Flight cancellation nearly ruins school’s trip to Europe

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MOORE, Okla. -- Earlier this month, a flight cancellation caused a high school Latin class to lose two days of sightseeing in Italy.

A trip for which each student saved $3,000.

"I was so excited," Southmoore High School student Madalynne Melot said about the anticipation.

She and her classmates couldn't wait to get to Italy.

Then they heard they might not get to go.

"Kind of scared (us) because we had put so much into this trip," Melot said. "Some of us working two jobs. Some of us, you know, saving up for two years to go."

Their American Airlines morning flight to Dallas from Oklahoma City had been canceled due to bad weather in Dallas-Ft. Worth.

Her Latin class teacher who coordinated the trip, Darin Davis, got the cancellation call from an airline manager at 3 a.m., the morning of the trip.

"Who said that I immediately needed to get all 18 members of my group together and drive to Dallas," he recalls. "That was the only way we would be able to make our trip at all."

Davis said a middle-of-the-night drive at a moment's notice was an impossible request.

So later that morning at Will Rogers World Airport, he went to the ticket counter several times to ask about other flights.

"And she (employee) said, 'No, our general manager pulled us all behind the desk and actually told us that we aren't allowed to help you any further,'" he said.
"(She said) 'Listen sir, since this is a weather-related issue, if you're not willing to drive, we don't have to help you get to Italy at all.'"

Eventually, the group's travel agency got them to Italy on another airline after two long days of travel.

"Their obligation is to get you there," Bayless Travel's Dave Blew said.

He said full flights and bad weather may force delays and travel to Europe has been very heavy lately.

So before your trip, Blew says check airlines' websites for cancellation and refund policies.

Also, ask if other airlines will honor your ticket and be courteous, if necessary, negotiate.

"You can just keep asking (for what you want)," Blew said. "Say, 'That's not acceptable. What else can you give me?' You know, and they may have to go to supervisory personnel but they definitely want to work with you. They want you to come back and fly them again."

Davis said that's not happening.

"They've lost 18 customers for life by the way that they handled the whole situation," he said.

The students did enjoy the remainder of their trip.

American Airlines told us, "In any weather situation we do our best to re-accommodate passengers on canceled flights and often, if it's a big event, there is a weather policy in effect for that weather event to expedite re-booking. If re-booking is not an option, we will refund the passenger's ticket price."

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