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I'm buying a bus ticket to get to Boston 23 hours before my flight to ensure I reach my departure airport on time.

If I didn't arrange bus transport well in advance, what legal remedies would I have if a delayed bus caused me to miss my flight?

closed as off-topic by fkraiem, Moo, Giorgio, Aleks G, Relaxed Mar 21 '18 at 21:38

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a rant disguised as a question. – fkraiem Mar 21 '18 at 3:35
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    Why not take a taxi instead? If one doesn't turn up it is trivial to call for another. Sure, it'll cost significantly more but so would the bus if they were liable for delays, so really you'd be getting the service you are looking for at the price it would cost, probably less. – RyanfaeScotland Mar 21 '18 at 8:41
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    @RyanfaeScotland I doubt a taxi company would take liability for delays either. Maybe if a taxi breaks down en-route to the airport the taxi company will send another one though, as taxis may have more competition and customers with higher service expectations than Greyhound customers do. – gerrit Mar 21 '18 at 10:33
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    A taxi from Oklahoma to Boston would cost a LOT more than the bus ticket and the flight to Spain that the bus ticket threatens. Cheaper to take the bus a day earlier and pay for a bed. But with four bus transfers, a day earlier might not be enough. – WGroleau Mar 21 '18 at 17:16
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    No, it is a question with a rant on the side. – WGroleau Mar 21 '18 at 17:17
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There are no remedies. Greyhound's terms and conditions explicitly disclaim liability for delays:

In no event shall carrier be liable for consequential or incidental damages for loss, damage or delay, including weather delays.

And as far as I know, there are no laws in the US that would require them to give you any kind of compensation beyond what the contract specifies (i.e. none).

Maybe you can find travel insurance that would help cover your losses in case of such a delay. (Read the policy carefully to make sure it would cover such an event.) But Greyhound won't. By default, this risk is assumed by you and nobody else.

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    @WGroleau nope, it is because travel conditions are outside of their control. You won't find a single transport company who accepts liabilty for consequential loss. – Weather Vane Mar 21 '18 at 1:18
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    Putting another bus in service is NOT outside their control. Their management has decided that pissing off a bus full of customers is better for their business than calling another driver to drive another bus. They would be less likely to make that stupid decision if it resulted in passengers choosing another company. I NEVER go Greyhound if there's another option. But almost always, a particular route has only ONE company driving it. – WGroleau Mar 21 '18 at 2:20
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    @WGroleau Putting another bus into service isn't as simple as many people think. A bus needs to be available, it needs to be in the right place, and there needs to be a driver with sufficient rest available and willing to drive it. And Greyhound could assume this risk for you, if you were willing to pay significantly more for your ticket. I suspect most bus passengers aren't willing to pay that premium. – Jim MacKenzie Mar 21 '18 at 4:13
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    Greyhound in the USA don't even put in extra buses when they know many hours in advance that the bus is full, and they apparently have no problem selling you more tickets than they have seats. Which means that if you don't board at the first stop, you might be refused boarding for several sequential greyhound buses even if you're in the front of the queue. It's simply a company with very poor terms of service in a country with very poor customer protection laws, and unfortunately the only mode of public transportation in many localities. At least some other companies sell guaranteed seats. – gerrit Mar 21 '18 at 10:35
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    @WGroleau While I understand that it's a frustrating experience, in the end the only person responsible for you making it to your flight on time is you. If you're taking the last possible connection to get there just in time, then you're not building in enough of a margin for things to go wrong. I can empathize with not wanting to spend more time travelling than necessary, but when you're depending on public transport that's just how it is. – Cronax Mar 21 '18 at 11:51
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Transport does not work that way

If you book separate segments from separate companies, they don't owe you anything for a missed connection. They got you to the agreed location, their job is done.

If you book a multi segment ticket "thru" from a single airline, then that airline is responsible for your missed connections. So for instance if Delta sold you Glenwood Springs to Dubai, with GS to Denver and JFK-Dubai being codeshares with Amtrak and Emirates, and the Amtrak train is super late... It's all on Delta to get you to Dubai.

If you booked the Amtrak segment on your own (to save money), then tough beans.

So that thing you are looking for, happens with thru ticketing. Buy tickets that way. If you can't, buy missed connection insurance.

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    This is not universally true. For example, in the UK, if you buy a train ticket to London International CIV (LNE) through any train operating company, then a connection to the Eurostar is guaranteed, even when the Eurostar ticket is booked separately and through a different company. As another example, SJ and SAS used to have an agreement that train/plane connections at Arlanda were mutually guaranteed (for flights within Europe) regardless of how the tickets were booked. – gerrit Mar 21 '18 at 10:27
  • I had to look up CIV: help.loco2.com/article/477-understanding-civ – Roger Lipscombe Mar 21 '18 at 14:05
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    Oh, that's subject to a special contract agreement or legislation then... The Eurostar rule was legislated because train seats aren't scarce, running hourly and all that, plus they have cushion space in non-revenue space like lounge seats. it's not like they'll have to pay people to be bumped. The SAS deal is just good business as it's tied to goodwill which earns a fare premium. – Harper Mar 21 '18 at 16:12
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    One could argue that they agreed to get me to a location at a particular time. Of course, as another answer pointed out, the fine print acknowledge that the big print is wishful thinking. – WGroleau Mar 21 '18 at 18:26
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    Actually, London International CIV is remarkable in that it is a little quirk and required to make sure a connection to Eurostar is covered by these guarantees. As such, it is a very bad example. Much more relevant is the fact that the same rules apply to all international tickets in mainland Europe without having to do anything specific when booking the ticket. You could still call it a “special legislation” but it's a pretty old and broad one, belying the notion that transport does not work that way. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. – Relaxed Mar 21 '18 at 21:46
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You cannot coerce any company into taking that liability. It lies with you. Regardless of the form of transit, when you book separate tickets from point A to point B and point B to point C, the liability of a missed connection at B lies solely with you.

If you want someone else to be liable for getting you from point A to point C, you need to purchase that on a single ticket or else purchase missed connection insurance, wherein you pay an insurance company to assume that liability.

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    Again, that is not universally true. See my comment to Harpers answer, where I describe at least two counterexamples. – gerrit Mar 21 '18 at 10:29
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    @gerrit OP asked about Greyhound (and specifically Boston,) so I assumed he was talking about the U.S. There may be a few trains with such a guarantee in the U.S., but it's definitely the exception and not the rule. – reirab Mar 21 '18 at 14:29
  • @gerrit "With some rare exceptions, ..." – Jim MacKenzie Mar 21 '18 at 15:46
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    If we're listing all of the exceptions, I suppose I could have also mentioned that you could possibly coerce the company into covering the expense if you have some Sicilian friends who can make them an offer they can't refuse. ;) – reirab Mar 21 '18 at 16:00
  • I suppose I could have said bus companies in general, but Greyhound is the only one that I have seen screw people over that way. – WGroleau Mar 21 '18 at 18:31
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One possible course of action in this situation is to make alternate arrangements once it becomes clear that you're not going to make your flight, and then present a sympathetic story to the company's representatives.

A few months ago, my wife and I planned a trip to France. Our outbound itinerary involved taking Amtrak to Boston and then a flight out from Logan. When it became evident that the train was severely delayed, I talked to the station agent; she was sympathetic to our plight, and cancelled our Amtrak tickets for a full refund. We drove two hours to the airport instead (spending a couple hundred dollars on airport parking, which was what we were trying to avoid by taking the train.)

But there are a lot of caveats to this advice, and it might not be applicable to all situations:

  • We actually had an alternate method of transportation to get us there. The station agent suggested Uber instead, which also might have worked. (In the event, we had never used it before and weren't about to try it out for the first time in a high-stress situation.)

  • We didn't actually use Amtrak's services at all; if we had taken the delayed train and then tried to claim compensation, we almost certainly would have been out of luck.

  • The station agent didn't have to give us a refund; the Amtrak tickets we had purchased were non-refundable, so the best we could have expected was a voucher for future travel. I suspect that if our destination wasn't quite so romantic or exotic, the agent might not have been as willing to bend the rules for us.

  • We didn't try to claim any compensation from Amtrak for the incidental expense of the long-term parking at the airport, or for that matter the gas used to get us to the airport. I'm sure that they would have politely told us to go pound sand if we tried.

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Many Travel Insurance policies cover the cost of flights missed because of documentable delays in transfers to the airport, but usually only if they are on a "public conveyance" (as I recall the wording from one policy) and (obviously) if the scheduled time would have permitted catching the flight properly (which probably means the full however-many hours the airline recommends). So a bus would count, and probably a taxi, but not your in-laws promising to drive you and never showing up.

I think that the availability of travel insurance is pretty much your only hope in this situation. Otherwise, the risk is yours to take.

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The only way I've ever seen Travel Company A take responsibility for Travel Company B is if A booked B for you (i.e. was part of a package deal). Cruise lines, for instance, will book shore excursions for you or you can book your own, but with the understanding that, if you book it yourself, you're on the hook if you miss the boat (slightly oversimplified for the sake of example). As Gerrit also mentioned, sometimes public transits in Europe will also have agreements for liability, but only in limited circumstances (i.e. they have a partnership with said company). Such agreements are uncommon.

So, no, you cannot compel a bus company to take responsibility for you missing a flight. The only exception here might be something catastrophic (i.e. the bus flips over, catches fire, etc). In that case, you can sue for damages after the fact, and throw the missed flight into that number.

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    Where I live it is quite common for taxi companies to guaranty catching your train if you mention your train time when booking the taxi. They then tell you at what time they come to collect you, (often way earlier than the distance requires) and if you miss the train they will drive you to your next destination or pay for a later train. – Willeke Mar 21 '18 at 12:59
  • @Willeke "drive you to your destination or pay...": does the customer get to choose? If so, that policy would be difficult in a larger country. – phoog Mar 21 '18 at 13:58
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    No, the taxi company will get you to the next train hub and get you going from there if there is no good option from the station you asked to be dropped. And I have never heard of anybody who had to use the offer, as the taxi companies are careful to meet the train. – Willeke Mar 21 '18 at 14:00
  • Greyhound won't even take responsibility for making their own connections. Add that to the false advertising of WiFi on board, and when their schedule screwups make a person have to sleep in the bus station six hours—except "you have to go outside, the station is closed." – WGroleau Mar 21 '18 at 14:21

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