Unknown and unwarranted $700 upgrade charge

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Oct 11, 2018
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#1
AA704 Charlotte to Frankfurt

I booked two premium economy tickets for the flight on AA.com. well in advance. A month or so prior to the flight, I called to inquire about upgrading to business class using points. I was told that there was already a long wait list, so the agent wasn’t optimistic but informed me that it would require 15,000 points each for my wife and me, and a nominal dollar amount (I thought I was quoted $30, but it may have been $75), so I asked her to put me on the list.
On the day of the flight, we checked in at the airport. We inquired with the agent as to whether there was any chance to get the upgrade on points- he informed us “no”, the wait list was long, and provided us with our boarding passes- we didn’t notice at the time, but the pass stated Business Priority. There was no request for any payment. We proceeded to the Admiral’s Club lounge, and decided to inquire once more about a possible upgrade. The individual at the Admiral’s club desk went into her computer, after a few minutes informed us that we weren’t on the list- that the aircraft had been changed, and our seats were now in Business Class. Her response to us was essentially- “it’s your lucky day- since they changed equipment your seats are now in Business Class” (I do not believe our seats ever changed- we were booked in row 7 in premium economy, and sat in row 7 in Business Class) Again, no one asked for or noted that we would owe any payment. On any other occasions on which I have been upgraded that required a payment (e.g. Paris last year) I was required to make the payment at the time of the upgrade- at either a kiosk, or the check in counter- I can’t state it enough- that never happened.

We returned from overseas on 9/30/2018- here is what has since transpired:
· On 9/29 my rewards account was debited for 50,000 miles (25,000 for each of us)- I thought this was odd, since we were under the impression we were in Business Class due to the equipment change- but figured I would address with AA when I had some time, at the very least to get it changed to 15,000 miles each.

Today, 10/10/2018 – I received an email with the following language: Unfortunately, a credit card payment, that you have on file with your AAdvantage account, has been declined. Please contact AAdvantage at 1-800-882-8880 Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 7:00 pm CT to make payment or for more information.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you.

· I thought my credit card payment on my account might not have gone through. I called the number immediately to try to help solve the issue, and was told that my credit card declined a $700 charge for the flight to Frankfurt. Needless to say, I was dumbfounded- thinking how in the world do I owe $700 for that flight. I explained the situation, including the fact that I was never informed about a $700 charge, nor asked to pay a $700 charge at any point in the process and was passed to a supervisor, who explained that she couldn’t help me, and that I wouldn’t be able to use AA miles until I paid the $700. She explained I couldn’t speak to anyone about the situation and informed me that she had sent me an email with a link- that would be my only means of communication with AA.
· I then went to log onto my AA.com account to retrieve as much of the info requested in the email as I could, and was locked out of my account. A call to technical support was passed back to client support, who informed me that yes, the account was locked (by corporate security!) and couldn’t be unlocked until I paid the $700. As an aside, this means that I cannot book flights or seats, check in omline, use the mobile app etc. until this matter is settled- which is really poor customer service, as I fly on AA a few times a month for business.
· I was informed by customer support that a message had been left for me on 9/19 at 201-444-4479, a number at which I haven’t lived since 2011- AA has my phone number- I get texts from AA most of the days I fly.
I have sent a letter to customer relations and expect to hear back in 10-30 days....meanwhile I am incredibly inconvenienced while the airline researches the matter.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#4
There is no request for payment at the gate. The upgrade fee is charged to the credit card on file. Once one asks for the upgrade it stays on the reservation until boarding.

https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/redeem/award-travel/upgrade-with-miles.jsp

You were not on the list because you got upgraded. You would not be upgraded for free due to equipment change when you had a request for a mileage upgrade.

And once you asked for a mileage upgrade you agreed to the "copay".

When checking in you asked about the chance of upgrading with miles -- and did not say that you were on the list -- the check in person took this to mean add you to the list and that is why they said the waiting list is long. This is what I mean about a communication failure.

I am not sure that AA will refund anything as you did fly business class and did not buy a business class seat.
 
Last edited:
Sep 19, 2015
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#8
You are fortunate that the money was refunded considering that you have done the Europe to US upgrade before — Paris last year where you would have paid the $350 charge and the 25,000 miles. The reason you paid in Paris is likely that the upgrade went through sooner but either there was no payment or like with this one the payment was declined.
 
Likes: Barry Graham

Barry Graham

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Jan 7, 2015
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#9
You are fortunate that the money was refunded considering that you have done the Europe to US upgrade before — Paris last year where you would have paid the $350 charge and the 25,000 miles. The reason you paid in Paris is likely that the upgrade went through sooner but either there was no payment or like with this one the payment was declined.
I have similar thoughts - the mileage and copay were correct according to your table above. OP is very lucky to get that $700 back unless he is upset because he was quoted an incorrect price and it wasn't honored and feels the airline should pay for its mistake (which it obviously did).
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#10
I have similar thoughts - the mileage and copay were correct according to your table above. OP is very lucky to get that $700 back unless he is upset because he was quoted an incorrect price and it wasn't honored and feels the airline should pay for its mistake (which it obviously did).
The OP initially claimed that the fee to upgrade would be $30 which Is not really plausible. Only the new baggage fee is $30. There is noting with upgrades that costs $30.

The OP says he upgraded from Paris last year which would have been $350 and 25,000 miles each — and given the amount of miles used in recent upgrades not an infrequent traveler on AA. So yes, lucky
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#11
The OP initially claimed that the fee to upgrade would be $30 which Is not really plausible. Only the new baggage fee is $30. There is noting with upgrades that costs $30.

The OP says he upgraded from Paris last year which would have been $350 and 25,000 miles each — and given the amount of miles used in recent upgrades not an infrequent traveler on AA. So yes, lucky
I agree with Christina on this- if OP had flown that route before they should have known what the cost of this was.