South Florida Family Fighting for Refund After Missed Flight

A South Florida family says their vacation was ruined after their flight out of Miami International Airport left without them.

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Sarika Badgamia and her husband, Girish Agarwal, say their son knew exactly how he wanted to celebrate his 10th birthday.

“He didn’t ask for anything,” Badgamia said. “He wanted to spend time with the family.”

So in April, the Parkland family booked an international getaway that involved flying from Miami to Chicago and then to Greece, where they would board a cruise.

“It’s our first big trip since the pandemic,” Badgamia said.

On the morning of June 2, the family headed to Miami International Airport and checked in for their American Airlines flight, the first leg of their trip. The family said when they arrived at the departure gate, they were told to wait for their names to be called.

“We see that other passengers are being boarded on the flight and they’re not calling the names,” Agarwal said.

That’s when they got worried and started asking questions to the gate attendants, they said.

“They said, ‘It’s overbooked so, you know, we don’t have any more seats available,’” Agarwal said they were told.

The plane eventually left without them so they went to another area at the airport to try to figure out their options, they said.

“When we go to rebook our flights, there are 200 people already standing in line since 4 o’clock in the morning,” Badgamia said.

The family reached out to the airline over the phone and when they connected with an agent, they said they were told they had been marked as no-shows at the gate.

“We were there at the gate,” Badgamia said. “They let other people board the flight right in front of our eyes and they did not let us in.”

On the American Airlines’ website, it says passengers need to be at the gate at least 15 minutes before departure for domestic flights. It also says if you’re not, your seat may be given to a standby passenger. You can read more here.

When the family tried to get a refund for the flight and couldn’t, they reached out to NBC 6 Responds for help.

“They are just giving us the runaround,” Agarwal said.

“I just want them to reimburse my money,” Badgamia said.

In an email, American Airlines told NBC 6, “…unfortunately the customer did not show up to the gate on time. There were no issues with the flight being overbooked.” The spokesperson explained the family arrived at the gate “…13 minutes before the scheduled departure…” which is after the airline’s “cut-off” time “…when we close the jet bridge door.”  They went on to say their customer relations team “…offered a voucher as a goodwill gesture.”

Sarika said they received a voucher for $3,300 after NBC 6 got involved. The family is thankful they can now plan another trip they hope to take in August.

If you have a consumer complaint you’d like the NBC 6 Responds team to investigate, click here to submit details.

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