GET GEPHARDT

Get Gephardt: Two Utahns get different compensation after airline cancels flight

Nov 1, 2022, 11:32 PM

SYRACUSE, Utah — When an airline cancels your flight, you might expect them to offer some sort of financial compensation for turning your vacation plans upside down. Well, when a Utah woman had a pretty good idea the airline was not giving her a fair shake for upending her trip, she decided to Get Gephardt.

It is a tale of two Melissas.

American Airlines canceled Melissa Lopez’s flight on the day she was to fly back to Salt Lake City from Costa Rica. She had to pay for another day of lodging, parking, and food for her family. For that, the airline offers her $125 in compensation. That barely makes a dent.

“It cost us over $300 just for the hotel room,” Lopez said. “And then you have food for the day. We had to pay for airport parking.”

In the other corner, we’ve got Melissa’s good friend, Melissa Olsen. She made the same trip as Melissa Lopez, but the airline offered her $1,200 worth of compensation.

“Do you hold this over her head a bit?” I asked Olsen. “Is there a little neener neener going on?”

“Sometimes,” Olsen laughed. “But I just feel bad that we had this same experience and I got the quick reply, and she’s been fighting it for so long.”

Yeah, same flight, same hotel, each in a family of four, same everything — yet Melissa Lopez got over a thousand bucks less in compensation.

“Do you look at that other Melissa sideways now because she got so much more than you?” I asked Lopez.

“Yes, now, we’re bitter enemies,” she joked. “No, no. We’re great friends.”

Lopez said there was no bitterness in her contact with the airline.

“Were you too nice on the phone?” I asked. “Were you too mean on the phone?”

“No, because you couldn’t call, so there was no phone call.”

So, what’s behind the split outcomes for the two Melissas?

“This sort of disparity isn’t common, but it is illustrative of a really important factor when it comes to airline compensation,” said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Agents have a lot of discretion in terms of what is offered.”

Keyes said many airlines have no set formula for compensation. It is largely up to what the agent handling your case thinks about it. So, treat agents with more honey and less vinegar. They are dealing with upset customers all day.

“You’re going to find more success and be taken care of better if you can get on an agent’s good side, if you can sympathize with them,” Keyes said. “And hopefully in return, get them to sympathize with you.”

If you’re not getting an offer, hang up politely and try again.

“You’re going to get patched through to a different agent, one of the thousands of airline agents that are available, who might take a more sympathetic view than the previous agent.” Keyes explained.

He also suggested contacting the airline by email or web chat. A helpful benefit is that it gives you a written record of any promises made by the airline agent that cannot disappear.

On phone or by email, make sure the airline knows specific ways their cancellation hijacked your plans.

“The law says that if an airline cancels your flight and you no longer wish to travel with them, you’re entitled to a full cash refund,” Keyes said. “Unfortunately, you’re not entitled to reimbursement of any additional out-of-pocket expenses that that cancellation caused. At the end of the day, your case is being judged by an airline agent who has discretion to decide, ‘Does this person deserve to be compensated for their troubles?’ And you need to try to put forth your best case about why you deserve compensation for your troubles.”

So, we tried on Melissa Lopez’s behalf, to put forth her best case with American Airlines. It worked. Within days, she received the same deal Melissa Olsen got.

“Do you feel you’re a better person than the other Melissa, you know, karma?” I asked Olsen.

“No,” she laughed. “She’s a way better person.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Get Gephardt

...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Cybersecurity experts caution shoppers to take it slow while shopping online

For many of us, Christmastime is magical. For scammers, it’s especially magical. Here's what to beware of when shopping online.
5 days ago
Scammers...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Received a package delivery text? Scammers are luring Utahns with fake tracking alerts

Utahns are getting targeted by scammers sending out fake delivery notices.
12 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Get Gephardt helps Holladay woman who says contractor left her with an unusable bathroom

If a contractor did bad work, you wouldn't be satisfied with the job. A Holladay woman said a restoration company left her with an unusable bathroom, but when they told her she was satisfied, she decided it was time to Get Gephardt.
12 days ago
phone with digital coupons...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Do digital discounts discriminate against elderly shoppers?

You have likely seen ads promising savings with digital-only coupons, but a consumer watchdog says that the digital-only part unfairly leaves many people out of the opportunity.
18 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Matt Gephardt and Cindy St. Clair, KSL TV

Get Gephardt: Utah landscaper loses license for taking money then ‘abandoning’ jobs

"We know that there's a lot more people out there," one woman paid for a landscaping crew that never showed up.
18 days ago
There are calls for more auto parts to be manufactured domestically as the global parts shortage ne...
Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Need your car repaired? Be prepared to wait

How long could you wait while your car gets fixed? Days? Weeks? How about months? That's how long drivers are having to wait for parts — even for simple repairs.
21 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Get Gephardt: Two Utahns get different compensation after airline cancels flight