Michael Mellion says he was left stranded at the airport after an email from the airline changed the flight time—one that turned out to be wrong.
Mellion was heading back home to Fort Lauderdale from Pensacola when he got an email from Silver Airways.
"I never have gotten an email from an airline telling me they’re going to be late,” said Mellion.
At first, he says he was grateful to learn of the delay.
"I think anybody who’s a traveler doesn’t want to spend any more time at the airport than they have to," said Mellion.
But when he showed up at the airport in Pensacola to check in for his flight later that day, he got a surprise.
“The flight left. It left early,” said Mellion. “I thought I was really stuck.”
Stuck because he says airline staff only offered to put him on a flight the following day and pay for his hotel room.
“That was just impossible for me because I had something pressing that I had to be back for early in the morning.”
That’s why he says he eagerly joined another stranded passenger and bought a last minute ticket on a Delta flight.
“I’m sure we’ll work this out because it’s very clear the mistake was not mine. It was theirs,” said Mellion.
He wrote to Silver Airways, asking to be reimbursed for both the missed flight as well as the $220 he paid Delta. The request was denied.
“There’s no doubt it’s unfair,” said Mellion. “And they want to sand bag and stick me for their mistake. “
Silver Airways declined our request for an on-camera interview but told us by email “We do our best to update customers if there are changes in flight schedules. It appears according to Mr. Mellion that there could have been a delay in him receiving flight updates. We apologize if this is the case. This is why we offered to book him on another airline and provide a credit for his missed flight, which are above and beyond what is required by our contract of carriage.
We did not agree to pay for the Delta flight because we offered him an option (at no charge to him) that would have gotten him to his needed destination in time to make his next flight with another airline.”
Mellion says they never offered to book him on another flight at no charge.
“I think he’s asking a bit too much,” said George Hobica the founder of Airfare Watchdog, a flight comparison website. “When a carrier makes a mistake like this there is no federal requirement, no D-O-T law or rule that they owe you anything in compensation. And that’s quite unfair but that’s the way it is.”
Hobica says airlines aren’t required to meet passengers’ sky high requests – even if the carrier is at fault. The only thing they will do for you and according to the contracts of carriage is to put you on their next available flight.”
Mellion is holding firm to his point of view. Silver Airways’ voucher for a one-way flight wasn’t enough for him to give the airline another shot, so he turned it down. Hobica says while airlines aren’t legally required to get you on a competitor’s flight, he still recommends trying.
He says you should ask the airline staff nicely and present a compelling case as to why you need to get on the flight. Hobica says airlines compromise every day.