Tag Archives: Flying

How to get a pandemic-era refund for a flight to Europe — or the many other places Americans can’t travel right now …

My advice: Call the airline (if you booked via the airline) and make your case. Don’t do via an emailed refund request. (My request was denied via the United website  ) But when I called the airline, I was granted a refund surprisingly quickly.

More details: we bought direct tickets from United  last April for an early September flight from Chicago to Paris for $450 each  — knowing  we might not be able to go due to the coronavirus situation – a situation we had no idea would get  THIS BAD). We  bought the tickets because they were ridiculously cheap, we had long-established plans (a house booked with friends in Burgundy, sigh) and we could cancel or change with no fee and get compensation, whether a credit or refund.

Our flights were soon changed by United from direct to connecting via Newark and our outbound flight leaving at 2 p.m. rather than the original  6 p.m.  — both grounds, I thought, for a refund. (We also assume the flights will eventually be cancelled.) We prefer a refund rather than credit, which according to United must be used to book a new flight  “within a year of the original ticket issue date.”  I think that means we have to book the flight by April 2021 but we don’t have to fly by April 2021.  Also I’m assuming we can fly anywhere and are not locked into our original destination. Regardless, we now question whether we’ll be able to fly at all next year – and if so, when.  So just give us our money back, please! e

United’s “Cancel Bot” informed me I could ‘submit a request” for a refund if my flight “wasn’t rebooked within two hours of (the) original departure time.” But I learned that “submit a request” doesn’t automatically mean “receive a request.”  Two weeks later, an email from the “refund desk” denied my submitted request.   But when I called United ( 1-800-UNITED1 ), I barely had to make my case. The agent said I was eligible for a refund for the reasons I presented in the email request. Of course ,I’m sad we can’t go….but relieved to get the refund. We’ll go as soon as we can…and maybe even fly United, since it was reasonable, after all, about all this.

 

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Filed under Airlines, flying

Flying during a possible pandemic

I have flown three times during the past 10 days (Feb 29-March 9) of the coronavirus situation (Des Moines to San Francisco via Vegas on Southwest; San Francisco to Burbank on Southwest; Burbank to DSM via Salt Lake City on Delta) and here’s what I noticed:

– A few people wearing masks, not many.

– A few people wiping their seating area with wet wipes and their hands with hand sanitizer. (Me included by flying day #2 when I found unopened wipes in my travel bag that I bought last fall in Vietnam. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been doing…I couldn’t find wipes in San Francisco or Burbank. We found hand sanitizer only after we asked a shop keeper in San Francisco who let us know he had a secret stash behind the counter. “One per family,” he said. Which seemed wise.)

– Not many people are using their tray tables or tucking things into their seat pocket. I predict a (further?) decline in readership of the in-flight mag, not to mention the safety brochure. One woman I saw using her tray table for her laptop was wearing a mask. Huh?

– My delta flight today (March 9) was delayed for cleaning but only a few minutes (and I welcomed the cleaning.) Southwest attendants wore gloves. But my delta flight attendant didn’t wear gloves while serving but did when picking up empty cups. (But she was very pleasant and offered a wider snack selection including granola bars than the other flights.)

– The occasional sneeze or cough (including by me…allergies. Really!) is more noticeable and noticed.

– My second flight had lots of empty seats. We all took our own aisles and window seats. (Maybe we read the same article saying that window seats exposure you to less germs.) Pleasant surprise for this aisle-flyer: it was fun looking out the window.

– Other flights, including the one I am on now, seem almost full (although I have no neighbor.) Maybe more people would cancel if the airlines (other than always reasonable Southwest) extended their Covid-9-inspired, no-charge-for-changes policy so it includes flights right now (not just those purchased between now and March 31. Thx guys but you could do better. Your self- interest is showing.)

– people are calm and pleasant. Not sure I would know anything was different if I didn’t read the news.

– I noticed new signs (I think) in the bathroom in Des Moines (some that could use copy editing) asking “travellers” (yes, misspelled) to wash their hands.

– I also found myself not holding onto the railing on the escalator, to avoid germs and making use of sanitizer stations.

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Filed under California, flying

Bumpy flight flying between storms out of Des Moines today

much as I want to get to Boston for a family wedding this weekend, I almost wished our flight out of dsm at 7:15 am wasnt leaving on time when we boarded it a few hours ago. The weather was scary. And i tried NOt to think about that recent horrific flight on the silver screen with denzel Washington as the drunk pilot.

We waited for one storm to subside, sort of, then hustled to get off the runway before the next storm, fast approaching arrived…Flying in a small metal canister of a plane through dark clouds with lightening off in the distance wasn’t fun. Very bumpy for the first 15 minutes or so until we climbed out of the dramatic clouds into a refreshingly blue patch of sky. I bumped into the pilot in the bathroom at O’Hare and she acknowledged that the early moments of the flight were rough. But she said she respects the weather and wouldn’t have flown if it wasn’t safe. I thanked her for her service.

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Filed under air security, Chicago

hair frisk on 9/11 at Des Moines airport.

flying on 9/11 was a little eery but for the most part just fine. I had absolutely no wait at airport security in Des Moines. oddly empty but I was told that’s not unusual for a 10 am midweek flight. But oddly, After I did the scanner thing, the guard asked the squeeze my ponytail. A hair frisk of sorts.

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Filed under Des Moines

The power of a popup storm: ending up in Flint not Kiev

So how did my husband end up in Flint Michigan yesterday when he was supposed to end up in the Ukrainian city of Kiev? Chalk it up to the challenges of flying from smaller cities, unpredictable summer weather and airline belt tightening, perhaps. The weather was hazy in Des Moines in the early afternoon when he left with a farm group for Kiev via Detroit and Amsterdam. It was already going to be a long day. Which turned into long days when a storm in Detroit required the plane to be diverted to Flint, 17 minutes fly time from Detroit. passengers were told the plane didn’t have enough fuel to keep circling and wait out the storm. It was sunny in Flint and my relatives in suburban Detroit reported there was no storm there.

D. finally did make it to Detroit in the early evening, just missing the Amsterdam flight which had also been delayed by weather. So his group of 20 had to rebook, which is never easy but particularly now with planes packed to the gills. They stayed over night in a hotel by the airport and set off early this morning for Kiev, now via Boston and Paris. At one point, it was going to be via Newark and Amsterdam. Here’s hoping. Even for much less ambitious journeys, we have gotten used to not flying as expected. Last week my daughter got home a day late from California after her flight from Santa Barbara to Denver was delayed for hours on a sunny day. mechanical problems. The same thing happened to me last fall on a bright sunny day in Kansas City, when my flight to New Orleans was delayed for hours and ultimately cancelled. Mechanical. It’s gotten so i am almost surprised when i get somewhere as scheduled. and still we travel. tomorrow I fly from Chicago to London. Relatively easy. Or so it seems now.

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Filed under Adventure travel, Agritourism