It was a dream come true for 25 dancers, their parents and folks from The Dance Studio in Medford, Massachusetts. After COVID-19 ended their chance to dance at Disney World last year, they were finally there.
Amy Famiglietti owns The Dance Studio.
"The kids were so amped up because we were working logistically two years for this trip."
But just hours before they were supposed to head home the dream turned into a nightmare. Their JetBlue flight was canceled.
"We got a robocall for 25 people and we couldn't give our families any information on that until like 2 in the morning which is unacceptable," Famiglietti said.
It took hours on the phone and the solution wasn't great -- they were booked on a flight Tuesday morning. That meant two extra nights in Orlando that they hadn't planned or budgeted for. They went on social media and put out a plea for help.
Amy posted on the studio's Facebook page.
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"We put out the feelers at 3 in the morning 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 food and Disney even comped us $1,500 because they felt bad."
Sydny Douglas' experience at the start of the trip might have been an omen. JetBlue lost her luggage on the way down.
"There's just been very little communication about any updates about where my luggage is. Trying to call. No answer. Got disconnected. So it was a week of buying Mickey t-shirts," she said.
For the kids, it was more time off.
"I wasn't too mad about the fact that I'm staying at Disney for a couple more days," dancer Sam Enayo admitted.
Canceled flights have become all too common. According to flightaware.com more than 2,200 flights across the country were canceled Monday. Sam Erenfeld runs BLER Travel in Brookline and said airlines blame a labor shortage.
"Lack of stewardesses, 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 than that.
"My gut feeling is that there are other reasons they don’t want to talk about. There’s additional because we didn’t have this amount of problems a few months ago and maybe they added too many flights"
But that doesn’t explain the poor customer service experienced by Famiglietti and others who have to spend hours on the phone for a resolution.
Airlines are not required to give compensation for extra nights in a hotel, or food.
“The airline will happily refund the ticket because that’s the least of the cost," Erenfeld said.
The other expenses can add up and increase frustration.
"The traveler may miss a cruise. The traveler may miss a meeting. The traveler may miss hotels they purchased."