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Flight Cancelled? Don’t Forget To Ask For Compensation

For those of you who are frequent travelers, it probably goes without saying that you should ask for compensation when things go seriously awry in your travels.  Airlines have been known to hand out free miles and even vouchers willy nilly, but these only go to those who ask!  I think a lot of infrequent travelers are so flummoxed when things go wrong that they forget to ask.  And a lot of folks (myself included) aren’t that confrontational and don’t want to start a conflict or risk hearing a “no.”

Lucky for me, I have a husband who is a master at this kind of negotiation, so I try to delegate these tasks to him when I can.  I mentioned my flight cancellation on Alaska Airlines a few days ago, and I’m happy to report that my very capable husband has come through yet again.

Quick recap: We were flying with my parents and daughter from Kona, Hawaii (KOA) back to Oakland, California (OAK) when a bizarre incident happened to the flight crew.  Alaska decided the crew wasn’t safe to fly and cancelled the flight.  My family was ultimately reaccommodated on a United redeye flight to SFO leaving about 6 hours later, but most of the passengers spent the night in Hawaii and left 23 hours later.  The Alaska ground crew was friendly and handed out compensation cards to those who asked.  Since my family members are not Alaska Mileage Plan members (we elect to take Delta or American miles on Alaska flights), we requested Alaska vouchers rather than Alaska miles on our compensation cards.

After three weeks, we had yet to hear from anyone at Alaska with our vouchers, so my husband emailed the gate agent from Kona (she had given out her card).  Within 24 hours, we received the a response from Alaska with very generous $300 vouchers (each) good for one year.   We were ultimately happy with the resolution, even though it did require a little followup persistence.

Since Alaska flies to a lot of destinations from Bay Area airports, we are already planning to take a frivolous trip this coming year with the voucher.  A weekend trip to Hawaii again perhaps?

Here’s the text of Alaska’s email:

Dear Mr. XXX,

On behalf of Alaska Airlines, please accept my personal apology for the issues you encountered with flight 828 on July 14, 2012. We work to operate all flights as planned and regret when circumstances prevent us from doing so.

As you may be aware, the crew that was scheduled for your flight encountered an incident on the shuttle bus on their way to the airport. For the health and safety of our crew members, it was decided that they would need to be checked out at a local hospital before they could travel. After several hours, it became apparent that the crew would not be able to travel and the flight was ultimately cancelled. Our operations and airport staff worked diligently to get you rebooked to your destination, however I understand that an overnight stay was not a part of your original travel plans. I want to apologize for this situation, and any resulting inconvenience you may have experienced.

Passenger 1, Discount Code XXXXXXXXXXX, in the amount of $300
Passenger 2, Discount Code XXXXXXXXXXX, in the amount of $300
Passenger 3, Discount Code XXXXXXXXXXX, in the amount of $300

It is never our intent to provide a level of service that does not meet our customers’ highest expectations. As a customer service gesture, I have issued you an electronic Discount Code, which may be redeemed for a discount off future travel at www.alaskaair.com. Discount Codes are valid for one year from the date of issue. Please reference the appropriate code below at the time of booking onalaskaair.com. Discount Codes do not require a pin and need to be entered in the Discount Code box at the beginning of your reservation. Complete rules and restrictions can be found online at www.alaskaair.com.

We value your business and hope to have the privilege of welcoming you onboard another Alaska Airlines flight in the near future.

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[...] had to be spent by this summer (thanks to a crazy flight cancellation last summer, as described here).  So when we spotted fares about 6 weeks ago from Oakland to Hawaii for under $300 round trip, we [...]