Victory is Mine!

US Airways

Those who have been following my ongoing fight with US Airways (here and here) will be happy to hear that it’s finally over. After returning from my trip to Puerto Vallarta yesterday (trip report coming in the next few days), I found two $80 vouchers for future travel on US Airways in my mailbox.

You can read the old posts for the full details, but here’s the short version of what happened. I bought tickets to Puerto Vallarta and the fare dropped $80. US Airways and many other airlines have a rule that if a fare drops, you can get the difference in fare refunded for a $100 fee or you can get the full amount in the form of a voucher. Now, US Airways said that since the fare was an internet special, it wasn’t eligible for the refund. After reviewing the contract of carriage, I found that while it did say that was true for domestic flights, there was no mention in the international contract so I decided to fight.

US Airways of course did not admit defeat here. They said it’s just a “courtesy to a valued customer” and that’s a bit disappointing, but I’m happy to read between the lines. I commend US Airways for being so responsive on this and I hope they will now have the contract of carriage changed to reflect the rules stated on the website. More importantly, they should probably review the rule entirely. Since it says that no sales fares apply, it would seem to be better to just get rid of the rule instead of disappointing most people who try to use it.

There are two lessons here.

  • Airlines should make sure that their rules are reflected in their contracts of carriage correctly. If they aren’t, they will continue to find problems like these.
  • If you’re a customer, you should always look to the contract of carriage in a dispute. If you can prove your case using that document (which can be found on any airline website), you should win.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Thank you for contacting Customer Relations at US Airways. We
apologize for your disappointment with the fare for your recent travel, and
appreciate the chance to offer an explanation.

The Guaranteed Air Fare Rule applies to tickets purchased through US
Airways Reservations or through www.usairways.com . As with most fare
rules, certain restrictions and exceptions apply.

The original ticket must be fully unused and the reissued ticket (to the
decreased or new fare) must reflect the exact itinerary with no changes made to
dates, times, cities, or passenger name. Additionally, all conditions of
the new fare must be met, including booking code, advance reservations and
ticketing requirements. If the decreased or new fare is a fare for sale
for a limited period of time only, this rule does not apply. If the fare
is limited to Internet booking only, the rule does not apply, as this type of
fare is not a filed/published fare with industry reservation systems. In
other words, a Reservations agent must be able to view the decresaed fare or new
fare in our booking system.

When a fare qualifies for the Guaranteed Air Fare Rule, the customer may
request a refund of the fare difference. A $100 change fee per ticket will
be assessed; however, a customer may choose to receive the difference in fares
in voucher form. In that instance, the change fee would be waived.

As a courtesy to a valued customer, I have enclosed two $80 Transportation
Vouchers which may be applied toward future travel with US Airways.
Although the document has the America West name, you may apply it toward travel
on any US Airways operated flight.

Again, thank you for contacting US Airways. We’re confident and
excited about our future. Your patience and understanding is appreciate,
and we look forward to exceeding your expectations on a future flight.

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5 comments on “Victory is Mine!

  1. Woo hoo! Chalk up another victory to CrankyFlyer, the original reader of most airlines’ code of carriage. (Did I even spell that right?)

    You really ought to recount your earlier role in the victory against Virgin – well, and see if they still have that dumb quirk of not offering phone customer service in the US on weekends – hello?

  2. Ah yes, the Virgin fight. That was a fun one. They didn’t have their contract of carriage on line at the time, so we went all the way to the airport in San Francisco to request a copy at the ticket counter (that’s required). It was a fun one, because it gave me an excuse to go to the airport!

  3. What can be done to avoid losing the difference on a higher price fare when booking a less expensive fare? US Airways states that I cannot use the difference to cover the change fee. So I am losing $106 plus paying an additional $100 change fee; paying $306 for a $127 fare. Any suggestions?

  4. I’m a little confused, so let me see if I understand you right. You’re saying that you had an itinerary and you’re making a change to it that results in a lower priced fare. Since you’re making the change, you have to pay the $100 change fee and they won’t let you use the credit to do that so it’s an extra $100 out of pocket. Is that right?

    I don’t think there’s much you can do about that. You shouldn’t lose the unused portion of your credit though. It should probably be sent to you in the form of a voucher that you can use on a later flight. Other than that, you’ll just have to bite the bullet and pay the change fee.

  5. You got it right, can’t use the balance to cover the change fee. I have to find a fare that is the same price or higher plus pay the $100 change fee. They will not refund the difference.

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