American Airlines Travel Restrictions

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May 5, 2020
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I had a flight that I cancelled with American Airlines due to COVID in March. American Airlines gave me a travel credit for my ticket (valued at $230), as opposed to a refund. Yesterday I attempted to book a new flight with American and apply that credit. They require that you call to apply the credit vs. do it as part of the online booking. I had already researched the flight I wanted and the cost was $240 for the Basic Economy class. When the agent went to book it, she told me the flight was $309. I asked her why the price was so much higher. She advised that when you are using a travel credit it MUST be applied to the "Main Cabin" fair and not the "Basic Economy" fair. Has anyone ever run into this before? It seems like a complete scam. I expected to pay an extra $10 and they want an extra $79 for the exact same thing. I asked for documentation that my original ticket purchase had restrictive terms in line with this policy and she could not produce any documentation of such. I believe that I should be able to apply my credit toward any ticket tier that I would like to buy and pay the difference. Has anyone run into this before? Advice to handle this dispute?
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Hopefully, you did not buy the new ticket yet.

Here are AA contacts: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines

Start at the first level of cust serv above the level you talked to and email them to see if the information you were given is correct. If no response, move to the next level in 10-14 days.

However, you may wish to consider that if you book a new Basic Econ fare and wish to change or cancel in the future when the Covid-19 waivers are no longer in effect, you will receive NO credit or voucher for your new ticket. Basic Econ tickets are use-it-or-lose-it tickets.

The only reason you were able to get any voucher/credit for your cancellation in March (assuming that ticket was also a Basic Econ ticket) was due to the Covid-19 waivers in effect at the time. These waivers will disappear at some (unknown) time in the future and standard cancelation policies will be in effect.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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Paying $79 and getting main cabin vs. basic is not the same thing. You are getting a seat and earlier boarding and the ability to receive a travel credit if you don’t buy insurance for your ticket and have to cancel.

As weihlac said, if it wasn’t for Covid19 you wouldn’t have been eligible for anything back if you canceled this ticket.
 
May 5, 2020
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I truly don't care about early booking or seating assignment. So, the value of the two tickets in terms of product purchased is the same to me. The original ticket purchased was a Main Cabin ticket so I should have been able to receive a credit regardless of the circumstances. I did not purchase the new ticket because it seems to me they are simply trying to reduce the value of the credit by a third. If they do this to the thousands of consumers holding travel credits, that adds up to big dollars. Having taken a $5.8 billion bailout from the government, one would think they would do the right thing by their customers and not try and limit their ability to use credits for hard earned dollars they are essentially holding in trust. Thanks for the AA contacts. I will pursue a letter to management and hopefully find someone willing to issue a refund or allow me to apply my credit to a replacement ticket that I choose.
 
May 30, 2019
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You may or may not find yourself technically in the right, depending on AA's documented policy. You may want to go through the site and check their fine print regarding voucher use. This might be a good starting point -- https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/coronavirus-updates.jsp -- however you are subject to the policy they had in effect in March when you cancelled the flight.

But also realize that you could push this up the executive chain, time moves forward. By the time you get the resolution you are hoping for -- if you get it -- the airfare for the flight you want may increase to the point where the class fare difference may be moot, or Basic Economy may sell out. You will not get the airfare available at the time you originally tried to book, you will get the airfare in effect at the time you actually book. You could also be denied your request and have to pay substantially more than $309 for the Main Cabin fare in effect at the time.
 
May 5, 2020
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You may or may not find yourself technically in the right, depending on AA's documented policy. You may want to go through the site and check their fine print regarding voucher use. This might be a good starting point -- https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/coronavirus-updates.jsp -- however you are subject to the policy they had in effect in March when you cancelled the flight.

But also realize that you could push this up the executive chain, time moves forward. By the time you get the resolution you are hoping for -- if you get it -- the airfare for the flight you want may increase to the point where the class fare difference may be moot, or Basic Economy may sell out. You will not get the airfare available at the time you originally tried to book, you will get the airfare in effect at the time you actually book. You could also be denied your request and have to pay substantially more than $309 for the Main Cabin fare in effect at the time.
There is nothing in the fine print linked in your reply that indicates you have to use a voucher for an upgraded fare category. Does anyone have the complete T/C that you click on when you make a reservation? The customer service person I spoke with said there is nothing "in writing" stating this but it is just a policy they are implementing. I am wondering if they are allowed legally to force you to pay for a more expensive fare or if consumers have any rights protected by the DOT or similar that bind the airline to apply the proper credit to a purchase.

I share your concern Skippy that as my travel draws nearer that the rates may be moving up outweighing the difference being disputed.
 
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Nov 22, 2019
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You can ask AA Twitter team for clarification, they are fast to respond usually. But the AA website shows some restriction to basic economy tickets

This is not nice at all, but if you need to book a flight, just book it now and ask later the customer service a goodwill gesture for the difference. Keep screen capture. Maybe it works, or doesn't but if you wait too long, you will end up paying much more.

Also, I doubt that anyone will be able to lift a restriction on your travel credit, even if the CEO of AA agrees with you, all he will do is to give you a voucher, an upgrade, but he will not change the booking process. I think this is a restriction from their booking system.
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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Since the credit is from a Main Cabin fare they're not forcing you to use it on a "upgraded" or "more expensive" fare. It seems they're saying your Main Cabin credit cannot be used on a lower fare which is Basic Economy but can be used on another Main Cabin fare. I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there was something somewhere that says credit has to be used on the same fare or a higher class. Especially since I think most airlines are letting you use your credit on more than one flight (previously they were one flight only use it or lose it) they might not be wanting someone to have cancelled one flight in a higher fare and use that credit to fly multiple times.
 
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May 5, 2020
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Since the credit is from a Main Cabin fare they're not forcing you to use it on a "upgraded" or "more expensive" fare. It seems they're saying your Main Cabin credit cannot be used on a lower fare which is Basic Economy but can be used on another Main Cabin fare. I wouldn't be entirely surprised if there was something somewhere that says credit has to be used on the same fare or a higher class. Especially since I think most airlines are letting you use your credit on more than one flight (previously they were one flight only use it or lose it) they might not be wanting someone to have cancelled one flight in a higher fare and use that credit to fly multiple times.
Seems manipulative and self serving to me. I gave them $230 and should have $230 credit to apply toward another purchase. Imagine returning a $230 sweater to a store and them telling you that you could only use the credit toward another sweater and not any other type of merchandise. That is what AA is doing. What ever happened to customer service?? Seems they have come up with yet another strategy to take advantage of consumers.
 

Neil Maley

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It’s not manipulative. They are want you to spend what you spent so there is nothing left to refund. If they are giving you a credit as a courtesy, they aren’t going to refund any leftover money to your card.

Remember- you bought a nonrefundable fare and they don’t have to give you anything at all back when you cancel the ticket. They are giving you a credit as a courtesy.

You are getting the entire credit back, but if the main cabin ticket which is what you originally had costs more, you have to pay the difference.

That said- the terms for using e-vouchers do not specifically say they can’t be used for basic economy tickets if you had main cabin tickets so that is what my point would be when writing.

Here are the terms:

 
May 5, 2020
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It’s not manipulative. They are want you to spend what you spent so there is nothing left to refund. If they are giving you a credit as a courtesy, they aren’t going to refund any leftover money to your card.

Remember- you bought a nonrefundable fare and they don’t have to give you anything at all back when you cancel the ticket. They are giving you a credit as a courtesy.

You are getting the entire credit back, but if the main cabin ticket which is what you originally had costs more, you have to pay the difference.

That said- the terms for using e-vouchers do not specifically say they can’t be used for basic economy tickets if you had main cabin tickets so that is what my point would be when writing.

Here are the terms:

My original ticket was a fare with change language, so they aren't giving me anything I did not buy. The ticket I requested to purchase was $10 more than the credit I had, so I was not asking for a refund. I addressed exactly what you said to my letter to them. They acknowledge they don't have any written policy, per se about this. It is just something they are choosing to enforce. I take issue with them dreaming up some policy to make it difficult to use your legitimate credit.
 
May 30, 2019
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Before you write, read pages on this site for writing style tips. For example, do not be accusatory, be polite, stick to the facts relevant to the request, make your request clear and timely. There are many people on this forum who rant refer to companies as being "evil, manipulative, scammy", etc. In some cases, those may be fair assessments; however, calling a company names like that when also trying to get something out of them is rarely a successful approach. You get more bees with honey.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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I have to agree with the OP, the credit shouldn't have any cabin restrictions. If she wanted to purchase a first class ticket, would they not allow that either?!?
 
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Neil Maley

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My original ticket was a fare with change language, so they aren't giving me anything I did not buy. The ticket I requested to purchase was $10 more than the credit I had, so I was not asking for a refund. I addressed exactly what you said to my letter to them. They acknowledge they don't have any written policy, per se about this. It is just something they are choosing to enforce. I take issue with them dreaming up some policy to make it difficult to use your legitimate credit.
What your letter should say is that the terms on the website do not say there can’t be a class charge and you are respectfully asking them to allow you to use the credit for the basic economy ticket.
You can add the link above.

If you’d like us to review your letter before you send it we’d be happy to. This is how to escalate it up the AA chain:


I think you have a legitimate issue.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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The airlines have vast departments full of people who spend their days thinking up ways to increase revenue. Perhaps some day the government will stop the charade, but until then, we are subject to terms that reward the airline and punish the pax. My favorite example are change fees. I book my tix online, I change my tix online 3 months before departure, the airline does not put one ounce of effort into the task. But they charge me $200. First they started with a much smaller penalty, and nobody said anything, so they've gradually increased it, since nobody came along and told them not to. The airlines will continue to operate like this until they are stopped.