7 On Your Side

Lack of leg-room leaves traveler frustrated

Monday, May 07, 2012

Planes are more crowded these days and many passengers try to upgrade their seats for a little breathing room. But as one Bay Area woman found out, paying more isn't a guarantee of getting more.

A woman came to 7 On Your Side when the airline sold her a premium seat and then didn't give it to her. On top of that, she couldn't get her money back.

Nancy Ten Doesschate remembers the early days of commercial flight. She was a Pan Am stewardess in the 1950s, when flying was a luxury and passengers were king.

"They were definitely treated beautifully and the food was wonderful; I mean, 45 people on an airplane, there was a lot of legroom," she said.

Things sure have changed. Today passengers often pay extra money for a few extra inches. That included Nancy, who really wanted extra legroom for a very long trip to the most remote place on earth -- Antarctica.

"I need to put my legs up, scooch around a little bit, wiggle," she said.

Nancy was flying first to Buenos Aires, so Delta Airlines offered her an economy comfort seat. For an extra $120, she'd get four extra inches of legroom and her seat-back would recline 50 percent more. However, when she got on the flight, she says her seat was narrow and hardly reclined. The flight attendants said there was nowhere to move so she stayed cramped for 12 hours.

"If you want to cross your legs you had to make a particular effort to get your legs up and over and don't even think about trying to pass and get out into the aisle and it was a night flight so it's very, very difficult," Nancy said.

The packed plane contrasted sharply with her final destination -- the vast pristine snowscapes of Antarctica, where the only civilization is these hundreds of penguins.

However when she got back, Nancy told Delta she wanted a refund of $120 for the legroom she didn't get.

"They just kept going around in circles saying, 'We are very sorry, we are sorry about this but we can't do anything about it, we'll give you a voucher,'" she said.

Delta kept telling her, no refunds, only "Sky Miles" or a voucher toward a future flight. Nancy said Delta took her money and she wanted it back.

"That's why I got in touch with Michael Finney because I felt they owed me what I had paid for," she said.

7 On Your Side contacted Delta Airlines. Within days, an agent sent Nancy an email saying "The concerns you shared with KGO TV have been sent to my attention," "There may have been something we overlooked" and Delta "will refund the $120."

The airline told 7 On Your Side, "Delta regrets that this situation occurred and has worked directly with the customer to resolve the issue."

Delta did not explain why Nancy didn't get the legroom she paid for or a refund. The airline said it's against company policy to discuss customer cases.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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travel, airline industry, 7 on your side, michael finney
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