American Airlines Quotes Me $338 for 2 tickets, then charges $2420, Admits Mistake, Refuses Refund

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Apr 23, 2017
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No worries, but I wish you had told us about Virgin, Spirit, and Kayak from the beginning. It affects the strength of your case with AA (and not to your benefit) since you were a walk-up passenger with no reservation history. This explains why I could not find an 8:35am departure on AA LOL!! Was your new AA flight to CUN a nonstop at 11am? I only see an 11*pm* (night) flight; please provide the AA flight #. This also confirms your outbound and return were on TWO separate tickets (no airlines co-ticket with Spirit). That's lucky- had it been on one ticket your return would have been cancelled and forfeited when you didn't notify Virgin and no-showed for the flight. (Not finger-wagging, just educating and providing info that will help). It's good you removed details about the missed flight...it only detracts from your point about the miscommunication of the fare amount



If the speculation that the agent sold a fully refundable fare is correct, I think the agent was right. @Dale Allen 's narrative in the very first post: "Ann seemed very frazzled and hurried during the process of purchasing out tickets, telling us several times, "We've got to do this fast you guys. If we don't do this fast you might miss this flight, too, and there are no refunds, so we've got to do this fast."

It sounds like it was coming down to the wire to ticket and check them in. At T-60 minutes, international check-in is blocked and the manifest is transmitted to Homeland Security. At that point, the ticket becomes non-refundable. The policy of all airlines is no refunds after data is transmitted to the government of the departing or arriving country. (If they had not checked in the ticket would remain fully refundable since no data was transmitted).

These are not valid 13-digit ticket numbers. Are they missing "001" at the beginning?
Kenish,
Thank you for these technical details. Very good to know for future travel, and you clarified several things I was confused about.

Sorry for leaving out those key details in the original post, and for the resulting search for the nonexistent AA tickets. You are correct that I omitted these details from the email to AA because I felt it would only weaken my case and make a long email even longer.

Yes: if you add "001" to those numbers you'll get the 13-digit ticket number. For some reason on my receipt the "001" are omitted, which is where I pulled that number from at the time of writing that email.

My ticket reads:
0012123406355
LV LOS ANGELES 959A FLT 491 ECONOMY
AR PHEONIX 11:36A
LV PHEONIX 12:50P FLT 1383 ECONOMY
AR CANCUN 6:40P
 
Apr 26, 2017
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The fact that you were sold a non-refundable ticket right there at the airport as you were getting on the plane is an EXCELLENT point in your case. The ticket agent knew you were buying a ticket to get on a plane right that very moment, not a month from them. There is no reason whatsoever to charge you for a refundable ticket under those circumstances.
Since you were purchasing these tickets in person with a credit card, did you not have to sign the receipt showing the total price? (It was probably broken down to base fare, taxes, and any surcharges and then the total)
 
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Michelle Couch-Friedman

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No gag order. :)
American was able to look at historical fare data and noted that there was no $169 fare that day(over springbreak). The lowest nonrefundable, advance purchase flight was $390. Dale paid the correct fare for a walk-up, one-way rate. But, in the spirit of good-will, AA has agreed to honor the advance purchase rate.
 
Dec 18, 2016
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No gag order. :)
American was able to look at historical fare data and noted that there was no $169 fare that day(over springbreak). The lowest nonrefundable, advance purchase flight was $390. Dale paid the correct fare for a walk-up, one-way rate. But, in the spirit of good-will, AA has agreed to honor the advance purchase rate.
Congrats to you and Dale and a big hat tip to American Airlines too.
 
Apr 23, 2017
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Think about it, the guy is desperate and at the counter with his gf packed for his trip. The only scenario where that would not benefit the airline is the one Neil identified earlier, where there were other fare options and the agent inadvertently selected a non refundable ticket.
Actually, I live 20 minutes from LAX. And I was in no rush to get to my destination. There was no wedding, no big party to get to; just a modest airbnb waiting. If I could do it again, I'd have backed slowly away from the AA ticket desk like the exploitation booth that it is, and then booked my tickets online for the following day.

Since you were purchasing these tickets in person with a credit card, did you not have to sign the receipt showing the total price? (It was probably broken down to base fare, taxes, and any surcharges and then the total)
Note: This was my FIRST TIME purchasing airline tickets EVER (except of course for the tickets I had booked online), so I'm not familiar with how they do things.

Unbelievably, (as least to me - maybe this is standard practice at the airline ticket desk) I was never given a receipt to sign. I pointed this out to AA in my initial letter to them. If I had been shown the amount, then this whole thing would have been avoided. I probably get handed 4 receipts a day that require a signature; and I'll be prompted by a touch screen, "Is the amount correct? Yes or No?"; and all this for purchases under $20. But, when I'm charged $2420.70, no signature required. No visual display of any kind prior to processing the transaction. Is this by design?

The fact that a refundable ticket was booked does not help. The airline will take the position that this was the only fare bucket available. I had this happen to me with Hawaii. It is nearly impossible to disprove.
I'm obviously not the only one who this has happened to. I'm sure this happens on a daily basis and the airlines know it. Yuck.

This will be the first and last time that I don't check a receipt at the point of purchase...haste makes waste, as they say. And the airlines know this. Yuck.

A big hat tip to AA? I'll give them a modest one with a pained smile.

The silver lining is that I found you good people. Thank you all for being so timely, informative and professional in your support. Hopefully, I've learned my lesson, and I'll not need it again...
 
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Neil Maley

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To avoid this, in the future you should arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international. You don't say why you missed the flight, if it was because youw ere coming from another connecting flight or if you just got to the airport too late. If it was because you got there too late, if you had followed those guidelines, this wouldn't have happened. So in the future, keep that in mind when flying. The computer shut down 1 hour before a flight is to leave and when that happens, they can't do anything to get you on a flight.

Very glad that this was resolved to your satisfaction.
 
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Jul 27, 2016
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I completely disagree becausse they went for a couple days with an original ticket price of just a couple hundred each. There is NO WAY I see that someone would agree to pay $2,400 when their original tickets were a couple hundred and they were only going for a few days. If it was to Italy for a month then I could understand but not this time. I also agree with the others in that there would be no need to purchase a refundable ticket if you were at the airport and wanting to get on a flight in an hour or so.
Not sure it's this crystal clear. They weren't originally booked on AA, and all the agent knew was that they had missed their flight on another airline and run over to the AA counter because AA had the next flight out to Cancun.
 
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Apr 23, 2017
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To avoid this, in the future you should arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international. You don't say why you missed the flight, if it was because youw ere coming from another connecting flight or if you just got to the airport too late. If it was because you got there too late, if you had followed those guidelines, this wouldn't have happened. So in the future, keep that in mind when flying. The computer shut down 1 hour before a flight is to leave and when that happens, they can't do anything to get you on a flight.

Very glad that this was resolved to your satisfaction.
Thanks Neil. But I’ve always been aware of those guidelines. I’m referring to everything that was learned after missing the flight. If you review the thread you’ll recall that I was responsible for another person who was very ill up until the very last moment. What I’m saying is that there are valuable lessons to be learned here for people who have missed a flight, whether is was due to circumstances beyond their own control, or not.


Neil, if I could do this again, I’d have put my foot down and told my girlfriend that we were not going anywhere that morning. She would have rested, recovered; we would have incurred the loss of the first flight, and then booked 1-way tickets online for the following day.
 

Michelle Couch-Friedman

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The silver lining is that I found you good people. Thank you all for being so timely, informative and professional in your support. Hopefully, I've learned my lesson, and I'll not need it again...
That is a great way of looking at it, @Dale. The airlines almost never give cash refunds in this type of situation, so I am very pleased with the outcome of your case. :)