A couple contacted NBC 5 Responses after paying for business class seats on a honeymoon. They say a seat did not recline on the flight to Europe and subsequently asked for compensation.
After a 2020 wedding on Zoom, Shari and Phillip Walsh headed to Rome for a belated honeymoon this summer.
“We saved all the money we would have spent on a wedding to have that experience and go to Italy,” said Shari Phillips.
The Walshes bought round-trip business class seats on American Airlines.
On the day of their flight to Rome, the Walshes learned that Shari’s seat was not working. It would not recline and there was no other seat for Shari in business class. The Walshes said they chose to fly in the non-reclining seat that day.
“We had set up childcare, we had taken time off from work, we had already bought all the hotels, excursions and stuff like that. Even missing the flight by a day would delay us and cost us more money,” said Shari Phillips.
After the trip, the Walshes asked American Airlines Customer Service for compensation for the seat not reclined.
“You sit straight, you have a little more legroom, but it definitely wasn’t like the $7,000 seat that we expected and expected and were looking forward to,” Shari Phillips told NBC 5 Responses.
The Walshes showed NBC 5 emails from American Airlines customer service, first offering 5,000 miles and then $200 each in travel credit.
“We’re not even reclaiming the full $7,000, but if they could have made a reasonable offer, it would be reasonable that we didn’t have the business class experience in that seat, so calculate the economy price and.” give us the difference,” said Shari Phillips.
American Airlines tells NBC 5 Responses that they offered the Walshes a seat in the economy section at the economy fare, but they declined. It wasn’t clear if there were two seats for the Walshes to sit together.
American Airlines also said it had filed additional travel credits.
Last week, the Walshes shared an email from customer service offering a total of $1,600 in travel credit.
They said it wasn’t enough to compensate for the seat not reclined on their trip.
In one of the emails with the Walshes, American Airlines customer service referred to the contract of carriage.
Charlie Leocha, president and co-founder of the nonprofit Travelers United, tells NBC 5 that most airline contracts of carriage are aimed at getting the passenger to their destination — they don’t necessarily guarantee the seat.
“I usually tell consumers they’re buying a ticket from point A to point B, and that’s all they can really expect from airlines,” Leocha explained.
Leocha said the best approach for consumers is to ask for another day of an upgrade. If a consumer can’t travel another day, Leocha said, it’s possible to negotiate with the airline.
“When you fly business class, they try to take better care of you,” Leocha said. “Usually they give you some kind of amends: they give you some money for a broken seat, they give you some extra frequent flyer miles, but there’s a lot you can negotiate.”
The Walshes told NBC 5 Responses that they feel their negotiations never really got underway.
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