Passenger accuses airline of gouging on change fees

Passenger accuses airline of gouging on change fees
Published: Aug. 6, 2014 at 11:42 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 7, 2014 at 1:24 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While most airlines are waiving change fees due to the incoming storms, at least one carrier is being accused of gouging.

Joe Wagner of Phoenix said he and his family of five wanted to switch their return flight on US Airways from Sunday to Wednesday to ensure that they got out of town before the storms hit.

But he said his group was shocked by the additional cost: over $1,400 per person.

"I feel extremely frustrated and I felt like I was a little person who had no chance against a large corporation," said Wagner.

The 53-year-old Wagner, who grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has seen the type of damage a big storm can do and doesn't want to be anywhere near a Hawaii hurricane.

"I've gone through a lot of storms. I've seen fences ripped down, boats gone away, sheds picked up and turned and cars flipped," he said.

US Air declined comment on Wagner's dispute but provided Hawaii News Now with a copy of its change fee policy. That policy shows that the airline is waiving fees only for passengers scheduled to come in or leave Hawaii on Thursday or Friday. That waiver does not appear to apply to other dates.

Other airlines like Hawaiian and United have a similar waiver in place for Thursday and Friday flights. But Hawaiian said it's willing to look at requests for fee waivers on other storm-affected flights on a case by case basis.

As of this morning, the airline said that about 700 customers have called to inquire about possible flight changes.

"It's the right thing to do, we want to operate our flights as safely so we're paying close attention to the weather as it goes in," said Peter Ingram, Hawaiian's chief commercial officer.

As for Wagner, he was able to book seats on United for about $400 per person. But he said the $1,700 dollars his family paid to go home with US Air will go to waste.

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