I cancelled JAL flight due to typhoon Jebi and Expedia

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Sep 12, 2018
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We booked a flight 3/2/18 on JAL, operated by AA, through Expedia for travel on 9/4/18 through 9/16/18, from LAX to Tokyo. The day before travel I received an email from aa.com/travel alerts stating Typhoon Jebi was forecast to impact portions of Japan that may affect our upcoming travel on American Airlines. They offered additional flexibility to allow us to change our travel plans without a fee. If we booked through a website other than aa.com, we should contact that office to assist us with any changes. We immediately sought info on the impact of the coming storm which was significantly alarming, a number 5, the worst typhoon in 25 years with a lot of potential destruction. We’re in our 70’s and despite the long anticipation of this trip, we felt the cautious move was to cancel. We contacted Expedia, and dealt with a woman in the Philippines who told us there would be a penalty charge. We pointed out the alert we were sent to change without a fee and so she had to contact the airline to verify the terms. This took around one to two hours because, I assume, they were deluged with calls. We put her on speaker phone and waited it out, with her coming back on occasionally to tell us she was still on hold. When she finally got through, she told us we had two options, one being to postpone our departure to no later than 9/8/18, or only just this one time, we could cancel the flight with no fee. We all heard this, (my son and his wife were with us helping to decide what to do) and we had her repeat it to be clear. We said we wanted to check on the storm condition before deciding and asked whether this was all notated so that when we called back we wouldn’t have to wait, and she assured us it was. Within an hour we called back to cancel and spoke with a man named Joshua who said we would have to pay a penalty. We referred him to the notes. He told us the notes allowed us to delay departure a few days but said nothing about canceling. We insisted that that wasn’t the case, and he said that our choice was either to keep the flight, delay it, or cancel it with a $600 penalty. They would then put an investigating team on it to listen to the previous conversation, (all calls are supposedly recorded), and if the agent was found to have been in error, we would then be refunded the full fare. This might take 72 hours.
On 9/5/18 I received an email from Expedia saying the research team had determined that we were liable for the fee. I immediately called and asked to speak with a supervisor. I explained all the details and said that I thought that no one actually listened to two hours of being on hold, and that they probably just went by the “ notes”. “Abbey” seemed sympathetic and tried to reach JAL to see what they would do, keeping me on hold again. After an hour, she said it might be another hour and she would have someone call me back, or move the issue on to a higher up investigative team to go over the recording. This might take 72 hours. On 9/7/18 I received an email from Expedia stating that their research team found that we were not entitled to a full refund. I called again and was connected with a supervisor named Richard who seemed sympathetic. He said he was looking in to all the notes again. Then he said there was nothing more that he could do. I requested hearing the recorded conversation, because I am absolutely positive, as are the other three of us, of what transpired with agent #1. He then connected me with Romona in corporate. Romona said I would have to have an attorney subpoena the recording. They would not play it for me. I’m outraged. I’m frustrated. And we had to re book a new flight in October at twice the cost of the previous charge. All this seems so not right. What can I do? I would so appreciate any suggestions. I don’t want to just give up. And I can’t afford an attorney. Thank you very much for your time! Susan McMillan.
 
Jun 30, 2017
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#2
First STOP calling them. You have already encountered a major problem with your first telephone contacts. All communication should be by email with a record trail they cannot deny. You will have to pursue this up the Expedia chain. However, since you relied on verbal communication you will face an uphill battle.

Second, NEVER use Expedia or any other OTA to make airline (or car, or hotel, or cruise etc etc) reservations. If you had made your reservations directly with JAL you would have avoided this problem.
 
Likes: lindatravels
Mar 23, 2015
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#3
"I received an email from aa.com/travel alerts stating Typhoon Jebi was forecast to impact portions of Japan that may affect our upcoming travel on American Airlines. They offered additional flexibility to allow us to change our travel plans without a fee."

Confused. If the OP has the email that says "you can change without a fee" that seems to be the smoking gun here... What am I missing?
 
Sep 12, 2018
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#4
Apparently you can "change" it, (with limitations), but not cancel it. In my case, the Expedia operator assured us we could cancel without fee.
Does anyone know whether actually subpoenaing the 2 hour recording with the agent is worth pursuing? I'm afraid this would require an attorney.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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"I received an email from aa.com/travel alerts stating Typhoon Jebi was forecast to impact portions of Japan that may affect our upcoming travel on American Airlines. They offered additional flexibility to allow us to change our travel plans without a fee."

Confused. If the OP has the email that says "you can change without a fee" that seems to be the smoking gun here... What am I missing?
Change without a fee is what was offered by the email not cancel.

Subpoena a recording? A subpoena is only issued in the context of civil or criminal court proceedings.
 
Sep 12, 2018
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Since I've had several phone conversations with customer service reps. at Expedia arguing my case, the last one was with "corporate" who told me the only way I could hear the recording was to subpoena it. And no, I could not do that myself, I would have to engage an attorney. I have a case number, so I think they would be keeping records. Or not?
 
Mar 17, 2015
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You need to stop calling and write. Follow the steps and write to the lowest level executive on the list of customer contacts and work your way up waiting a week in between, since it was AA who actually promised the free cancellation and not expedia, hopefully expedia will work as your travel agent to make it happen.

Please be sure to use paragraphs, as it is helpful for the reader. Remember, the reader did not cause your problem, you want them to help you. I am not entirely sure what you should ask for, except for the $600 cancellation fee waived due to the weather. Do you happen to know if the area you were going to was impacted by the storm? If there were numerous flights cancelled to your location, then you will have a better argument for getting the cancellation fee refunded. The airline does not owe you for the additional expense of the new airline tickets. You would have had to pay this, as that is what the tickets cost at the time of the booking.

In the future, book directly with the airline, skip the third party web sites. Also, I would recommend purchasing travel insurance, although the flights may have had to actually been cancelled/delayed for it to pay out in this situation.

On another note, is it just me or are all the airlines becoming even more strict on their severe weather changes/cancellation fees?
 
Mar 14, 2018
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Since I've had several phone conversations with customer service reps. at Expedia arguing my case, the last one was with "corporate" who told me the only way I could hear the recording was to subpoena it. And no, I could not do that myself, I would have to engage an attorney. I have a case number, so I think they would be keeping records. Or not?
It doesn't really matter what the phone rep said. A comment by a phone rep isn't a binding contract. If the rep said it, it was a mistake that Expedia corrected in the phone call you made one hour later, where they correctly explained the options American Airlines was offering. You didn't suffer any damages in the hour between the calls, so you really have no claim. Any concession by Expedia would be purely for goodwill, but you've already appealed this many times and been told "no", so I don't see Expedia changing their minds.

However, there may be another approach. Here's a travel notice exception policy that AA distributed. It looks like if your original flight was cancelled or delayed by more than 60 minutes, you can get a refund (but Neil and ChristinaH are surely better at interpreting these than me. And it may only be valid if you were going to Osaka--not Tokyo ).
 
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Likes: Christina H
Mar 14, 2018
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However, there may be another approach. Here's a travel notice exception policy that AA distributed. It looks like if your original flight was cancelled or delayed by more than 60 minutes, you can get a refund (but Neil and ChristinaH are surely better at interpreting these than me. And it may only be valid if you were going to Osaka--not Tokyo ).
Well, that probably won't work. If you were on JAL7015/AA169 from LAX to NRT on 9/4, it looks like the flight operated normally and actually arrived in Tokyo 30 minutes early.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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Since I've had several phone conversations with customer service reps. at Expedia arguing my case, the last one was with "corporate" who told me the only way I could hear the recording was to subpoena it. And no, I could not do that myself, I would have to engage an attorney. I
I have to say that I agree with SMD.

Unfortunately AA has not been offering the option of a refund -- not for the Typhoon in Japan and not for Hurricane Florence in the US.

You were given incorrect information by the first agent -- this was an agent who first said you could not change the date at all, and then gave incorrect advice about a refund . You did not immediately act on the incorrect information. When you called back an hour later you were given the correct information. In one sense, you were in no worse position as you were in earlier in the day before you were given the wrong information.

None of us know what Expedia's recording retention policy is -- would they be holding onto it anticipating a law suit because there is a case number? Likely not. Are you going to file a lawsuit, wait for a response to the lawsuit, and then file for a subpoena? You cannot have a lawyer issue a subpoena just to get information without some legal proceedings, does not work that way.

From all accounts, AA is not being very generous with the bad weather waivers. You now want to be reimbursed because someone gave you incorrect information that you did not act on. That is a bit of a stretch. The AA written policy and exclusion is in line with what everyone other than the wrong agent told you. I am not sure why you are insisting that you are owed the change fee -- because Expedia gave you the wrong info? But you did not act on it. Even when being told it was wrong and you would have to pay a fee you cancelled.

It would be nice for the airlines to have more flexible cancellations with extreme weather but that does not seem to be the case with AA. AA is the one charging the change fee.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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Oh Susan, this is just awful, I am so sorry for your experience. The online booking services are worse than useless, as you've figured out. The agents will tell you anything to get you off the phone, I don't know how they look themselves in the mirror every morning. I've never had to cancel for bad weather, but I've been looking at Florence; we have a flight to DC on Tuesday morning. United's information is very specific and detailed about what passengers can do and when they can do it. If there's any deviation whatsoever, the change/cancel fee applies. When it comes to an airline or a hotel, unless it's in writing, it didn't happen. It's a sad state of affairs in this country, but that's reality today.

While AA might have worked with you directly, using Expedia means that they'll just point fingers back and forth until you give up. Follow my colleagues' advice, draft a concise, polite letter to Expedia ... they own the tix. Admit that you didn't understand what they told you (artful begging is sometimes the best) and ask them for what you want. If you can rebook a trip at a future date, tell them that and ask them to transfer all your money to the new trip without penalties. Your job is to convince the person reading your letter to help you, you're asking for an exception to their (blurry) rules. It's a long shot, but so worth a try.
 
Sep 12, 2018
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I have to say that I agree with SMD.

Unfortunately AA has not been offering the option of a refund -- not for the Typhoon in Japan and not for Hurricane Florence in the US.

You were given incorrect information by the first agent -- this was an agent who first said you could not change the date at all, and then gave incorrect advice about a refund . You did not immediately act on the incorrect information. When you called back an hour later you were given the correct information. In one sense, you were in no worse position as you were in earlier in the day before you were given the wrong information.

None of us know what Expedia's recording retention policy is -- would they be holding onto it anticipating a law suit because there is a case number? Likely not. Are you going to file a lawsuit, wait for a response to the lawsuit, and then file for a subpoena? You cannot have a lawyer issue a subpoena just to get information without some legal proceedings, does not work that way.

From all accounts, AA is not being very generous with the bad weather waivers. You now want to be reimbursed because someone gave you incorrect information that you did not act on. That is a bit of a stretch. The AA written policy and exclusion is in line with what everyone other than the wrong agent told you. I am not sure why you are insisting that you are owed the change fee -- because Expedia gave you the wrong info? But you did not act on it. Even when being told it was wrong and you would have to pay a fee you cancelled.

It would be nice for the airlines to have more flexible cancellations with extreme weather but that does not seem to be the case with AA. AA is the one charging the change fee.
Expedia agent #2 specifically said that were we to cancel they would deduct $600 of the flight cost, and if in reviewing the recorded conversation of the previous agent, they found that agent gave us the information that we claimed, their agent would be in error and they would waive the penalty fee.
We (all four of us that heard her), have no doubts about what she told us, she was very clear, and we asked her to repeat it. We asked her if it was in the notes she made. She said yes, it was. All this would definitely be in the recording, which is why we ended up canceling, trusting Expedia, and why I'm pursuing this.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#16
Expedia agent #2 specifically said that were we to cancel they would deduct $600 of the flight cost, and if in reviewing the recorded conversation of the previous agent, they found that agent gave us the information that we claimed, their agent would be in error and they would waive the penalty fee.
We (all four of us that heard her), have no doubts about what she told us, she was very clear, and we asked her to repeat it. We asked her if it was in the notes she made. She said yes, it was. All this would definitely be in the recording, which is why we ended up canceling, trusting Expedia, and why I'm pursuing this.
Sorry I did not mean to make you repeat this.

You are in a stalemate with Expedia. You did not immediately act on the wrong information but acted later after being told the fee.

AA is not generous with the weather waivers.

Have you started writing to the Expedia contacts in the manner recommended by the site?
 
Sep 12, 2018
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#17
Sorry I did not mean to make you repeat this.

You are in a stalemate with Expedia. You did not immediately act on the wrong information but acted later after being told the fee.

AA is not generous with the weather waivers.

Have you started writing to the Expedia contacts in the manner recommended by the site?
Yes, thank you for your information. Some advice suggested that I go right to the top. One person said to start at the bottom, establish a paper trail. Again, the agent did not indicate "it's now or never". We would have cancelled in that case.
I thought I would write to AA and JAL as well.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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JAL has no control over this. It was AA’s waiver and you only talked to Expedia.

AA may give some miles but they again are not part of the conversation with Expedia.

Expedia was the source of confusion and I would deal with them first and only them. You do not want to muddy the waters and let Expedia ignore the issue or pass it off on AA; involving too many unrelated parties makes it easier for Expedia to not answer you
 
Sep 12, 2018
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#19
JAL has no control over this. It was AA’s waiver and you only talked to Expedia.

AA may give some miles but they again are not part of the conversation with Expedia.

Expedia was the source of confusion and I would deal with them first and only them. You do not want to muddy the waters and let Expedia ignore the issue or pass it off on AA; involving too many unrelated parties makes it easier for Expedia to not answer you
Makes sense, thank you.
 
Sep 21, 2018
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#20
"I received an email from aa.com/travel alerts stating Typhoon Jebi was forecast to impact portions of Japan that may affect our upcoming travel on American Airlines. They offered additional flexibility to allow us to change our travel plans without a fee."

Confused. If the OP has the email that says "you can change without a fee" that seems to be the smoking gun here... What am I missing?
Change - not refund