via Delta, got dodgy. I tried emailing the airlines to get seats and they couldn’t even acknowledge our reservation and said Delta needs to give me a Vietnam Airlines confirmation #. So back to Delta for the code (why didn’t they give it to me to begin with??) but even that didn’t work with Vietnam Airlines. So back to Delta – where I learned that our one confirmation number (for two passengers) is now two separate confirmation numbers, which is inconvenient and even Delta couldn’t explain why/how this happened — and couldn’t change it.  Back to the Vietnam Air issue,  I asked for a supervisor after the regular agent couldn’t deal. Next we were rerouted so we are now flying on Korean Airlines on the third leg. But getting seats — still not easy. Delta told me to contact Korean Airlines, which finally answered the phone and told me we were only eligible (due to the type of fare we purchased) for advance seat assignments on our outbound flight. But we have to call Delta back to get them. And miracle of miracles, after holding skeptically while the Delta agent did her thing, we did get those seat assignments. So I’m marking that off my list.

I still think it’s WRONG that U.S. airlines gladly sell us tickets on other airlines but then provide almost no help with seat assignments.  I am glad that I tried to get seat assignments on Vietnam Air because I ended up learning that they didn’t seem aware that we were on this flight. That was my fear to begin with — that we’d spend hours and hours flying from Des Moines to Minneapolis to Tokyo, only to find out the last leg of our flight to Hanoi was a no go.

Meanwhile there’s Cambodia Angkor Air, which I should have read up on more before I booked a ticket (it gets horrible reviews). I bought a tix from them for a flight from Vietnam to Cambodia on Sept. 1 and never got any email acknowledgement. I’m glad I at least copied the information that popped up on the computer screen after I booked the flight so I have some confirmation but the confirmation number seems to mean nothing. I looked online and I was supposed to get an e-tix within 24 hours of purchase. Five days have passed and no e-tix. We did check to see that the charge cleared on our credit card bill — but only yesterday so maybe that’s the issue. Reaching them seems nearly impossible – no phone. Dodgy email.

Also, on a few flights jointly operated by Cambodia Angkor Air and Vietnam Air, buying the ticket from Cambodia Air was much cheaper — why? Although more expensive, I ended up buying the Vietnam Air ticket because I’ve heard this airline is more reliable and I want to make sure we get back to Vietnam a few days before our flight home.

I’ve planned other challenging trips — to Peru, Japan, Panama – but this one seems to take the cake. That said, I’m very excited for the trip.

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Filed under Airlines, Cambodia, flying, Vietnam

Bad deal on United Airlines – avoid flying the airline from DSM to ABQ

It was bad enough that my husband had to pay $350 for a flight from Des Moines to Albuquerque on United — this is the bare bones fare, non-holiday, no pre-assigned seat, no overhead luggage storage.

To add insult to injury, it took 12 hours for him to get to his destination — way more than planned – because both of his flights were delayed by mechanical problems.  He arrived in Denver two minutes before his connecting flight was due to take off and ran to the gate, just as the door closed. He got to know the Denver airport far more than he wanted.

The weather, of course, was perfect for flying. He’s had trouble before with United. Let this be a reminder to us – – and a warning to you, dear reader – -not to fly this route with United again.

I should add that my husband’s return trip went without a hitch. But it seems like he has trouble with the departure or return every time he flies this route with United.

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Filed under Airlines, Albuquerque, flying, New Mexico, Uncategorized

Newly discovered nonstop flight option from Des Moines…to Philly

I was hoping the latest Southwest sale would have some good fares for Des Moines — no such luck, unless you’re going to Saint Louis. But I was pleased to find information (from last fall, who knew?) about  American’s new nonstop  flights to Philadelphia, which adds more options for international flights on the East Coast. Other American nonstops from Des Moines include: Charlotte (which we’ve used to fly to Europe), Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago (O’Hare), Washington, D.C. (Reagan National) and Phoenix. Up, up and away!

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Catalina State Park, Seis Kitchen, The Dutch, 5 Points Market, Bon Boutique— Tucson

Morning in Catalina State Park

A few old favorites and new finds this trip. Catalina State Park did not disappoint. I never feel like I am really in Tucson without walking the Canyon Loop Trail, which this time had no water anywhere. Word has it, no rain since September. We had good street tacos at Seis Kitchen on River Road (al pastor and avocado good in particular).

I met my friend Mary across the street from the U of Arizona (Professor Mary) at The Dutch, where we ate salads and caught up  at a pleasant outdoor table.

near the U of Arizona

Along S. Stone

I dropped by two places I wanted to try last trip— Bon Boutique, (beautiful, pricey French housewares) and 5 Points Market and Restaurant, which had a funky coffee house vibe and what looked like excellent sandwiches and pastries. Next time (if there is one). I drove down nearby Convent Street to see some lovely revived, brightly painted adobe houses.

This was my first time renting from Advantage, which cost as much as the Arizona Shuttle round trip to Tucson. (And gas was cheap – $3.17 compared to $3.6 3 here.) I ordered a compact car and ended up with a minivan. Not the newest or cleanest but it drove fine. Now trying Frontier Airlines direct Phoenix to Des Moines. So far so good (which is more than I can say for the last flight I tried to take on Frontier).  I bought water and a sandwich before boarding since there is no free anything on board. The seats are hard and thin with a tiny tray but not too cramped. I had to pay for my seat ($9, i.e. way in the rear) and carry-on bag ($35) but c’est  la vie. I flew out on Southwest (which I prefer for many reasons to Frontier) — one of the first new direct Des Moines to Phoenix flights, on what seemed like a brand new plane!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under airline fees, Arizona, car rental, Tucson

How I (unexpectedly) got a new bag from American Airlines

 

In the “it pays to ask” department: After returning home late two Sundays ago  from Florida, I realized that the purple suitcase I’d checked (at the request of American Airlines, although it would have easily fit in overhead) had several prominent rips. At first, I thought “Oh well,” but later it dawned on me that I probably wouldn’t be able to use the bag any more, especially if I need to appear somewhat respectable (or ever have another business trip…).

When I looked up online the particulars for what to do about a damaged bag, I learned I was supposed to show the bag to an American Airlines person at the airport within 24 hours of my return. But the morning after I returned was not only Spring Break. A major storm on the East Coast had led to many cancelled flights, meaning the airport would be even more mobbed. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the airport and kvetch about my ripped bag.

I explained all this to the AA baggage person the following Thursday night when I happened to be picking someone up at the airport and to my surprise, she looked at my bag, and said that even though I was past the 24-hour period, she’d give me a new bag “as a courtesy.” She left for a few minutes and returned with a brand new bag and was quick to point out the features including four wheels and a 10-year warranty. I thanked her profusely and went on my merry way.

 

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Filed under airfare, Florida

On flying Air Canada and international/to Portugal via Toronto

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Betsy in Evora

We never really got clear information information from United about what was involved in flying their airline for two of our three flights to get to Lisbon from Des Moines and flying Air Canada the last leg, between Toronto and Lisbon.

They were fine with selling us the pricey plane tickets that included the Air Canada flight but seemed to know little about the particulars. (We even had to call Air Canada to book seats for the Toronto-Lisbon-Toronto flights. United wouldn’t do it.) So when we couldn’t get a clear answer about whether our bags could be checked straight through to Lisbon (or if we would have to pick them up in Toronto and transfer them to Air Canada,) we opted to carry on our luggage. (And had to surrender our Swiss Army knife in the process.)

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Dirck at Coimbra restaurant where guests post receipts on the wall

We were glad to have our bags when our planned two-hour layover in Toronto outbound evaporated as we were sat on the runway at Chicago’s O’Hare. At one point it looked like we would have to wait two hours to fly to Toronto (we didn’t find out until later that a storm had shut down the airport) but fortunately our delay ended up being one hour. We ran through the airport, went through some sort of expedited Canadian customs and easily made our 10 p.m. connecting flight. (Phew! If we had missed that flight we would have had to stay overnight in Toronto and wait until 4:30 pm for a flight to Newark and then get an 8 pm flight to Lisbon.)

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Porto church

 

It was Canadian travelers whom we met in Toronto outbound who told us that on our return trip we would be able to go through U.S. Customs in Toronto, before catching out next flight to Houston. This was a relief since we had a two-hour layover in Toronto but only an hour layover in Houston (which means we would probably miss our flight to Des Moines if we had to go through customs there). I couldn’t get anyone to confirm this from the airlines but it is in fact what happened. Phew!

meanwhile the air canada planes there and back were old and cramped with NO movie screens. The only option was to use our laptops (or rent one) and get movies via an airline app. Huh?

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Filed under airfare, airline fees, Portugal