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Travelling from Doha to Philadelphia to Atlanta, and the Philadelphia to Atlanta flight was cancelled due to weather. The airline (Qatar) wouldn't let me travel from Doha to Philadelphia since my second leg (AA), even after I told them I would rather be stuck in Philadelphia than in Doha.

Do I have a reason for complaint?

EDIT: 1) Doha was not my point of origin - this was the second leg of a three-leg journey. 2) I was travelling during the snowstorm period in the US. First flight on 1/23 was cancelled due to snow, but the second Doha->PHL flight on 1/24 was not. 3) They rebooked me on the same flight 24 hours later (although there were other flights available earlier)

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    While I don't know for sure, I suspect that passengers (especially international passengers) who are stranded midway through a multiple-leg flight have more rights concerning compensation, meal vouchers, hotel accommodations, etc. than those who are still at their point of origin. If this is true, then Qatar/AA was keeping its costs down by holding you in Doha. – Michael Seifert Feb 10 '16 at 19:16
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    They already knew before the flight left Doha for Philadelphia that the following flight would be cancelled due to weather? Unless that was in a period of really great disruption, that seems unlikely. Also AA operate 6 flights a day, on PHL-ATL, it would seem unlikely that all flights would be cancelled. What options did they give you? Did they reroute you? Rebook you on the next day? – jcaron Feb 10 '16 at 22:20
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    FWIW, we recently(1/22 - 1/24) had a snow storm in the northeast US that dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on PHL. That could certainly have caused more than a days worth of cancelled flights. If that is when your flight was, the airline may have done you a service by not stranding you in a snowbound PHL for a long time. – cdkMoose Feb 10 '16 at 22:59
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    @MichaelSeifert IME AA doesn't offer any accommodation or meal vouchers to those delayed by weather: the snow isn't exactly AA's fault. Now it's possible AA didn't want anyone arriving in PHL in order to reduce their workload, but that's another point. – Calchas Feb 11 '16 at 1:03
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    @MichaelSeifert - Doha was not point of origin – vk2015 Feb 11 '16 at 23:32
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Yes that is pretty poor handling by Qatar. More generally I can imagine there would be immigration problems in certain circumstances, but obviously in your situation that doesn't apply.

I suspect [but obviously I don't know] that Qatar have messed you about here and offloaded you from the flight for other reasons, perhaps it was overbooked as a consequence of the weather situation and they needed a reason to give your seat to someone else.

I assume Qatar promptly routed you to your final destination. If they did not, in your shoes, I would certainly be invoicing Qatar for every expense I incurred as a result of their failure to offer carriage.

  • Yes, I suspect that they offloaded me for other reasons - they routed me on a flight 24 hours later. – vk2015 Feb 11 '16 at 23:26
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Really depends on why the connecting flight was cancelled. As I noted in a comment above, a severe weather condition could have created a scenario where you could have been stuck in the connecting airport, PHL in this case, for an extended period of time.

If the airline could have known that you might be stuck in a weather bound airport for a day or more, would you rather have them strand you or not fly you in the first place?

  • OP wanted to get to PHL. "I told them I would rather be stuck in Philadelphia than in Doha" – Calchas Feb 11 '16 at 1:01
  • @Calchas I think the difference here is between "stuck in Philadelphia" and "stuck in Philadelphia airport" -- i.e. the weather is so bad that there's no local transport out of the airport. I've no idea how realistic that is for Philadelphia but I've seen it happen in other places. – SpaceDog Feb 11 '16 at 1:33
  • @spacedog, correct in this case as philadelphia had a hard time clearing snow from city streets also – cdkMoose Feb 11 '16 at 1:38
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It is not uncommon for an airline to hold a passenger at the point of origin if they know the entire series of flights can not be completed as booked.

By doing so, for many passengers it means they simply go home and return the next day. For non-local passengers it means some lodging and meals to be provided. For legal responsibility it is simply a cancelled flight, rebook or refund (and yes there is probably some PC EU rule requiring a certain amount of compensation).

By sending passengers part way, it means accommodation and meals for all. It means more anguish and complaints from passengers about the uncertainity of reaching their destination and sitting around in the midpoint airport hoping to get on some flight. For legal responsibility it means an interrupted flight which carries more rules, regulations and potential for compensation.

While the OP preferred to fly, the airline has to set a single policy for the issue and holding passengers at the origin is the one most airlines enforce. I have been caught in the same scenario flying Florida to Thailand and was held at the point of origin in the USA, so it is not exclusive to Qatar.

Can you complain, of course you can, but ultimately if the airline followed through on their responsibilities for a cancelled flight there won't be any compensation, other than maybe a small token of apology (frequent flyer miles, etc).

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "some PC EU rule" but if you mean something about the European Union, that's completely irrelevant to a flight on a non-EU airline from a non-EU source via a non-EU transit point to a non-EU destination. – David Richerby Feb 11 '16 at 1:44
  • I stuck that in because inevitably some nick picker will bring up the EU's overly compensation oriented rules since my reply was talking about the airline industry as a whole, not only this specific flight .....PC means politically correct by the way ;) – user13044 Feb 11 '16 at 1:55
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    Yeah, it totally sucks when large corporations aren't allowed to f*** their customers. – David Richerby Feb 11 '16 at 2:01
  • Compensation rules for everything does not provide protection from greedy corporations, rather it builds a society that expects cash for everything that goes amiss and who then fill forums like this with their rantings and ravings about not getting enough cash. Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, gains and losses, you can't legislate that away. – user13044 Feb 11 '16 at 2:07
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    @Tom - I'll edit my original question, but Doha was not my point of origin for the ticket (it was the second leg of a three-leg journey), so not sure if this principle applies as they were paying for my accommodation/meals in Doha anyway. – vk2015 Feb 11 '16 at 23:29
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Of course. Check your contract: you bought a service to get you from Doha to Atlanta. The could route your through a totally different city, put you on a direct flight etc. This is a well known risk to skipleggers. While it'd been nicer to get you to PHL if you are asking whether they can, whether they are legally allowed to, the only answer is a yes.

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