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$500 spent in extra miles when a 30K ticket rose to 47.5K and dropped back minutes later. WTF AA?

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by jnpeters0n, Apr 1, 2017.

  1. jnpeters0n

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    On the evening of March 29, 2017 around 8PM, I redeemed American Airline award points online from my husband's AAdcantage account to purchase a one-way ticket from Austin to London, costing 30,000 points. My husband and I are traveling together on this trip and I was planning to purchase the same ticket on my account. Minutes after I completed the transaction on my his account, I went through the same process to discover, disappointingly, that in the short time that had passed (10 minutes maximum), the cost of that same ticket went from 30,000 to 47,500 points. I figured maybe the airline had a limit per point-value ticket, and I had just purchased the last at the 30K price? I felt I had no choice, as we needed to travel together and I did not have enough points, to purchase the ticket at the new price point. I then went and purchased 17,000 miles, which cost me almost $500. I had already shared about 6000 points from his account to my account to balance the difference of the 30K ticket, costing me $85. Already I felt that I was out money as other airlines, such as Southwest, do not charge fees to transfer miles from account to account. I then went back to the points redemption site to find out that in that few minutes that I had purchased additional points, mysteriously the price of that ticket had gone back down to 30,000 points. I hurriedly completed the purchase. However, now I was stuck with 17,000 extra points that I had paid a whopping $500 for that I did not need nor want.

    I immediately called American Airlines customer service phone line and explained to them the problem. They told me that because I had put my credit card information in and agreed to the terms that there was no way that I could get a refund. I feel in someway that American Airlines has robbed me, a bait and switch to make more profit. I do not know if it was an error on the site or just a temporary thing that made the price escalate and then fall back down so quickly.

    I have been an American Airlines customer for the past 7 years. I have a credit card with them and used to fly round trip on American flights as much as once a month. In that time I have purchased a few tickets using my miles. I have found that the fees that come with using miles have drastically increased in the past few years, making it much less appealing to redeem miles for tickets on American Airlines, especially compared to other airlines where the fees are much lower. It did not used to be this way. I recall booking flights as little as five or six years ago where the fees were under $10 for a round-trip flight on AA. Additionally, it is even more to my disadvantage to have these 17,000 points that I paid a huge amount of money for because many one-way flights, Just one way! cost at least 25,000 to 30,000 points apiece. 17,000 would not even get me that far. Generally, especially when flying with in the domestic United States, even a one-way ticket would not cost as much as $500 so this is seriously a huge disadvantage for me and a waste of money.

    I have contacted AA through email, phone and social media in plea of a full refund. Also, what the heck is happening with this rapid price fluctuation in miles redemption?
     
    #1
  2. JVillegirl541

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Here are the Executive Contacts for American Airlines. Hang up your phone and contact them on by email. We have the best luck in writing by starting with the Customer Service email first and writing a brief, polite and concise letter detailing you issue & your Love of AA. No theats and very professional.
    Wait a week, if they fail to answer or you don't like the answer move up the list and do it again.
    Do NOT send to every one at once!

    I will tell you that once miles are purchased it is very unlikely that It will be reversed. Possibly you will be able to get a "customer service gesture" a small credit towards future travel for your experience.
    Good Luck!
    http://elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/
     
    #2
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2017
    John Galbraith and Neil like this.
  3. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    I'm sorry to tell you that this isn't a problem with AA. You were impatient. When a website isn't behaving the way you think it should, go away and come back later. Try another computer, log on in the middle of the night, whatever it takes to get to what you want. There are probably a billion factors that affect the number of miles required for a given seat. on a specific flight. I once spent three months chasing a specific Continental flight to Roma with the price, the lieflat seats, and aircraft that I wanted. That's the only way you can win the loyalty program game. Know the rules, know when to jump on something, know when to go away and return

    However, your $500 is not necessarily lost. I don't fly American, but that seems like a huge amount of money for so few miles. Now that you can see the situation clearly, write AA a succinct, polite email expressing dismay that you made such a terrible error and "artfully begging" them to reverse the transaction ... or issue you a voucher towards a future flight. Airlines loathe giving up cash, but they sometimes are more generous with vouchers/credits. You are asking for an exception to their rules, and you want the person reading your email to want to help you. It's a long shot, but worth pursuing. Everyone else is ranting and raving, demanding and often not very nice. Your letter may get some positiive attention if it's the opposite. Good luck and please let us know what happens. .
     
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  4. jnpeters0n

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    Oops. I did email them, but I copied on everyone. Should have waited for your reply. My fury in losing such a large sum of money in seconds got the better of me. All I can do is see what happens now... Thanks for the quick response!
     
    #4
  5. jnpeters0n

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    I was impatient. And I have played the airline game many times before, just not with redeeming miles. I actually figured they had a great reason for raising the price, gritted my teeth, and put up for the extra miles. I was super surprised to find that the price has lowered again just a few minutes later. You live and you learn. I am no longer a fan of using reward points with AA anymore, but I recently had a wonderful experience with Delta airlines when my family was delayed for 8 hours at the airport. I hope AA will be understanding. An airline credit would suit me just fine. Thanks for your response!
     
    #5
  6. JVillegirl541

    Staff Member Advocate

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    I think you actually still had the extra Award seat held from your husbands purchase and you bought a seat and the hold just had not cleared. Remember a computer runs the seat inventory and not a person trying to get you!
     
    #6
  7. Christina H

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    If someone is also trying to book or just testing availability then inventory fluctuates. I agree with the others, this is an issue of impatience.

    One way tickets to London are expensive. I chose a random date for the nonstop BA code share in economy in May and the cost was $1,682. The price was the same for a random day in June -- $1,682 one way.

    A computer does the yield management and pricing. I am not sure that this a case of the airline doing something intentional. One can always clear the browser or change browser to double check. Frequent flyer seat availability changes often.

    I must admit that I think this is an uphill battle but there is no harm in asking.
     
    #7
  8. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    $500 is a lot of money. I'd give your shotgun email a week or two and if you haven't heard back, or don't like what you hear, "start over" with CS, then our Company Contacts. Worst they can say is No; you're none the worse for trying. We rarely hear of anything nice regarding an 8-hour airport delay, so I'm glad to hear that Delta took care of your family on your recent trip.
     
    #8
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