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Dozens of passengers are claiming that regional carrier Via Air left them hundreds of miles from their intended destination, and the airline did not offer them any compensation for the mixup.
Passenger Nick Lenius says he and his wife bought tickets for a direct flight from Oklahoma City to Austin, Texas, with the carrier.
“We thought with it being listed on Expedia it’s got to be at least somewhat reliable, right?” he told Oklahoma’s KFOR news.
After a four-hour weather delay, Lenius and the other passengers were able to board their delayed flight to Austin — or so they thought. Once the passengers were on board and the plane was taxiing to the runway, the pilot came on the loudspeaker and said they were on a nonstop flight to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Everybody on the plane you could hear them almost gasp,” Lenius said.
The pilot explained because of the bad weather, some of the passengers on the plane had been diverted from Tulsa to Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers Airport (OKC). The plane was going to first drop them off in Tulsa, then continue on to its final destination in Austin.
“This is not right for [Via] to not tell us that we have to go to Tulsa first,” another passenger on the flight, Melissa Woody, said. “[Via] should have told us this before we ever boarded that flight.”
A flight attendant told Lenius it would be a quick 45-minute detour off the original flight path.
But, when the plane touched down in Tulsa (TUL), the flight crew ordered all passengers off the aircraft. The problem now? A mechanical issue that grounded the plane, the crew said.
Five hours later, after midnight, the airline canceled the flight.
Via sent the plane and flight crew to Austin, but told the passengers they would need to find another way to get to Austin themselves, KFOR news reports. The gate agent in Tulsa reportedly told the stranded passengers that the airline would reimburse them for their canceled trip to Austin.
But both Woody and Lenius said when they called Via, the carrier said it would not offer any reimbursement because the ticket had been used…to go to Tulsa.
“I called and said, ‘I want my money back,’” Woody explained. “And they said, ‘No, that’s considered a flight taken.’ I said, ‘But I ended up in Tulsa.’”
The US Aviation Consumer Protection Division has received 70 similar complaints about Via Air since January 2017. Consumer watchdog group Better Business Bureau gave the airline an “F” rating, its lowest possible score.
According to its website, Via Air is a regional carrier that operates a fleet of Embraer ERJ-145 jets in a 50-seat configuration, and Embraer EMB-120 turboprops in a 30-seat configuration, as well as one Cessna Citation XL business jet. It serves 17 destinations in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, West Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Colorado and Arizona.
TPG reached out to Via Air for more information but did not hear back by time of publication.
Featured image by Via Air.
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