Last night Mallory and I were supposed to begin our vacation by heading to LA then on to Hong Kong to catch a flight down to the Maldives. Well, the flight from Tampa to Los Angeles was cancelled at 12:30 AM after being delayed 5 hours. This put us in a bit of a pickle as there is only 1 flight per day from Hong Kong to Male. This post will show you how to make the best of a crappy situation and take advantage of airline alliances.
Our issues began at check-in. I was told by the Executive Platinum reservations line that they would be able to change Mallory’s ticket to show her married name because all of the name change procedures were in process when I booked the tickets. Once we finally got that figured out we were notified of the first delay of 2 hours. This delay was fine because it gave us time to grab dinner and would still make our connecting flight to Hong Kong. During dinner I received a notification that we were further delayed and would now miss our connection. No worries, there is an 8AM flight from LA to Hong Kong and we would still make our connection to Male.
After another delay the inbound flight finally was in the air and would arrive at 10:35, about 4 hours after its scheduled arrival. Just when we are about to board the American Airlines Tampa night manager comes over the PA and says “Good evening everyone, thank you for your patience tonight, but we are going to have to cancel the flight because the crew is refusing to fly.” Crew refusing to fly is something I had never heard before, so needless to say I was very surprised.
Lucky for me I was walking up to the counter to ask when we were expecting to start boarding, so I was first in line for rebooking. Since we were on Cathay Pacific for part of our itinerary the agent said it may pose some problems. She phoned the reservations helpdesk. The helpdesk told us that the earliest we could get there was March 1, by taking the same flight we were scheduled on but delayed by a day. I said that wouldn’t work because we lose a whole day of our vacation.
I insisted that there were better options, then the airport agent handed me the phone to talk directly to the helpdesk. I had been using the ITA Matrix on my phone to try and find other options using the One World Alliance partners that would get us there later in the night we were supposed to arrive, or first thing in the morning so we wouldn’t lose a whole day. Voila, TPA-DFW-DOH-MLE on Qatar Airways. After continually telling the helpdesk agent that I didn’t want to fly to Los Angeles then to Dallas to make the flight I had found she finally gave in. After some ticket reissue problems we were finally sorted and confirmed. We were the last people from our flight to LA to finish the rebooking process and finally left the airport at about 1 AM.
I have wanted to try Qatar Airways, and was looking at this routing when I originally booked the trip, but since there was no award availability and was significantly more expensive than the Hong Kong routing I decided against it. This rebooking gives us another country visited and I can let you know how Qatar Business Class is!
Moral of the story is be patient and courteous, but be persistent. If you know there is availability for the flights you want after you are cancelled keep insisting.
Have you had a interesting cancellation rebooking experience? Let me know below!