Help Me Howard answers vacation rights questions

(WSVN) - The coronavirus pandemic has made travel hard on everybody.

You probably would give anything to get away for a little vacation, but during a pandemic that creates more problems for South Floridians. What kind of headaches and what are your rights?

Let’s bring in Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

South Floridians cannot agree on much, but it’s safe to say, most of us are ready for a nice getaway.

David Kadko: “I have a place in Montana that I like to go to. I have a cabin there that I like to look after.”

Trading crazy South Florida for a quiet cabin is one reason David wants to fly to Montana.

The spread of coronavirus in Florida is the other.

David Kadko: “It’s terrible, and they’re predicting it’s going to be the next epicenter.”

As David began to search for a flight, he had a goal.

David Kadko: “To get an idea of the flight load, which is the amount of people on the airplane, and the first two times they were very upfront about it. They said it was 50% on one flight, 60% on the other.”

David’s reason for wanting a half empty flight is simple.

David Kadko: “If they clean the plane and you sit next to someone who’s infected, you are in great risk of getting sick yourself.”

David bought a ticket.

Then as the day of his departure arrived, he called to make sure the flight was still not packed.

David Kadko: “She said she could not give me that information. I was surprised because they had been doing it very readily, and she said, ‘I can’t do it.'”

Since they wouldn’t tell him how many passengers were on the flight, David asked to sit in a row where the middle seat was empty.

David Kadko: “I asked the supervisor, ‘Could you guarantee you are not going to put someone in the seat next to me?’ She said, ‘We can’t do that. We cannot guarantee that.'”

David said refusing to tell how full a flight is doesn’t seem fair to him.

David Kadko: “Are they obligated to let people know about the flight load of an airplane, particularly in a time of a pandemic?”

Patrick Fraser: “And so do you have a right to know how full your flight is during a pandemic, Howard?

Howard Finkelstein: “No, they legally do not have to tell you, but legally they can tell you if they want to. So shop around until you find an airline who will let you know how full your flight is.”

Patrick Fraser: “Some bosses are telling people if you leave the state, you have to quarantine for 14 days and you don’t get paid. Is that legal?”

Howard Finkelstein: “Florida is an at-will state, meaning your boss can set whatever rules they want. In this case it makes sense because they want to protect the other employees and to protect the business.”

Patrick Fraser: “You have a season pass for one of Florida’s amusement parks. Since they have been closed, are you entitled to get your money back?”

Howard Finkelstein: “The parks have two options. Either they have to extend your pass to compensate you for the months they are closed, or they have to refund that portion of your annual pass. Some will let you pick which option you want and others will not, and they have the legal right to do that.”

American Airlines told us their employees should never have told David how booked the flight was. They don’t disclose that information.

David’s response?

David Kadko: “Information. It’s not a national security issue to tell me if the flight is 50% or 80% full. I’m not a terrorist, I can’t do anything with that information.”

American Airlines also announced they are now going to start booking flights at full capacity, but some airlines still are leaving the middle seat empty, so if you want an empty seat next to you, shop around.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
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