Advice needed - codeshare legs cancelled, AA throwing up their hands

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Jul 11, 2020
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Back in January, I booked and paid for a round trip ticket Huntsville AL (HSV) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK), via DFW and Tokyo Haneda (HND), and back, on American Airlines (AA)

Routing was HSV-DFW-HND-BKK, two weeks in BKK, return BKK-HND-DFW-HSV. The DFW-HND, HND-BKK, BKK-HND, and HND-DFW legs are all codeshares, flying on Japan Airlines (JL) metal. Only the legs between Huntsville and DFW were on American Airlines (on regional jet feeders). I did this because (a) it has become essentially impossible to score the Business Class upgrade on a Coach fare, and (b) JL's Coach hard and soft product is vastly superior to AA's Coach (and Preferred Economy!) hard and soft product. (A few years back, the Biz Class upgrade was just about a sure thing. If that was still the case, I'd be willing to risk it. Today, not so much.)

JL has cancelled the BKK-HND and HND-BKK flights, most probably because Thailand's borders are currently closed to all international arrivals. AA accordingly removed those legs from the itinerary, then threw up their hands. AA appears to have made no attempt whatsoever to rework the ticket to get me to Bangkok, preferring to strand me in Tokyo for two weeks.

I just spoke, briefly, with an AA call center person. She told me that my only options are to cancel the ticket myself, and request a refund, or to rebook the trip and pay the difference. I took neither of those options, preferring to find out what, if any, alternatives I might have. I would have expected American Airlines to at least attempt to rework the whole trip, to get me to my planned destination, and back.

Yes, I have trip insurance on it, but I strongly doubt that cancelled legs because of closed borders is one of the covered reasons.

I've been following the news out of Bangkok closely. I think there is in fact no reasonable chance that the Thai government will open the borders to international tourists before my scheduled departure time. Nor is my crystal ball good enough to indicate when the Thai government might reopen the borders. At the same time, this is my 65th birthday trip, and I was looking forward to spending time in Bangkok with friends I don't get to see nearly often enough, hence my reluctance to cancel. Miracles do occasionally occur. On the gripping hand, the phrase "cancel and request a refund" seems to suggest to me that, were I to pursue that course, AA would likely drag their feet forever on issuing the refund.

What, if any, are my options here? What would anyone recommend?
 
Dec 19, 2014
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What are your options?
Cancel and take the refund.

By your own admission, you state it is unlikely that the Thai government will open the borders to international tourists before your scheduled departure time. You are banking on a miracle. So, WHY would you want to rebook on a miracle chance? No offense, but this is the type of rationalization that drives CSRs and travel agents crazy.

Besides, you can't be stranded in Tokyo if you haven't started your trip. Does American even have ANY flights to BKK on AA metal or codeshare for them to even be able to fly you to BKK? That may be why AA isn't taking action.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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From what I can see, AA is still offering Huntsville to Bangkok, all on AA metal, with a change of airports in Tokyo. We don'k know enough about your booking vs. the alternative to see if that's an alternative that AA can legally switch you to in terms of schedule. I'd call, speak to a CSR, and if the replacement is not acceptable (let alone that you may not want to switch airports -- think going from Newark to JFK), then ask for a refund. That approach takes COVID and closed borders out of the equation.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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How much time do you have before the trip? I fully understand what you're doing and why. I would figure out a few routings that would work for you and call AA. I don't think you can expect a CSR to come up with much ... they've gotta be exhausted from these past months. So give them some ideas and see where it goes. Perhaps your friends in Bangkok could meet you somewhere ... unless they're unable to leave or return to Thailand. Millions of people will be taking their special birthday/anniversary/whatever trip in 2021 or '22.
 
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Jul 11, 2020
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Target departure date is 22 Aug, DEROS 6 Sep.

AA's website shows no AA codeshares on that date for the final leg into Bangkok, from anywhere. There appear to be a few options via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific and Royal Jordanian. There are some utterly ridiculously-priced options involving ANA and a few others.

An ITA Software matrix search shows flights on ANA and THAI from Tokyo to Bangkok on the outbound date. However, THAI is currently in reorganization, and is basically not flying, and it is not at all clear whether they will be flying at all.

Chris et al are currently strongly recommending that we NOT cancel our flights, but rather wait for the airline to cancel them, as that puts them under an unquestionable legal obligation to make a full refund. If I cancel, AA gets to drag their feet. I'd rather not give them that opportunity, if I can avoid it.

The "lemons -> lemonade" solution would be to put the pieces together for an improvised two week vacation in Japan. I mention that for completeness only; it is not my idea of a good answer. (And I don't know whether Japan is even allowing Americans in right now.)
 

weihlac

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Jun 30, 2017
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Target departure date is 22 Aug, DEROS 6 Sep.

AA's website shows no AA codeshares on that date for the final leg into Bangkok, from anywhere. There appear to be a few options via Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific and Royal Jordanian. There are some utterly ridiculously-priced options involving ANA and a few others.

An ITA Software matrix search shows flights on ANA and THAI from Tokyo to Bangkok on the outbound date. However, THAI is currently in reorganization, and is basically not flying, and it is not at all clear whether they will be flying at all.

Chris et al are currently strongly recommending that we NOT cancel our flights, but rather wait for the airline to cancel them, as that puts them under an unquestionable legal obligation to make a full refund. If I cancel, AA gets to drag their feet. I'd rather not give them that opportunity, if I can avoid it.

The "lemons -> lemonade" solution would be to put the pieces together for an improvised two week vacation in Japan. I mention that for completeness only; it is not my idea of a good answer. (And I don't know whether Japan is even allowing Americans in right now.)

"International travel restrictions previously instituted by the Government of Japan remain in place. U.S. citizens, including those with resident status in Japan, generally remain prohibited from entering the country under the current travel restrictions. The U.S. Embassy continues to engage with the Japanese Government about these restrictions. The Government of Japan published information regarding exemptions to its entry restrictions, which is available here. "
 

Skippy

May 30, 2019
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When discussing your AA ticket, take COVID out of the equation for a minute ... If your itinerary has material changes and includes US locations, per DOT regulations you have the opportunity to request a refund. (I don't know the time threshold for 'material changes' for AA International, however you can find that elsewhere online, and typically, adding a stop would qualify.) AA already admitted that you have grounds to request a full refund. That's a lot better than the situation with other travelers.

AA also seems to be admitting that it can't reaccommodate you due to changing travel conditions.

Did you book directly with AA and pay on a credit card?
  • If yes, if you request a refund, it appears to me that you are 100% likely to get that refund; however, it could take several weeks to process due to backlog.
  • If no (i.e. booked through an Online Travel Agency or used miles), that's a slightly different story.
My recommendation:
  • Call AA.
  • Stay polite during the entire call.
  • Confirm that if you request a refund, you will receive the full refund to the original form of payment.
  • Ask about refund processing times.
  • If the responses are good for you, request the refund. Inquire if you need a cancellation number or if the original itinerary confirmation code is adequate for tracking should there be a delay in getting a refund.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Without regard to price or class:

Aug 22 AA 5782 Lv Huntsville 1:30 p.m. Ar DFW 3:29 p.m. AA 61 Lv DFW AUGUST 23 12:05 p.m. Ar 3:00 p.m. Tokyo Narita AUGUST 24 AA 8411 Tokyo Narita (this is JAL metal) Lv 6:20 p.m. Ar BKK 11:00 p.m.

I have not calculated the time, but AA calculates that is 45 hours. If that is not satisfactory, because the time exceeds what is permitted on a change, ask for a refund. As you can see, COVID and entry restrictions are not involved in this approach.

I have no idea how long under ordinary circumstances it would have taken to fly from BKK to Huntsville. My only experience on this route was on World Airways from BKK to OAK involving multiple re-fueling stops on, as I recall, a 727 in 1974.
 
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Aug 29, 2018
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Millions of people will be taking their special birthday/anniversary/whatever trip in 2021 or '22.

That would be my advice -- celebrate your 66th *or 67th) with friends in Bangkok, celebrate your 65th lo ally with local friends.

I am one who has had to similarly postpone a birthday celebration (my 60th, in December.). I've tentatively moved it to next year for the 61st. In y case, I've invited friends from all overt the world to San Francisco for a nice dinner, like I did for my 40th.

It is just a number -- lets all relax and let the scientists figure out how to innoculate us against this disease, and celebrate then,
 
Jul 11, 2020
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Follow-up.

I just got a surprise phone call from American Airlines, referencing the trip, and asking if I was still planning on going.

I said No, because the borders to Thailand and Japan were both closed and not likely to reopen any time soon, and I'd been intending to call them about cancelling and requesting a refund.

She replied that that was good, because otherwise she'd have had to explain all that to me, but I already knew it. She went on to say she could cancel the trip for me and tell me how to request the refund. I said go ahead, she gave me the instructions, and I plan to check the AA website later today, after it has had a chance to update itself.

AA just rose a few points in my estimation. They still have a long way to go to catch up with JL or TG or CX, but this is a step in the right direction.
 
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Jul 11, 2020
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Did AA cancel the flights? If they didn’t, did the AA rep. tell you if there were any cancellation penalties if they cancel for you?
The fun started when JL cancelled the HND-BKK and BKK-HND legs.

This was apparently AA reaching out to tell me that I would not be able to enter Thailand or Japan on the scheduled date. No mention was made of cancellation fees, and, from their refund request page, it appears that they are not charging cancellation fees for cancellations that are clearly due to COVID-19 issues.
 
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Jul 11, 2020
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It appears that I spoke too soon.

I checked the "prefunds" site. AA wants a $300 "cancellation fee". I telephoned. The telephone agent claimed it was because the hops from HSV-DFW and DFW-HND were still flying. I tried to explain that my destination was Bangkok, not Japan, and that BOTH Thailand AND Japan had closed their borders. No joy. I'm leaving it as a credit for now, and will call them again, then probably start the letter writing.

At no time prior to my phone call today were cancellation fees mentioned. The original AA agent did not say anything about them, and, unfortunately, I did not think to ask.

I just did an ITA matrix search. It is not as of this moment possible to fly from HND to BKK, departing on 23 Aug. Period. There are NO flights available for purchase, even with up to two extra stops, even allowing airport changes. You just plain can't get there from here.
 
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