Trip in Vain is an Actual Policy

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Remember me saying I’d bailed at the right time on my ill-fated Friday flight? Well, I was wrong, I shoulda held ‘em.

I headed to the airport Saturday morning on the 7AM shuttle, checked in, grabbed a quick breakfast in the lounge and headed to my gate. For fun, I checked on the status of the 9PM flight I’d opted not to take the night before and saw that it had made it. It’d left 2 hours late, but it did make it in.

I arrive at the gate and so far so good. Then 15 minutes before our scheduled departure they announced they were trying to find our crew. Then at 9AM when we were scheduled to depart, they announced that they’d found our crew and they were coming in from another flight. A flight that hadn’t taken off yet.

We were given the option of taking an earlier flight to an airport about an hour away or staying with the current flight. When I went up to inquire about the likelihood of the original flight being cancelled, I found out the alternate was also delayed by an hour, so no matter what I did I wouldn’t be getting in before 1PM at the earliest. Now my time with family was being cut down to one full day.

I went into the club to see if they could help. At this point I just wanted a do-over. If I could get myself home, since rental cars were only $100 one way, could US Airways just rebook me on the same itinerary the next weekend? I was told I needed to call reservations as that wasn’t something they could do in the club. While I was on hold and IMing with various friends for advice and moral support and one of them mentioned “Trip in Vain” but I didn’t realize that was an actual term.

Turns out “Trip in Vain” is when you’re delayed so much that the purpose your trip becomes pointless.  A meeting that will already have happened by the time you got there, a wedding you’ll miss, in my case a weekend with my parents cut down from 2 days to less than 24 hours.

After 45 minutes I got an agent and explained my wish. She said “oh, that falls under ‘Trip in Vain’ but they have to do that for you at the airport, I can’t do it over the phone. They’ll send you home and help you rebook flights for the future.”

I promptly tweet @USAirways to see if they can help and head to the front of the club to get started. There I  found out Trip in Vain has to be handled by the special services people so I was encouraged to go there or go out to ticketing for help.

Having seen the 50+ people deep lines the night before, I almost thought ticketing would be better, but I decided to walk to the tiny D terminal first to see if they had a desk. They did and the line was only 6 people deep.

At this point I only had about 45 min til I needed to board my rescheduled flight and I kept going back and forth on whether it was worth it to try for Trip in Vain. If my flight was actually leaving and I’d get in at 1:20, was it such a big deal? And even though I’d been in transit for 24 hours, US Airways so far had only delayed me 18 hours, was that enough to count? Was it worth missing the flight just to be turned down?

As luck had it (finally!) my turn came up 10 minutes before I needed to leave the line to catch my flight. I walked up and asked if there was any way I could do Trip in Vain since I’d hoped to spend more than one day with my parents.

He took my ticket and said “so what dates are we talking”?

5 minutes later I had the trip rebooked for another weekend with my ideal times (even my last ticket wasn’t my ideal) and a ticket for the next flight home to DC. Because of course that wasn’t enough, I cheekily asked him if there was a seat available in first for that flight. And very kindly he assigned me one!

As he was wrapping up the details of the ticket, he mentioned “When someone knows this by name you know you’re in trouble.” Many thanks to my friend and the reservation agent for giving me the term that quickly expedited my wish.

Now if only the layover had been long enough to grab a rental car and go to my favorite shoe store – the Jesus is Lord at Bargain Shoes in Gaffney, SC which offers clearance/returned designer shoes at a fraction of the price (think $10-25).

 For more travel tips and tricks, see Travel Tips for Planning, Packing, Flying, Driving & More.

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