Delta has received a slap on the wrist for failing to properly compensate passengers who were bumped from their flights. The government handed the airline a $750,000 fine, saying the carrier had routinely mishandled overbooked flights by bumping passengers without asking for volunteers or compensating travelers.
Airlines regularly overbook flights since many passengers end up cancelling or changing their travel plans. If flights are still full when departure time rolls around, airlines typically ask travelers to volunteer for a later flight in order to avoid having to bump (and compensate) any passengers. However, not all travelers realize that they may be entitled to cash or understand the rules about it works.In general, if the alternative flight a bumped passenger is placed on arrives within one hour of when the original flight was scheduled to land, airlines don’t have to pay them anything. But according to U.S. federal regulations, passengers who are involuntarily bumped and will have their travel plans pushed out by more than an hour are entitled to at least 200 percent of the one-way fare to the destination (with a cap at $650). Compensation for longer delays maxes out at $1300.
This isn’t the first time Delta has been penalized for bungling how it deals with overbooked flights. The airline was fined back in 2009 for the same infraction.
And you thought having to sit next to the screaming child was bad. On a Kenya Airways flight from Amsterdam to Tanzania, a Swedish woman named Lena Pettersson was forced to sit near a corpse.
When she sat in her seat, Pettersson noticed a man on the other side of the aisle having seizures and sweating. Moments after the flight took off, he was dead. The cabin crew laid the body over three seats and covered the deceased with a blanket, although his legs were left sticking out. The woman was then forced to sit next to the corpse for the remainder of the flight.
Ms. Pettersson commented, “Of course it was unpleasant, but I am not a person who makes a fuss.”
After issuing a complaint, the airline refunded her half the price of her ticket, $500.
Boston’s Logan Airport is one of 10 across the country to host flight attendant protests today. The American Airlines employees are pissed about compensation paid to the company’s executives.
Here’s the deal: flight attendants have had to stomach pay cuts, while executives have picked up a cool $100 million over the past six years. The flight attendants gave up $340 million a year in 2003.
I guess this is the difference between negotiating your own compensation and having a union do it for you.
American Airlines points out, according to the Boston Globe, that the largess doled out to the top dogs is incentive-based compensation, mostly tied to stock price. This isn’t unusual for the executive suite, as it requires the brass to generate value for shareholders in order to score big. So, the fact that the execs were able to rake in some dough means they rewarded shareholders first.
The airline also points out that its executives have only been paid 65 percent of their “intended compensation,” as the Globe puts it, over the past decade. Simply put: they have no choice but to take a pay cut when the airline fails to perform.
What’s interesting is that a flight attendant quoted in the Globe’s story wants “some accountability.” She doesn’t realize, however, that it’s already there. The comp structure is designed for it.
Ryanair CEO Micheal O’Leary played tough guy this week when he told his customers that he wouldn’t pay a penny to cover expenses resulting from being stranded due to the Icelandic Volcano.
In statements to the media, he admitted that he was fully aware of EU compensation laws, but chose to ignore them claiming:
There’s no legislation designed that says any airline getting a fare of 30 euro (£26) should be reimbursing passengers many thousands of euro for hotel accommodation. It’s absurd.
Well, unfortunately for Mr O’Leary, there actually is legislation that is designed just for that purpose. In fact, European air travelers are one of the most protected groups of travelers in the world.
As it turns out, European lawmakers may have told Ryanair to re-read the laws he’s bound to – because two days after his tough statements, the airline took a u-turn and confirmed that they would indeed be refunding passengers for “reasonably-receipted expenses”.
The Transportation Department is getting serious about lost luggage reimbursement. The department has told airlines that they can’t set arbitrary limits on reimbursement for the bags they lose – or items that they have to replace because of delays. Several airlines, the DOT says, will only pay for necessities that passengers buy more than 24 hours after they hit the ground without their bags. And, they limit their willingness to pay to outbound trips. So, if you’re on your way home, you may get stuck with the tab.
The fed’s regs put the airlines on the hook for up to $3,300 per passenger on domestic flights for expenses resulting from lost or delayed luggage.
The Transportation Department is going to monitor the situation for 90 days, it says, then take enforcement steps against airlines that don’t play ball. One airline, the DOT disclosed, was fined last month for only footing the bill on outbound trips and only for items bought after that first 24-hour window after passengers landed.