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Short form: the airline I'm traveling on managed to mess up every leg of my round trip (international trip), ultimately costing me most of a day at each end and also some money for expenses along the way. I'm not interested in vouchers, as I rarely fly and when I do why would I trust this carrier again?

What is the best strategy for obtaining financial compensation? Or is that just the way the world works now and I'm out of luck?

Longer form (per request in comments): they sold me an itinerary that was tighter than they claimed, the first plane was late, they rebooked the missed flight with a two-leg one, the first of those was late, and I arrived about 16 hours late. On the return trip the first flight was delayed 8 hours for a proposed ultimate delay of about 15 hours; I think I have that down to 10 after rebooking but I'm not home yet so we'll see. I will have had about $125 in incidental expenses because of the delay, and the ticket price was about $1700. Airline is Air Canada.

Blog posts with gory details: and . The urgency alluded to in the latter is a family medical situation that came up just before I was due to leave anyway. (It is only because of that that I got the less-late flight.)

share|improve this question
which airline. What happened? If you could edit your question and add more details, that might be useful. – Mark Mayo Jul 5 '12 at 16:42
@markmayo, being new here I wasn't sure how much of the tale to tell. I'll add to the post. – Monica Cellio Jul 5 '12 at 16:50
No worries, it's a great question, but the more info, the better :) – Mark Mayo Jul 5 '12 at 16:55
Did you have a look and see what your travel insurance already covers for delays? Depending on what that is worth, depends on if you want to hassle the airline too, or just claim on your insurance and let them get it back from the airline – Gagravarr Jul 5 '12 at 17:21
good question. in my experience, unfortunately, the only recourse i had was to request lounge access for the night i had to spend in the airport due to messed up connections. seeing my haggard condition, they didn't resist too much – rs79 Jul 5 '12 at 19:57
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Definitely talk to their customer relations people. While I've never had any reason to talk to their customer service, this is the kind of thing that their customer service employees are paid to handle. Definitely emphasize the travel delays, the incidental expenses that were incurred, and the fact that they booked you on tight connections. Also, look at their customer service statement. If you find inconsistency between their actions and stated policies, that gives you leverage for your complaint.

If you can only wrangle a voucher, don't lose hope—you can sometimes use vouchers to book flights on other airlines in the same alliance as Air Canada (Star Alliance, airlines like United and Lufthansa) so you wouldn't have to fly with AC again.

Side note: a few credit cards, especially airline branded and "premium" (think American Express Platinum, business cards, and the like) let you claim a rebate for up to $x amount of travel-related incidentals—check on that.

share|improve this answer
It wouldn't have occurred to me to invoke the power of Visa. Thanks; I'll see what they say. (Already planning to file a complaint with Air Canada.) – Monica Cellio Jul 6 '12 at 19:02
The auto-reply for their complaint form says a reply will take 15 business days. On Monday I mailed paper copies of the complaint to Air Canada's CEO, Chairman, and SVP of Customer Relations. I also called my credit-card company, who said I can dispute through them if I don't get any satisfaction from the airline. Now we wait. – Monica Cellio Jul 11 '12 at 2:15
In the end my credit-card company refunded half my money (working with the other bank, not Air Canada), Air Canada disputed, and I had to pay it back six months later. All I got from Air Canada was a voucher that expired in a bit under a year from the original travel date; they would not extend that so I could use it on a later trip (with another carrier in their network, though I didn't say that when I asked). So in the end I got no compensation, just some lessons for what to do differently in the future. (Which are valuable, but I was hoping for more. :-) ) – Monica Cellio Jan 31 '14 at 19:43

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