AA award flight cancelled due to schedule change

 
Old Mar 1, 14, 4:09 pm
  #76  
 
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Originally Posted by bedelman View Post
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.
Whereabouts can we find DoT complaints? I did some poking around without luck.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 4:17 pm
  #77  
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Originally Posted by hillrider View Post
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.
There is no involuntary change

AA provided an involuntary rerouting onto AA flights. The OP wants to voluntarily change to the BA flights

If AA had just rebooked the OP on BA, I would def agree that there would be no grounds to charge the surcharges
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Old Mar 1, 14, 4:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
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
I repeatedly have paid carrier-imposed surcharges that AA staff (and receipts and other documents) mischaracterized as "tax." I posted the evidence. I asked the DOT to order AA to provide me with refunds. DOT confirmed that AA's practices were unlawful (consent order) although did not order AA to provide me with a refund. I contacted AA counsel to reiterate my request for a refund. We have not yet reached resolution. I may have to file suit to get the amount at issue.

Notably, in DOT briefing, AA argued that "Having always been told of the total purchase price before the time of sale, [a passenger] cannot assert he was ever deceived by American in purchasing revenue or award transportation." (That's from AA's April 19, 2013 Answeron pages 8-9.) Dave, do you agree with AA's argument?
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Old Mar 1, 14, 4:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
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
I didn't pay it because I didn't think I should retroactively be asked to pay a "tax" after one of their agents originally followed what I believed to be the correct rules (rule 80) to reticket on the BA flight. Once they rescinded those tickets and demanded I pay to actually use them....well......I have all sorts of problems with that. If they'd stuck to a consistent message from the very beginning, that there were surcharges if I wanted to switch to BA, I would probably have shrugged it off and rerouted through JFK, and grumbled about it to my friends. However they didn't so I took the time to do some research and I didn't like what I found.

If I call back right this minute and ask what the current status of my ticket is I strongly suspect I will be told that there are additional taxes to be paid if I want to travel on the BA flight that my parents were ticketed on.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 4:25 pm
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Originally Posted by cmn.jcs View Post
Whereabouts can we find DoT complaints? I did some poking around without luck.
All of my DOT complaints about AA practices are on my Airline Mischaracterization of Fuel Surcharges: American Airlines page. My complaints as to other carriers are on Misrepresentation of Fuel Surcharges in Airline Price Advertising.

Dazza's post this morning indicates that he just filed his DOT complaint today. Usually DOT staff take 1-2 business days to process and post a newly-filed complaint.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 4:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
There is no involuntary change

AA provided an involuntary rerouting onto AA flights. The OP wants to voluntarily change to the BA flights
I'm not sure how much insight we'll get out of the label "involuntary" versus "voluntarily" here. But Dazza's rights are as enumerated in AA's General Tariff, AA's other public statements (including its Schedule Change web page), AA's prior commitments to DOT (including the BA JBA application), and incidentally also some IATA rules. All of these documents grant a passenger important flexibility and rights in what accommodation to accept and what options AA must offer.

I disagree with your suggestion that AA was free to propose a single option (10+ hours different from what Dazza had booked, ticketed, and confirmed!) and was free to withhold another option much closer to Dazza's original itinerary. Each of the above-listed authorities is broadly on point.


Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
If AA had just rebooked the OP on BA, I would def agree that there would be no grounds to charge the surcharges
This situation has arisen. Recall the passengers who had ticketed and confirmed AAdvantage award bookings when AA withdrew from DEL, BUD, and perhaps other destinations, for which the most natural way to reroute was on BA. In general AA did rebook those passengers on BA but required that the passengers pay surcharges (and, as usual, multiple passengers report AA staff mischaracterizing those surcharges as "tax").

Dave, in your view, when AA withdrew from (say) DEL, was AA within its rights to require a passenger to choose between either 1) cancellation of a passenger's ticketed confirmed AAdvantage redemption, or 2) payment of additional surcharges associated with the BA segment LHR-DEL?

Here too, I claim that the above-listed authorities disallow AA from requiring additional payment from passengers in this circumstance. So far as I know, no one filed a formal DOT complaint on this subject, and when I raised this AA argued that I didn't have standing to present problems I did not suffer personaly. So I think we don't know DOT's view.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
There is no involuntary change

AA provided an involuntary rerouting onto AA flights. The OP wants to voluntarily change to the BA flights

If AA had just rebooked the OP on BA, I would def agree that there would be no grounds to charge the surcharges
Surely it's involuntary if it's not like for like? Forcing an overnight in ORD where I am responsible for any hotel charges?

AA said that their joint venture would allow metal neutrality for award flights, which by my reckoning should imply a like for like exchange on either carriers metal!
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Old Mar 1, 14, 5:58 pm
  #83  
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Originally Posted by bedelman View Post
Dave, in your view, when AA withdrew from (say) DEL, was AA within its rights to require a passenger to choose between either 1) cancellation of a passenger's ticketed confirmed AAdvantage redemption, or 2) payment of additional surcharges associated with the BA segment LHR-DEL?
Not the same comparison. AA has provided another routing for the passenger and has not required any additional payment in relation to the change

Same with DEL , if a passenger was booked on the flight, then yes, AA should rebook the passenger. If the passenger prefers another routing, that wouldn't make AA obligated to provide it without taxes/charges being paid

Originally Posted by dazza189
Surely it's involuntary if it's not like for like? Forcing an overnight in ORD where I am responsible for any hotel charges?
If it was a departure from Europe , I could see a potential argument for entitlement under EU261 , but since it isn't , I am not aware of an entitlement. Have you asked AA for a rerouting on an AA service where no overnight stay is required?
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Old Mar 1, 14, 5:58 pm
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What is the legal definition of "metal neutrality"? Surely there must be one given that the AA detractors so love to fling that term about. I'm not asking for your pet definition of what it means, by the way.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 6:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
What is the legal definition of "metal neutrality"? Surely there must be one given that the AA detractors so love to fling that term about. I'm not asking for your pet definition of what it means, by the way.
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Last edited by hillrider; Mar 3, 14 at 9:26 am Reason: My original response veered this thread further off-topic (thanks rjlon!)
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Old Mar 1, 14, 6:13 pm
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Sorry, that doesn't answer my question. Surely you have a definition readily available.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 6:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
Not the same comparison. AA has provided another routing for the passenger and has not required any additional payment in relation to the change
It's quite a different routing: leave the day before, arrive 10 hours later, forced overnight connection at the passenger's own expense. Surely you can understand why the passenger is not satisfied.

You're proposing a particular vision of how schedule changes could work: Carrier offers a flight, cancels it (or changes schedule significantly), then carrier picks exactly one option which customer must accept (or else receive an involuntary refund of the entire amount paid). That's an interesting approach, and I guess some airlines might try that and some regulators might allow that. But that's not the approach AA has chosen. AA's schedule change page says passengers who have a 91 minute or greater schedule change "may select an alternate flight on a oneworld AA*, if original inventory is not available may book next lowest available inventory, same cabin, up to and including B inventory." Allowing that T (award coach) is not available on the AA* flight BOS-LHR, this text indicates that Dazza should be permitted to book in the lowest available bucket on the AA*(BA) BOS-LHR service.

Having made this promise, in writing, on a public web page available to the entire Internet and of course predictably easily found using Google, shouldn't AA be bound by this promise? On what theory does AA get to make this promise, but then disavow this promise when a passenger seeks to avail himself of this provision?






Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
Same with DEL , if a passenger was booked on the flight, then yes, AA should rebook the passenger. If the passenger prefers another routing, that wouldn't make AA obligated to provide it without taxes/charges being paid
I spoke with passengers who told me AA offered only routings on partners that require fuel surcharges, and AA offered no routings that did not entail a fuel surcharge. Such passengers were unable to reach their ticketed confirmed destination unless they provided additional payment to AA.
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Old Mar 1, 14, 7:47 pm
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Originally Posted by Austinrunner View Post
Sorry, that doesn't answer my question. Surely you have a definition readily available.
I, at least, aspire to use the term in the same way AA and BA do. Here's their Joint Application for Antitrust Immunity which first uses the term "metal neutrality" on page one line eight.

So far as I know, the document does not offer an affirmative definition of the term. Browsing through it, I was most struck by the statement of (supposed) benefit of metal neutrality on document page 11 (PDF page 17) (emphasis added):
Antitrust immunity alone does not ensure that an alliance will be effective, as each carrier still has an economic incentive to maximize its own revenue. Within oneworld, this is particularly true with regard to American’s relationships with British Airways and Iberia (less so with regard to Finnair and Royal Jordanian because American does not fly to Helsinki or Amman). It is only the closer cooperation through a joint venture based on metal neutrality – an indifference as to which airline actually carries the customer – that will maximize the consumer benefits that immunized alliances make possible. This is because metal neutrality removes each carrier’s incentive to act opportunistically in ways that inure to the short-term financial benefit of one carrier, but which reduce the efficiency and consumer benefits delivered by the alliance.
I find it hard to reconcile this quote with Dazza's experience. AA doesn't indicate any "indifference as to which airline actually carries the customer"; quite the contrary, AA told Dazza that if he wanted to be carried on BA, he'd need to pay $250 per person each way. Where's the "customer benefit" in that?
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Old Mar 1, 14, 10:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
Have you asked AA for a rerouting on an AA service where no overnight stay is required?
Yes I have. On the date in question there is literally no way to achieve such a routing. The ONLY way to go from BOS-LHR in the same day, on that particular day is on the BA flight. They no longer offer the AA metal flights from BOS-LHR and they cancelled the only possible routing through any other hub that they serve after agreeing to do so.

Originally Posted by Dave Noble View Post
If it was a departure from Europe , I could see a potential argument for entitlement under EU261 , but since it isn't , I am not aware of an entitlement.
I also thought that the EU rules protected any passenger flying into or out of Europe regardless of the nationality of the carrier (happy to expose my ignorance on that particular rule)
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Old Mar 1, 14, 10:18 pm
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Originally Posted by dazza189 View Post
Yes I have. On the date in question there is literally no way to achieve such a routing. The ONLY way to go from BOS-LHR in the same day, on that particular day is on the BA flight. They no longer offer the AA metal flights from BOS-LHR and they cancelled the only possible routing through any other hub that they serve after agreeing to do so.
How about BOS-JFK-LHR or BOS-ORD-LHR or BOS-DFW-LHR - albeit that the flights are overnight?


Originally Posted by dazza189 View Post
I also thought that the EU rules protected any passenger flying into or out of Europe regardless of the nationality of the carrier (happy to expose my ignorance on that particular rule)
Nope, they don't

AA is covered by regulation from EU-USA , since all carriers are covered there
For USA-EU, only community carriers ( basically EU carriers ) are covered by regulation

If you were booked on a BA flight and that flight was impacted, then you would have been covered?
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