Something didn't seem right when Allegiant Air claimed it didn't owe a refund to a mother (and her noisy children) it kicked off a plane. So I investigated the airline's contract of carriage. What I found was language that seemed to say the opposite, that the woman was, in fact, owed a refund. Here's what I sent to Allegiant yesterday morning:
Rule 90A of Allegiant’s contract of carriage states that:
“Nonrefundable fares are not eligible for refunds, except as provided in Articles 85.A above and 90.B. and 90.C. below.”Rule 90C states:
“If Carrier denies boarding or removes a passenger from an aircraft under conditions described in Article 10 above, Carrier will refund the fare paid for the unused portion thereof.”
And Article 10 states:
“Carrier may refuse to transport or remove from the aircraft at any point any passenger in the following categories as may be necessary for the comfort or safety of such passenger or other passengers:”
“Persons who are unable to occupy a seat with the seat belt fastened.”
So my question, then, is why this passenger was denied a refund that, based on the contract of carriage, it seems she should have received.
Later that day, Sabrina LoPiccolo, Allegiant's Manager, Public Relations/Promotions, responded:
Under the FAA requirements we are not obligated to provide a refund. However, based on your comments below we have reviewed our policy and you are correct. Under our terms and conditions we are obligated to provide the passenger a refund. Our customer care team will be contacting the passenger and offering her a refund as soon as possible. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
Hats off to Allegiant for stepping up, even if it took a little prodding.
The moral of the story here is obvious: You don't have much leverage against an airline, but you do have some. Passengers who are denied boarding or removed from a plane may have a strong case for a refund or some other form of compensation or assistance. It's all there in the contract you agree to when you purchase your ticket.
<em>**Update, Nov. 25: LoPiccolo confirmed for me that Allegiant did send the refund, and the customer recieved it. In case you were wondering.</em>