Is this traveler asking for a $300 refund for a fee American never charged?


Sandie Knopf redeposits miles into her American Airlines account. She asks for help in getting the redeposit fee refunded. How can our advocates help?

Question: My husband and I had to cancel our trip to Europe because my husband had to have open heart surgery. I deposited the American Airlines AAdvantage miles I used to book the trip, back into my account.

The American agent I spoke to said there was a $300 redeposit fee. But, she said that If I wrote a letter asking for a refund of the fee, and included a doctor’s letter regarding the surgery, American may waive the fee.

I wrote a letter to American over a month ago and have yet to hear from them. Do you have any other suggestions for me, or should I keep calling and writing them? — Sandie Knopf, Woodland Hills, Calif.

Answer: I’m sorry that your husband became ill and that you had to cancel your trip. We wish him a speedy recovery.

When you learned that you and your husband couldn’t travel, you did the right thing by contacting American to redeposit the miles for the unused and unexpired tickets. The American agent you spoke to explained that the AAdvantage terms and conditions allow for the airline to collect a processing fee for reinstating miles. In this instance, the fee was $150 per person. The agent was helpful and suggested that you ask the airline to make an exception for your husband’s illness and waive the processing fee, which you did.


When you didn’t hear back from American, you thought that your request had been ignored. At this point, you could have tried to escalate your request by contacting the airline’s executives for help. We list executive contact information for American Airlines on our website. And, you could have posted your question to our help forums. Our help forums are staffed by travel industry experts, who may have had helpful suggestions about how you could continue to pursue your request with the airline.

Related story:   A canceled flight, a missing refund

When our advocates contacted American on your behalf, it confirmed that your reimbursement request had been received, but it didn’t have a record of you paying the fee. Our advocates asked you for a receipt, but you couldn’t find any record of having been charged either. The problem with your reimbursement request was that you had never been charged for the fee.

It appears that American was compassionate and waived the charge at the time you redeposited the miles into your account. You didn’t realize that and understood that you had been charged, and would need to seek reimbursement. Our American Airlines contact informed us that he had spoken to you and that you confirmed that you had not been charged. You apologized for the misunderstanding and for wasting our time. You didn’t waste our time, as we consider it to be a learning experience for other travelers. We’re glad that we could help resolve this for you.


Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from Elliott.org, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight.

  • Alan Gore

    Signing up with your bank’s online access program is a good idea even if you like paper statements and don’t use online payments, because it lets you know what’s going on in an account before having to wait up 60 days for a charge – or lack of a charge, in this case – to show up on the account. Just be careful to use the facility only in situations where you know your login won’t be hacked. For people who only use it to check for the unusual, this means logging on at home.

  • greg watson

    these 30 second electronic change ‘fees’……………are just another cash grab……….how can they ever be justified?…………does someone know??……………..there should be a ‘fee….what fee ?’ web site to shame these businesses

  • Lindabator

    It is a fee to prohibit you from continually changing your mind – the larger the airline, the more they need to closely watch their routes, and which airfcaft are applied to them. So constant changes would make this impossible to offer lower fares – would be like the old days when it really did not matter as much.

  • jim6555

    What you say makes sense. However, Southwest Airlines, which carries more domestic passengers than any other airline, doesn’t charge a redeposit fee and they seem to do very well without needlessly grabbing their passenger’s money.

  • cscasi

    That’s a plus for Southwest, but that does not mean that the other airlines have to follow suit; although it would be nice.
    But then, as was brought up already, by not charging a change fee, more people would cancel their tickets and have the miles they used to purchase the tickets, redeposited. That would allow them to make changes on a whim and is not good for the airlines. I agree that $150 change fee is high, but there is the reason for it.

  • greg watson

    did you even read this article………………it’s about re-instating loyalty miles…………& how about a ridiculous fee to transfer earned or paid for ‘bonus miles’ to a family member……….simple cash grabs……………..that take so little time to initiate…………entirely in favour of the airline / business

  • greg watson

    i could live with a $25 fee for something that may take 30 seconds ??

  • jsn55

    A month is a very short time to wait for an airline response to anything. The least she could have done was verify the fee was charged or not charged before taking further action. OTOH, I fail to understand why huge corporations refuse to communicate things like “We took care of it, don’t worry”. They just fix it and do nothing further, leaving the consumer to wonder and worry. It seems that this is a growing trend … just don’t bother to tell the customer, let him figure it out himself. Since it takes appx 2 minutes to send an email, there’s really no excuse for this callous disregard for your customers.

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