Requesting refund for a canceled flight

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If your flight have been cancelled*** (you should also be able to refund on schedule changes of >120* minutes (241 minutes for tickets purchased on or after 8 Apr 2020), nonstop to connection or connection reduced to less than minimum connection time) and you want to refund, no need to call AA, just do the following:
1. Take screenshot/email of new rebooked flights/or no rebooked flights as evidence of change.
2. Note down ticket number in original email if print receipt option is not available.

3. Cancel reservation
4. Submit refund request online.
5. Go back to page after a 3-4 days to check refund status.

*NOTE: site for refunds is https://prefunds.aa.com/refunds/

*NOTE AA has changed the change time from 121 to 241 minutes for tickets purchased on or after April 8, 2020.

***Airline defines cancelled as IRROPS that occur day or a couple of days prior to departure.

Another way is to reach out to the Twitter team at @AmericanAir.

April 3, 2020: The US DOT posted today an enforcement notice regarding refunds by carriers:
https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/latest-news
Enforcement Notice Regarding Refunds by Carriers Given the Unprecedented Impact of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on Air Travel - The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, a unit within the Office of the General Counsel, is issuing this notice to remind the traveling public and U.S. and foreign carriers that passengers should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly delayed. Although the COVID-19 public health emergency has had an unprecedented impact on air travel, the airlines’ obligation to refund passengers for cancelled or significantly delayed flights remains unchanged.











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Old Feb 17, 21, 6:14 am
  #331  
 
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Originally Posted by Merlin5 View Post
After some advice from others who know AA rules and FAA better than I.

I had a crazy routing booked (earns BA flight status due to being measure by individual legs)

It was a one way trip on 6th April 2021 from LGA to MCO but routing via DCA and CLT - gave me three sectors in business which are 40 tier points each and as the kids are with us it got them up the status levels.

I got an email from AA this morning detailing a change in the schedule; my leg from LGA to DCA has been removed and we are flying later to CLT and connecting with the original CLT to MCO leg. In the eyes of AA we depart 10 minutes later and arrive at the same time so as its less than 4 hours it doesn't qualify for a refund. I'm saying there has been a "technical cancellation" as the flight from LGA to DCA and DCA to CLT have been removed or cancelled and replaced with a new flight and flight number from LGA to CLT.

Usually I wouldn't care but our cruise from Miami has been cancelled, the hotel in NYC remains shut and my AA flights from London to PHL and then MIA back to LHR have been cancelled and refunded. Its not a huge amount of money but my kids (21 and 19) are unlikely to come with us again anytime soon so a voucher for them would be dead money.

Can I push for a refund on the basis of a cancellation / flight number change?
yes
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Old Feb 17, 21, 6:15 am
  #332  
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Originally Posted by Merlin5 View Post
After some advice from others who know AA rules and FAA better than I.

I had a crazy routing booked (earns BA flight status due to being measure by individual legs)

It was a one way trip on 6th April 2021 from LGA to MCO but routing via DCA and CLT - gave me three sectors in business which are 40 tier points each and as the kids are with us it got them up the status levels.

I got an email from AA this morning detailing a change in the schedule; my leg from LGA to DCA has been removed and we are flying later to CLT and connecting with the original CLT to MCO leg. In the eyes of AA we depart 10 minutes later and arrive at the same time so as its less than 4 hours it doesn't qualify for a refund. I'm saying there has been a "technical cancellation" as the flight from LGA to DCA and DCA to CLT have been removed or cancelled and replaced with a new flight and flight number from LGA to CLT.

Usually I wouldn't care but our cruise from Miami has been cancelled, the hotel in NYC remains shut and my AA flights from London to PHL and then MIA back to LHR have been cancelled and refunded. Its not a huge amount of money but my kids (21 and 19) are unlikely to come with us again anytime soon so a voucher for them would be dead money.

Can I push for a refund on the basis of a cancellation / flight number change?
It’s does not qualify for a refund under AA CoC if purchased on or after April 8, 2020. I’m sure others will suggest giving your credit card a call to file a dispute.
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Old Feb 17, 21, 6:30 am
  #333  
 
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Thanks AAExecPlatFlier I cant request a refund as the booking hasn't been cancelled and if I opt to cancel it the message is "You can cancel your trip and use the value of your unused ticket and seat purchase toward future travel on American." I will have to take this if no options but I would prefer to see how far I get with getting it refunded.

seawolf It was booked on 26th July 2020.
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Old Feb 17, 21, 7:34 am
  #334  
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This is not a "technical" cancellation. It is a cancellation. The fact that there is a convenient reroute is irrelevant to the question of your option.

Thus, under both AA's COC and US law, you are entitled to a refund on request. Simply make the request using the "prefunds" section online and you will likely see a refund in a few days. If you do not, initiate a chargeback after 7 days and also file a DOT complaint. Make absolutely certain that you categorize this as a refund based on cancellation and point to the specific date and flight number cancelled. The words "rebooking" and "change" are not words which ought to cross your lips (or keyboard). Also, make certain that both your chargeback and DOT complaint are properly documented with your original e-ticket receipt, the notice showing the cancellation, and your request for a refund (as well as any denial or inaction).

For what it is worth, DOT will not take action against AA. However, it will require that AA respond to you with a copy to DOT. It is hard for AA to justify denying and the people who review matters from DOT are a different lot than ordinary customer service people.

For the benefit of others, I would not book risky multi-segment itineraries if there is an end goal, e.g. a cruise. Schedules are shifting constantly and had OP been able to cruise, he might have found himself having to obtain a particularly inconvenient rerouting involving an extra day or two of "cushion."
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Old Feb 17, 21, 8:50 am
  #335  
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
This is not a "technical" cancellation. It is a cancellation. The fact that there is a convenient reroute is irrelevant to the question of your option.

Thus, under both AA's COC and US law, you are entitled to a refund on request. Simply make the request using the "prefunds" section online and you will likely see a refund in a few days. If you do not, initiate a chargeback after 7 days and also file a DOT complaint. Make absolutely certain that you categorize this as a refund based on cancellation and point to the specific date and flight number cancelled. The words "rebooking" and "change" are not words which ought to cross your lips (or keyboard). Also, make certain that both your chargeback and DOT complaint are properly documented with your original e-ticket receipt, the notice showing the cancellation, and your request for a refund (as well as any denial or inaction).

For what it is worth, DOT will not take action against AA. However, it will require that AA respond to you with a copy to DOT. It is hard for AA to justify denying and the people who review matters from DOT are a different lot than ordinary customer service people.

For the benefit of others, I would not book risky multi-segment itineraries if there is an end goal, e.g. a cruise. Schedules are shifting constantly and had OP been able to cruise, he might have found himself having to obtain a particularly inconvenient rerouting involving an extra day or two of "cushion."
Once again, some of the information in your posts are misleading. Cancellation happens on day or a couple of days prior to departure (Schedule Irregularity). Schedule Irregularity is flight on timetable but didn't operate at all or didn't operate on schedule. Eg flight will still show up on airport monitors/flight status websites as CANCELLED or DELAYED. AA policy on refunding non-refundable for Schedule Irregularity are those with delays in excess of 89 minutes or didn't operate at all (cancelled).

Flight removed from schedule in advance are Schedule Changes. Flights removed from schedule don't show up when querying flight status. AA policy on refunding non-refundable for Schedule Changes are those with changes in excess of 4 hours.
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Old Feb 17, 21, 9:04 am
  #336  
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Originally Posted by Merlin5 View Post
Thanks AAExecPlatFlier I cant request a refund as the booking hasn't been cancelled and if I opt to cancel it the message is "You can cancel your trip and use the value of your unused ticket and seat purchase toward future travel on American." I will have to take this if no options but I would prefer to see how far I get with getting it refunded.

seawolf It was booked on 26th July 2020.
You are welcome to try the cancel/refund on AA website route. I recall some reports last year that a refund might have been allowed despite against AA policy (YMMV). Others have mentioned doing a credit card chargeback due to services not received. As an example, VISA/AMEX technically require the airline to provide a flight manifest showing passenger on the same flight as purchased. You might prevail that way but essentially, the bank is overriding airline's sales condition on non-refundable fares.
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Old Feb 17, 21, 10:39 am
  #337  
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On April 25, it will have been 10 years since DOT published it's crystal clear ruling:

See Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections, 76 Fed. Reg. 23110-01, at 23129 (Apr. 25, 2011) (“We reject . . . assertions that carriers are not required to refund a passenger's fare when a flight is cancelled if the carrier can accommodate the passenger with other transportation options after the cancellation. We find it to be manifestly unfair for a carrier to fail to provide the transportation contracted for and then to refuse to provide a refund if the passenger finds the offered rerouting unacceptable (e.g., greatly delayed or otherwise inconvenient) and he or she no longer wishes to travel.”) 2 U.S. Dept. of T

I have yet to hear of AA persisting in denying refund claims or in contesting chargebacks for cards issued by US financial institutions when they are both timely made and properly documented. In fact, the DOT website now summarizes the whole issue in one sentence.
  • Cancelled Flight – A passenger is entitled to a refund if the airline cancelled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the passenger chooses not to travel (emphasis mine).
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Old Feb 18, 21, 7:26 am
  #338  
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
On April 25, it will have been 10 years since DOT published it's crystal clear ruling:

See Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections, 76 Fed. Reg. 23110-01, at 23129 (Apr. 25, 2011) (“We reject . . . assertions that carriers are not required to refund a passenger's fare when a flight is cancelled if the carrier can accommodate the passenger with other transportation options after the cancellation. We find it to be manifestly unfair for a carrier to fail to provide the transportation contracted for and then to refuse to provide a refund if the passenger finds the offered rerouting unacceptable (e.g., greatly delayed or otherwise inconvenient) and he or she no longer wishes to travel.”) 2 U.S. Dept. of T

I have yet to hear of AA persisting in denying refund claims or in contesting chargebacks for cards issued by US financial institutions when they are both timely made and properly documented. In fact, the DOT website now summarizes the whole issue in one sentence.
  • Cancelled Flight – A passenger is entitled to a refund if the airline cancelled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the passenger chooses not to travel (emphasis mine).
You are leaving out the full background on this matter.

Not only is there no US law that a refund is required despite your claims otherwise; there is also no DoT regulation for it either. It’s a DoT position it is unfair and deceptive practice. It has not been challenged and tested in court. That doesn’t make it law.

DoT specifically looked into this position previously around the same time the other passenger protections were considered. Regulations were published for tarmac delay/baggage fee etc but DoT specifically opted NOT to published regulations concerning requiring refunds on non-refundable and instead address on a case by case basis. This is documented in the Federal Register you referenced as part of soliciting comments from industry and public during rule making process.

One of the problems is there is a difference between layman’s definition of cancelled and industry definition of cancelled. This is really DoT failing to put down explicit regulation and definition on cancellation. EC261/2004 laid down the layman's definition of cancellation governing; DoT never did.

As for AA, they have schedule change and schedule irregularity policy on sales link. The word cancel is not in the schedule change policy at all. It’s only in the schedule irregularity policy. Cancelled is when the flight failed to operate as scheduled (still exist in the timetable). Which is different than being removed from schedule/timetable completely ahead of time.

If you do a schedule search in GDS or ExpertFlyer, it will show the timetable published by airline. Example is LGA-CLT AA# 1234. operates daily effective April 1, 2021 to May 15, 2021 on a 738 departs 9AM arrive 1030AM. Schedule Change is this flight entry is removed from or modified in the timetable ahead of time. Cancellation is this entry is still on the timetable but failed to operate due to whatever reason.

Last edited by seawolf; Feb 18, 21 at 11:31 am
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Old Feb 18, 21, 11:33 am
  #339  
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1. Notwithstanding your position, this is not the position that AA's merchant acquirer appears to take and thus, a properly filed chargeback with the proper documentation making it clear that there has been a cancellation, will almost always succeed. I can't speak to an aberation here or there, but it has been this way since DOT issued its two Warning Letters back in March and April 2020.

2. It is a misunderstanding of what is "law" to suggest that because DOT has not promulgated a regulation, that the failure to make a refund is not a violation of law. Congress granted DOT the authority to penalize unfair trade practices and DOT has the authority to define what is "unfair." In this case, back in 2011, DOT found it to be "manifestly unfair," Those words were chose carefully. While it is to the frustration of many that a federal agency can define these terms itself, the fact is that it can and the debate about whether it ought to be is way OT from this thread and more importantly, not going to be resolved anytime in the years to come.

Thus, for purposes of this customer:
1. Make the request based on cancellation.
2. Chargeback if no refund in 7 business days. Document properly and be certain to make the point that this is a cancellation and the availability of timely alternatives is not relevant.

If this were an online gaming site, I would put money on a refund. But, it's not. So, I won't.
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Old Feb 18, 21, 12:12 pm
  #340  
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
1. Notwithstanding your position, this is not the position that AA's merchant acquirer appears to take and thus, a properly filed chargeback with the proper documentation making it clear that there has been a cancellation, will almost always succeed. I can't speak to an aberation here or there, but it has been this way since DOT issued its two Warning Letters back in March and April 2020.

2. It is a misunderstanding of what is "law" to suggest that because DOT has not promulgated a regulation, that the failure to make a refund is not a violation of law. Congress granted DOT the authority to penalize unfair trade practices and DOT has the authority to define what is "unfair." In this case, back in 2011, DOT found it to be "manifestly unfair," Those words were chose carefully. While it is to the frustration of many that a federal agency can define these terms itself, the fact is that it can and the debate about whether it ought to be is way OT from this thread and more importantly, not going to be resolved anytime in the years to come.

Thus, for purposes of this customer:
1. Make the request based on cancellation.
2. Chargeback if no refund in 7 business days. Document properly and be certain to make the point that this is a cancellation and the availability of timely alternatives is not relevant.

If this were an online gaming site, I would put money on a refund. But, it's not. So, I won't.
I agree based on our previous discussion on this matter that chargeback would be the way to go as it appears that merchant response which is acceptable to card network for a services not provided dispute is limited to passenger manifest showing flight details matching what cardmember purchased.

Unfair/deceptive practice is not a blank check to be applied retroactively. Congress couldn't have envision all scenarios thus they left it for DoT to make regulations and DoT opted not to despite their mission to enforce the law via regulations and being well aware about non-refundable being an area of concern since 1996 (Industry Letter). Additionally, airlines do have option to fight a Consent Order in court especially if there was no regulation on the matter.

Last edited by seawolf; Feb 18, 21 at 12:22 pm
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Old Feb 18, 21, 1:34 pm
  #341  
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Originally Posted by seawolf View Post
I agree based on our previous discussion on this matter that chargeback would be the way to go as it appears that merchant response which is acceptable to card network for a services not provided dispute is limited to passenger manifest showing flight details matching what cardmember purchased.

Unfair/deceptive practice is not a blank check to be applied retroactively. Congress couldn't have envision all scenarios thus they left it for DoT to make regulations and DoT opted not to despite their mission to enforce the law via regulations and being well aware about non-refundable being an area of concern since 1996 (Industry Letter). Additionally, airlines do have option to fight a Consent Order in court especially if there was no regulation on the matter.
Of course a carrier could simply deny any allegation and leave DOT to sue. (which is its ultimate remedy).

But, the DOT determination has been on the books for 10 years and no one carrier has challenged it. One would think that a carrier would have done so as taking on needless risk is something large businesses don't do.

I have little doubt that should DOT ever get around to bringing enforcement actions stemming from pandemic cancellations that its underlying authority will be upheld.
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Old Feb 18, 21, 4:22 pm
  #342  
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
Of course a carrier could simply deny any allegation and leave DOT to sue. (which is its ultimate remedy).

But, the DOT determination has been on the books for 10 years and no one carrier has challenged it. One would think that a carrier would have done so as taking on needless risk is something large businesses don't do.

I have little doubt that should DOT ever get around to bringing enforcement actions stemming from pandemic cancellations that its underlying authority will be upheld.
There's no question on the underlying authority. What's in question (as raised by Air Canada) is the interpretation on whether this particular practice of not refunding is unfair/deceptive. Having a position for 25 years (since 1996) doesn't make it a regulation as it didn't go thru the rule making process. So there is no US law/regulation that requires a refund.

DoT made changes a couple of months back and added §399.79 concerning Policies relating to unfair and deceptive practices to 14 CFR. While it mostly codifies DoT long standing practice on how it conducts informal enforcement proceedings, it did make a a change that going forward, it will:

(2) During this informal process, if the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection reaches agreement with the alleged violator to resolve the matter with the issuance of an order declaring a practice in air transportation or the sale of air transportation to be unfair or deceptive to consumers under the authority of 49 U.S.C. 41712(a), and when a regulation issued under the authority of section 41712 does not apply to the practice at issue, then the Department shall articulate in the order the basis for concluding that the practice is unfair or deceptive to consumers as defined in this section.
In the absence of a specific regulation on this matter, which there is none, DoT can't just declare not refunding when cancelled/schedule change is an unfair/deceptive practice and that's the end of that. It's going to have to add some more reasoning to the Enforcement Notice from last April instead of just hiding behind, we held this position since 1996 thus it's unfair/deceptive today 25 years later especially when that position is just that; a position. One that went thru the formal rule making process to become a regulation but DoT decided not to write a regulation for despite having the authority to do so for the past 25 years with Secretaries nominated by Administrations from both political parties at the helm.

Last edited by seawolf; Feb 18, 21 at 4:37 pm
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Old Feb 21, 21, 10:22 am
  #343  
 
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I’m after a bit of advice.

In April I am booked to fly SJO MIA MSY. I won’t be making the trip and rather than take a voucher, I have been holding out for a change.

I thought that happened this weekend. I got the ‘change’ email. Timings were very similar so this would not have done it, but the SJO to MIA leg had a new flight number. I was of the impression, this would suffice for a cash refund.

But when I phoned I was told it’s a definite no. The agent even referenced that the new flight was on the same equipment.

Is the agent correct or should I try again and if so, any pointers to where I should try and what I should reference?
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Old Feb 21, 21, 11:55 am
  #344  
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Originally Posted by kingcole974 View Post
I’m after a bit of advice.

In April I am booked to fly SJO MIA MSY. I won’t be making the trip and rather than take a voucher, I have been holding out for a change.

I thought that happened this weekend. I got the ‘change’ email. Timings were very similar so this would not have done it, but the SJO to MIA leg had a new flight number. I was of the impression, this would suffice for a cash refund.

But when I phoned I was told it’s a definite no. The agent even referenced that the new flight was on the same equipment.

Is the agent correct or should I try again and if so, any pointers to where I should try and what I should reference?
It ticket purchased on or after April 8, you need a change in time in excess of 4 hours (vs. previous 2 hour). Any change between operated by American vs. Eagle? That would qualify.
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Old Feb 21, 21, 8:51 pm
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Originally Posted by seawolf View Post
It ticket purchased on or after April 8, you need a change in time in excess of 4 hours (vs. previous 2 hour). Any change between operated by American vs. Eagle? That would qualify.
it was purchased after April. The time chane is less than an hour. My angle was on the fact the flight number had changed
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