Help! Any way to fix a messy ticket situation?

Discussion in 'American Airlines | AAdvantage' started by loudnotes, Apr 4, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. loudnotes

    loudnotes Silver Member

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    I've been told the answer is no by AA customer service, but often the community knows better...

    I bought 2 roundtrip tickets SFO-JFK for this weekend by redeeming Citi Thank You Points. My travel companion had an urgent need to be on the east coast (long story) and is already in New York, so she plans to fly back with me but miss the outbound. Normally missing the outbound would cancel the return leg, so I called to request that they make an exception (AA has done this for me in the past when it's a legitimate reason, which it is, not just trying to get around fare rules).

    Unfortunately because it was a third-party ticket AA will not make the change. Citi cannot change it either because it is non-refundable. The best option I've been given is purchasing a new one-way ticket back (at more than the cost of the original roundtrip!), forfeiting the existing ticket completely.

    Anything at all I can do???
     
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  2. Scottrick
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    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I'm not sure what you can do in this situation, but in the future I would recommend booking oneway tickets. I've generally booked roundtrip in the past, but started doing oneway this year and found that I haven't had to pay extra for any of my trips yet.
     
  3. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    instead of paying for a one way, maybe a one way award?
     
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  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Normally nonrefundable tickets can be rebooked with a penalty. I don't know about these special tickets, but a typical USA domestic nonrefundable ticket can be changed for a $150 fee or turned into a credit with the airline for the remaining ticket value (here the original ticket price since you're doing this before the outbound flight) minus the $150 fee.

    If this is a FF type program free ticket, the program's T & C would govern refunds. Do they say no changes/no refunds whatsoever on any of their "free" tickets? Or can you pay to have the RT ticket changed or refunded to your account? If the problem is that they only offer free RT tickets, is your companion required to travel with you or could you change the companion's current free ticket from something like Friday SFO-JFK and Sunday JFK-SFO to a RT in the opposite direction, say JFK-SFO Sunday and the return some weekend around the end of the month SFO-JFK, planning to probably throw away the return part of this RT ticket unless plans change or a cheap one way can be found? Could the problem in making such a change be an advanced purchase requirement for the program's free tickets?
     
  5. jmjgp12

    jmjgp12 Silver Member

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    Unfortunately, I have seen this happen to passengers before. These days, it seems that unless AA or a OW carrier booked the ticket you have no real recourse with AA. As stated in the post above you may want to call AA and see if you can pay the normal ticket change fee to at least get a voucher for the unused tickets. I hope things work out for you!
     
  6. loudnotes

    loudnotes Silver Member

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    I wouldn't say it's exactly worked out, but it seems the best I can do is to exchange the roundtrip SFO-JFK-SFO ticket (fare basis was $271, but I "paid" using Thank You points) for a one-way JFK-SFO ticket, which now that it's close in is $391 in the lowest fare bucket. I'm out of pocket the $120 fare difference plus $150 change fee plus a $30 service charge from Citibank for a total of $300.

    Because there was a medical reason for the original rescheduling (it's been an expensive week) and the customer service people I spoke with at AA were singularly unhelpful, I'm going to try to my luck with the extenuating circumstances approach for an AA refund. They basically got to sell me the same seat twice (3x on the outbound if someone else can fly in the seat we gave up), and that really crosses the line in terms of my sense of fairness.
     
  7. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    All this is well and good but you were or should have been aware of the rules governing this award or any non-refundable ticket for that matter. I presume you fly enough to be aware of the "sense of fairness" as related to airline ticket pricing in general.
    Let face it surely you do not expect an airline to change your ticket based on some excuse like illness no matter how valid ..its never been an accepted reason for a FOC ticket change and if you were fortunate to receive it before consider yourself lucky.

    Basically you "bought a cheap ticket" and they expect you to deal with the attendant consequences... and quite rightly so.
     
  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Actually, the CoC often includes a provision to waive change fees in the case of certain conditions, including hospitalization or other medial needs. Doesn't mean that they'll waive the fare difference or allow the credit to be used on a different trip, but reading and understanding the CoC can, on occasion, actually be quite useful.
     
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  9. loudnotes

    loudnotes Silver Member

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    Do you by chance work for AA reservations? Because your view sure does sound familiar....

    I'm well aware of the fare rules, CoC, and the penalties for making changes. Hopefully the medical condition qualifies, to Wandering Aramean's point. We'll see.

    Had I been trying to weasel my way into a change to another date/aircraft/estination/etc. then I don't think I'd have a leg to stand on. Those changes all impose costs on the airline in terms of load factors, foregone sales, and service costs. Non-refundable tickets are non-refundable for a reason, and the sale of one directly impacts the pricing model for the next.

    What I object to in principle is charging for something that is costless for the airline. Not flying one leg of a two-leg itinerary saves the airline money, and if passengers courteously call in advance, it even provides an opportunity to sell the seat again. As Krugman is fond of saying, economics is not a morality play, but as a consumer I nevertheless believe there is a reasonable expectation that pricing will have some connection to either the provider's marginal cost or my marginal benefit. I object to being asked to pay twice for a single service rendered, and to pay more for less.

    I get that airline fares are structured based on origin and destination, and allowing people to skip the first leg willy nilly can mean some abuse of fuel dumps and other tricks, particularly on multi-destination itineraries. But in this case none of that is at play. Not being able to prevent the entire trip from being automatically cancelled simply because it's a third-party ticket is the product of an inflexible IT system run by inflexible people.
     
  10. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    Heres a surprise for you I really dont care what you think I sound like:rolleyes:

    What is pretty obvious is that you are not really familar with the nuances in airline ticketing/booking processes.
    Added to that you are try to skew the facts to suit your situation. We all know (well all except you perhaps:) ) that the airlines IT systems are antiquated, but thats completely irrelevant here since basically you are trying to modify a ticket whose rules seem to quite clearly say its not allowed.

    Produce a valid doctors certificate you may have case and while you are at it come back and tell us about the refund you got from Ticketmaster for the completely sold out concert you couldnt attend because of a toothache.
     
  11. loudnotes

    loudnotes Silver Member

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    Probably better not to reply, but I'm genuinely curious. Is there a nuance here I've missed that makes this situation sympathetic to the airline? Any thoughts?
     
  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Not increasing the underlying costs doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as being costless to the airline.

    Not in the airline world. You're paying for the service based on what the demands of the market will bear. There are other carriers which provide fares that are not based on return-trip pricing. As a consumer those would probably be better for your business.
    You got a discount for buying the return trip. You decided not to use it so they revoke the discount. Might be annoying, but certainly not unprecedented.
    Maybe not on purpose, but it absolutely is. You're trying to buy a return ticket and use it as a one way. Certainly you have a good reason for it and that's fine, but pretending that you're not trying to convert a return trip in to a one-way in circumvention of the fare rules is rather disconnected from reality.
     
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  13. loudnotes

    loudnotes Silver Member

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    Thanks for the reply, Wandering. I'm an investor by trade so really trying to understand the pricing dynamics here:
    I don't follow. What cost does this situation impose on the airline? Turns out the first flight (boarding now) is full, so I'm pretty sure the extra seat actually reduced costs.
    That makes perfect sense. But at time of purchase, a one-way fare is generally less than the fare for a roundtrip. Usually more than 50% (hence the roundtrip discount), but certainly never more. (Again, excepting YQ and other bugs). What seems unfair is charging me the close-in one-way fare which is now higher than the advance purchase price.
    I haven't internalized the airline concept of a roundtrip and a one-way being two distinct things. I think "reality" is closer to roundtrip = 2 one-ways. Certainly American has started moving their systems in that direction. For this reason I also have trouble with the idea of applying a "change" fee to a reservation when all you're doing is not showing up for part of it. Nothing's changed! I just don't want half the ticket to be cancelled!
     
  14. loudnotes

    loudnotes Silver Member

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    Post mortem: I wrote AA a nice letter explaining the situation and requesting a refund in mid-April. On Friday, we received a credit back to our card from Citi's TY points vendor for $150, which I'm guessing is for the change fee. We haven't used TYP for anything else so that would seem to be the only possibility. We have yet to hear an official response, but it's a decent accommodation.

    Between this and a few other recent experiences with the airline I'm kinda falling in love all over again with AA. I hope they pull through the bankruptcy okay.
     

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