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article imageAirline screwup ruins vacation and leaves family stranded

By Caroline Leopold     Aug 13, 2015 in Travel
American Airlines and U.S. Airways merged, but their reservation systems are not yet integrated. One unlucky family got caught in the middle and it ruined their dream vacation.
Many travelers have horror stories about getting bumped from a flight, but a California family's story is much worse.
While American Airlines and U.S. Airways have merged, the reservation systems are not unified. That integration began mid-July and slated to be done in October, which can cause headaches for travelers.
The disjointed system, not the integration, was at the root of an awful series of events that led a family of six to be stranded.
ABC 7 News reported a story about Rob and Ashley Mullins from the Bay Area who had planned a 60th birthday celebration for Ashley's mother in the Caribbean.
The Mullins bought six tickets on American Airlines for themselves and their four children. They would be traveling on both American and U.S. Air, which have merged, but still operate as separate carriers.
When the Mullins arrived at Oakland International Airport, the gate agent scanned the tickets and said they weren't valid.
The ticket agents asked the family to move out of the line. The family watched the standby passengers board and then saw the gate close.
The airline offered to put them on a flight to the Caribbean out of San Francisco International Airport. The new itinerary would take them to Phoenix. Then, they would board a plane to Miami and then take a final flight to Turks and Caicos.
Despite, the difficult travel, the family rushed to SFO, boarded the flight and arrived in Phoenix. Then, they coped with a 10-hour layover.
"We had to go to the hotel, wait there, basically put our kids to bed for an hour, just so they weren't up for 24 hours," Rob Mullins told 7 News.
At midnight they woke their children and went to the airport. When they arrived at the gate in Phoenix, the agent had them step aside.
"We knew right then that there were issues again with our tickets," Ashley Mullins said as the family helplessly watched the gate close in front of them.
The airline said they couldn't fly them to the Caribbean. They could choose standby for a flight several days later.
At that point, the Mullins just asked for a flight home. The time was past 3 a.m.
"They couldn't even get us home," Rob Mullins said, so they rented a car and drove the some 700 miles home.
"My mom was in tears that we weren't going to make it. I was in tears as well," Ashley Mullins said.
The Mullins asked American Airlines to reimburse their expenses, but the carrier said they couldn't help them. The Mullins contacted their local news station, ABC 7, and asked for help. The news station called the airline on their behalf.
American Airlines promptly emailed the Mullins and agreed to reimburse money lost of airline tickets.
The airline refuses to reimburse the Mullins for their prepaid hotel in Turks and Caicos nor for the rental car they drove from Phoenix to home.
American Airlines explains on its website that the passenger system integration will be done October 17.
Glitches can be expected between now and when the merger is complete. Seat 2B recommends that anyone booking a flight between now and October 16 should use AA.com for reservations.
More about airline ruined vacation, merger headaches, American airlines, US Airways
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