SYRACUSE, UT — When an airline cancels your flight, you can expect them to offer you some sort of financial compensation for upsetting your vacation plans. Well, when a woman from Utah had a pretty good idea that the airline wasn’t shaking her fairly for canceling her trip, she decided to Get Gephardt.
This is the story of two Melissas.
American Airlines canceled Melissa Lopez’s flight the day she was due to return to Salt Lake City from Costa Rica. She had to pay for another day of accommodation, parking and food for her family. For this, the airline offers him $125 in compensation. It barely makes a dent.
“It cost us over $300 just for the hotel room,” Lopez said. “And then you have food for the day. We had to pay for airport parking.
In the other corner, we have Melissa’s good friend, Melissa Olsen. She took the same trip as Melissa Lopez, but the airline offered her $1,200 compensation.
“Are you holding that a bit above his head?” I asked Olsen. “Is there a little neener neener going on?”
“Sometimes,” laughs Olsen. “But I just feel bad that we had the same experience and I got a quick response, and she’s been fighting for so long.”
Yeah, same flight, same hotel, everyone in a family of four, same everything — yet Melissa Lopez got over a thousand dollars less in compensation.
“Are you looking at that other Melissa aside now because she has so much more than you?” I asked Lopez.
“Yes, now we are bitter enemies,” she joked. “No no. We are great friends.
Lopez said there was no bitterness in her contact with the airline.
“Were you being too nice on the phone?” I asked. “You were too mean on the phone?”
“No, because you couldn’t call, so there was no phone call.”
So what’s behind the shared results for the two Melissas?
“This kind of disparity isn’t common, but it illustrates a very important factor when it comes to airline compensation,” said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Agents have a lot of discretion over what is offered.”
Keyes said many airlines don’t have an established compensation formula. Much depends on what your case officer thinks. So treat agents with more honey and less vinegar. They deal with upset customers all day.
“You’re going to find more success and be better supported if you can get on an agent’s good side, if you can empathize with them,” Keyes said. “And hopefully, in return, get them to sympathize with you.”
If you don’t receive an offer, hang up politely and try again.
“You are going to be put in contact with another agent, one of the thousands of airline agents available, who may have a more sympathetic opinion than the previous agent.” Keyes explained.
He also suggested contacting the airline via email or web chat. A useful benefit is that it gives you a written record of any promises made by the airline agent that cannot go away.
By phone or email, make sure the airline knows the specific ways its cancellation has hijacked your plans.
“The law states that if an airline cancels your flight and you no longer wish to travel with them, you are entitled to a full cash refund,” Keyes said. “Unfortunately, you are not entitled to reimbursement of additional disbursements caused by this cancellation. Ultimately, your case is judged by an airline agent who has the discretion to decide: “Does this person deserve compensation for their problems?” And you should try to present your best case for why you deserve compensation for your problems.
So we tried, on behalf of Melissa Lopez, to present her best case with American Airlines. It worked. Within days, she received the same deal that Melissa Olsen got.
“Do you think you’re a better person than the other Melissa, you know, karma?” I asked Olsen.
“No,” she laughs. “He’s a much better person.”
. Two Utahns get different compensation after airline canceled flight