I missed my Breeze Airways flight. Does it owe me anything?
Joe Herman decides to try a new airline called Breeze Airways to fly from Hartford to Charleston, South Carolina. But on his return, the carrier leaves him behind. Is he owed anything?
Q: My wife and I recently flew our first flight with Breeze Airways from Hartford to Charleston, South Carolina. When we arrived at the Charleston airport for our return flight, the airport monitors and the Breeze app on my phone showed the flight delayed with the gate [number] to be announced. We went to Terminal B to get something to eat and I tried to contact the airline. I received an automatic reply saying Breeze was “experiencing high volumes.” About half an hour later, I received a reply saying the flight had already departed and in fact left on time.
Our only options were to book the next Breeze flight back to Hartford three days later, fly to another city or get back to Hartford at our own expense. We picked the least of those unattractive options and chose to fly Breeze to Providence and then rented a car to drive to Hartford.
I see several points of failure causing our issue.
First, the Breeze app and Charleston TV monitors failed miserably by not displaying current information.
Second, the gentleman who checked our bag failed to inform the gate agent that we were on-site and could have been located fairly easily in the small confines of the Charleston airport.
Third, we learned later that the announcement to find us only went in Terminal A and not to Terminal B, a short walk away, where we had innocently sat down to eat during our waiting time. In a smallish airport like Charleston, I see no reason for the announcement not being made in both terminals.
I spent several years managing customer experience for a Fortune 20 company and genuinely hope Breeze will look into these human and systematic glitches to prevent future customers from having our frustrations. I believe Breeze should reimburse us for the $175 rental car. Breeze offered us $100 of Breeze points but its agent didn’t seem empowered to offer more or address the underlying issues.
Can you help? — Joe Herman, Boston
A: Breeze should have found you in the terminal – or at least texted you before your departure – and gotten you on your flight. And while it isn’t legally obligated to help you, it shouldn’t have blown you off.
Your case is a reminder that airline notification systems are imperfect. Flight schedules can change, and then change back, at a moment’s notice – and sometimes without any notice. If you’re waiting for a flight, stay close to your gate.
Breeze is a new airline that prides itself on fast and efficient customer service and, above all, on “niceness.” But being a new airline, it is also bound to experience some turbulence on its way to customer service excellence.
In reviewing your correspondence with Breeze, I felt confident that the airline would listen to you, a former customer service manager. But the back-and-forth with the lower-level managers at Breeze looked frustrating. You’re right, they were not empowered to do more and they should have been.
I recently published the names, numbers and emails of the Breeze customer service contacts on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. You reached out to them after finding them on my site.
Breeze reviewed your case and apologized for your experience – not just any apology; you received an email from the chief operating officer saying he was “extremely sorry.” The airline agreed to refund your rental car, as you requested.
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer for Elliott Advocacy. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or get help with any consumer problem by contacting him at http://www.elliott.org/help
© 2021 Christopher Elliott