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American Airlines headache for Pats fan trying to get to away game

FILE - In this Friday, June 3, 2016 file photo, an American Airlines passenger jet takes off from Miami International Airport in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Traveling to see the New England Patriots play on the road is a 23-year Quinn family tradition.

This season, the Quinns decided to head to New Orleans for the Pat’s game against the Saints on Sept. 17.

“Whatever weekend we end up going is always exciting. You get, you know, two days off of work. You get to relax -- spend time with the family,” said Jeff Quinn.

But Jeff said getting to New Orleans from T.F. Green airport was anything but relaxing.

“Around boarding time, we found out that a flight attendant had been ill, and they started to delay the flight 15 minutes at a time and we ended up three-and-a-half-hours delayed taking off,” Jeff said.

By the time their American Airlines flight landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Quinn’s connecting flight to New Orleans was gone.

What’s worse -- there wasn't another open flight until the following night. So, the Quinn family accepted American Airlines’ next best offer: fly to Alabama and catch a ride.

“We were told by the gate agents in Providence that we could be put on standby for a flight to Mobile,” said Jeff. “So, we took an Uber to New Orleans and they said, ‘Submit a receipt when you make the claim, we'll pay for it. It's definitely an American Airlines problem.’”

The two-and-a-half-hour Uber ride from Mobile to New Orleans ended up costing Jeff $250.

The Quinn family made it to the Patriots game on time. But Jeff ran into new problems when got home and attempted to submit a claim for reimbursement.

“She said, ‘I'm sorry, I don't know what the gate agents told you,’” said Jeff, recalling his conversation with an American Airlines customer service representative. “’If they told you that, they were mistaken, we don't do that. It won't happen.’”

That’s when Jeff turned to NBC 10 News.

Consumer Advocate Emily Volz reached out to American Airlines and asked why the airline wouldn't reimburse their Uber ride.

A representative responded via email: "We always like to take (care) of our customers, and have reached out to the family, and will reimburse them."

The next day, Jeff got a call from American Airlines: He'd be getting a $250 reimbursement for the Uber ride.

Jeff also convinced American Airline to issue $250 flight vouchers to each member of the Quinn family impacted by the delays.

Jeff said the customer service representative reminded him that, by law, the airline wasn't required to give him anything for his troubles.

“As a consumer of American Airlines, I'm actually entitled to nothing -- even after everything that's happened,” said Jeff, relaying what he was told by the airline representative. “That they do this out of the kindness of their heart.”

There's no federal law that protects passengers if there is a delay. Passengers are at the mercy of the airline, and the airline can compensate passengers how they see fit.

Jeff is accepting the $250 refund and five flight vouchers. He said even though he lost additional money on unused airport transfers and hotel stays, it is probably the best offer he's going to get.

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