Claim about American Airlines

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Apr 26, 2018
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#1
I am Amany HANIYA, a Palestinian female who is studying MBA in the University of Edinburgh, UK 2017/2018. I had a course in Colombia from 11/4/2018 to 21/4/2018 so that I got the Colombian visa from the embassy in London and then booked my flights using Ameican Airlines through skyscanner.com website and paid about 510£ for the tickets. The transit airports were JFK and Miami.
My flight was on the 10th of April at 10:10 am, I was at Edinburgh Airport at 8:00 am and went to check-in. One of the employees asked me while I was in the queue if I had the ESTA, I told him that I don't know what is ESTA so he told me that I should apply for one before getting to the plane as you will land in Ameican airports, and he asked to use one of the airport computers to apply for that permission. The fact that when I was trying to apply for one, I found that ESTA is limited to some nationalities and mine was not one of the listed ones!
I told him about the case, so he and another lady told me that we can not help you and you should get a US visa instead, call the US embassy in London!
I was very disappointed and asked them if I can cancel the flight now, but they told me we are not responsible, call customer service!
I sat in the airport and thought what should I do! I booked another flight and it was very expensive for me as a student; more than 900£ and traveled at 5:00 pm.
I sent different emails to American Airlines to discuss my case and apply for a refund as I thought it was not my fault and responsibility and they could manage it in the airport, but they refused to admit or even help!
I hope you can help me and try to get me a refund as I am a full-time student and 500£ will be a difference in my budget!

Thanks,
Amany
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#4
What is your country of citizenship?
She said she's Palestinian, so she presumably has a Palestinian Authority passport. If she's ethnically Palestinian, she might have a Jordanian or Egyptian (or possibly Syrian) passport. She could even have an Israeli passport. In any of those cases, though, she doesn't qualify for ESTA, and she needs a visa to transit the US, particularly since her trip includes a US domestic leg.

Amany, our contacts for American Airlines are above under Company Contacts. I suggest you email them, starting with the most junior person, and waiting a week between emails. Explain that you didn't know that you needed a US visa to transit the US, be very apologetic, and ask for either a refund or credit. AA isn't obliged to give you anything, since it's your responsibility to know what visas or permits might be necessary to make your trip, but it can't hurt to try.
 
Apr 26, 2018
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#5
She said she's Palestinian, so she presumably has a Palestinian Authority passport. If she's ethnically Palestinian, she might have a Jordanian or Egyptian (or possibly Syrian) passport. She could even have an Israeli passport. In any of those cases, though, she doesn't qualify for ESTA, and she needs a visa to transit the US, particularly since her trip includes a US domestic leg.

Amany, our contacts for American Airlines are above under Company Contacts. I suggest you email them, starting with the most junior person, and waiting a week between emails. Explain that you didn't know that you needed a US visa to transit the US, be very apologetic, and ask for either a refund or credit. AA isn't obliged to give you anything since it's your responsibility to know what visas or permits might be necessary to make your trip, but it can't hurt to try.
Well, thank you for your reply. I am a Palestinian and have a Palestinian passport. I sent them an email, sent a claim on their website and called them but they refused to get me a refund. They said they can keep the credit for one year but I know that I will not travel anymore within the coming year as I am going back to Palestine and travel opportunities are very limited. As the US is the special case in transit visa, they could mention this note within the application.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#7
Unfortunately if you didn’t have the right documents to enter the US the airline is not responsible to give you a refund. Their website states that passengers are responsible for ensuring they have proper documents to travel.

My only suggestion would be to use our company contacts and appeal to the executives at AA for a hardship appeal. It’s not likely to happen but I’ve seen things I never thought would be refunded have a successful outcome by a good letter to the right executive. You have nothing to lose by asking.

Read the title page of the Company Contacts Page on how to write- start at the lowest executive and move up one by one once a week.

Make sure your letter is clear that you didn’t have proper documents because your letter is confusing.

Let us know what happens.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#8
Well, thank you for your reply. I am a Palestinian and have a Palestinian passport. I sent them an email, sent a claim on their website and called them but they refused to get me a refund. They said they can keep the credit for one year but I know that I will not travel anymore within the coming year as I am going back to Palestine and travel opportunities are very limited. As the US is the special case in transit visa, they could mention this note within the application.
As I suggested and Neil reiterated, try writing to our company contacts. FYI, the US isn't unusual in requiring a transit visa, and this wasn't even a transit situation, since your trip included an entire domestic flight within the US. Unfortunately, a PA passport doesn't have wide visa-free acceptance, so you'll need to be careful to check on these issues in the future. A travel agent with experience in booking international travel for people with Palestinian passports may be a good idea in the future. If you want to check visa requirements in the future, I'd suggest using TIMATIC, which is the program that airlines use to determine what visas are required. There's a link to it here: https://www.united.com/web/en-us/apps/vendors/default.aspx?i=TIMATIC
 
Likes: krisseye
Apr 26, 2018
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#9
Unfortunately if you didn’t have the right documents to enter the US the airline is not responsible to give you a refund. Their website states that passengers are responsible for ensuring they have proper documents to travel.

My only suggestion would be to use our company contacts and appeal to the executives at AA for a hardship appeal. It’s not likely to happen but I’ve seen things I never thought would be refunded have a successful outcome by a good letter to the right executive. You have nothing to lose by asking.

Read the title page of the Company Contacts Page on how to write- start at the lowest executive and move up one by one once a week.

Make sure your letter is clear that you didn’t have proper documents because your letter is confusing.

Let us know what happens.
Thank you Neil. I sent an email to the executive and I got a call from them confirming the same reply. Neither refund even if a portion, nor transferring the ticket credit to my brother for example.
 
Apr 26, 2018
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#10
As I suggested and Neil reiterated, try writing to our company contacts. FYI, the US isn't unusual in requiring a transit visa, and this wasn't even a transit situation, since your trip included an entire domestic flight within the US. Unfortunately, a PA passport doesn't have wide visa-free acceptance, so you'll need to be careful to check on these issues in the future. A travel agent with experience in booking international travel for people with Palestinian passports may be a good idea in the future. If you want to check visa requirements in the future, I'd suggest using TIMATIC, which is the program that airlines use to determine what visas are required. There's a link to it here: https://www.united.com/web/en-us/apps/vendors/default.aspx?i=TIMATIC
Thank you. I wrote an email to the executive and I got a call from them confirming the same reply. Neither refund even if a portion, nor transferring the ticket credit to my brother for example.
Thank you for the website, I will use it in any future flights.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#11
I am so sorry you had to go through this, Amany. The ease of booking through the internet is very deceptive. The online booking services just take your order without any customer service at all. For travel like this, an experienced travel agent is a must. The internet is not your friend, it exists only to allow companies to market their products to a wide variety of customers. The details are left to the customer to determine, there's no help available. I am a firm believer that the airlines should post disclaimers that passengers need to do their own research into the documentation needed; some do but most don't bother. We see cases like yours all the time, because people trust the internet.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jul 15, 2016
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#12
Amany: I think that only a few countries (majority european+canada+australia) dont need a visa to enter US. My advice is more for the future: take in mind that any visa to the US (visit or transit) will take weeks since you have to schedule, then prepare a big set of documents, and then, approval is not guaranteed (I would imagine that transit is easier), but if you get approved it would be for a long period (5 to 10 years for Visit, shorter for transit 1 to 5 years). Maybe if you dont get a full refund you can get the change fee waived and use it later for another trip to US so you have to plan it in advanced (assuming it is a american airlines ticket so only US flights....if by any chance your flight was bought in AA but british airlines operated, you still could use it to another non-US destination withouth applying for the visa).