When William Pierce tried to check in for his return flight from Dubai, an airline representative told him that his ticket had already been used. In order to return home, he had to pay for a new ticket. He doesn’t understand why. Neither do our advocates.
This is one of the oddest cases we’ve handled, because none of the parties involved can explain what happened to Pierce’s ticket. It’s a tale of miles redemption and airline alliances gone wrong.
Pierce redeemed American Airlines miles for a round-trip ticket on Qatar Airways from Philadelphia to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, via Doha, Qatar. He and a companion traveled to Dubai together with no problems on the outbound flight.
But their trip home was another story altogether. Although Pierce’s companion was able to check in with no problem, Pierce was told that his ticket had been “exchanged” for a flight on British Airways and used. He says that he did not ask to exchange his ticket and was never notified of the change.
He tried to call American Airlines from the Doha airport, as did Qatar Airways personnel, with no success. In order to fly home, Pierce had to purchase another ticket on Qatar Airways for $4,000.
Upon his return, Pierce requested a reimbursement for his replacement ticket from American Airlines. Here’s Pierce on American’s response:
American Airlines is refusing to reimburse me for the expense saying they will not pay for [a ticket on] another airline and that I had to have been notified about the change and could have dealt with it. I was never notified, and why wasn’t the other person’s flight schedule also changed?
I asked why I would have shown up to the airport to check in if I had known of a new time. They said I should have tried to keep reaching AA. I felt I had no other choice since I was traveling with someone and the plane was leaving.
American Airlines told me it was exchanged to a British Airways ticket which it cannot access. [Its agent] asked BA and Qatar Airways to contact me and they never did. I emailed back and she asked them again and they never did.
At an earlier point I talked with Qatar and [its agent] said around that time they had a computer glitch and it was possible mine was deleted but that I’d have to talk to AA so I was back to where I started.
With none of the airlines involved helping him, Pierce contacted our forum for assistance. Our forum members advised Pierce to use our company contacts to write a concise letter of complaint to the executives for each airline, starting with the lowest level executives listed and escalating through the corporate hierarchies. Although Pierce followed this advice, he had no success in getting the cost of his flight home refunded.
Pierce then turned to our advocacy team. We reached out to American Airlines on Pierce’s behalf, but learned only that someone initiated and exchanged Pierce’s ticket on British Airways through Qatar Airways.
Neither American Airlines’ International General Rules Tariff nor Qatar Airways’ U.S. customer service commitment addresses a situation like Pierce’s, involving a ticket exchange. But both provide for prompt ticket refunds to the original form of payment used to purchase the tickets. Since Pierce redeemed frequent flyer miles to buy his original ticket, American refunded the miles he redeemed for the original return ticket back to his account.
Pierce isn’t happy with this outcome. He wants a cash refund for the $4,000 ticket he purchased from Qatar Airways to fly home. American has indicated that its agents contacted Qatar Airways, asking them to investigate the matter and contact Pierce directly, but so far nobody at Qatar Airways has done so. American Airlines itself is not willing to offer any additional compensation to Pierce. And nobody has come up with an explanation for how his ticket was exchanged in the first place.