I canceled my flight to Frankfurt but now I can’t use my American Airlines credit

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By Christopher Elliott

Melissa Crespo receives a $2,060 ticket credit from American Airlines when she cancels her flights to Frankfurt. But now her online agency has told her she can only use 25 percent of the credit at a time. Can it do that?

Question

I booked three tickets from Charlotte to Frankfurt on American Airlines from Military Fares. I even bought coverage that allowed me to cancel for any reason and receive a refund.

The $2,060 ticket credit that I received had to be used within a year. But when I tried to use the credit, a Military Fares representative told me I can only use 25 percent of the future travel credit at a time. So in other words, I have to spend $10,000 to use my $2,000 credit. 

This is insane. I really want my money back or use it 100 percent of my American Airlines flight credit towards another trip via their website. Can you help or direct me to someone who might help me? I am so frustrated and can’t afford to lose $2,060. — Melissa Crespo, Wendell, N.C.

Answer

I’ve never heard of a company restricting its ticket credit. So I had to know if this was some kind of new rule designed to extract more money from customers.

“It seems that there was a confusion in reference to the usage of the voucher,” a Military Fares spokesman told me. “All our customers at Militaryfares.com can use any vouchers for its full value amounts and not 25 percent.”

The refund rules for American Airlines vary. If you cancel your flight, you can usually receive a ticket credit. But if the airline cancels, you’re entitled to a full refund. You canceled this flight but you also purchased a Military Fares’ “No Questions Asked Cancellation Protection.” This option allows you “to cancel all or any portion of your order, for any reason, up and until 24 hours before your first travel date and receive a refund with absolutely no questions asked.”

There’s a catch, though: You have to pay a $100 deductible. (Related: A 20 percent credit for my American Airlines tickets? That’s insane!)

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When I reviewed the paper trail between you and Military Fares, I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. You decided to cancel your flight and asked for a refund, minus the $100. A representative told you in writing that the refund process would take approximately 90 business days “due to the high volume of refund requests.” You can thank the pandemic for that. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problems.)

So what went wrong? It looks like the 90 days turned into a little longer because of a backlog of refund requests. That led you to conclude that you might never receive your money back, which is an absolutely fair assumption.

Your refund from American Airlines has been processed

I think buying the protection plan was a smart move. Regular travel insurance wouldn’t have covered your decision to cancel. But this protection product offered through Military Fares offered an opportunity for a full refund, minus a deductible. You might have reached out to someone at a higher level at Military Fares (owned by Sky-tours International) to see what’s going on.

My advocacy team and I reached out to Sky-tours International on your behalf and it processed your refund.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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