Flying... contact of carriage rules

Flying?… read the really fine print!

Flying is always an adventure.  It’s not just the ability to travel quickly to places, but the actual process of flying today is unique.  From checking in with a boarding pass scanned from your smart phone to TSA security rules and everything in-between.  So, when you fly, a lot, you think you have encountered every contingency known and there could be nothing new for you to experience…. well folks, read the really fine print; there is always something new.

We flew our son to Key West to spend time with us.  It was a simple, non-stop flight from Orlando to Key West.  Coming down, no problems, going home…. well that’s where the “fun” began.  Spring storms are not anything new to Florida, but on his departure date, Orlando was having a doozy of a storm.  Silver Airlines held off on departure for almost four hours.  Poor kid… he sat in the airport, while we enjoyed happy hour…  Anyway, when Silver Airlines decided it was ok to take off, they had the passengers board the plane, never stating that there was a slight chance they wouldn’t land in Orlando.  What?

For you see, the weather never did clear up enough for the pilot to land in Orlando, but the weather was wonderful in Fort Myers.  Yep, Fort Myers, three hours, by car, away from Orlando.  So, this plane full of passengers was dropped off in Fort Myers and then told by the airlines, since this was a weather event (an act of God), they, all of these passengers, were on their own on getting to Orlando.  Wow… can you imagine dropped three hours from your destination and then told, figure out how to get home.  I think this was a movie plot in many of the mafia movies filmed in Las Vegas… take the poor soul out to the hot desert and tell them to find their way home.

Anyway, here is rub… the airline can do this.  According to Silver Airlines’ Contract of Carriage, if the delay, cancellation or detour is due to an act of God (weather) they are not responsible.  Really kind of scary if you think about it… doesn’t seem to be any limitations on where they can drop you off.  Now, in Silver Airlines’ defense, they did tell the passengers they could go find a hotel room and come back in the mooring and buy a one-way ticket to Orlando… all at the passengers expense.  Again, all in the Contract of Carriage rules.

Of course, when our son called, at 11:30pm, to say he landed, but it was in Fort Myers, we all scrambled to find a way for him to get home to Orlando.  He was able to hitch a ride with others in a car, paid $45 each, for a one-way ride home.  A lot of scrambling and running around, but he finally made it home; just before 4am.  Keep in mind he was due home at 7pm; the night before.

Lesson here?  Read the really fine print before you fly.  If, after 90 minutes, our son had asked for a refund, he could have received one and then re-bought a one-way ticket on the next flight out.  Probably would have been twice as much as the original ticket, but in-hindsight a lot less stress and hassle.  The hard part is finding the Contact of Carriage.  It’s only referenced in the FAQ section usually.  In the really, really fine print at the bottom of the website is a link to the Contract of Carriage.  There is where all of the what can happen is really spelled out.

As a side note, I did call the credit card company I bought the ticket through; I have travel insurance through the card.  The credit card company stated delay/cancellation insurance could not cover the event since it was weather related.

Will I ever fly Silver Airlines again?  Just on principal I would like not to, but in reality, Silver pretty much owns the Florida market; so I am very limited with choices.  But, going forward, will have my eyes wide open as to my passenger rights when events occur to delay/reroute or cancel any flight.

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