Insta-CoGo: Direct Flights vs. Nonstop
CoGo recently received a letter from a reader apoplectic about US Airways. When calling the airline three times about a ticket from Phoenix to BWI, she wrote, she was distinctly told three times that the flight from Phoenix to BWI was "direct" -- which she assumed meant, well, direct, as in not stopping on the way.
At the airport, she learned the flight was delayed due to problems in Las Vegas. What did Vegas have to do with it? After all, she had a direct flight to Baltimore. She was shocked to learn that direct meant there would be a stop -- and that stop was in Vegas. She wrote that she's been flying for 30 years and has "never experienced a direct flight not meaning direct." She lodged a formal complaint. She looked up the word direct in three different dictionaries and became even more irate at what she considered US Airways' novel definition of direct. For that and all the ensuing inconvenience she wants a "substantial refund."
Sorry. That is standard airline language: direct, meaning a stop where you don't have to change planes, is a definition used by airlines since, well, the beginning of airline history as far as I know.
If you want to go directly from point A to point B without a stop, you want a nonstop flight. This isn't US Airways language, it's airline language.
The reader was also shocked to learn that her credit card had been dinged for $10 reservation fees, in addition to the fare she was quoted. "An additional $10 for each ticket!!!
Save the exclamation points. Again, standard practice for the past few years. If you want to save the fee, book at the airline's Web site, not by phone. Online bookings save the airline money because they don't have to pay a human to discuss the booking.
Oh, and one more thing: Her husband's luggage didn't arrive when the couple did at 9:30 a.m., so they bought $85 worth of essentials before the bag showed up in the wee hours of the following morning.
Whoops, another misunderstanding: Some airlines outline exactly what they'll pay for after a given amount of time, and if you want reimbursement, you have to know those rules before you buy. US Airways's Web site simply says you must contact a baggage agent to discuss what is reimbursable under various circumstances. Given the couple didn't get permission to spend a certain amount, and since the bag showed up in less than 24 hours after arrival, reimbursement isn't in the cards.
That's just the way it is. It's not good news, but it's better to know than to be surprised.
Anyone else out there ever been surprised when a "direct' flight didn't turn out to be "nonstop?"
By Cindy Loose |
January 31, 2008; 1:06 PM ET
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