Corey Morgan is looking for a little sympathy from American Airlines, and she gets it. But now, she wants more.
She purchased a round trip flight from Sacramento to Roswell, N.M., to attend a family wedding. Unfortunately, due to what she referred to as “extenuating circumstances and a family illness,” she is forced to cancel the trip. Now she wants a refund of her $447 ticket.
Unfortunately, the tickets were nonrefundable. That means they have to be used on the actual flight that was reserved, and when her plans changed, the only way she could change them was by paying a change fee, which sometimes exceeds the value of the original ticket.
A glance at American Airlines’ Conditions of Carriage reads:
If the ticketed reservations are canceled prior to the ticketed departure time, the ticket will be valid as follows:
Wholly unused tickets: Travel must commence within one year from the original ticket issue date. For example; if a ticket is issued on June 1, 2016, the new ticket travel must commence no later than June 1, 2017.
Partially used tickets: Unless otherwise specified in the fare rule, travel must be completed within one year from the outbound travel date.
Any fare difference and applicable change fees must be paid and tickets must be reissued when the itinerary is rebooked.
The change fee in this case would have been $200, and that was not acceptable to Morgan, whose husband contacted customer service at American and explained the situation. Surprisingly, a customer service representative was sympathetic to his plea and agreed to waive the change fee so he could reuse the ticket for a future flight.
Again, according to the FAQs section of American’s website:
We do not refund nonrefundable American Airlines tickets except when the ticket is cancelled within 24 hours of purchase, when we make a schedule change that results in a change of 61 minutes or more, upon the death of a passenger or passenger’s travelling companion or because of military orders. Supporting documentation is required.
24 hour refund policy – refund to original form of payment
Death of the passenger/traveling companion – refund to original form of payment
Schedule change 61 minutes or more – refund to original form of payment
Military orders/change in duty – refund to original form of payment
Nevertheless, Morgan was offered a waiver of the airline’s change fee, but that was not good enough for her and her husband. She wanted nothing short of a full refund.
Morgan also stated in her correspondence with American, “I do not have any plans to travel with companies who don’t understand unexpected life circumstances come up from time to time, that are out of our control and to not penalize their customers.”
This was a bad idea.
Insulting the airline’s customer service policies, as well as stating that she never wanted to fly them again, was not a good way to get them “in her corner.” A simple, polite letter would have been the most effective way to explain the circumstances.
Having struck out with direct contact with American, Morgan contacted our advocates, who reminded her how lucky she was to get a sympathetic agent at American to waive the change fee. We also suggested that Morgan post about her situation on our forums, which she did. The forums are often read by industry executives, who might be able to help further than the American representatives with whom they already had communicated.
One of the respondents in Morgan’s forum thread made a great point:
You are actually ahead of the game. AA is waiving the $200 rebooking fee. Look at this from an outsider perspective… You state the loss would be devastating, yet you had no hesitation about booking the flight to begin with. That raises my eyebrows. Sounds like you knew what you were doing. You want to transfer the ticket. Was the receiver going to pay you or were you going to give it to them ? If the latter, how devastating is it? Why not take the offer, save your money and the two of you take a trip later? To anywhere.. If you bought an appliance, would you expect them to take it back? If the loss is so devastating, why plan the trip at all?
I don’t know your circumstances. But neither does AA. You’ve not made a convincing argument why you should get more than you have received. As stated above, these are non-refundable. It means, non refundable. Write your letter, politely beg, and get back to us. Wishing you the best.
We agree wholeheartedly with the respondent. We’re thrilled that Morgan was able to get American to waive the change fee, which is hard to do. We suggest that she quit while she’s ahead, and hopefully they will be able to use their tickets within the next year.
This all could have been avoided if the Morgans had purchased trip insurance, which enables the purchaser to recoup their money in this kind of situation.
Unfortunately, without the availability of trip insurance, there’s no way we can see the Morgans getting a full refund, so we’re going to have to call this a Case Dismissed.