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Business award downgraded BCN-ORD segment, AA fails to refund equitably

Business award downgraded BCN-ORD segment, AA fails to refund equitably

Old Nov 2, 18, 12:34 pm
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How about a class action lawsuit against American Airlines

What do you think about starting a class action lawsuit against American Airlines for failing to properly compensate passengers who are involuntarily downgraded on European flights? EC 261/2004 clearly states that the airline is obligated to refund a percentage of the difference between the class purchased and the class of service flown within 7 days of the flight in question. American uses a formula for refunding miles that is ridiculous. Instead of taking the amount of miles difference between the classes of service on the day the ticket was purchased (which I am sure they could determine), they use the difference on the day of the flight (which of course is always more miles required to fly either class). They have their cake and they are eating it too. They use the elevated mileage requirement for coach on flight day and they take my miles purchase price from 335 days before. They use the best of both mileage requirements to their advantage (no pun intended) and to the passengers disadvantage. No one in AA customer service seems to have ever heard of EC 261/2004 and yet it is a regulation that they must abide by when flying flight to and from European Union countries. I am sure that I am not the only one who has been unfortunate enough to be taken advantage of by the wheels of big business such as AA. I know that there is already a class action lawsuit against AA for erroneously charging for baggage ( of which we are a party). Apparently AA has a habit of not playing by the rules to the detriment of its passengers. Let us not sit idly by and just "take it"

the flight was BCN-ORD-DTW. Paid 260,000 miles for 2 business class seats . (AAnytime Business fare). Downgraded to coach for BCN-ORD portion. BCN-ORD =7100 km. ORD-DTW = 380km. EC 261/2004 states I am entitled to 75% refund of cost or downgraded portion. BCN-ORD is 91% of total flight. Therefore I am entitled to a refund of 75% of 91% of 260,000 miles right??? That should be a refund of 177,450 miles. So far AA has only refunded 132,930 miles. I have tried reaching out to AA customer service to no avail. Multiple representatives have stated that “they have never heard of EC261/2004 and that I have been refunded all the miles I am going to get”. Please tell me how to pursue this matter further as I am getting the corporate run around.
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Last edited by JDiver; Nov 3, 18 at 11:45 am Reason: Restore original post title
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Old Nov 2, 18, 12:40 pm
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Originally Posted by edfisher View Post
What do you think about starting a class action lawsuit against American Airlines for failing to properly compensate passengers who are involuntarily downgraded on European flights? EC 261/2004 clearly states that the airline is obligated to refund a percentage of the difference between the class purchased and the class of service flown within 7 days of the flight in question. American uses a formula for refunding miles that is ridiculous. Instead of taking the amount of miles difference between the classes of service on the day the ticket was purchased (which I am sure they could determine), they use the difference on the day of the flight (which of course is always more miles required to fly either class). They have their cake and they are eating it too. They use the elevated mileage requirement for coach on flight day and they take my miles purchase price from 335 days before. They use the best of both mileage requirements to their advantage (no pun intended) and to the passengers disadvantage. No one in AA customer service seems to have ever heard of EC 261/2004 and yet it is a regulation that they must abide by when flying flight to and from European Union countries. I am sure that I am not the only one who has been unfortunate enough to be taken advantage of by the wheels of big business such as AA. I know that there is already a class action lawsuit against AA for erroneously charging for baggage ( of which we are a party). Apparently AA has a habit of not playing by the rules to the detriment of its passengers. Let us not sit idly by and just "take it"
If you're talking about a class-action suit in the U.S., will a U.S. court enforce an EU regulation?
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Old Nov 2, 18, 12:45 pm
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I'm no lawyer, but will speculate US courts don't have jurisdiction over an EU regulation.
Regardless, my understanding of the EU regulations is that AA would not be covered on flights from the USA to the EU as they are not an EU based carrier. However, the flights would be covered if the AA flight departed the EU to the US. In that case, if unsuccessful via normal routes, there are quite a few companies in the EU that will manage your claim for you for a percentage of the amount - even going to court on your behalf if necessary. There are also means to file a government complaint in EU countries.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 12:45 pm
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EC261 applies to AA only from the EU, not to. Nevertheless, could you give a numerical example please.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 12:46 pm
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I suspect that this is a relatively small class (people who have been involuntarily downgraded from Europe) and that there isn't a long line of attorneys who practice in class action litigation willing to take this on.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 12:48 pm
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Class action? There is already an effective dispute mechanism in place. Why not use it instead of making a mountain out of a molehill?
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Old Nov 2, 18, 1:18 pm
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If you want to sue then best get your facts right.

as others have said EU 261 does not apply to AA on flights TO the EU so absent any US regulations to the contrary it can calculate compensation any way it wants.

For AA flights LEAVING the EU under EU 261 for downgrade it is a reimbursement (note the wording of that part of the regulation says reimbursement not compensation)of a % of the fare paid by the customer of the downgraded sector (excluding government taxes and airport fees) NOT the fare difference between the cabins.

The % depends on the length of the flight but for a TATL it would be 75%.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 1:23 pm
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Unfortunately, between Congress and the Supreme Court, it's been decided that in the US your only recourse for anything related to frequent flier programs is to complain to the DOT. So you should probably do that. If enough people have similar complaints, maybe when there is a different President they may do something about it. (This is not an anti-Trump statement specifically, just saying that you'd probably also need an administration that was more into increasing regulations as opposed to decreasing them.)

If AA shortchanged you on a downgrade on a flight FROM Europe to the US, you probably have some recourse to go after them through the European Courts. I don't know enough about European laws to comment on whether something like a class action might be applicable, but it would have to based on European laws and jurisdiction.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 1:34 pm
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Old Nov 2, 18, 1:36 pm
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EC 261/2004 is a an EU law.

It cannot be enforced in US courts and its failure to pay appropriate refunds under the Regulation is not actionable, let alone by class action, in the US. Rather, it can be enforced through a variety of schemes in the appropriate country of departure. One simple example is the UK where SCC proceedings may be conducted telephonically and thus one need not fly back for a simple and informal hearing. In addition, there are claims agents who will handle these matters for a fee of 25-33% of the loot. That is likely to lead to a lot more than a class action tends to pay out to so-called victims.

That said, not sure where OP is coming from. While AA, just like other carriers, including EU carriers, routinely drags its feet in paying compensation and refunds, it eventually generally does so.

For a downgrade on departure from the EU to the US, the refund due is 75% of the base segment fare. That is easily calculated and making a claim is equally easy. It is payable in cash (equivalent) and has nothing to do with the price of a ticket in the downgraded cabin.

If OP has a specific example, why not start there and there might be some useful advice coming his way.
If OP has a specific issue, better to raise that than to

Last edited by Often1; Nov 2, 18 at 2:44 pm
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Old Nov 2, 18, 2:04 pm
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Originally Posted by JonNYC View Post
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Noooooooo.... not again, come back!
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Old Nov 2, 18, 3:35 pm
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Originally Posted by edfisher View Post
EC 261/2004 clearly states that the airline is obligated to refund a percentage of the difference between the class purchased and the class of service flown
No, it doesn't. For a Type 3 flight (3,500 km+), they're required to refund 75% of the cost of the ticket (excluding taxes and fixed charges).

If it's a multi-segment ticket, compensation would be based on the pro-rata cost of that leg based on distance flown.

Refunds are supposed to be in cash, but can be in the form of a voucher or miles with passenger consent. Since you only mention miles in your post, I assume you're referring to a refund of miles on a downgrade of an award ticket. Is that the case? Your post is unclear.

Let's try an example:

CDG-ORD in J
Cost: 57,500 miles (SAAver fare)
Downgrade to Y or PE
Refund: 57,500 * 75% = 43,125 miles

CDG-ORD-PHX in J
Cost: 57,500 miles (SAAver fare)
Downgrade to Y or PE on CDG-ORD only
Total Distance: 5,592 miles (with CDG-ORD at 4,152 miles)
Pro-Rata share of CDG-ORD: 4,152 / 5,592 = 74% of total fare
Pro-Rata cost of CDG-ORD: 74% * 57,500 = 42,550 miles
Refund: 42,550 * 75% = 31,912

Do these figures in any way resemble what AA refunded you? You can substitute the AAnytime rates for the above SAAver rates. The amounts will be different, but the proportions will be the same.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 9:04 pm
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Originally Posted by swingaling View Post
No, it doesn't. For a Type 3 flight (3,500 km+), they're required to refund 75% of the cost of the ticket (excluding taxes and fixed charges).

If it's a multi-segment ticket, compensation would be based on the pro-rata cost of that leg based on distance flown.

Refunds are supposed to be in cash, but can be in the form of a voucher or miles with passenger consent. Since you only mention miles in your post, I assume you're referring to a refund of miles on a downgrade of an award ticket. Is that the case? Your post is unclear.

Let's try an example:

CDG-ORD in J
Cost: 57,500 miles (SAAver fare)
Downgrade to Y or PE
Refund: 57,500 * 75% = 43,125 miles

CDG-ORD-PHX in J
Cost: 57,500 miles (SAAver fare)
Downgrade to Y or PE on CDG-ORD only
Total Distance: 5,592 miles (with CDG-ORD at 4,152 miles)
Pro-Rata share of CDG-ORD: 4,152 / 5,592 = 74% of total fare
Pro-Rata cost of CDG-ORD: 74% * 57,500 = 42,550 miles
Refund: 42,550 * 75% = 31,912

Do these figures in any way resemble what AA refunded you? You can substitute the AAnytime rates for the above SAAver rates. The amounts will be different, but the proportions will be the same.

Flight was BCN-ORD (7100km) for which we paid 260,000 miles for 2 business class seats. Am I not entitled to a refund of 75% of those miles according to EC261/2004 for being downgraded to coach?

Last edited by edfisher; Nov 2, 18 at 9:14 pm
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Old Nov 2, 18, 10:05 pm
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Originally Posted by edfisher View Post



Flight was BCN-ORD (7100km) for which we paid 260,000 miles for 2 business class seats. Am I not entitled to a refund of 75% of those miles according to EC261/2004 for being downgraded to coach?
Originally Posted by edfisher View Post
What do you think about starting a class action lawsuit against American Airlines for failing to properly compensate passengers who are involuntarily downgraded on European flights? EC 261/2004 clearly states that the airline is obligated to refund a percentage of the difference between the class purchased and the class of service flown within 7 days of the flight in question. American uses a formula for refunding miles that is ridiculous. Instead of taking the amount of miles difference between the classes of service on the day the ticket was purchased (which I am sure they could determine), they use the difference on the day of the flight (which of course is always more miles required to fly either class). They have their cake and they are eating it too. They use the elevated mileage requirement for coach on flight day and they take my miles purchase price from 335 days before. They use the best of both mileage requirements to their advantage (no pun intended) and to the passengers disadvantage. No one in AA customer service seems to have ever heard of EC 261/2004 and yet it is a regulation that they must abide by when flying flight to and from European Union countries. I am sure that I am not the only one who has been unfortunate enough to be taken advantage of by the wheels of big business such as AA. I know that there is already a class action lawsuit against AA for erroneously charging for baggage ( of which we are a party). Apparently AA has a habit of not playing by the rules to the detriment of its passengers. Let us not sit idly by and just "take it"

the flight was BCN-ORD-DTW. Paid 260,000 miles for 2 business class seats . (AAnytime Business fare). Downgraded to coach for BCN-ORD portion. BCN-ORD =7100 km. ORD-DTW = 380km. EC 261/2004 states I am entitled to 75% refund of cost or downgraded portion. BCN-ORD is 91% of total flight. Therefore I am entitled to a refund of 75% of 91% of 260,000 miles right??? That should be a refund of 177,450 miles. So far AA has only refunded 132,930 miles. I have tried reaching out to AA customer service to no avail. Multiple representatives have stated that “they have never heard of EC261/2004 and that I have been refunded all the miles I am going to get”. Please tell me how to pursue this matter further as I am getting the corporate run around.
Originally Posted by LondonElite View Post
EC261 applies to AA only from the EU, not to. Nevertheless, could you give a numerical example please.
please read amended original post please.
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Old Nov 2, 18, 10:09 pm
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Originally Posted by UKtravelbear View Post
If you want to sue then best get your facts right.

as others have said EU 261 does not apply to AA on flights TO the EU so absent any US regulations to the contrary it can calculate compensation any way it wants.

For AA flights LEAVING the EU under EU 261 for downgrade it is a reimbursement (note the wording of that part of the regulation says reimbursement not compensation)of a % of the fare paid by the customer of the downgraded sector (excluding government taxes and airport fees) NOT the fare difference between the cabins.

The % depends on the length of the flight but for a TATL it would be 75%.
Please read my amended original post, thanks. I am not a frequent traveler and save my miles for years to take these special trips only to have what I was so excited about and looked forward to for a year be taken away from me the morning of the flight.
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