Refund of award late booking fee (consolidated)

 
Old Jan 23, 09, 1:18 pm
  #1  
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Refund of award late booking fee (consolidated)

Can someone give me some advice on how to escalate this issue?

I booked an AA reward ticket within 3 weeks of travel, and paid the extortion $75 late booking fee. However, my flight was canceled due to impending Hurricane Ike. I was unable to rebook a departure for many days and therefore canceled the trip altogether.

I understand that the $75 is 'not refundable' under normal circumstances, but it seems there should be a caveat for flights that AA chooses to cancel. All of the other majors waited until later in the afternoon before canceling their flights. The airport remained open and operating for hours after my flight was scheduled to depart.

What's particularly irritating, is this is a fee for a service that has absolutely no actual cost to AA. Baggage Fees make sense to me, since they represent an actual cost to the airline. And charge me for the awful turkey sandwich should I be desperate enough to eat it. But this is just an example of the airline figuring out a way to stick it to you and devalue the miles I earned before there was such a fee (yes, that long ago).

I have been bounced from Advantage reservations to Advantage Customer Service like a ping pong ball. An email from Advantage Customer Service contained the boilerplate 'the $75 is non-refundable' answer. My request to escalate the issue was ignored.

Does anyone have a suggestion of what I can do to try to escalate this? Thank you.
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Old Jan 23, 09, 1:22 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by mardigras View Post
What's particularly irritating, is this is a fee for a service that has absolutely no actual cost to AA.
There absolutely is a cost to AA for providing this service. There is not, however, to my knowledge, any incremental cost for providing the service within 21 days of departure as opposed to 22 days prior to departure.

You might try disputing the charge with your credit card company. They may not rule in your favor, but there's no harm in trying.
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Old Jan 23, 09, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by mardigras View Post
Can someone give me some advice on how to escalate this issue?

I booked an AA reward ticket within 3 weeks of travel, and paid the extortion $75 late booking fee. However, my flight was canceled due to impending Hurricane Ike. I was unable to rebook a departure for many days and therefore canceled the trip altogether.

I understand that the $75 is 'not refundable' under normal circumstances, but it seems there should be a caveat for flights that AA chooses to cancel. All of the other majors waited until later in the afternoon before canceling their flights. The airport remained open and operating for hours after my flight was scheduled to depart.

What's particularly irritating, is this is a fee for a service that has absolutely no actual cost to AA. Baggage Fees make sense to me, since they represent an actual cost to the airline. And charge me for the awful turkey sandwich should I be desperate enough to eat it. But this is just an example of the airline figuring out a way to stick it to you and devalue the miles I earned before there was such a fee (yes, that long ago).

I have been bounced from Advantage reservations to Advantage Customer Service like a ping pong ball. An email from Advantage Customer Service contained the boilerplate 'the $75 is non-refundable' answer. My request to escalate the issue was ignored.

Does anyone have a suggestion of what I can do to try to escalate this? Thank you.
The fee for an "expedited" award ticket is either 50 or 100. Why did you have to pay 75.00?
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Old Jan 23, 09, 1:31 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by bdemaria View Post
The fee for an "expedited" award ticket is either 50 or 100. Why did you have to pay 75.00?
My guess:

*When multiple awards are claimed at the same time, each additional award is subject to a $25 charge.
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Old Jan 23, 09, 2:33 pm
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Blumie that was my point - there is no incremental cost to the airlines for booking within 21 days vs greater than 21 days in advance of the flight. This is a fee that never used to exist and in fact was, for me, the best perk of the FF programs - last minute travel.

When I booked this flight, the charge was $75. I suppose it must have gone up in the past couple of months?

Does anyone know how to escalate this within AA? Thanks.
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Old Jan 23, 09, 2:39 pm
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While I can't offer you any details how to escalate, if this fee was charged for you (a SINGLE award ticket), you can at least get back a portion of the money.

The fee is supposed to be:
$50 for travel ticketed 20 - 7 days prior to departure, and
$100 for travel ticketed 6 days to 2 hours prior to departure

Source (as already provided by bdemaria):
http://www.aa.com/aa/i18nForward.do?...ardDetails.jsp
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Old Jan 23, 09, 2:48 pm
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Originally Posted by mardigras View Post
Blumie that was my point - there is no incremental cost to the airlines for booking within 21 days vs greater than 21 days in advance of the flight. This is a fee that never used to exist
It's been around for awhile. Actually, I think it's been around since the days of paper award tickets. That was in fact the reason for it: ticketing got moved to the front of the work queue and they were sent out via overnight express - that's why there was a charge. Once they went to electronic ticketing, they just kept the fee in place as a source of revenue even though the extra cost went away.

and in fact was, for me, the best perk of the FF programs - last minute travel.
This is one of the major reasons WN's program is among my favorite: no last-minute booking fee, no change fee, and no cancellation/redeposit fee on award tickets.
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Old Jan 23, 09, 5:58 pm
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It seems pretty simple to me. If AA canceled the flight, for whatever reason, they owe you a complete refund, no questions asked -- it's in the conditions of carriage. If you purchase a non-refundable ticket, and they cancel the flight, they will refund the ticket price. So describing this booking fee as "non-refundable" is not an excuse.

It's very disappointing that AA is not cooperating on this matter. As for the best way to escalate this? I would try disputing the charge with the credit card company, though they tend to be in bed with the airlines and it's usually very difficult to dispute an airline charge in the absence of fraud. Then maybe small claims court.
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Old Jan 23, 09, 6:57 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
It's been around for awhile. Actually, I think it's been around since the days of paper award tickets. That was in fact the reason for it: ticketing got moved to the front of the work queue and they were sent out via overnight express - that's why there was a charge. Once they went to electronic ticketing, they just kept the fee in place as a source of revenue even though the extra cost went away.
Yes, the fee was originally to cover the cost of preparing and sending the overnight delivery. But recall, electronic ticketing came along before the web allowed for online purchasing. Sometime around '95 or so, I remember a newspaper Q&A with someone from AA. When asked why e-tickets still had the expedite fee, the explanation was that having to handle short notice tickets required AA to employ extra phone center agents, and the fee covered that cost. That of course was just spin, as proven when web booking finally eliminated the last cost difference to AA, and the fee remained.
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Old Jan 23, 09, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by mardigras View Post
Blumie that was my point - there is no incremental cost to the airlines for booking within 21 days vs greater than 21 days in advance of the flight. This is a fee that never used to exist and in fact was, for me, the best perk of the FF programs - last minute travel.
W/regard to AA at least, this is not correct. The expedite fee has been around for years.

Originally Posted by mardigras View Post
When I booked this flight, the charge was $75. I suppose it must have gone up in the past couple of months?
No, the fee is as posted, 50 or 100, not 75.


Originally Posted by mardigras View Post
Does anyone know how to escalate this within AA? Thanks.
You would be well served to keep the two issues separate: the fee paid for the expedite award is standard and has been for some time, there is nothing to escalate.

However, you were unable to take the trip due to Hurricane Ike. Speak to AA Customer Service and focus on getting the $$ back b/c of this event, not b/c you think the fee is unfair. You had an option to not book the award ticket when you were told about the fee. I'll be honest, I don't think it will work.
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Old Jan 24, 09, 12:25 am
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OK, thanks for the feedback. It looks like the fee was $100 and the point about it being an irritating fee was just me venting. I do not remember paying this fee 20 years ago; perhaps it was waived for Elite members. But obviously I agreed to pay it as part of the deal. However, I would feel less justification to ask for the refund, if the airline had actually incurred a cost associated with that fee. I really find it amazing that they would feel justified in not refunding it. They cancelled the flight.

And yes, Steve M, I agree - Southwest has a great program and a great sense of customer service. I also think that Continental's Elite program is eons better than AA or DL. I really avoid AA when I can, and after this, I hope I can avoid giving them another penny.

Thanks again to all. Perhaps I will try customer service one last time. It's funny how everyone I speak to on the phone agrees with me, but says they cannot personally handle it.
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Old Jan 24, 09, 12:47 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Blumie View Post
You might try disputing the charge with your credit card company. They may not rule in your favor, but there's no harm in trying.
Since the charge probably posted in August, disputing it five months later could be problematic but, as wisely suggested, no harm in trying.
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Old Jan 24, 09, 1:33 am
  #13  
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Originally Posted by mardigras View Post
I really find it amazing that they would feel justified in not refunding it.

It's funny how everyone I speak to on the phone agrees with me, but says they cannot personally handle it.
It doesn't sound like a case of not feeling "justified" in refunding the fee. It sounds like everyone you've spoken with feels "justified" in the refund. It's just that they don't have the authority to do it. These really are two very different things- one is about employees who don't want to help (apparently not the case) and the other is about an antiquated system that doesn't seem to be able to handle a reasonable request. It's best not to confuse the two.

Cheers.
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Old Jan 24, 09, 6:59 am
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Originally Posted by mardigras View Post
I have been bounced from Advantage reservations to Advantage Customer Service like a ping pong ball. An email from Advantage Customer Service contained the boilerplate 'the $75 is non-refundable' answer. My request to escalate the issue was ignored.

Does anyone have a suggestion of what I can do to try to escalate this?
I do know that it is common for AAdv to give refunds on fees when it is warranted, and not being able to travel due to weather is one of those things. But you say you have been denied from several venues. This makes me think you had been accommodated on other agreeable arrangements and then decided not to make the trip. This would not make an opportunity for a refund of a service they originally provided.

My suggestion is if this is not true you should continue your effort to receive a refund and I believe you will be successful.
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Old Jan 24, 09, 8:50 am
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Originally Posted by Island View Post
This makes me think you had been accommodated on other agreeable arrangements and then decided not to make the trip. This would not make an opportunity for a refund of a service they originally provided.
I guess it's possible that the original poster (note that I spell out words for a new member) may have accepted the booking several days later and then "voluntarily" canceled the trip. However, he is not complaining about being charged the $100 mileage re-deposit fee so I would venture to guess that wasn't the case.
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