American Airlines told me the fare was $169. Then it charged me $1069

Is this an American Airlines problem or his misunderstanding?

Dale Allen and his girlfriend are looking forward to a tropical vacation in Cancún. Unfortunately, they arrive at the airport too late and miss their flight. Wanting to leave immediately, they buy one-way tickets at the American Airlines counter. Allen is sure the agent said that the tickets cost $169 each — so why is his credit card charged $2,400?


My girlfriend and I had tickets on Spirit Airlines to fly from Los Angeles to Cancún. We were running late and missed our flight. I then purchased new tickets from American Airlines at the counter. During the purchasing process, the agent quoted us the price of $169 per ticket. Her exact words were, “one sixty-nine.” She did not say “one thousand sixty-nine.” She did not say, “one, zero, six, nine.” She said, “one sixty-nine.”

All of the evidence in this situation indicates that the agent misquoted the ticket price, that I was misinformed by the American Airline’s employee, and that I had no intention of purchasing a ticket at the price of $1,210 per person to go to Cancún. Can you assist me in getting my money back? Dale Allen, Santa Monica, Calif.


Of course, we would like to help you, Dale. But as you know, your case was a tough one. Because you had failed to check your receipt for your airfare before leaving the counter, you had virtually no proof of your claim. I was not confident that this was a case that would end up in the “positive resolution file.”

However, I am not easily deterred in my advocacy efforts, so I began to review your lengthy paper trail.

Right away, I noticed that you had likely alienated any executive who might have otherwise been sympathetic to your plight. Your complaint letters were filled with accusations of trickery and deception and demands for a full refund. Additionally, you had used your caps lock in many portions of your letter, which is generally recognized as yelling at the reader.

The wrong way to approach America Airlines with your problem

I know from the many complaints that we handle every day that this approach never works — and I do mean never. If you are attempting to appeal to a company’s empathetic side, yelling and threatening is not going to do the trick.

When you took your case to our Forum, you seemed to have already come to that conclusion on your own. You expressed your regret for the tone of the original emails.

Despite your assertions in your original letter that the evidence shows that you are right, the opposite is true. The evidence shows that you walked up to the American Airlines counter and requested an immediate flight to Cancún for yourself and your girlfriend — during spring break, no less.

Walk-up fares are some of the most expensive fares available. The airlines know that if you have had no advance notice of your need to travel, you must be in a hurry and will probably be willing to pay a high price for the convenience of an immediate flight.

In the confusion of missing your flight, we don’t know if you misheard the agent or if she misspoke. But the fact remains that your confirmation did have the price visible. You thought that the agent had deliberately put the confirmation behind your ticket so you could not see the actual price.

Contacting America Airlines on your behalf

I contacted American Airlines on your behalf. In a short and polite inquiry, I explained your confusion and dismay. I left out all of your original contentions, and I asked if it was possible for American Airlines to review fares for the day of your flight and see if there was a $169 one-way fare.

As I suspected, there was not.

A price of $169 for a one-way, no advance purchase ticket from Los Angeles to Cancún over spring break sounded very unlikely. American’s research department was able to see that the lowest one-way fare on your day of flight was $390 plus tax. That fare was only available as an advance purchase ticket. American confirmed that the price you paid was the valid price for a walk-up rate on your day of travel.

But there was good news for you.

Because of the uncertainty of how you came to understand your fare was $169, American agreed to extend a goodwill gesture and will honor your tickets at the advance purchase rate of $390 per person plus tax. You are pleased with this outcome and so are we.

In the future, when you purchase airline tickets make sure that you review your ticket confirmation immediately — even if you are in a hurry. As you now know, this can save you a lot of aggravation later.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at,,, and

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend