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Cruel confirmation of AA's ranking as worst airline (inflexible with BE tickets)

Cruel confirmation of AA's ranking as worst airline (inflexible with BE tickets)

Old Feb 7, 20, 8:24 am
  #1  
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Cruel confirmation of AA's ranking as worst airline (inflexible with BE tickets)

For business reasons, from Jan-May 2020 I fly every Monday morning from Greenville SC to DCA on American, returning late Wednesday evenings. I bought all my tickets (18 of them) in December 2019, Basic Economy every time (I only need a carry on).

This week I learned that, on Monday March 30, my daughter will be arguing (for the first time) before the United States Supreme Court! Needless to say, I must be there, but my flight that Monday morning arrives too late. Not to worry, a relative promised to drive me to DC the previous day (that relative is going on a long vacation to the Northeast and I would tag along for the 550 mile leg to DC). So I phoned American, first to ask them to change my outbound ticket to the previous day (they refused, as I knew they would and as is their right under the Basic Economy rules) and alternatively to let them know I would not make the outbound leg, and to ask them to cancel that without canceling my return flight. I explained the reason. The AA rep. agreed it was an excellent reason to fly to DC a day early

The rep. then flatly denied my request. Not taking my outbound flight would be a "change of ticket," and changes are not allowed on basic economy tickets. If I don't take the outbound trip, my return flight will be canceled. The only way for me to return to GSP would be to purchase yet another new one-way ticket from DCA to GSP. The cost of such a ticket is higher today than it was in December, when I booked my 18 tickets.

So, let's see. I call American to inform them that they can sell my outbound seat again, making pure profit. It turns out I'm the chump, I must buy a new return flight (a third ticket for one leg flown) if I wish to get home.

Bravo American Airlines for your flexibility and compassion.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:31 am
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Not to pile on, but that's the rules. You bought a specific ticket with a return, and it's priced specifically that way. A one way could have been more expensive during that time. So therefore, AA has to protect and keep consistent, most especially on these BE tickets.

BE tickets have zero flexibility, you knew that going into it. Not trying to sound harsh, but not sure why you are so outraged that they are sticking to it? Just my opinion.

Not that you are doing it, but in speaking to a friend who works for AA, they were telling me hidden city ticketing is out of control anymore. AA is likely trying to be firm as can be on all these little changes or tricks (again not that you are trying to do any of that or that this is even hidden city)
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:31 am
  #3  
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That's how cheap airline tickets work. Miss one segment, lose all subsequent segments. Buy a cheap ticket that doesn't allow changes, it doesn't allow changes. You would have had the same results had you bought an cheap "no changes ever" ticket on United, Delta, Alaska or Spirit (if you want truly flexible tickets on the cheapest fare, you would want Southwest, who has some unique ways of doing things). So American Airlines isn't being uniquely inflexible and heartless; you bought the cheapest ticket that has restrictive rules because it's the cheapest ticket, and now you have caveat emptor because you're running up against what you paid for (a cheap, inflexible ticket).

Good luck to your daughter and welcome to FlyerTalk.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:31 am
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What do you expect? You even state that you know there are NO changes on basic economy tickets.

You got exactly what you paid for. Either accept it, or buy flexible tickets in the future if you want the ability to make a change.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:41 am
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There are lots of things that make American a crappy airline, but this isn't one of them. None of the major airlines will let you skip the first half of a ticket and then fly the back end, so you'd have the same problem if you were flying Delta or United or Alaska or Spirit instead.

Having said that, it's kind of a dumb policy when the ticket is composed of two one-way fares, which yours may be. You should check if your round trips are simply double the cost of two one-way tickets and, if you want to maintain maximum flexibility for situations like this, book a series of 36 one-way tickets instead of 18 round-trips.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:41 am
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Just a note to clarify: when I bought my 18 tickets, the RT was exactly twice the price of the OW ticket. That was visible on the ticket seen by the rep. when I phoned. By informing them in advance that a family issue prevented my taking the outbound flight, I was in essence paying for two flights and flying only one flight. I was allowing them to resell a ticket they had already sold to me. That's how I see it, and I don't think that's an abusive way to see it. [FWIW, and while recognizing that what follows is irrelevant to the rules, I don't think $275 to fly RT GSP/DCA is such a cheapo fare as to justify AA's behavior, and I think booking 18 tickets on AA might have qualified me for a tiny bit of understanding.]

Last edited by mkrauss323; Feb 7, 20 at 8:50 am
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:49 am
  #7  
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I don't understand how this confirms AA as the worse airline. All other US airlines have similar rules, except WN which give you full credit for canceled flights (thought I haven't checked lately)
I don't know any US airline that would ignore standard rules simply because your plans have changed. It would different if you had said your child was dying in the hospital, but that is not the case.
Even if it was not a BE fare, you would have to pay the change fees and any fare increase to rebook.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by mkrauss323 View Post
I was allowing them to resell a ticket they had already sold to me. That's how I see it, and I don't think that's an abusive way to see it.
Sorry this self serving logic doesn't work with the airlines, never did.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by mkrauss323 View Post
Just a note to clarify: when I bought my 18 tickets, the RT was exactly twice the price of the OW ticket. That was visible on the ticket seen by the rep. when I phoned. I was paying for two flights and flying only one flight. I was allowing them to resell a ticket they had already sold to me. That's how I see it, and I don't think that's an abusive way to see it.
Then, you could have bought separate tickets, but you did not. Outside of BE, there are reasons for buying both flights in a single PNR, because if you canceled your trip there would be only one change fee.
Of course you don't have that option with BE. This is NOT unique to AA.
Yes, AA can resell the seats. That is no different than any other non-refundable ticket. Tickets have restrictions, but I see no reason for AA to waive the fee when someone says they want to attend an important event in the life of a family member. If you wanted more flexibility AA allows that, but you have to pay more for that flexibility. That is the problem with buying tickets in advance. If you don't like the rules, then you can look for an alternative airline. Southwest would have no problem giving you credit toward future flights so you would lose no money. Southwest serves DCA and GSP

Last edited by mvoight; Feb 7, 20 at 8:59 am
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Old Feb 7, 20, 9:01 am
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Originally Posted by mkrauss323 View Post
That's how I see it,
I can assure you that's not how American Airlines sees it.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 9:08 am
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I appreciate all these comments. Perhaps I should have clarified two things:

1) I typically fly SWA, and as stated above the situation would have been very different in that case. They don't fly non-stop to Washington, which is why I made the choice to book with AA.

2) My argument isn't a LEGAL one at all; I am not claiming that they are violating their contract with me. What I am claiming is that they are applying their rules rigidly in a situation where I think a compassionate one-time exception would have been warranted. I happen to be a law professor and an attorney. I had given AA a lot of business of late, I had a good reason for missing a flight; this clearly was not a hidden-city abuse or any other kind of abuse. They responded bureaucratically and in an unfeeling way. Not, in my humble opinion (yours may of course differ) how to run an airline.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 9:09 am
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Interesting point -- if there is no round-trip price advantage on a BE ticket you're better off booking it as two one-ways. With regular main cabin the disadvantage of that is potentially two change fees if you need to change both segments (Delta apparently will waive one, FWIW). But I suppose if there's a weather waiver or IRROPs impacting one of your tickets, you might have a harder time with changes to the return you might also want/need to make at that time (again, DL apparently good about this).

But yeah, I don't think you're going to get much, if any, sympathy here for AA following rules standard to the industry. It would be nice if they would make an exception, but I don't think not making an exception is a reason for a bottom ranking. There are plenty of other reasons for that!
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Old Feb 7, 20, 9:11 am
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@mkrauss323 you bought 18 nonrefundable, nonchangeable, no frills roundtrip tickets at a discounted rate (versus more flexible one-way tickets) from AA. But now you're mad because AA refuses to refund or change them? You took the risk when you bought these tickets in advance in exchange for a lower rate than other types of tickets or purchasing them last-minute. As a previous poster said, there are a lot of reasons why AA is the worst, but this is not one of them. Any carrier offering BE tickets will tell you the same thing.
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Old Feb 7, 20, 9:12 am
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Originally Posted by mkrauss323 View Post
[FWIW, and while recognizing that what follows is irrelevant to the rules, I don't think $275 to fly RT GSP/DCA is such a cheapo fare as to justify AA's behavior, and I think booking 18 tickets on AA might have qualified me for a tiny bit of understanding.]
In a market they have to themselves, that's actually pretty reasonable... In any case for markets that price one-way, this is why I rarely buy round-trip tickets anymore. That said I do agree with the other posters - "skipping a segment" on a multi-segment ticket is never and has never been allowed, for any reason...
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Old Feb 7, 20, 9:15 am
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Originally Posted by mkrauss323 View Post
I appreciate all these comments. Perhaps I should have clarified two things:

1) I typically fly SWA, and as stated above the situation would have been very different in that case. They don't fly non-stop to Washington, which is why I made the choice to book with AA.

2) My argument isn't a LEGAL one at all; I am not claiming that they are violating their contract with me. What I am claiming is that they are applying their rules rigidly in a situation where I think a compassionate one-time exception would have been warranted. I happen to be a law professor and an attorney. I had given AA a lot of business of late, I had a good reason for missing a flight; this clearly was not a hidden-city abuse or any other kind of abuse. They responded bureaucratically and in an unfeeling way. Not, in my humble opinion (yours may of course differ) how to run an airline.
the issue is, most people have good reasons to need to change a flight. It then becomes the agent determining what constitutes a "good" reason. Is it a business meeting? Family event? Change to something else down the line ? What makes your reason better than everyone elses?

and I don't mean this in a harsh way. Just that everyone has important things that warrant changes (leaving the hidden city stuff aside). AA and other airlines who have change fees have drawn a line somewhere.
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