By Quentin Fottrell
Most air travel is a little unpleasant. But only the most miserable flights are deemed to warrant financial compensation.
The mid-air drama onboard JetBlue’s Flight 191 Tuesday is only the most recent example. The 135 passengers on board watched in horror as Capt. Clayton Osbon got booted from the cockpit by his co-pilot for unsafe behavior, and proceeded – judging by some alarming smartphone video footage of the incident — to run up and down the aisle ranting and raving until he was restrained. One report quoted passengers saying, “The captain was attempting to flip switches in the cockpit that shouldn’t have been flipped.” As compensation for this terrifying experience, passengers will receive a free one-way ticket and a voucher for twice the value of the seat, an airline spokeswoman says.
Travelers left sitting on the tarmac for hours don’t always fare much better. Airline passenger advocate Kate Hanni started campaigning after she and her family were stuck on a runway for “9 hours and 17 minutes” in Austin, Tx. on December 29, 2006 en route from San Francisco to Mobile, Al. Hanni and other passengers received a $500 flight voucher from American Airlines. “The conditions inside an aircraft deteriorate very rapidly after the fourth hour,” she says. “The toilets overflowed and one woman made a diaper out of tee-shirts for her baby. Another couple in first class went into insulin shock.” After a near five-hour tarmac delay with Virgin America in 2010 due to bad weather — it took 16 hours to get from LAX to JFK — passengers received a refund and an additional $100 credit for future travel. One passenger, Justin Gordon, a law student from Santa Monica, Ca., says they deserved a free round-trip flight and a $500 credit. “Airlines are super stingy,” he says.
After life-threatening events, the compensation tends to be somewhat more rewarding – but even then, some passengers complain they deserved more.
Here are four more cases of airline passenger compensation: