Learning that flying is no honeymoon
Q.My fiancé and I booked our honeymoon in July. We were scheduled to fly out of Worcester to San Juan on Dec. 25. We are getting married Dec. 10th, and because my fiancé is a teacher, traveling over Christmas break was our only option. Yesterday, Direct Air called to say all flights from Worcester to Puerto Rico have been postponed. The real issue is that with only six weeks until the honeymoon, we cannot get a flight that isn’t several times the price we had paid. What can we do?
Jennifer Houghton, Worcester
A. That certainly is a shock to the system, and one you couldn’t have foreseen. It is one of the quirks of dealing with a carrier that has no planes of its own. Travel insurance could have been of nominal benefit. Alternatively, calmly making a case for how you’ve been hurt by this situation is a reasonable tack to take.
Direct Air, which leases its planes, blamed a company it had contracted with for failing to deliver an aircraft. The expected plane would have had a longer flying range than Direct’s current fleet of leased aircraft in order to make the planned nonstop trips from Massachusetts to Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.
“We can’t fly without an airplane,’’ said Kay Ellison, managing partner of Direct Air, based in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
She said she felt for the couple, knowing their honeymoon was now under a cloud. Ellison said she would immediately refund their tickets and come up with something she hoped would take some of the sting out of the change in plans.
“We will work with them to try to compensate them in some way,’’ she said.
Christopher Elliott, ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler, said airlines are only obligated to refund airfare for canceled flights. So, anything beyond that is based on a carrier’s good will - something that is typically in short supply.
In this case, the soon-to-be-married couple appreciated Direct Air’s gesture. It’s not quite a storybook ending, but one that shows there can be good will where your least expect it and that you don’t get anything if you don’t ask.
Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.