Cancelled Flight in Biz, Flew Coach. Am I Owed Compensation?

cancelled flight

A couple of days back I wrote about how British Airways owed me 40,500 Avios + $143.79 due to a mistake they made with a recent booking.

Because of a BA error, I ended up with a cancelled flight from New York to Toronto. After a lengthy call, Kim, Lucas and I were booked for the following week in business class.

More bad luck hit us on flight day and our flight was cancelled.

Rather than tell every detail of the annoying day of non-travel at the airport, here is a shortened version of what happened.

Part 1:

  • Kim, Lucas and I were supposed to fly in business class from LGA to YYZ at 6:10pm.
  • When checking in, we were told that the flight was set to go on time.
  • I received a text from TripIt at 4:14pm that our flight was delayed until 8:02pm.
  • Another TripIt text showed the flight leaving at 8:27pm from a different terminal.
  • At 7:16, TripIt alerted us of some bad news about our flight- CANCELLED.

Part 2:

  • We went to our gate and asked about a new flight and were told nothing was available. The AA rep said we could hang out and see if seats opened up on the last flight which was at 8:29pm.
  • While dealing with this, Kim called reservations at 1-800-446-7834 and was told we had seats on the 8:29pm flight in coach. We also asked for compensation for being downgraded from business class to coach.
  • When we told the gate agents that we had seats confirmed, they didn’t seem happy and said we weren’t checked in. After some back and forth, they said we had seats but they were all separate. OK, like an almost 4-year-old is sitting by himself!

Part 3:

  • Waiting with no updates, another flight departs from our gate for Raleigh, NC.
  • The board updates with delays but no announcements from the gate agents multiple times.
  • Around 10pm we are told that they were waiting on a crew member.
  • At around 11pm we are told that they were waiting on one crew member. His flight was in Atlanta but the plane did not take off yet. We’d be updated when there was more information.
  • 11:15pm- We see the dreaded CANCELLED come on the board

Part 4:

  • I called the 800 number to get rebooked asap.
  • I mentioned our situation and said that I’d like business class seats since that is what we had originally booked.
  • The rep said only one flight was available. It was on Westjet in coach, leaving around 1230pm.
  • I declined this flight mentioning how we’d then only have just a little over a day at our destination!
  • I did a quick search for flights from my phone and asked for business class on TAM from JFK but was told the airline would not protect the seats. (New term for me.)
  • I then asked for business class seats on Air Canada. Same situation, on hold 20 minutes, airline won’t protect….
  • The rep again says that only Westjet at 1230 is available.
  • As a last-ditch effort to save this quick trip, I asked for a Westjet flight leaving LGA at 9:40am. Magic- it’s available.
  • We get booked and I asked for compensation due to being rebooked in coach. I also mentioned how we now needed two additional cab rides (home and back).
  • The rep told me that there was nothing she could do and that I should send an e-mail in to AA.

It turned out that our 9:40am Westjet flight didn’t take off from LaGuardia until close to 11:30am.

More delays, less time for our visit. I get it, weather happens or is it that crews don’t show up?

The thing is that we were told the flight was cancelled due to crew not being available. In this scenario is compensation owed? Why should we have to settle for a coach seat when we were booked in business and get nothing back as compensation! And what about those cab rides which came to over $100???

I sent an e-mail in to AA Customer Relations and don’t expect to hear back for a very long time. (We’re still waiting to hear back about our broken stroller claim!)

I did say to Kim that since this kind of bad luck hasn’t really happened to us so this is a good time to get it over with! 🙂 (If only it was that easy to assure flights left on time in the future!)

So what do you think- are we owed compensation for being rebooked in coach? What about a refund for our two extra cab rides?

I won’t hold my breath that AA does anything for us…

9 thoughts on “Cancelled Flight in Biz, Flew Coach. Am I Owed Compensation?

  1. If they openly stated that the cancelation was due to crew member not showing up, and you paid for business and got downgraded to coach, I absolutely believe that you are entitled to both a refund of the difference between business and coach, as well as compensation for the cab rides. I may even be inclined to ask for additional compensation on top of that due to the fact that you didn’t get to your destination until 16+ hours after you were scheduled to.

  2. So you were booked in business but had to fly coach on a 1 hour flight that sound terrible.

    If you booked with miles (or money ) and your flight was cancelled you are entitled to a refund. Instead of asking AA to re-book you you could re-book your self trough BA .

    AA will probably send you some sort of compensation/ travel credit .

  3. You are out of luck on compensation. The entire incident will be blamed on weather irrespective of the actual cause whether it’s lack of crew , a mechanical issue or anything else. Welcome to the new American Airlines!

    PS – there is no appeal process, no arbiter of the true cause of the delay. With only 1 or 2 carriers on each route, no choice, either.

  4. Ryan- Totally but this is an odd situation since BA is already supposed to reimburse me the difference due to their booking screw-up the week before!

    Phil- It was exhausting and annoying considering we were only flying an hour! We don’t purchase travel insurance.

    Tale- The flight time is irrelevant. The point is that we were booked in business and switched to coach. If we want to cancel a flight or make a switch we pay, when the airline switches flights on passengers, they can just do what they please more or less. (And FYI- we usually fly coach.)

    Rjb- I don’t think we are out of luck until told so. I’m hoping they make good on the issue in some way. This route had flights on AA, Air Canada, TAM, Delta & Westjet- possibly more. So there is choice. AA could’ve booked us in TAM business but claimed that TAM wouldn’t give the seats.

  5. are you not from NY? did no one teach you never to fly out of LGA? ever….. only amateurs fly out of LGA….. sorry flights never leave on time and even arriving is an issue because of delays air space etc why are you wasting time? travel farther and go to jfk or ewr for less headache if anything goes wrong with your flight at LGA just one little thing and you are looking at hours of delay.

  6. Jay- I am from NY and I never got the lesson to never fly from LGA. If I was a pro like you, then I would’ve missed out on flying on plenty of good award flights around the world. I wouldn’t ever limit myself by saying that I wouldn’t fly out of a specific airport- That would be amateur.

  7. Had this exact same thing happen to me with AA, but I had a miles ticket. I ended up getting some miles back, but it wasn’t worth the downgrade for the transcontinental leg of the flight. Took multiple emails and calls to consumer services (like 1 hour hold times). Not sure if it was worth my time in the end.

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