Let’s talk Elite Airways.
I chose to fly Elite Airways for a recent trip to Vero Beach, Florida to visit my parents. It is the only airline that flies direct to this small beach town from the New York area, specifically Newark Airport. Vero Beach is about 2 hours from the Orlando Airport and an hour from Melbourne’s so if you can fly into Vero Beach, it really is the most convenient option.
Elite Airways doesn’t fly to many destinations. You can see all their airports here but know that it is primarily tiny airports like Bar Harbor, Maine and Rockford, Illinois. Their focus seems to be primarily charter services but they are expanding their commercial services more and more.
Their flights offer a better quality travel experience, says their website. Elite’s planes are smaller than most major airlines, only seating about 30 passengers. Their site boasts no change fees and that your first bag always flies free.
Because Elite is such a small airline, when you call their customer service line, you get a real person almost immediately which is great. There is no screaming “RESERVATIONS!” at a robot into the phone!
But that’s about where my positives end for Elite Airways.
My first issue with Elite was that they do not offer you the option of using your TSA Precheck number. With an airport the size of Newark, I want to be able to use my precheck status. When I called Elite to ask them how to add my number, I was told that their computers “do not have the capability to add TSA precheck.” I’m sorry, what? And no, I did not get to go through special security for Elite passengers. I was going to have to take off my sneakers like the rest of the passengers.
Of course the day I was supposed to fly to Vero Beach, Florida, a blizzard hit New York City. And it’s not like it hit the night before. Twelve inches hit that morning, right before my 12:15pm flight out of Newark. Perfectttttttt timing.
So of course my flight was canceled. I understand there was a blizzard and they can’t fly me down to Florida. I’m not saying they should have. But Elite told me they couldn’t get me out until Saturday afternoon, arriving in Vero at 4 p.m. I was flying back to New York on Monday at 5 p.m. It wasn’t worth it to me to go down there for just 48 hours.
When I asked to just cancel my flight and be refunded, Elite told me that because it was weather related, I could not get my money back. I could only have a credit on Elite Airways.
Let’s note that Delta, JetBlue and even AMERICAN (they have the WORST customer service, amirite?) were offering free, I repeat FREE, cancellations and changes. If I had been flying Delta, they would’ve let me cancel my flight for a refund, no problem!
It was almost impossible to find weather related cancellation information on Elite’s website so I couldn’t really use the whole, “But your website says…” when trying to get my refund. When I finally did find their weather policy, it was very vague. Probably so they can easily steal my money!
My sister tried tweeting at Elite to help. I find with most major airlines that their Twitter customer service reps are incredibly helpful! But Elite simply tweeted back, “Due to the nor’easter barring down on New York and New England, Elite Airways has postponed Thursday’s flight to Saturday.” Not helpful.
Out of Newark, the airport of the city that I live, Elite Airways ONLY flies to Vero Beach, Florida. My parents are planning to sell the property so they probably won’t be going back there. So I will never go back to Vero Beach and thus cannot use an Elite Airways credit. I told this to Elite’s customer service over the phone and all they could say was, “The credit is transferable to any Elite Airways passenger.”
So I guess that is the ONE good thing about Elite Airways. They will allow me to transfer the credit they are forcing me to have. But my last minute flight on Elite was $349 one way. That’s a lot of money to have on an airline that no one I know will ever fly!
Overall, as far as customer service goes, Elite Airways is just atrocious. Maybe this airline will get it together since they’re still figuring things out. But I will never fly Elite again and I do not recommend it to anyone. Even my worst enemies. I’d rather fly Vueling than Elite!
OK…maybe that NOT far. Vueling is still the most terrible airline of all.
Have you ever flown Elite Airways? What was your experience like?