Monday, 21 August 2006

Bankrupt airlines and cancelled flights

Strategies for when you're stranded: What can you do when a foreign airline cancels its flights? (by Jane Engle, Los Angeles Times Sunday travel section, 6 August 2006; also in the St. Paul Pioneer Press Sunday travel section, 20 August 2006, as Research viability of carrier before ticket purchase to avoid hassles ):

"It's routine for people in this situation to get wildly conflicting information," said Edward Hasbrouck, author of "The Practical Nomad" series on around-the-world travel.

Boyington, for instance, said a Varig agent in Manaus, Brazil, told him United, a partner in the Star Alliance, would take over Varig's canceled São Paulo-LAX route. That was wrong; Boyington was stranded two nights in São Paulo waiting for alternate flights. (He eventually flew to LAX by way of New York.)

The good news, Hasbrouck said, is that other airlines are "pretty good" about helping out when a carrier falters. Although it didn't take over the Varig route, for instance, United honored Boyington's revised ticket, flying him from New York to LAX at no extra cost, he said.

To help harried gate agents, Hasbrouck suggested, take charge of booking alternate flights. Get on the Internet or phone and look for other carriers that can get you to your destination. Then tell the troubled airline's agents which flight you want and ask them to certify that your ticket can be used on another airline.

"Make it easy for them," Hasbrouck said.

Boyington's advice, learned the hard way, was this: "Don't fly on a bankrupt airline."

Easier said than done these days.

For more of my advice on this, see my answers to Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) about airline bankruptcies and about changes to flights and tickets .

[Addendum, 23 August 2006: I was interviewed this morning on the Marketplace public radio show on similar issues related to possible disruptions of flights on Northwest Airlines (in bankruptcy and threatened by a strike of flight attendants). Only a short sound bite was used on the air, but once again, for more of my advice, see my answers to Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) about airline bankruptcies and about changes to flights and tickets .]

Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 21 August 2006, 09:00 ( 9:00 AM) | TrackBack (0)
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