Not so friendly skies?

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX – Troy Helmandollar flies from Phoenix to Alaska every two weeks where he makes oil on the North Slope.

Helmandollar is a gold member with US Airways and says he’s been a loyal customer for seven years.

Until recently when he says he got caught in what he describes as a booking bait and switch, “I don’t know what they’re thinking,” he told us when we met up with him on a return trip from Alaska.

Helmandollar is upset about a redeye flight he booked home. It’s a flight he’s taken before. He wanted to leave Wednesday the 26 at 1:50 in the morning but the way this website is now set up, 1:50 a.m. is considered an extension of the previous day.

When he called US Airways to find out what was going on Helmandollar says he was told, “Most people think 1 a.m. the 26th means the night of the 25th.”

“Here in this world,” Helmandollar says, “we change days at midnight.”

The airline does have a disclaimer on the site that says a flight at 1:50 in the morning actually departs the following day.

Helmandollar was told it would be $600 to change his flight.

“It absolutely doesn’t make any sense and can be very confusing to consumers” says Fredric Bellamy, president of the Arizona Consumers Council.

Bellamy says that while some airlines are making an effort to improve customer service, overall complaints are up.

The way consumers can flex their muscles and fight back, says Bellamy, is to go to the government. “Often they will get a better response after they’ve complained to the Department of Transportation.”

In fact, a new study released this month shows complaints to the Department of Transportation about airline performance went up 28 percent in the past year.

3 On Your Side reached out to US Airways and an airline representative told us that because of the disclaimer on the website, they don’t feel Helmandollar is due any compensation.

However, Helmandollar did receive a phone call from an airline representative who told him that they are reviewing this booking policy.

Is Helmandollar satisfied? “Well,” he told us, “I really appreciate 3 On Your Side’s help in bringing this matter to their attention.”

Then he went on to say, Gold member or not, he will be flying another airline from now on.