Bill may curtail airport passenger turmoil |

Bill may curtail airport passenger turmoil

Christina Proctor

When Darlene McCord and her husband left for a vacation in the Cayman Islands they were looking forward to rest and relaxation. Three days later they were just wondering when the nightmare would end.

McCord, a five-year resident of Glenbrook, appeared before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee this week in Washington D.C. to testify about her “vacation nightmare.” McCord is hoping that the Airline Passenger Fairness Act, introduced by Sens. Richard Bryan (D-Nev.), McCain (R-Ariz.), and Wyden (D-Ore.), will address some of the problems she faced.

“We were literally abandoned by United Airlines,” McCord said Thursday from her Washington D.C. hotel room. “We lost more than $10,000 that will never be recovered, and that is just in clothes. I guess everything that could go wrong did.”

The problems started with a mechanical problem on the McCords’ scheduled flight from Denver to Houston.

“Delays happen, it is what the airline does that makes all the difference. At this critical point United Airlines abandoned us. They demonstrated a complete lack of concern and things only got worse,” McCord told the committee.

McCord said she finally got a promise from United that agents would be at the Houston gate to help them make their connecting flight. Broken seats, and late luggage extended the McCord’s delay to close to an hour. When they arrived in Houston there were no United employees, McCord said.

“We started running through the airport as fast as we could. Our connection was four terminals away. We arrived at the gate eight minutes prior to departure only to be refused entry to the plane,” she said.

McCord said she later learned they were denied entry because of an airline strike. The next flight wasn’t until the following evening. The couple was routed to Miami during Super Bowl weekend, with the promise an agent would be there to help them.

“We knew that there would be no one at the gate, and we were right,” she said.

The next day, still without luggage, McCord said neither United nor their partner Cayman Airlines provided any help in leaving Miami. The couple arranged a flight through American Airlines to the Cayman Islands. Once they arrived there was still no luggage, so after two days of trying to locate their lost belongings the McCords decided to return home.

McCord said she and her husband eventually had to purchase another ticket from American Airlines to return to the United States.

“They went way over the line when they abandoned us three times,” McCord said. “I literally had no rights. You’re just out the money. There is something very wrong about that.”

An article on the Airline Passenger Fairness Act caught McCord’s attention when she returned. The bill calls for airline passenger rights including: obtaining a full refund on the purchase of a ticket within 48 hours of purchase; finding out when a flight is oversold; receiving checked baggage within 24 hours of a flight’s arrival, unless additional delays would be reasonable; the ability to inquire about all available fares that an airline is offering on a flight; and obtaining accurate information about an airline’s frequent flyer program. McCord was one of two passengers that testified before the committee.

“I hope that this bill is not lost in committee. We were there to put faces on the kinds of things that are going on in an industry that in my opinion has forgot whose paying the bills,” she said.

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