It was a dream come true for 25 dancers, their parents and the folks at Dance Studio in Medford, Massachusetts. After COVID-19 ended their chance to dance at Disney World last year, they were finally here.
Amy Famiglietti owns The Dance Studio.
“The kids were so excited because we had been working logistically for two years on this trip.”
But just hours before they were supposed to go home, the dream turned into a nightmare. Their JetBlue flight was canceled.
“We received a robocall for 25 people and we weren’t able to give any information to our families about it until about 2 a.m., which is unacceptable,” Famiglietti said.
It took hours on the phone and the solution wasn’t great – they had a flight booked on Tuesday morning. This meant two extra nights in Orlando that they hadn’t planned or budgeted for. They took to social media and appealed for help.
Amy posted on the studio’s Facebook page.
“We took the antennae out at 3 a.m. and by 3 p.m. the next day, 12 hours later we had enough money to cover all 10 hotel rooms for two nights, give all the dancers $55 for the food and Disney even offered us $1,500 because they felt bad.”
Sydny Douglas’ experience at the start of the trip might have been an omen. JetBlue lost their luggage on the way down.
“There’s just been very little communication about updates on where my luggage is. I’m trying to call. No answer. I’ve been disconnected. So it was a week of buying Mickey t-shirts,” she said.
For the children, it was more free time.
“I wasn’t too mad about me staying at Disney for a few more days,” admitted dancer Sam Enayo.
Canceled flights have become all too common. According flightaware.com more than 2,200 flights across the country were canceled on Monday. Sam Erenfeld runs BLER Travel at Brookline and said airlines are blaming a labor shortage.
“The lack of flight attendants, the lack of pilots and that’s the reason for all the cancellations. That’s what they say,” Erenfeld explained.
He thinks there’s more to it.
“My instinct is that there are other reasons they don’t want to talk about. There are others because we didn’t have so many problems a few months ago and maybe they have added too many flights”
But that doesn’t explain the poor customer service from Famiglietti and others who have to spend hours on the phone for a resolution.
Airlines are not required to compensate for additional nights in a hotel or food.
“The airline will gladly refund the ticket as it is the lesser of the cost,” Erenfeld said.
Other expenses can add up and increase frustration.
“The traveler may miss a cruise. The traveler may miss a meeting. The traveler may miss the hotels he has purchased.”