Catherine Walker-Jacks sat waiting for takeoff. It was her third attempt to fly from Montrose, Colo., to Boston via Chicago on American Airlines. But the flight was canceled — and for the third consecutive day, Walker-Jacks wondered if she’d ever make it out of the airport. She was told that the flight was canceled because of “inclement weather” — yet the sky was clear and blue. “I see a clear blue sky, so how can my flight’s cancellation be “weather related”?”
What is it with airlines redefining a year? Seems that after I wrote about this bizarre reshuffling of the calendar, more air carriers have joined the fun.
Larry Thompson redeemed his hard-earned frequent flier miles for two American Airlines tickets from Dallas to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, earlier this year. But two weeks before traveling, he developed a blood clot and his doctor advised him to stay home. An American Airlines agent said he wouldn’t have to pay any additional fees if he used the tickets within a year.
Thompson asked for something in writing, but was again assured that there wouldn’t be a fee, and that he didn’t need anything in writing.
He should have insisted.
When Thompson phoned the airline to rebook, he was given the bad news: In addition to adding new fees and surcharges, the airline has apparently changed its calendar.
I was advised that the year was a year that started on the date my canceled tickets were issued, which was January 6, 2008, and I would need to travel before that date or pay the $150 to have my miles reinstated.
At no time during my conversation with American Airlines in March was there any discussion about a ticket issue date or that I had nine months to make a new plan.
Thompson tried to appeal this decision, but American refused. It basically insisted that a year is actually nine months.
Lesson learned? Always ask for details when you’re rebooking a flight. When an agent tells you that you have a year, ask, “A year from what date?” And don’t let them tell you that you don’t need anything in writing. If Thompson had communicated with American by e-mail, this might not have happened.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering, American — a year is 12 months.