Could Direct Air face a class action lawsuit?
Tue, 13 Mar 2012 22:10:12 GMT —
After her flight from Niagra Falls, New York was canceled, it took Canadian resident Janet Fowler nearly a day and three connecting flights just to see her husband in Myrtle Beach.
"There was three loads of people stranded at Niagra Falls," said Fowler." I had to take a shuttle to Buffalo, then a flight, then another and then another to get here."
Fowler is among the hundreds who had to find another way to get to their destination after Direct Air suspended flights.
In a statement issued by the company, it says the airline says is currently evaluating strategic alternatives for Direct Air and found it necessary to suspend flight operation.
Those changes forced Fowler to make changes of her own.
While she found a way to get to her family, she isn't really sure if she's going to find a way to get her money back.
"It's a real gamble when you get on an airline- how they're going to treat you," said Executive Director of FlyersRights.org http://flyersrights.org/ Kate Hanni.
If enough people are affected by Direct Air's cancellations, the company could be facing a class action lawsuit, said Hanni.
She said if the airline is responsible for canceling the flight, they are responsible for reimbursing customer expenses.
"The airline owes those passengers food vouchers, taxi voucher," said Hanni. "They owe them hotel rooms, and they owe them compensation for the length of the delay including out of pocket cost."
But airlines often find ways around reimbursing customers by shifting blame to things like the weather or other businesses, said Hanni.
If the airline proves it's not at fault, the customer isn't reimbursed because that's the terms you agree to when you buy your plane ticket.
"Every airline has a contract, and your rights are specified in that contract," said Hanni.
In the past few years, many airlines have filed for bankruptcy including American Airlines in 2011.
If this is the same case with Direct Air, it would make it more difficult for customers to get reimbursed, said Hanni.
"As far as collectors, passengers are last on the list," said Hanni. "It's extremely important that you always buy your ticket with your credit card. Because your credit card company will actually reimburse you and then they will fight with the airline in order to get the money back from the bankruptcy proceeding."
If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to try to get to your destination as quickly as possible if you can then worry about reimbursement later, said Hanni.
"They should go ahead and book their flights, get to where they are going, save their receipts and submit for reimbursement from the airline that has put them in this position," said Hanni. "If they don't get reimbursed file a complaint with the DOT. The DOT will investigate with their attorneys."