Texas couple seek compensation after airline seats didn’t recline – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

A couple contacted NBC 5 Responds after paying for business class seats on a honeymoon. They say a seat did not recline for the flight to Europe and then asked for compensation.

After a 2020 wedding on Zoom, Shari and Phillip Walsh left for a belated honeymoon in Rome this summer.

“We saved all the money we would have spent on a wedding to have this experience and go to Italy,” Shari Phillips said.

The Walshes purchased business class seats for the round trip on American Airlines.

On the day of their flight to Rome, the Walshes learned that Shari’s seat was not working. It didn’t recline and there was no other seat for Shari in business class. The Walshes said they decided to fly with the non-reclining seat that day.

“We had set up a daycare, we had taken time off, we had already bought all the hotels, excursions and things like that. Even missing a day’s flight would delay us and cost us more,” said Shari Phillips.

After the trip, the Walshes asked American Airlines customer service for compensation for the seat not reclining.

“You sit up straight, you have a little more legroom, but it definitely wasn’t like the $7,000 seat we were anticipating and expecting and excited about,” Shari Phillips told NBC 5 Responds.

The Walshes showed NBC 5 emails from American Airlines customer service initially offering 5,000 miles and then $200 each in travel credits.

“We’re not even asking for the full $7,000 refund but if they could have made a reasonable offer and to me what’s reasonable is that we didn’t have the business class experience in that seat, so charge the economy price and give us the difference,” Shari Phillips said.

American Airlines told NBC 5 Responds it offered the Walshes a seat in the economy section for the economy price, but they declined. It was unclear if there were two seats that would have allowed the Walshes to sit together.

American Airlines also said it followed up with additional travel credits.

Last week, the Walshes shared an email from customer service offering travel credits totaling $1,600.

They said that wasn’t enough to make up for the seat not reclining during their trip.

In one of the emails with the Walshes, American Airlines customer service pointed out the transport contract.

Charlie Leocha, president and co-founder of the non-profit association United Travelerstells NBC 5 that most airline contracts of carriage are for transportation of the passenger to their destination – this does not necessarily guarantee the seat.

“Normally I tell consumers that they’re buying a ticket from point A to point B, and that’s all they can really expect from the airlines,” Leocha explained.

Leocha said the best approach for consumers is to ask about traveling another day with an upgrade. If a consumer cannot travel on another day, Leocha said it is possible to negotiate with the airline.

“If you fly business class, they try to take better care of you,” Leocha said. “They’ll normally give you some sort of compensation: they’ll give you money for a broken seat, they’ll give you extra frequent flyer miles, but there’s a lot of things you can negotiate.”

The Walshes told NBC 5 Responds that they felt their negotiation never really took off.

NBC 5 Responds is committed to finding your concerns and getting your money back. Our goal is to provide you with answers and, where possible, solutions and resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or complete our customer complaint form.

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