The Agony of Flying @USAirways with a Child

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As many of you know, last week I went to Idaho. While there, I contacted my airline carrier, US Airways, to see if I might get an earlier flight home. I was told yes, for a fee of $150 per person, which I was willing to pay. They said since it was the same day, I would need to pay this fee at the airport- but we needed to be there before 2 PM for a 4 PM flight. We packed up, and got there by 1:45.

Little Man trying to get out of the airport…

When we got to the airport, we were told it would not only be the $150 fee per person, but also a 540+ fee per person fee on top of that. (Yes, for a grand total of roughly $700 per person.) I gave the name of the person I spoke to, and explained this is not what we had been told. Then the “blame game” began. It was the reservation desk’s fault, front desk, customer service, etc- and they were all “so sorry” but no one could help. Or would. I began tweeting for assistance.

Just a few of our “rescheduled” tickets that we never got to use- since they kept overbooking flights

They told me there was a flight the next day at 5:20 AM, but that it was extremely overbooked. We were welcome to wait it stand-by, but we were very unlikely to get on it since it was overbooked by (I think) 6 people. Then there was another flight, at 1:14 PM, that we could get on, with 7 seats remaining. We were given seats on that flight and told to be there by noon the next day to make sure we got on. We got there by 11 AM- only to find they overbooked it- AGAIN- and our seats were given to those who paid more for them. We didn’t get on that flight, either. There goes flight number 3, and the end of day 2 in the airport. By the way? There were seats on that 5:20 AM flight, after all, it wound up. The people that missed that flight (of their own stupidity) got our seats on the next flight.

As is turns out, all coach seats are not created equal. People pay different fares, or “classes”- even if they are sitting right next to each other. If someone pays even 1$ more then I do, they get first “dibs” on the seat.
The airline did not offer us vouchers or comp us hotel stays for the nights that we stayed needlessly at hotels, or help cover all the airport (read- expensive) food my 4 year old son and I ate for 3 days.

Yes, did I mention that my son is only 4? And that we were stuck there for 3 days? Yes, this nonsense continued, they overbooked the next flight as well- bumped us- and we ended up on our original flight which was at 8:45 PM the third day. Then, we missed the connecting flight to our airport by 3 minutes- the plane was still there, but since the doors were shut, we were not allowed on. We did not have any checked luggage, only carry on- but they would not budge. We RAN from one terminal to the other, with the passengers of the plane letting us out first so we could try to make the connection. As I mentioned- 3 minutes made all the difference, and we were not allowed on.

And we begin another night in an airport. With a very sad little boy, an exhausted mommy, and extreme frustration. (Did I mention I even picked up a twitter hater, who insisted I volunteered for this, was paid to do it, and should not have brought my son? Then brought in 2 more of her hateful friends. Gotta love haters…But I adore the rest of you, the hundreds of you who supported us and tweeted us your love and support and strength during a rough time.) Can I tell you what an episode it can be to just go to the bathroom with a 4 year old and all that carry on luggage? NOT FUN. And US Airways should be ashamed at their lack of support, both on Twitter and off it. I guess they did get a hater to annoy me, but other then that?

We chose to wait for a later plane the next day, because that plane went straight home without an extra stop. So that one, I take the blame for the extra hour wait. But 3 days and 2 nights in the airport with a 4 year old? No help, no assistance, no vouchers, and no hotel comps from US Airways? I met 2 ladies from Southwest in a similar predicament. They got free hotels and were comped hotels that night. AND they volunteered. What’s up with this, US Airways?
And how are you going to fix this?

I will update you on the outcome, ladies and gentlemen. However, based on this lack of accountability on their part, I assume that they won’t do a thing to even begin to rectify the situation. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Update- endless calls, emails, and tweets later- but they never did a thing.ย  So.

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  1. love your blog x


  2. I guess that’s why they are called US Scare.

    You mentioned that one of the early morning flights actually had available seats. That’s usually true. I worked for Continental for 13 years and when we flew stand-by, we ALWAYS tried to get on the first flight of the day. If we didn’t, we’d be sitting there just like you. Unfortunately, that means you have to get to the airport at the crack-a-dawn, but that’s better than what you had to endure.

    What a nightmare.

  3. I’m getting ready to do a post this week on Delta- after an issue. But it is NOTHING like this, and they have really tried to make up for it. Holy cow- I will do whatever I can to avoid this airline at all costs. We’re going to become an expat family and I will not take that chance with them.

  4. Wow – what an experience. I stumbed this and tweeted it too. PINNED as well to “Summer Activities for Kids!” no other board to attach it to.

    I took Amtrak last time and it was so much better than driving or flying. Although flying was quicker. I’ll definitely do that again – only bad thing was we had to leave Omaha around 11 pm and got to Ft Morgan, CO around 5:30 am – but I loved that I got to sleep and was rested more or less in the morning. It’s a very comfortable way to travel.

    I’m sorry you had such a bad experience – NIX on @USAirways!

  5. Glad you finally made it home! I’m always afraid to not book non stop flights. We’ve never lost luggage but I’m always so paranoid about that. We usually fly Delta.

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  7. This is terrible!!! It should have never happened.

  8. Karen, I think you missed that Sam had paid for her flight and because they overbooked it repeatedly even after she paid the extra $150 each THEY put her on standby, she DID NOT volunteer to be put on standby. The airline told her there was room to go the earlier day…she paid, they bumped, sounds pretty obvious to me that they messed up, not her. How many different ways does ways have to spell it? The airline employees clearly are covering there butts for negligence.

    While it’s too late and she’s home I still think she needs to go higher up the food chain. If this happened to anyone of us, we’d be livid.

  9. What a nightmare. Happy you made it home safe.

  10. ridiculous! reminded why i choose not to fly, even if it means driving 24hrs with kids. with airline stupidity and TSA garbage, forget it! isn’t worth it!

  11. wow, that’s just crazy!
    I saw this after belly charms posted and I’m sorry for all the trouble you had to go through. I hope you’re compensated for their mistakes

  12. I have shared this everywhere. That is AWFUL!! I just can’t imagine how bad that was for you both! They should do something to make up for this.

  13. Sorry Sam. I flew US Air only once. They lost all mine and my kids bags. Nothing like being on vacation with no clothes for three kids. This is why I stick to ground travel.

  14. My husband worked for Delta for over 30 years and, if you weren’t flying standby like we have to, I don’t understand this kind of treatment. A paying customer should not be treated this way!

  15. I’m so sorry that you have had to deal with that. Unfortunately, customer service such as the one that US Air provided you is becoming more common. Any paying customer has a choice and they chose to be a patron of that company. I don’t understand why companies are taking this for granted. I guess they don’t care about brand loyalty.

  16. Sam, from reading your post it sounds like US Air allowed you to go standby many times. I’m sorry they were full. Did you know you can buy refundable tickets to avoid paying the change fee? Most airlines have such fees. If you figure out how to get an airline to pay for your hotel and food while you hang out to fly standby on an earlier day than booked please let us all know!!!!
    Have fun traveling!!!

  17. I’m so lost as to why anyone would come and comment with such ignorance…clearly they are not reading all the fact and missed the picture of all the airline tickets.

    I’m thinking that maybe the airline may have sent their haters in on their behalf??? Regardless it’s bad PR, poor damage control, and makes them look even more corrupt than I already thought them. Nice way to impress a travel blogger with a collective reach of 2+ Mil

    Question though, aren’t the airlines already in federal trouble for unwarranted hikes? $700 per person to change a flight is very unethical. I wonder if FAA has any jurisdiction here?

    So glad I booked Delta..bye-bye USAirways.

  18. Sorry this happened to you Sam. I’ll keep retweeting this to my followers so others will know how you were treated! Now I know what airline NOT to use for my next trip!

  19. i will continue to delete hateful posts. name calling, rudeness, and general craziness will not be tolerated. if you don’t like this site, you are free to go elsewhere. have a nice day ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. American Airlines are no better, I turned up for my scheduled flight in NY in plenty of time to fly out at 1pm, got bumped and finally ended up on a flight at 9pm that night which then stranded us in Dallas Airport (an airport I had never been scheduled to fly through in the first place) at midnight and with no accommodation to be had for any price anywhere within range of us. We finally flew out at 9am for our original destination, the trip had turned into a two day fiasco and I was a very unhappy mother of a nine month old who had spent the night dodging Dallas airport floor cleaning people with an unhappy baby and luggage. I’ll never fly American Airlines again.

  21. Karen ~ US Airways IS at fault for providing the HORRIBLE customer service detailed in this post (photos = evidence). Forcing her to basically live three days in an airport with a child: UNACCEPTABLE. They easily could have been upfront with her and suggested she wait for her original flight (due to being overbooked…again, USAirways at fault)instead of continuing to offer to put her on other flights (again, pictures say 1000 words). UNACCEPTABLE. All I have to say is Samantha tolerated a lot more than I would have. USAirways should consider themselves lucky I wasn’t the customer they “F’d” with.

  22. I have never flown USAirways and thanks to your post, I now know I never will. I am a HUGE advocate for good customer service and no matter what all the “he said/she said” stuff is, the airline IS at fault. They quoted you one fare on the phone and something else at the airport. Unacceptable. I was in Florida a few years ago when my flight from Fort Myers to Miami was cancelled due to bad weather. Not only did American Airlines offer $250 vouchers for both my friend and me, they bumped us to First Class on the flight from Miami to Chicago, AND paid for ground transportation to get from Fort Myers to Miami in time for our flight. THAT is what I call EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE. USAirways needs to learn the valuable lesson they have been presented with and look to other airlines whose customers are satisfied.

  23. That’s crazy! I frequently fly US airways and I know their fees to change a flight is ridiculous. I always try to make sure I have firm plans before flying with them. If not, I chose Southwest because they are a bit more flexible with changing. They charge you $150 just to change the flight and on top of that the difference of your new reservation. They should have made this clear to you over the phone from the beginning. To be honest, I’m not surprised by your story. US Airways is very strict when it comes to making changes and often overbook flights. You could cry, yell, beg and they still won’t make provisions. It’s sad. Hopefully this post will bring light to this long standing issue. A makeover in how they run business is long overdue.

  24. Flying has become miserable! ๐Ÿ™ It is so frustrating.

  25. This is awful! I am so sorry this happened to you! I will never fly with them after this and I will let my husband’s family know about it as well. They are travel missionaries so they are all over the place. I think they should have compensated you for your time in the airport and for you missing the connecting flight because of them!

  26. Even after offering to pay the insanely high upcharges to get home early you still couldn’t get on a flight. That’s the whole problem with not talking to a manager when you set up stuff like that seems like you always get the stinky end of the deal. THEN you wind up on the original flight you booked and they don’t allow for enough time to connecting flights. I think you should of atleast be compensated for that. Usually airlines phone ahead and tell them when a flight gets in late so you can connect and get on. That’s just really bad company management on their part. I’ve never personally flown US Airways and maybe this is why. They never seem to have good deals out of my area but I have flown airlines that I trust just for these simple reasons and the way they treat their valuable flying guests. SOUTHWEST airlines has always been top notch for compensation and my choice of carrier. Thanks for the heads up and I’m soooo sorry you and your little one had to go through all that. So horrible

    NOTE TO ANONYMOUS: SHE CAN SEE YOUR I.P ADDRESS and knows exactly who you are and where you live. Just and FYI for you.

  27. completely asinine. what does customer service mean to US Airways? not much, it seems.

  28. Again, for those saying she “didn’t want to pay” or some other such nonsense: she was quoted a price on the phone for the ticket change. Based on that information from what should have been a reputable source at the airline, she proceeded to the airport. Once there, the airline pulled a fast one on her and wanted her to pay an extra $540. How are they in the right there?

    Would you think it was right if you ordered a pizza and the person taking your call said it would be $10, but when the delivery guy showed up, he said “oops, we meant $100!” When you are quoted a fee, you shouldn’t arrive and find out that you are expected to pay a whopping $540 more than that.

    Sam, sorry for the ranting, I’m just really frustrated for you, especially since the “haters” don’t seem to be absorbing the actual facts of your story very well.

  29. Wow, that is just horrendous. I absolutely can not imagine going through that, but especially with a 4 year old. I am so sorry that happened. I honestly hope they do something to rectify this, although I can’t ever imagine there ever being enough they could do to make it okay. What happened was just wrong.

  30. Honestly, I don’t think it is any one airline that’s an issue. Comping anything has become a rare thing.

    The last time I flew, they had a computer glitch that made it seem like I never paid for my tickets (Bought via United, but the flight was on Continental and this is when the 2 airlines were merging.) Once they got it cleared up, our seat assignments that I had been on the phone for almost 2 hours getting set up between 2 different airlines, went poof as someone checking in right then grabbed a few of them. So, I had a red eye flight with 4 kids (one an infant) and no seats together. Topping that off was that we didn’t have to get off that plane, but had to switch seats when it was in Seattle. Joy of joys….

  31. US air really does suck. And Southwest has proven itself once again. All those airlines are so subsidized that they are just government agencies. They might as well be the post office or TSA. Newer airlines (like southwest) that are in the black actually care about earning your business because they aren’t getting government bailouts.

  32. Airlines are out of control these days. It’s no longer about customer service. It’s all about money. I found you through the Finding New Friends Blog Hop and I am now following your blog.

  33. I try to stick to Southwest… they generally have great customer service!! So sorry you had such an ordeal!! I could not imagine how hard it was with a little one!!!

  34. This totally sounds like my nightmare from 10 years ago when I flew them to California and back. Both trips were complete and utter nightmares with over-booking of flights and what not. I was a medical patient being flown from PA to CA and they knew it & were completely aware of my circumstances. They were to have wheel chairs waiting in O’hare to shuffle me to my next gate for a connecting flight and didn’t. I couldn’t walk fast enough (going to CA for medical care) and missed my flight. I spent 9 1/2 hours in the airport waiting for a new flight without meds (were packed in my luggage) and what a nightmare I endured.

    I will NEVER fly that airline again, EVER.

  35. Well, I prefer Delta and now I know why. I’m so sorry and I hope they make it up to you.

  36. That is a crazy change fee – $700/person? Ugh. And I will never understand how flights get so overbooked.

  37. Ohhh, that sounds like a nightmare, I hate traveling with young kids!

    I just followed you after finding you through the Finding New Friends Blog Hop. I would love for you to follow me back at I would also love you to ‘Like’ my blog’s Facebook page, there is a Like button on my blog.


  38. This is horrible. I hope they try to make this up to you

  39. to my last “anon” writer. i had already left, i was not able to go back. it’s not always so simple, is it? thus, they are to blame for it all. i should have been able to get on one of the other flights, no issues. they made poor choices. i would have paid the original quoted fee.

  40. normally i don’t remove comments with differing opinions- but when they are people who clearly didn’t read the post, and are “anonymous” and just filled with trolls spewing hate, there is nothing i can do but remove them. i do not promote hate here, so if you want to be hateful, please go elsewhere. thank you and i hope you all have nice days.

  41. Anonymous says

    Wait, so were you at the airport for three days? Or did you stay in a hotel? You mention that you were upset they didn’t pay for the extra nights in a hotel, so you weren’t really stuck at the airport, right?

    I am not a hater, and I get that traveling with a kid is hard. But, once you realized that to fly early was an extra $500, you should have just gone back to original flight. The moment you went standby, that became your choice.

    Was it a shitty experience? Absolutely. But the only thing the airline did wrong was quote you the wrong price over the phone (and they should apologize for that). But I don’t think they are really to blame for anything else.

  42. I would be so ashamed if I was US Airways. I will stay far far away from them when booking my next flight. So sorry you and your son had to go through this!

  43. You poor thing! I can’t even imagine. I dread flying with the kid. We’re on a 5 hour flight in July and I already have anxiety about it. Hope you get some kind of resolution from them.

    Found you and followed from jmanandmillerbug.
    Check me out if you’re interested:

    A mother, alone with a small child… left to ‘wait & wander’ the airport.. for 3 days? That is THE worst customer service…

    (funny thing about ‘haters’… they are anonymous too..)

  45. That is utterly absurd and INSANE! They act as if their customers don’t’ even matter. I have had my fill of this airline as well about ten years ago. Wasn’t stuck at the airport for 3 days but they certainly messed up my travels.
    I am just so sorry you had to deal with this, I know what it’s like traveling with kids on a plane, and there’s NO room for being treated badly ever. It makes it ten times worse with a kid who cannot understand what’s going on.

  46. That is horrible. I know quite a few people that won’t fly USAirways because of their lack of customer service.

  47. This is insane!! Treating you like this with a 4 year-old! Shame on them.

  48. That is Insane!! Any time I’ve had to fly and make connecting flights they have a list of everyone who needs to make thier way across the terminal and tell eveyone where to go. I’m shocked they didn’t radio to the other flight to say “we’re here, give this lady 3 minutes”. Hope they do something for you

  49. I am so sorry for your experience. I will never fly us airways myself after flying them in march. They love to play the blame game or outright lie to your face. They have the worse CS I have ever experienced.

  50. So sorry this happened, US Airlines should be ashamed of their customer service.

  51. It used to be a given that airlines would comp for something like this. I don’t have much experience with how most airlines would respond to something like this because I rarely fly anymore, but from other people’s comments it sounds like most would be willing to offer some sort of “we’re sorry” compensation.
    About 5 years ago my husband and I (and our 4 week old son) missed our flight on Jet Blue. Though we couldn’t control the fact we got stuck in traffic, missing the flight was more or less our own fault. The man at the desk was wonderful and instead of charging us the full price for new tickets (which is what he was “supposed” to do) simply transferred our tickets to the next flight a day later. We were so grateful!
    The people at the ticket counter can almost always do more than they say they can do.

  52. I am sorry you had to experience this with a four year old. It’s definitely frustrating to be stuck in the airport with small children.

  53. Airlines are definitely not what they use to be. So sorry you and your son had to go through that. I’m so glad you finally did make it home but shame on US Airways. That’s great that you posted this.

  54. I’m so sorry that happened to you. It’s ridiculous. Lucky for me, I rarely have to fly, but if/when I do, I will never fly US Airways. I can’t believe they did all that to you, and not a single apology or voucher to make up for it. You ought to be getting free flights for quite some time as apology! Shame on you, US Airways!

    PS It looks like the hater with no life found you here too. Did you think you were that popular? haha

  55. INSANE! I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for you. I’m surprised you have any hair left (or do you?) after this. I posted this on my Facebook wall. Have lots of friends whose hubbies are pilots and may have connections that can do SOMETHING about this. But I’m making a mental note: NO USAirways for our family of seven.

  56. Exactly Nikki!! I think the haters didn’t read the post and put themselves in her position. I wonder if they work for US Airways or something?

  57. Airlines never fail to disappoint and I’m finding that some of them aren’t as friendly as they’d like to portray in their imagery. It’s terrible that you had to be stranded for so many days and with such a young child too. You’d think they would’ve helped you out a little more.

  58. Just another sign of BAD customer service. Whatever happened to the “the customer is always right” and companies doing everything in their power to make sure that customers are taken care of and receive top notch service. As for the buffoons who posted such hate spewing comments on here-just ignore them-they just got their panties in a wad because of the tiny little lifesaver size package in their pants doesn’t get them any action-their brains are also probably the same size as a lifesaver!

  59. That’s terrible!! What an awful way to treat a mom and son, no matter whether they volunteered or not! You’d think they would want to have a better image of their company out there! Really sorry you had to go through all of that, and glad you’re finally home with your little boy!

  60. Those of you that are bashing her, did you NOT see the part where she was perfectly willing to pay the change fee of $150 until she got there and they told her that she would have to pay over $700 per person?!? Before you bash her, read her entire post.

    Sam, I’m sorry you went through such an ordeal. It sucks that US Airways couldn’t even manage to provide some decent customer service.

  61. Wow those must be your two Twitter haters above ๐Ÿ™‚

    I will never fly on US Airways after reading this. And why didn’t the first person you spoke too tell you about the additional $500 per person fee? If they had, then you could have made other arrangements, or decided to just stay and wait for your original flight. But instead you had to go to the airport to find this out, and thus the ordeal began.

    I am so sorry this happened to you and your son…we dealt with something similar years ago when my son was 3 but that was on a different airline. It was just awful.

  62. We had a horrible experience with US Airways last summer traveling with our kids. It cost us a small fortune and they refused to reimburse us the extra costs we incurred because they kept delaying, delaying, delaying, finally cancelling our flights, booking us on full flights, telling us we were booked on a flight then when we called to check in we were actually booked 3 days later…had to stay in a hotel )another $100 + meals). It was a nightmare. I’ll gladly share your story. Good luck getting anywhere with them. They completely SUCK.

  63. That’s terrible! I can’t believe they continued to give you such terrible customer service! And even after you were tweeting! They should know better- stories like this seriously damage a reputation, and are the reason consumers choose competitor airlines over them- for shame USAirways!

  64. I almost always fly Delta and don’t see that changing any time soon. This is dreadful and not the first story I have heard regarding US Airways. Shame on them!

  65. That is awful! I know who I won’t be flying with next time. What a terrible ordeal for you and your son to experience.

    I was on a flight in April with United Airlines and they had overbooked the flight and 6 people had to get off the plane. I was terrified I would be stuck in a foreign country by myself. They offered $700 gift voucher to United though as compensation. Had they offered cash though people would have been more likely to volunteer to leave. I only had my travel insurance until that day so if I stayed and something happened to me I would be in deep trouble.

    I don’t get why airlines do this. I’m sticking with Air Canada and WestJet from now on. It seems the US airlines tend to do this a lot.

  66. BOO HISS! Total Fail to US Air ways! Serious bad customer service. That is nuts. and you can bet I will make a point to NOT use them, even if it means paying more for a competitor because I want to make sure to not be in a situation like that. I can’t believe they left you like that. You poor mama and your little man. {{hugs}}

  67. With what I have read, I will never fly on US Airways. I usually fly United and plan on keeping it that way.

    I am so sorry you had to go through this. I have a 4 year old and I can only imagine the stress and nightmare they caused you.

  68. This is just ABSOLUTELY horrible. I am going to continue the Twitter campaign so USAirways decides to do something. There is absolutely NO reason to play the blame game and leave a mother stranded in an airport for THREE days! I would call every complaint board I could get my hands on if I were you. They need to make this situation right!

  69. OMG! Are you serious! This is a prime example of why hubby and I try to avoid airline travel with the kids. Layovers have gotten totally out of hand. I am so sorry you and your family had to experience this. I can’t wait to hear how things work out and trust they will use this as an opportunity to gain a customer as opposed to losing one.

  70. Well that is just awful! I know who I won’t be flying with!

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