|by Jason Steele|
Last week, I told you about the situation a relative of mine faced when she arrived in Philadelphia to find out that her connection to Providence was cancelled. Worse, she was only put on standby for the next two departures. In case you were concerned, she did ultimately make it to Providence that night. She arrived too late for her dinner there, but was able to enjoy the weekend.
Can You Get A Flight On Another Airline?
One of the things I recommended to her was that she try to get her airline, US Airways to put her on another airline to get her there. She told me she had already asked them, but that she was told that because the delay was weather related, the could not endorse her ticket to another airline. In fact, the situation was more complicated than that. First, there was no way that US Airways would put her on a connecting flight from Philadelphia, her intermediate city to a destination as close Providence. Even if they did, she should never accept it, there is just too many things that can go wrong. Therefore, that leaves only non-stop flights. Other than US Airways, only one other airline will fly her non-stop from Philly to Providence, Southwest Airlines. The problem with that was two-fold. First, Southwest did not have another flight until about the same time as the US Airways flight that she was eventually confirmed on, so there was no time advantage. More importantly, Southwest, like many other discount carriers, does not have agreements with the legacy airlines to accommodate displaced passengers. Think of it like two countries that don’t have diplomatic relations; The US Airways personnel can’t just call up the Southwest embassy and request asylum for their displaced passenger.
Nevertheless, I did think it was odd that the airline staff told her they couldn’t endorse her ticket to another airline because it was a weather delay. First, the weather delay excuse was, at best, only partially true. This fact was as clear as the blue skies in Philadelphia that day. The aircraft needed had suffered a delay earlier when attempting to depart Raleigh, so the airline just decided to cancel the Philly-Providence leg and proceed straight to Providence, according to my sources. It could operated the flight late or used a spare aircraft, but it chose not to. My suspicion at the time was that the US Airways rep in Philly was just trying to get rid of my relative, and saying “can’t do it, weather” seemed like the more simple and defensible excuse over “we don’t have a reciprocal agreement with Southwest to re-accomodate passengers when irregular operations (IROPS) ocurs.” Who can argue with the weather, right?
Her Return Flight
The next day, she was returning to Atlanta, again via Philly on US Airways. Unsurprisingly, there were again weather delays. Essentially, any time there is weather anywhere in the United States that US Airways flies, your flight is likely to be delayed or cancelled due to “weather”, according to Un Scheduled Airways, regardless of how nice it is at your origin and your destination. The delay was such that she would have missed her connection, the last flight out of
Saigon Philly and had to overnight there at her own expense. After failing to consult me before deciding to fly US Airways, she at least made the right move in calling me for advice. I told her to beg them to endorse her ticket over to Delta for their non-stop flight to Atlanta leaving in an hour. (She didn’t book that flight initially because Delta was charging double what US Airways was, something our friends in Atlanta love to do when they have the monopoly on a non-stop route.) This time, she encountered a helpful US Airways rep who was happy to offload his problems on Delta. Despite another delay, she slept in her own bed that night, not a Philadelphia airport motel.
Clearly, it is a good idea to avoid connecting on US Airways though Philadelphia. If you have the choice, Charlotte is a better option as you can avoid the delay ridden Northeast corridor. Also, when flying the majors, keep in mind alternative flights on airlines with reciprocal agreements. If you are told it can’t be done, try again with a different agent or over the phone. There are usually more than one way to get your destination, and passengers often have to find it themselves.