A passenger has missed their flight and is unable to rebook aisle to visit a friend or loved one. Thousands of luggage are scattered in the airport lobby. Airline and airport employees still struggle with customer anger and frustration.
Some workers were in tears after hours of dealing with disappointed ticket holders.
Thousands of flights have been canceled, especially those associated with Southwest Airlines.
It may take days for the nightmare to end, and it may take months for passengers to fully recover the loss and inconvenience. Travelers are entitled to a refund if their flight is cancelled. However, delays, even long ones, are another matter. “Each airline has its own policy on what to do with delayed passengers waiting at airports. There are no federal requirements,” the U.S. Department of Transportation said on its website.
“Airlines have a lot of discretion in how they respond to issues,” says the DOT. “You have certain rights as a passenger, but your claim for compensation will probably be subject to negotiation.”
Some compensation becomes impossible. How can anyone pay for a lost Christmas vacation or missed visit with family?
What is possible, and absolutely necessary, is a full apology for the debacle and a full investigation of what went wrong.
Christmas weekend is understandably a travel-intensive time, and that partly explains it. At the same time, airlines could not have been unaware of the demand for travel. Almost all tickets are pre-purchased. The public needs to know when a flight is intentionally overbooked.
The weather clearly played a role. A devastating snowstorm hit the eastern third of the country, causing havoc and death in several cities. During the storm, the airport was closed, causing a cascade of problems with crew misplacement and ground crew being unable to reach the airport.
Analysts say the Southwest may be particularly vulnerable to these disruptions. The airline’s apparent reluctance to reschedule competing airline flyers may also have played a role.
The Department of Transportation said Monday it would investigate Southwest Airlines’ decision-making. “The department will investigate whether the cancellation was controllable and whether Southwest is complying with its customer service plan,” the department said in a tweet.
We encourage you to take a full look at your holiday travel nightmare and suggest ways to improve it next time. We urge you to step up efforts to voluntarily compensate ticketholders who are no longer eligible.
Anyone who had to rent a hotel room or car due to the airline’s poor planning or handling should be fully compensated.
There are some caveats. Cost to travelers over the past week is important, but not as important as safety. You shouldn’t risk your life to meet your travel schedule. Some problems may have arisen due to prudence.
At the same time, airlines should demonstrate plans for such contingencies. Was Southwest’s aggressive scheduling the cause of the failure? Should the airline have intervened sooner? Is the backup plan in place? As unions claim, the airline failed to modernize did it?
Should airlines improve customer relations? Should they review their contingency plans and hire more people? Airports should prepare for such events by offering more services to stranded passengers. do you need to provide
In all of this, passengers look to the federal government for answers. they should get them. At the same time, the country decided decades ago to essentially deregulate air travel, making it more difficult for governments to oversee airline decision-making.
Airfares have become cheaper due to deregulation. It helped create alternatives for travelers, such as Southwest Airlines. This made servicing large cities easier and more convenient.
However, the focus on revenue rather than meeting public service requirements is degrading the quality of air travel. That’s why you get a bag of peanuts instead of better food when you fly.
In general, airlines prioritize income and expenses over passenger satisfaction. That applies to many industries.
So the real answer to this week’s woes lies only on the part of the federal government. Another answer is customers who can and should vote with their pocketbook and credit card the next time they travel.
— Kansas City Star