So, this post isn’t about me directly. It’s about my classmate who was doing a project with me here in India, and her lovely travel situation from my perspective.
The flight she was taking from the city we were working in to Delhi was the first one in the morning, getting her there with well over 3.5 hours to her international flight. Perfect.
Except, an hour after we dropped her off in the airport, her flight had gotten cancelled. The reason? Inclement weather. I heard that and looked quizzically at the sky. The reason for my amazement was that there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky despite it being monsoon season. Yet, apparently in the 400 kms between the two cities there was some sort of inclement weather that grounded only that carrier’s planes.
Then began the rush of trying to find her an alternative. She managed to get a seat on the next available flight out, but missed her international flight.
Now by all accounts, she did nothing wrong. The missed international flight was due to the cancelled local flight, not her own doing. The international carrier, rather fairly, refused to pay any of the associated fees since it wasn’t their fault. The local flight operated by a large, well renowned international carrier refused too. But for no good reason. They just refused, saying that was a risk the customer took. Consequently, she ended up having to pay for a hotel room and the change fees in Delhi.
Thankfully, she got home safe. But, the fact remains that the airline which caused the fault isn’t culpable in India for any of the resulting issues.
To my knowledge, since I’ve had the pleasant experience of being bumped a few times, most airlines in the continental US will cover the situation above. However, according to the law, (http://www.usa.gov/topics/travel/air/resolve-problems/flight.shtml) they are not required to. Most European Airlines are required to compensate for delayed or cancelled flights, but weather is an exception (http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/air-travel/passenger-rights).
As someone who’s doing the same trip in a month, I’m now scrambling for options. Having derided travel insurance as unnecessary, I’m looking into it now, as well as credit card protection for travel issues.
I do believe that this is something that needs to be addressed in one form or the other for passengers- at the very least to add clarity to the situation, even if nothing per se is changed.