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FAQ: Skipping Segment - Hidden City / Point Beyond / Throw Away Ticketing (master thd

FAQ: Skipping Segment - Hidden City / Point Beyond / Throw Away Ticketing (master thd

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Old Sep 16, 20, 12:42 pm   -   Wikipost
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FAQ: "Missing" or "Skipping Segments": Hidden City / Point Beyond and Throw Away Ticketing
Q.What will happen if I "skip" a segment?

A. Skipping an intermediate or end segment is most often referred to as "Hidden City / Point Beyond Ticketing" by American Airlines, and “skiplagging” by others; doing so invalidates the contract you have with AA regarding your ticket. AA will at least cancel the remaining segments. If the reason for missing a segment is to drop the last segment to save money on a more expensive ticket to the intermediate destination, it is called a "Hidden City / Point Beyond" ticket. American Airlines states, in the Conditions of Carriage (and more existentially in Tariff Rule 100AA):

American specifically prohibits the practices commonly known as:

Hidden City/Point Beyond Ticketing
: Purchase of a fare from a point before the passenger's actual origin or to a point beyond the passenger's actual destination.
Link to American Airlines Conditions of Carriage, Ticket Validity.

Q. What about buying a round trip and not flying the return?

"Throw away" ticketing, that is purchasing a less expensive round trip ticket with the intent of not flying the return segments ("throwing away" the return tickets) is similarly frowned upon, but may be acted upon - particularly if this becomes frequent or a pattern

Q. Do American Airlines Corporate Security / AAdvantage Fraud have people and algorithms running in the background that check for these?

Assuredly, yes. Can people be found liable for fees and/or lose their accounts / status / miles? Yes, we have had many reports on FT, and the risk increases for repeaters. Can people be criminally or civilly prosecuted? Doubtful. (Link to article on Contract Fraud.)

Q. Would I get in trouble skipping the final segment?

A. Possibly not, if you don't do this on other than the rare occasion, but there is risk.

Q. Can I short check my baggage?

A. In most cases, you may find it difficult, unless you have an overnight connection, must retrieve your baggage for customs or because your connection does not offer interlining of baggage.

Q. Will I get my EQ and Award Miles.

You will likely accrue miles for the segments you actually flew. But “skiplagging” could result in miles confiscation and potentially account closure.

Q. Can I claim the residual value for the unused segment?

Au contraire; with a hidden city / point beyond ticket, you owe AA money under their rules. United and Lufthansa have billed skiplaggers, AA may have.

Q. What has AA said they can do to me about hidden city or throwaway ticketing?

“Passengers who attempt to use hidden city tickets may be denied boarding, have the remainder of their ticket confiscated and may be assessed the difference between the fare paid and the lowest applicable fare.”

A highly recommended article on this topic is 3 Words on Hidden City Ticketing: Don’t Do It (link) from ExpertFlyer, 27 Feb 2019.

Archived older posts may be read here.

For Conditions of Carriage - Ticket Validity and Letter used by AA:

AA Hidden City and Point Beyond Ticketing:

Skipping an intermediate or end segment is referred to as "Hidden City / Point Beyond Ticketing" by American Airlines, and doing so invalidates the contract you have with AA regarding your ticket. AA will generally cancel the remaining segments, and if it is dropping the last segment to save money on a more expensive ticket to the intermediate destination, it is called the "Hidden City" ticket.

The entire Conditions of Carriage, the contract that governs your ticket (in additon to the Detailed Fare Rules attached to your fare class and readable prior to purchase), are here: CONDITIONS OF CARRIAGE.

The specific language regarding Hidden City and Point Beyond Ticketing is here:
TICKET VALIDITY - COMPLIANCE WITH TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE

Tickets are valid for travel only when used in accordance with all terms and conditions of sale. Terms and conditions of sale include but are not limited to:
  1. The passenger's itinerary, as stated on the ticket or in the passenger's reservation record,
    • Any requirement that the passenger stay over a specified date or length of time (for example, Saturday night or weekend) at the destination specified on the ticket.
      • Any special purpose or status (for example, age in the case of senior citizen or children's discounts, military status in the case of a military fare, official government business in the case of a government fare, or attendance at a qualified event in the case of a meeting or convention fare) that entitles the passenger to a special or reduced rate, or
        • Any other requirement associated with the passenger's fare level.


Unless a ticket is reissued by American or its authorized agent upon payment of applicable charges, or an authorized representative of American waives applicable restrictions in writing, a ticket is invalid:
  1. If used for travel to a destination other than that specified on the ticket,
    • If the passenger fails to comply with applicable stay-over requirements,
      • If the passenger does not meet the purpose or status requirement associated with the fare category on the ticket, or
        • If American determines that the ticket has been purchased or used in a manner designed to circumvent applicable fare rules.


American specifically prohibits the practices commonly known as:

Back to Back Ticketing: The combination of two or more roundtrip excursion fares end to end for the purpose of circumventing minimum stay requirements.

Throwaway Ticketing: The usage of roundtrip excursion fare for one-way travel, and

Hidden City/Point Beyond Ticketing: Purchase of a fare from a point before the passenger's actual origin or to a point beyond the passenger's actual destination.

Duplicate and Impossible/Illogical Bookings: Duplicate or impossible/illogical American Airlines bookings are prohibited without prior authorization from American Airlines. A duplicate or impossible/illogical booking includes, but is not limited to, bookings for the same passenger on flights traveling on or about the same date between one or more of the same or nearby origin and/or destination (such as JFKDFW and LGADFW or DFWLAX and DFWONT), or bookings with connections that depart before the arrival of the inbound flight.

Fraudulent, Fictitious and Abusive Bookings: Fraudulent, fictitious and/or abusive bookings are prohibited. These types of bookings are defined as any bookings made without having been requested by or on behalf of the named passenger. Additionally, creating bookings to hold or block seats for the purpose of obtaining lower fares, AAdvantage award inventory, or upgrades that may not otherwise be available, or to circumvent any of American Airlines' fare rules or policies, is prohibited without prior authorization from American Airlines.

Where a ticket is invalidated as the result of the passenger's non-compliance with any term or condition of sale, American has the right in its sole discretion to:
  1. Cancel any remaining portion of the passenger's itinerary,
    • Confiscate unused flight coupons,
      • Refuse to board the passenger or check the passenger's luggage, or
        • Assess the passenger for the reasonable remaining value of the ticket, which shall be no less than the difference between the fare actually paid and the lowest fare applicable to the passenger's actual itinerary


Sample letter from American Airlines on Hidden City Ticketing:

Dear ,

Let me take the opportunity to clarify American Airlines position on hidden city or point beyond ticketing. Purchasing a ticket to a point beyond the actual destination and getting off the aircraft at the connecting point is unethical (sic). It is tantamount to switching price tags to obtain a lower price on goods sold at department stores. Passengers who attempt to use hidden city tickets may be denied boarding, have the remainder of their ticket confiscated and may be assessed the difference between the fare paid and the lowest applicable fare.

Because we compete with other airlines with different route structures, we sometimes find it necessary to give a traveler who is traveling beyond a connecting point a better price than travelers who are just traveling to the connecting point. For example, a passenger who is traveling to Austin, Texas from Los Angeles can go on one airline via Phoenix for a price that is lower than the cost of traveling on American between Los Angeles and Dallas. If we want to offer the same price to Austin as the other airline, but the only way we can get travelers there is via Dallas, we find ourselves charging the Austin passengers less than the Dallas passengers.

Although the issuance and usage of hidden city tickets is not illegal in the sense that one could be fined or sent to jail by the government, it is unethical and a breach of a passengers (sic) contract with AA. Both tariff rule 100AA and American's Condition of Carriage, which are incorporated into every ticket sold by American as part of our agreement to carry the passenger named on the ticket, bar hidden city ticketing. In addition, it violates the agencies' contract to act as an agent for American Airlines.

If American Airlines continues to lose revenue as a result of hidden city transactions, the fares we charge must inevitably rise.

Sincerely,

In August 2020 AA went after user HappyInTheAir561 for Hidden City Ticketing, demanding payment of $2,500 or permanent closure of his AAdvantage account and loss of 600,000 miles balance. Below is the letter (missing is the 2,500 quote), and there is an entire thread about it here: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amer...rmination.html The user says he ultimately paid the money.
Mr. XXXX,

As an analyst with American Airlines, one of my responsibilities is investigating violations of the General AAdvantage® Program Conditions. An audit of your AAdvantage account, determined that you have engaged in the practice known as ‘Hidden City ticketing’; the purchase of a fare to a point beyond your actual destination. Hidden city ticketing is explicitly defined in AA’s Conditions of Carriage as a violation of ticket validity. The Terms and Conditions of the AAdvantage program further state that compliance with the Conditions of Carriage is compulsory for participation in the AAdvantage program. As such, AAdvantage account XXXXXX is restricted, pending the outcome of our investigation. You may review the terms and conditions of the AAdvantage ® program (several parts of the terms and conditions are noted below) by clicking the link below or by copying and pasting it into your browser.

The audit of your account XXXXXwas completed on August xx, 2020. The following reservations were not issued in compliance with the AAdvantage Terms & Conditions, Conditions of Carriage or AA.com Site Usage policy:

52 HIDDEN CITY TICKETS (Included each one of the flights they believe is a hidden city ticket)

Not unlike other commodities, airline seats are market priced. A seat on a non-stop flight is a premium product and commands a higher price. Seats in connecting markets must be priced competitively and hence can be substantially cheaper. The ill-effects of point beyond ticketing are two-fold; the customer receives the flight for a price for which they aren’t entitled and a seat is spoiled on the separate connecting flight. An airline ticket constitutes a contract and the terms of that contract are stated explicitly in the Conditions of Carriage. Please see excerpts below.

Mr.XXXXX, these actions have resulted in clear and considerable losses to American Airlines. In addition to our loss for the travel provided, tickets booked through prohibited practices are considered fraudulent, and therefore not eligible to accrue mileage. In this case, our loss is further compounded through the Elite mileage accruals, benefits, and services used that were not otherwise available. Generally, violations of this nature subject the AAdvantage account to termination. However, we are willing to provide you with an opportunity to restore an equitable relationship through restitution for the loss on your identified travel.

You may respond to this message by 3pm, CST, Friday, August 31, 2020 stating you would like to bring your account back to good standing. At that time, the segments will be re-priced based on your intended travel and we will send you the information so that you may make the appropriate reimbursement for the travel provided. Failure to return the account to good standing or to reply, will result in the termination of your AAdvantage® membership and all its benefits, including all remaining AAdvantage® miles in your account and any award tickets issued from it.




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Old Mar 4, 19, 4:02 pm
  #361  
 
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Originally Posted by buckeyefanflyer View Post
Don’t understand back to back ticketing rule. Why does there have to be a minimum stay. I have gotten around the rule by flying other airlines in the sequence.
Airline fare models have gone through numerous iterations. Presently, there are rarely minimum stay requirements or round-trip discounts, but advance purchase plays a role sometimes.

However, it has changed over time. In the late 1980's/early 1990's, it was common for fares to be much higher if they didn't include a Saturday night stay. While living in Washington DC, I had a meeting in Chicago, where the round-trip fare with a Saturday night stay was $200 and without it was $800.

In that case, I found an extremely lucrative workaround. I had a meeting on, say, December 12. I had a co-worker who had family in Milwaukee. I booked a ticket from DC to Chicago on December 11, returning from Milwaukee on December 29. I also booked a ticket from Chicago to DC on December 12, returning to Milwaukee on December 23. At this time, you didn't need an ID to fly. So I got a $400 ticket instead of $800, and my co-worker got a free trip home for Christmas. Just to sweeten the pot, at the time United had a promotion of a free round-trip coach ticket for each 8 flight segments, so (since the Milwaukee legs changed in Chicago) I got 3/4 of a ticket in bonuses.

I did the hidden city trick occasionally back in those days, and you could often get miles and segment credit for the extra segment even if you didn't fly it.

Those were the days, my friend.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 4:28 am
  #362  
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Just because a company puts something in their COC doesn’t mean it is valid, correct, or morally right.

As and extreme example to make a point, they could say that by using their services you give up your right to free speech (ability to criticize their product). In fact, some companies have done so, and just because they put those rules in, I have no obligation to follow them.

We (those who agree with me) have a difference of opinion with the companies (and their sympathizers). I think I have bought a product or service and I can choose to use as little or as much of it as I want. They can put whatever they want in their COC and that doesn’t make it incumbent upon me to follow that. The courts have consistently sided with this view.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 9:17 am
  #363  
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Originally Posted by Carl Christensen View Post
Just because a company puts something in their COC doesn’t mean it is valid, correct, or morally right.

As and extreme example to make a point, they could say that by using their services you give up your right to free speech (ability to criticize their product). In fact, some companies have done so, and just because they put those rules in, I have no obligation to follow them.

We (those who agree with me) have a difference of opinion with the companies (and their sympathizers). I think I have bought a product or service and I can choose to use as little or as much of it as I want. They can put whatever they want in their COC and that doesn’t make it incumbent upon me to follow that. The courts have consistently sided with this view.
By and large, you are wrong. When you purchase a ticket, you agree to the CoCs. You may not like them, but you've agreed to them. When you break the contract, the other side can seek remedies under the terms of the contract. You are free to escalate this to a court, which will of course not enforce such silly examples as giving up free speech. If you can show me how courts have consistently sided against companies in the interpretation of their CoCs, I'd be interested to read about some examples.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 9:35 am
  #364  
 
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True story: two years ago I was in HNL about to fly HNL -> PHX -> ATL. I had a meeting I had to get to in Atlanta, but it ended up getting cancelled. The HNL -> PHX flight was oversold and I took VDB compensation to take another flight. Because I now didn't need to be in Atlanta the next day, I asked to go to HNL -> DFW -> LGA 2 days later. They said I could fly two days later, but ATL still needed to be my final destination, so they SUGGESTED that I do HNL -> DFW -> LGA -> ATL, which I accepted. I ended up getting an ~80 refund. Also a ton of extra EQMs because the ticket went from I to J during reticketing.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 9:58 am
  #365  
 
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<redacted>

I've mentioned this before, so forgive the repeat.

I am a database administrator in a company not unlike an airline. I have never worked for any airline.

Based on my own work experience, I can guess at what the data analysts and middle- to senior-management are thinking.

1. No one cares about a one-off. There are too many legitimate reasons why a person might not fly a last segment: Illness, sudden emergency, etc. That kind of stuff happens to folks all the time, ONCE. Maybe twice.

2. They go after the habitual offender. That's the guy commuting to work, coming home on the weekends and using Hidden City to reduce the cost of the commute. It's hard to believe this guy got "sick" every Friday at 4:55pm six weeks in a row.

If I were a data analyst for an airline, I would do it this way:

1. Identify a route with Hidden City savings.

2. Query the database for anyone dropping the last segment of the trip, over the past year or so.

3. Eliminate the one-timers, possibly two-timers, from consideration.

4. Focus on the multiple time offenders and, starting at the top, carefully examine all airline travel for the worst offenders. This is the "low hanging fruit" method of analysis. (Note to perps: Once a human being gets interested in your history, you are toast.)

5. Pass on findings to other analysts and managers for their review.

I can't imagine the perp ever getting contacted by the airline about Hidden City without a careful review by multiple senior level managers and analysts. I do not believe it's just some kind of automatic algorithm that sends out boilerplate letters.
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Last edited by JDiver; Mar 6, 19 at 4:29 pm Reason: Redacted previously deleted post content
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:00 am
  #366  
 
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Originally Posted by donotblink View Post
True story: two years ago I was in HNL about to fly HNL -> PHX -> ATL.
A classic one-off. No worries.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:14 am
  #367  
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Originally Posted by Colin View Post
3B. Eliminate the instances where AA's most important team (that controls access to the coffers) has already refunded the unflown segment
Actually, no need to. Just because a refund was issued does not absolve you from the infraction. And YES, different departments within AA can disagree upon an issue.

I had a case where AA put my SWU balance negative because they failed to process a gifted SWU properly and then once I finally earned by lot I went one short. The EXP desk reinstated the SWU only to be taken away again by the other department. Finally, the EXP agent that did the reinstatement just added one to my account for a bogus reason and that stuck.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:18 am
  #368  
 
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Originally Posted by RogerD408 View Post
Actually, no need to. Just because a refund was issued does not absolve you from the infraction. And YES, different departments within AA can disagree upon an issue.

I had a case where AA put my SWU balance negative because they failed to process a gifted SWU properly and then once I finally earned by lot I went one short. The EXP desk reinstated the SWU only to be taken away again by the other department. Finally, the EXP agent that did the reinstatement just added one to my account for a bogus reason and that stuck.
that example is irrelevant.
the refunded money is the final say.
the airline doesn't get a do-over.
no credit card company or court would accept the left hand didn't know what the right was doing excuse.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:27 am
  #369  
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Originally Posted by Colin View Post
that example is irrelevant.
the refunded money is the final say.
the airline doesn't get a do-over.
no credit card company or court would accept the left hand didn't know what the right was doing excuse.
Then we will just have to agree to disagree.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:32 am
  #370  
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Originally Posted by RogerD408 View Post
Then we will just have to agree to disagree.
We know for an absolute fact that AA Corp security and revenue integrity policy agrees with you— and over the years I’ve helped several members of this forum who relied on the absolutely horrible advice of a “Colin” (who ever the know-it-all was during those flair-ups) and then came begging for help. FT expanded my PM inbox just to help deal with the aftermath of members listening to people like this.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:35 am
  #371  
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Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
By and large, you are wrong. When you purchase a ticket, you agree to the CoCs. You may not like them, but you've agreed to them. When you break the contract, the other side can seek remedies under the terms of the contract. You are free to escalate this to a court, which will of course not enforce such silly examples as giving up free speech. If you can show me how courts have consistently sided against companies in the interpretation of their CoCs, I'd be interested to read about some examples.
you make such absolute statements (you are wrong) while failing to prove your side.

lets consider the broader thrust of your argument - if a company puts a “contract” with their product and service you are duty bound to follow it completely.

but this position has consistently been found to be wrong in broad swaths of the commerce in the US. Since you fail to provide examples of your case I will provide examples backing up my position.

- software shrink wrap license agreements said you couldn’t sell your copy - courts found this position to be wrong
- airlines went after skiplagged for helping facilitate this exact behavior and lost the airlines lost
- overseas the airline just lost the first attempt at this and while still possibly pursuing it they did lose
- copying of movies for personal use was attempted to be prosecuted and pursued by the movie companies and with shrink wrap license agreements and they lost
- companies have tried to say that you cannot leave negative feedback if you use their service - and have been defeated.
- many different industries have tried to say that by using their service or product you give up the right to sue and have to go through arbitration - and this have many times been proven to not be correct and not enforceable


instead of arguing about individual examples, I present the broader narrative that just because a company puts something in their “contract of carriage” does not mean that it is the same as a contract one may enter into with an individual party and that individual portions of this “contract of carriage” may not be enforceable or correct as the airline claims they are.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:38 am
  #372  
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Originally Posted by Colin View Post
want to know what trumps the CoC?

when AA itself refunds the value of your unflown segment.
Originally Posted by donotblink View Post
True story: two years ago I was in HNL about to fly HNL -> PHX -> ATL. I had a meeting I had to get to in Atlanta, but it ended up getting cancelled. The HNL -> PHX flight was oversold and I took VDB compensation to take another flight. Because I now didn't need to be in Atlanta the next day, I asked to go to HNL -> DFW -> LGA 2 days later. They said I could fly two days later, but ATL still needed to be my final destination, so they SUGGESTED that I do HNL -> DFW -> LGA -> ATL, which I accepted. I ended up getting an ~80 refund. Also a ton of extra EQMs because the ticket went from I to J during reticketing.
Originally Posted by Colin View Post
there are so many different power centers within AA that couldn't care less about unflown segments, the most important being the refunds team.
the only ones who seem to care about it are some people in this thread.
Originally Posted by Colin View Post
3B. Eliminate the instances where AA's most important team (that controls access to the coffers) has already refunded the unflown segment. doh!
So wheat? An airline is free to choose not to enforce its harsher penalties.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:41 am
  #373  
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Originally Posted by Carl Christensen View Post


you make such absolute statements (you are wrong) while failing to prove your side.

lets consider the broader thrust of your argument - if a company puts a “contract” with their product and service you are duty bound to follow it completely.

but this position has consistently been found to be wrong in broad swaths of the commerce in the US. Since you fail to provide examples of your case I will provide examples backing up my position.

- software shrink wrap license agreements said you couldn’t sell your copy - courts found this position to be wrong
- airlines went after skiplagged for helping facilitate this exact behavior and lost the airlines lost
- overseas the airline just lost the first attempt at this and while still possibly pursuing it they did lose
- copying of movies for personal use was attempted to be prosecuted and pursued by the movie companies and with shrink wrap license agreements and they lost
- companies have tried to say that you cannot leave negative feedback if you use their service - and have been defeated.
- many different industries have tried to say that by using their service or product you give up the right to sue and have to go through arbitration - and this have many times been proven to not be correct and not enforceable


instead of arguing about individual examples, I present the broader narrative that just because a company puts something in their “contract of carriage” does not mean that it is the same as a contract one may enter into with an individual party and that individual portions of this “contract of carriage” may not be enforceable or correct as the airline claims they are.
Please give me a break and put your money where your mouth is. If you have AA miles I’ll happily buy some from you for a first class long haul flight. When I’ve completed my travel are you ok with me letting AA know that we’ve never met, that you sold me some of your miles, and that you’re convinced that the airline won’t come after you and shut down your account. Do we have a deal?
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:47 am
  #374  
 
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1. Fact: the AA employees at prefunds.aa.com are laughably, comically lenient in approving refund requests for the most trivial of schedule change, delay, or irregularity
2. Fact: if you book AA flights more than ~4 months out, you are basically guaranteed a schedule change as AA's schedule from 4 to 11 months out is a place holder
3. Fact: 25% of all AA flights are delayed or cancelled

Put the pieces together.
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Old Mar 6, 19, 10:55 am
  #375  
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Originally Posted by Colin View Post
1. Fact: the AA employees at prefunds.aa.com are laughably, comically lenient in approving refund requests for the most trivial of schedule change, delay, or irregularity
2. Fact: if you book AA flights more than ~4 months out, you are basically guaranteed a schedule change as AA's schedule from 4 to 11 months out is a place holder
3. Fact: 25% of all AA flights are delayed or cancelled

Put the pieces together.
You’ll have to help me. I’ve no idea what point you are trying to make.
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