AA award flight cancelled due to schedule change

 
Old Feb 27, 14, 5:09 pm
  #61  
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Are they? In what respect? Feel free to quote from the original documents. And I assume you have read the super secret contract between AA and BA.....
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Old Feb 27, 14, 6:17 pm
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A similar question arose in my DOT complaint about fuel surcharges AA mischaracterized as tax. Here's what I wrote on this subject:
36. American’s special relationship with British Airways makes it particularly unconvincing for American to argue that the surcharges at issue are “imposed by British Airways” and “within the discretion of that airline,” or to argue that that “American merely collects” the fees at issue (Answer at p.9). Just five years ago, American and British Airways sought and received DOT permission to coordinate pricing for their joint services. See Joint Application for Antitrust Immunity, DOT-OST-2008-0252-0001 at p.14 (“The Joint Applicants will cooperate in establishing fares, rates and pricing strategies for services provided under their alliance agreements and the JBA”). American and British also indicated that they would “broadly shar[e] revenue on a metal neutral foundation” (Id. at p.11). There can be no serious dispute that carrier-imposed surcharges and fuel surcharges are “revenue” and “fares, rates and pricing” within the meaning of these statements. Thanks to the full antitrust immunity DOT provided to American and British Airways based on their representations in the 2008-0252 docket, American both influences and benefits from British Airways surcharges. Having sought these privileges from DOT and represented to DOT that it would use them, American cannot now disavow them by pushing all responsibility to British Airways.
(hyperlinks in the original)
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Old Feb 27, 14, 6:28 pm
  #63  
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That's an argument full of assumptions, not proof of the issue at hand.
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Old Feb 28, 14, 5:27 pm
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Originally Posted by bedelman View Post
Airbnb, that is a great experience. I would be happy to assist you in filing a formal complaint with DOT so that DOT can issue a ruling preventing AA from using these tactics again. Send email or PM if you're interested.
Well it was all resolved within 24 hours. I was in Hawaii on vacation, so it was annoying, but once I contacted Twitter, everything went pretty well. They certainly did not have to route me from Philly (my home base), as the original flight was out of JFK. I took it as a sign of goodwill they even did that. What really got me was the initial attitude of "flight's canceled, you can't just change your dates of travel?" considering AA was quite open on why they canceled the flights. Once I thought everything was settled I couldn't believe they wanted to charge me a phone ticketing fee either...again...I needed to do it through the phone. It wasn't an option, and again, all due to AA. If it wasn't resolved well in 24 hours, I'd certainly file a complaint, however, it sort of worked in my favor in the end. I originally told an AAgent to just refund the miles after several agents couldn't find me alternate flights and about 90 minutes later really regretted it laying out by the Westin pool. So really, they didn't have to help me at all after that point. There's a thread on the AA forum somewhere chronicling it better --> http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...-2013-a-5.html ((I forgot that I actually did better than some on revenue fares sadly, those should definitely file))

Originally Posted by dazza189 View Post
Just a follow with some more info after the duty manager called me this evening - He started off by insisting they were taxes, before relenting and saying they had to collect all taxes and carrier imposed surcharges for partners. They reserved the right to make schedule changes and the fact it was so far in advance gave them a different set of rules than if it were for tomorrow (say).

He also said the rules for award tickets and revenue tickets were different and award can only be protected on AA metal, whereas they were more prepared to deal with revenue protection on other airlines. If I wanted to stay on the BA flight, they would have to redeposit my miles (and taxes) and then book an award ticket on BA with the appropriate taxes and surcharges applied. He would even graciously waive the normal charge for that service.

So at the end of it he wouldn't budge. He also said my PNR is in limbo until they reach a satisfactory outcome for me or words to that effect. Which includes the original options I listed above.
Have you contacted the twitter team? I strongly urge you to.

Last edited by airb330; Feb 28, 14 at 5:31 pm Reason: found the link
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Old Feb 28, 14, 7:26 pm
  #65  
 
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Originally Posted by airb330 View Post
Have you contacted the twitter team? I strongly urge you to.
I did, they told me they couldn't waive the taxes. (Their words)
Thanks for the idea though, they were really responsive to give them credit.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 9:18 am
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I actually filed a complaint with the DOT today (big thanks to another flyertalk member who gave me excellent guidance) - i'll update this thread if anything comes from it.

Personally i'd like to hear definitive opinion from the relevant authorities, and AA on AA's current practices. I think the most relevant in this case are the mis-classification of surcharges as taxes by pretty much every entry point into AA that i've personally dealt with, and the effect of their JBA on award redemptions.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 12:26 pm
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So you believe that AA's current award availability policy for routes served by both AA and BA violates federal law. Which law?

Complaints like yours could result in the "no good deed goes unpunished" whack on our collective heads by AA starting to collect surcharges on its own award seats and those of its partners.

Some believe it's great to file DOT complaints at the proverbial drop of a hat and then brag about it here. But I believe common sense strategy needs to be used more often.

Last edited by Austinrunner; Mar 1, 14 at 12:34 pm
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Old Mar 1, 14, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
So you believe that AA's current award availability policy for routes served by both AA and BA violates federal law. Which law?
I believe it goes against certain commitments about neutrality that AA made when seeking anti-trust immunity for it's joint venture. I also believe AA has already been fined for representing surcharges as taxes, has committed to refrain from such practices, and yet continues to do so. In no less than 4 different instances in my case. I have documented my thoughts in my submission to the appropriate official channel.

Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
Complaints like yours could result in the "no good deed goes unpunished" whack on our collective heads by AA starting to collect surcharges on its own award seats and those of its partners.
You are of course quite entitled to your pessimistic belief, I prefer to believe that it might be possible to drag things the other way and ensure we are treated appropriately. Perhaps AA is thinking of imposing these "taxes" on all of it's award seats anyway, and only complaints like this actually stop them from doing it. We all have a voice, I am choosing to use mine as opposed to silently accepting the continual erosion of my choices and value of my miles.

Living in Boston I have been negatively affected by losing the previous 3 or 4 AA direct flights to LHR that I used to redeem my awards on, for both myself and my family. Now my only direct option involves ridiculous surcharges that quickly make the costs of my "free" ticket add up and devalue my miles. Alternatively I can trek through NYC or ORD. My preference with a toddler is non-stop, but now I have to pay more than before the joint venture for that option.

I've started speaking with my wallet and flying DL and VS more often, but when it comes to redeeming my earned miles I obviously need to use them on OW.

Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
Some believe it's great to file DOT complaints at the proverbial drop of a hat and then brag about it here. But I believe common sense strategy needs to be used more often.
I am not bragging by any means, I am simply updating people who appeared interested in a thread on flyertalk about this particular subject. If you don't care to hear further about it, feel free to unsubscribe from the thread, not click on it, put me on ignore, whatever. I have no need to garner your permission nor do I seek your validation of my approach.

I apologize for knowing the difference between surcharges and taxes and for seeking an equivalent trip for my parents that I had entered into a contract with AA to provide. If this was a revenue ticket there would be no question in anyone's mind here, that I would be happily transferred onto the BA direct. Why should award tickets once issued be any different?

I also believe that letting large corporations do whatever they want without questioning them is likely to lead to a worse world for all of us - frequent flyers or not.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 2:11 pm
  #69  
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What neutrality commitments did AA make? How have they been violated? Whatever they are, on what basis are they enforceable?

Knowing as you did that a surcharge is a surcharge and a tax is a tax, what are your damages from an AA telephone agent calling a surcharge a tax? You obviously were not misled. Did you report to AA the name of the agent who mistakenly called a surcharge a tax? I'm sure AA would appreciate that to avoid future problems with customers not as knowledgeable as yourself.

Last edited by Austinrunner; Mar 1, 14 at 2:44 pm
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Old Mar 1, 14, 2:37 pm
  #70  
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Originally Posted by dazza189 View Post
I apologize for knowing the difference between surcharges and taxes and for seeking an equivalent trip for my parents that I had entered into a contract with AA to provide. If this was a revenue ticket there would be no question in anyone's mind here, that I would be happily transferred onto the BA direct. Why should award tickets once issued be any different?
Very simple, With a revenue ticket, the surcharges will have already been paid and so no reason to expect that AA would charge them a second time

I also fail to see anything that supports getting the flight changed

The agents may have misrepresented the surcharge as a tax, however since it hasn't been paid yet and you are now fully aware that it is a surcharge, I can see that DOT may take issue with the misrepresentation but don't see how that then links to there being a requirement for the airline to rebook without charging it.

It seems to me that there are 2 separate things with no causal link
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Old Mar 1, 14, 2:54 pm
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Dazza's complaint will be publicly-docketed on regulations.gov, as all formal DOT complaints are (after processing and review by DOT administrative staff). Dave, I expect that you'll enjoy reading that when it becomes available -- and it sounds like it may answer some of your questions.

Austinrunner, I just flipped through the AA-BA joint application for antitrust immunity. Here are some relevant provisions:

"The Joint Applicants will offer reciprocal frequent flyer programs to allow members of one carrier’s frequent flyer program to accrue mileage and redeem awards on the services of another" (p.15)

"full reciprocity of frequent flyer benefits between American and British Airways” (p.16)

"metal neutrality" (p.22)
It's easy to find other and similar commitments in the carriers' other statements in that document and elsewhere. I think it's also pretty clear how AA fell short vis-a-vis Dazza. For example "neutral" "full[y] reciproc[al]" treatment would seem to call for conveying Dazza on a BA flight after an AA cancellation.

In exchange for these and other commitments, DOT offered AA and BA an exceptional benefit -- the ability to coordinate prices and schedules, without liability under antitrust laws that of course otherwise disallow such coordination. That's a huge benefit, which economic theory indicates is likely to result in increased prices for passengers. DOT granted the carriers that benefit because they promised offsetting efficiencies and other benefits, including those quoted above. Anyone who has paid for any ticket post-JBA has paid a higher price for it, due to the reduction in competition that the JBA brings about. Any such person is right to expect full compliance with every commitment AA and BA made in order to obtain this special benefit.

Earlier in this thread (posts 50-56), we also discussed other sources of authority whereby an AA-ticketed passenger may expect certain benefits upon flight cancellation or significant schedule change. Recall AA's Schedule Change page, which, according to a note at the top of the page, does indeed apply to AAdvantage awards. No one has offered any argument why Dazza should not receive those benefits. Yet Dazza indicates that AA failed to provide him with those benefits.

AA's General Tariff is also on point although has not been discussed in this thread.

Last edited by bedelman; Mar 1, 14 at 3:06 pm
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Old Mar 1, 14, 3:04 pm
  #72  
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Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
Knowing as you did that a surcharge is a surcharge and a tax is a tax, what are your damages from an AA telephone agent calling a surcharge a tax? You obviously were not misled.
AA made a misleading statement, period. That's the violation of law; whether the particular individual was mislead or not is 100% irrelevant, as a less sophisticated customer would have fallen for it ("since it's a [government] tax, I have no option but to pay it") and that's why we have consumer protection laws.
Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
Did you report to AA the name of the agent who mistakenly called a surcharge a tax? I'm sure AA would appreciate that to avoid future problems with customers not as knowledgeable as yourself.
Can you tell us why would that make any difference, given the copious evidence that even after being fined by the DOT on this very subject they still have not trained their agents to not make misleading statements (i.e. this is not an isolated incident)?
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Old Mar 1, 14, 3:09 pm
  #73  
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Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
Complaints like yours could result in the "no good deed goes unpunished" whack on our collective heads by AA starting to collect surcharges on its own award seats and those of its partners.
How nave. AA's devaluation of AAdvantage is driven by people complaining that they're violating the law.

Sure.

Incidentally, they've been collecting surcharges on (formerly free) mileage upgrades for years.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 3:09 pm
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Originally Posted by hillrider View Post
AA made a misleading statement, period. That's the violation of law; whether the particular individual was mislead or not is 100% irrelevant, as a less sophisticated customer would have fallen for it ("since it's a [government] tax, I have no option but to pay it").Can you tell us why would that make any difference, given the copious evidence that even after being fined by the DOT on this very subject they still have not trained their agents not to make misleading statements (i.e. this is not an isolated incident)?
The big thing I see is that the person did not pay the additional sum based on this information ( and still has not paid the extra ) nor is now unaware that it is a surcharge

Yes, I agree that it is a breach of regulation in what the agent did
I do not agree that this then gives the passenger now the right to make the change without paying it
If the passenger had paid the surcharge based on it being called a tax and was now complaining to DOT to get the misrepresented sum refunded, that would be quite different surely
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Old Mar 1, 14, 3:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
Yes, I agree that it is a breach of regulation in what the agent did
I do not agree that this then gives the passenger now the right to make the change without paying it
If the passenger had paid the surcharge based on it being called a tax and was now complaining to DOT to get the misrepresented sum refunded, that would be quite different surely
Agree.

AA and BA (and others) are running an antitrust-exempt joint operation over the atlantic that was approved based on their claims that it would be "metal neutral" (their wording). Their asking for a "tax" for an involuntary change of flights within the "metral neutral" alliance is a violation of what they said they would do if the DOT approved their joint business. If AA wants to modify the terms of what it promised the DOT it would do under the JBA, then it should reapply for the antitrust exemption.
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