American Airlines refunded only half of my ticket — where’s the rest?

After American Airlines cancels Susan Cohen’s flight, it refunds only half her ticket. The reason? It claims she used the other half. Which is impossible. What now?

Question: I had a roundtrip ticket on American Airlines from Boston to Washington recently. As we prepared to board, the flight was canceled. There were no other flights available and I could not travel.

I requested a refund and received only the Boston-Washington portion, which was $91. When I called, I was told the return flight was marked as used. This is impossible, as I never went anywhere that day.

A customer service representative told me that there was nothing they could do and I had to file a written complaint, which I did. This smacks of the exact issue that affected another passenger you recently reported. That passenger was also denied a refund because their ticket was marked used, when it was not. I sincerely hope this is not the general practice of American Airlines. — Susan Cohen, Brookline, Mass.

Answer: American should have refunded your entire ticket. A careful check of its records would have shown you didn’t use the return ticket. Case closed.

But your problem raises an interesting question. Technically, American Airlines — like all other carriers — only has to refund the ticket for a flight it cancels. And since American didn’t cancel the return flight, did it really have to return your fare?

This might be a new way for airlines to make even more money. If they cancel a flight, they only have to refund part of your ticket. I know, I know — don’t give them any ideas.

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Obviously, you weren’t on the return flight. A quick email to American should have cleared that up. If it didn’t, an email to one of the airline’s customer service managers might have helped. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of American Airlines’ customer service managers on my consumer advocacy website.

I contacted American on your behalf, and it says it refunded your entire ticket.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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