American Airlines predatory practices

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Oct 8, 2019
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#1
We bought two tickets from DC to XNA (Northwest Arkansas) departure Oct. 6 return Oct. 10. The basic economy fare was already very high ($490 per person roundtrip). This was last Spring. Recently we had to change the return date due to unforeseen new obligations. We had to pay $200 per person penalty fee plus the difference in fare which by now had risen to $767 (basic economy DC to Arkansas)! On departure day and after check-in we were notified that our flight was cancelled. We asked for a refund. They processed the refund but ONLY for the airfare (not for the penalty fee). We contacted them and their response was that since we paid an economical (!) fare they could not do that. Putting aside the predatory airfare AND the stiff change fee there is a legitimate question about them keeping the $400. The product they sold that included this fee was cancelled. So why must we still be robbed of this amount?
 
Feb 12, 2019
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#3
You're lucky they let you change the flight at all with Basic fare! The penalty fee was the cost of switching flights - not the cost of the new ticket. Which is why it wasn't refunded. You can escalate, but you're asking for an exception to the clearly stated rules for the fare.

BTW - I'm assuming the basic fare was much more economical than the other fare options. Small airports, which XNA is, almost always have higher rates than larger airports.
 
May 1, 2018
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#5
Putting aside the predatory airfare
If you choose to write to them, which I think you should, you need to cut out the extraneous commentary like I quoted above. It will not help you to tell AA that their airfares are "predatory" or that they "robbed" you. They will easily dismiss your email as a complaint about the pricing for their services. You word your email like a request asking for their help on this situation that you found yourself in. This is a situation where you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar. The AA executives listed on this site do have the power to help you, but you need to make yourself help-able. If you insult them and their company, they will just ignore you.

I'll assume you booked the cheapest flight you found right? If so then there was no cheaper way for you to complete your journey on a different airline. You don't have an unalienable right to fly to Arkansas at a price that is palatable to you - you have to pay the going rate like everyone else.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#6
They already did more than necessary by even allowing you to change a Basic Economy ticket - usually they are totally non refundable or changeable.

Change penalties are usually not refundable but you have nothing to lose by politely asking. As my colleagues have days, none of this is predatory- you chose to book Basic Economy and all fees associated with it.
 
Likes: VoR61
Oct 8, 2019
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#7
The only reason they allowed me to change is , I think, that they stood to make a lot of money ($400 for penalty plus the new fare difference ,about another $500).
This is the address I wrote to already but my request was denied.
 
Oct 8, 2019
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#8
As I indicated, the reason they agreed to change my flight was that they would make an additional $1000 or so.
I am not sure that there is anywhere a clearly stated rule that the penalty fee is not refundable even if they cancel the trip. If this si so (and I missed it) they are covered but it is a very unfair rule. What is next? They might even say that even if we cancel the flight nothing is refunded to you!
 
Oct 8, 2019
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#9
Of course I have no right to fly at a price I like. I recognize that. It is just that the denial of refunding the fee was more irritating given that the price I paid was exorbitant. I am afraid they have dismissed my complaints already, no matter how nice I may be to them. I am determined to never, ever, use AA again.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#10
With regard to any charge, the YES|NO refund question is always answered with a another question: did they deliver the product for which you paid?

In the case of airline change fees, the answer is always and immediately a YES. They did change your flight, which fulfills their obligation.

This as opposed to, say, baggage or seat class fees. If you pay for a checked bag, they must transport said bag or refund. And there can be compensation if bags are lost, delayed or damaged For seat class, if you pay for premium economy and are moved to a lower-priced seat class, you are eligible for a refund of the difference.
 
Mar 18, 2019
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#11
With regard to any charge, the YES|NO refund question is always answered with a another question: did they deliver the product for which you paid?

In the case of airline change fees, the answer is always and immediately a YES. They did change your flight, which fulfills their obligation.
Normally, yes, but the one place where I might take exception would be when the customer paid a change fee to move their flight forward and, due to cancellations within the airline's control, the customer is forced to reroute to either their original flight or something even later.

OP hasn't specified what his original or changed flights are, but if that caveat applies I'd be inclined to see his point of view...
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#12
Normally, yes, but the one place where I might take exception would be when the customer paid a change fee to move their flight forward and, due to cancellations within the airline's control, the customer is forced to reroute to either their original flight or something even later.

OP hasn't specified what his original or changed flights are, but if that caveat applies I'd be inclined to see his point of view...
I understand your logic in that case, but it does not "change" that fact that the transaction for which the customer paid was completed. It's really a separate charge that stands on it's own . . .
 
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Mar 18, 2019
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#13
I understand you logic in that case, but it does not "change" that fact that the transaction for which the customer paid was completed. It's really a separate charge that stands on it's own . . .
I understand the airlines will argue that he was given the opportunity to conduct a change flight transaction. I see it the same as being offered the opportunity to "choose a seat" but not guaranteed to actually sit in the seat they chose. If something within the airline's control causes them to negate the reason the customer offered to pay the fee, the airline *should* refund the fee. Not doing so is incredibly unfair to the customer, regardless of whether the contract of carriage is on their side...
 
Oct 8, 2019
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#14
With regard to any charge, the YES|NO refund question is always answered with a another question: did they deliver the product for which you paid?

In the case of airline change fees, the answer is always and immediately a YES. They did change your flight, which fulfills their obligation.

This as opposed to, say, baggage or seat class fees. If you pay for a checked bag, they must transport said bag or refund. And there can be compensation if bags are lost, delayed or damaged For seat class, if you pay for premium economy and are moved to a lower-priced seat class, you are eligible for a refund of the difference.
 
Oct 8, 2019
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#15
I am sorry but I cannot follow this logic. When you pay for seat assignment you do receive the service promised. You do get a seat assigned. If the flight is cancelled you did not get what you paid (or did you?) and thus, you say, you are entitled to a refund. What is the difference with the case of the penalty fee. They did change the flight alright. But the flight was cancelled. So we did not get the service for what we paid. It stretches logic to argue that this is different.
 
Likes: Patina
Sep 11, 2019
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#16
In airline world...checking a bag is a fee. Changing a non-refundable ticket is a penalty. Whether or not your flight is canceled has nothing to do with a penalty paid to initiate a change. The way AA is looking at it, they provided the service by making the change to your ticket. The ticket which had rules that you agreed to when you purchased the ticket. If you approached AA in the same manner that you have responded to the members that have been trying to help you, then I can assure you that AA isn't going to budge on the penalty. If you have stated to them that you will never fly AA again, they have no incentive to try and help you or even give you a small goodwill gesture. In the end you received what you were entitled to according to their Contract of Carriage.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#17
Ouch! I feel your pain. I am dazzled by the way the airlines have put a stranglehold on pax ... and it just keeps getting tighter. They make the rules, they benefit from the rules. The pax? Oh, if he doesn't like us, there are hundreds more pax lined up to buy our product. With no government to protect us (what? interfere with the airline lobby? oh no, not a chance), we are literally helpless. Some day there may come a lawmaker who actually is interested in helping Americans and might try to do something, anything. But I doubt it. Travellers are paying a large price for capitalism.
 
Sep 11, 2019
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#18
In a broader sense, it's a chicken and egg question. Which came first, airline nickel and diming or customer demand for low fares? It's been a race to the bottom since deregulation. I have worked in this industry for 20+ years and have seen change penalties gradually climb to where they are now. Do I personally think they are too high...yes. Unfortunately, my personal opinion counts for nothing in the great scheme of things. Have I waived fees, yes. Have I enforced fare rules again yes. As a CSM I have received letters that weren't altogether nice yet wanting an exception. You can probably guess where they ended up. Capitalism at it's heart is unfair, there is always a winner and a loser.
 
Oct 8, 2019
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#19
I realize that it is futile to argue any further. As you say, this is how AA is looking at it. And on my part, the way I am looking at it is that they robbed me of $400. Is there somewhere on the contract of carriage stated that a penalty fee (I do not see the difference between a fee and a penalty (I did not do anything wrong to suffer a penalty, I was charged a fee) is non-refundable if the flight is cancelled? I did not see that anywhere.
 
Oct 8, 2019
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#20
Indeed, there is always a winner and a loser. The loser is the unsuspecting customer who has no power other than to cry "foul" and to "vote" with his feet. However, in the longer term, companies that are so misguided by the business school graduates they hire to advise them tend to fail and go bankrupt. Examples abound. I have a feeling (and a.. wish) that this will be the fate of AA. You should have read their response. It was written as if it was directed to a total idiot. In a way, they were right. I have been a total idiot to play with them.
 
Likes: mafirisara