Fumiko Seguchi did everything by the book on her recent flight to Tokyo. She confirmed her departure 24 hours in advance. She secured a seat assignment. And she arrived more than two hours before departure.

But Seguchi, who was visiting a friend in Orlando, couldn’t have anticipated the long check-in lines at the airport. “There were only a few ticket agents at the counter, so the line went on forever,” says Fran Mingle, Seguchi’s friend. “She waited and waited. After getting concerned about missing her flight because of the inordinate delay, she asked if she could be accommodated next but the American Airlines personnel told her ‘no’.”

Seguchi missed her flight and was asked to pay an extra $2,600 for a ticket the next day. American had thrown the book in her face.

If this had happened a decade ago, Seguchi probably wouldn’t have paid an extra dime. Airlines had what’s known as a “flat tire” rule that allowed passengers who were delayed because of circumstances beyond their control to be rebooked on the next flight at no additional charge. But like many of the travel industry’s customer-friendly policies, the “flat tire” rule was quietly dropped after 9/11 in an effort to raise revenues. Compassion went out the cabin door.

Maybe it’s time to bring back some of these rules...

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  • Elliott

    Christopher Elliott has been called one of the world’s leading travel experts. But his focus isn’t on the destination, or ev…

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