West Hartford resident Michael Einstein and his wife were attending a medical conference in Sacramento, California when bad weather grounded their flight. His wife, a cancer surgeon, needed to get back to perform a life-saving surgery. They turned to NBC Connecticut Responds after they said the Southwest Airlines refused to understand the severity of their situation.
In late January, snow and ice grounded flights in some parts of the country and impacted travel.
“It was a lot of stress on us,” Einstein said.
Einstein and his wife were trying to fly home to Hartford from California on Southwest Airlines when they received a travel advisory during their layover in St. Louis, alerting them to inclement weather.
“I understand why the flight was canceled,” said Einstein.
But Einstein said his wife had to fly out that day because of a critical surgery she had to perform.
“She had a cancer surgery on a young woman and she couldn’t miss it. This couldn’t be postponed,” said Einstein.
Their options: fly to Newark New Jersey and pay a $761 change fee or wait several days for another flight to Hartford. They flew to Newark.
“It made me super frustrated and I was a little angry at the airlines,” said Einstein.
The couple expressed that frustration in a letter to Southwest Airlines requesting a refund. A customer service agent stated that customers are subject to a fare increase if they change their arrival city within 14 days of the originally scheduled itinerary.
They offered Einstein and his wife a $75 voucher. That wasn't good enough for the two. So, they turned to NBC Connecticut Responds.
“I felt like they didn’t care. This was their policy and it doesn’t matter on the situation,” said Einstein.
A Southwest spokesperson released this statement to us:
"We regret the inconvenience Mr. and Mrs. Einstein experienced on their return trip to Hartford due to the inclement weather, and we further regret the expense incurred as a result of having to change their flight. Given the circumstances, we are refunding the amount they paid to change their flight, and additionally, we have provided them each a $75 travel voucher for future travel."
The West Hartford couple received an apology from the airlines and a $911 credit for their trouble.