Are “expedite” fees for award tickets refundable?

Josh Banta and his wife cashed in some of their hard-earned American Airlines miles to fly from New York to Miami for a funeral. But the tickets weren’t free; they paid $125 for the privilege of using their miles within 21 days. That’s a fee someone has yet to explain to me.

“Our flight was canceled because of thunderstorms,” explains Banta. “There were no more flights that night, and all the flights the next day were booked, and even most flights the day after that were booked. We would not have been able to get to Miami until late Saturday night, more than 48 hours later than originally scheduled.”

The Bantas would have missed the funeral, so they asked American Airlines for their miles back. The carrier obliged, but kept the $125.