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Hidden City Audit - AA Demanding Payment or Account Termination

Hidden City Audit - AA Demanding Payment or Account Termination

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Old Aug 22, 20, 8:31 am   -   Wikipost
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American Airlines prohibits the practice known as “hidden city ticketing” (sometimes referred to as “skiplagging”, “throwaway ticketing” or “point beyond ticketing” as well).

When you purchase an American Airlines ticket you are agreeing to abide by their rules, terms and conditions. Some refer to this as a “contract of adhesion”. Your purchase is considered agreement to comply.Applicable American Airlines Conditions of Carriage (in part) — link

Prohibited booking practices

Reservations made to exploit or circumvent fare and ticket rules are prohibited.

Examples include (but are not limited to):
  • Purchasing a ticket without intending to fly all flights to gain lower fares (hidden city ticketing)
  • Buying a ticket without intending to travel, including to gain access to our airport lounges or other facilities
  • Combining 2 or more roundtrip excursion fares end-to-end to circumvent minimum stay requirements (back-to-back ticketing)
  • Booking a ticket in someone's name without the person's consent (which is illegal)
  • Holding reservations for reasons like securing upgrades, blocking seats or obtaining lower fares
  • Booking duplicate or impossible trips, for example multiple trips for the same passenger around the same time (trips a passenger physically could not complete)
If we find evidence that you or your agent are using a prohibited practice, we reserve the right to:
  • Cancel any unused part of the ticket
  • Refuse to let the passenger fly and check bags
  • Not refund an otherwise refundable ticket
  • Charge you for what the ticket would have cost if you hadn't booked it fraudulently
  • Require you refund to us any compensation we provided like bag delivery costs, and reimbursement for clothes or toiletries because of late or lost bags

Applicable AAdvantage Terms and Conditions, in part — link

Fraud, misrepresentation, abuse or violation of applicable rules (including, but not limited to, American or American Eagle® conditions of carriage, tariffs and AAdvantage® program rules) is subject to administrative and/or legal action by appropriate governmental authorities and American Airlines. Such action may include, without limitation, the forfeiture of all award tickets and any accrued mileage in a member's account, as well as termination of the account and the member's future participation in the AAdvantage® program. If your account is terminated due to inappropriate conduct or while under investigation, you may not open a new AAdvantage® account or participate in the AAdvantage® Program in any capacity without obtaining the express written permission of American Airlines. In addition, American Airlines reserves the right to take appropriate legal action to recover damages, including its attorneys’ fees incurred in prosecuting any lawsuit.

Hidden city ticketing is a way to find cheaper nonstop tickets by booking a connecting flight to a final destination beyond yours, but ending your journey at a layover point. You might find that a flight from New York to Nashville with a layover in Atlanta is cheaper than a nonstop ticket from New York to Atlanta, so you book the itinerary with the connection. But, when the plane stops in Atlanta, you end your journey there and are a no-show for the onward flight to Nashville. — scottscheapflights.com






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Old Aug 20, 20, 12:07 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Programs: US - Chairman
Posts: 15
Angry Hidden City Audit - AA Demanding Payment or Account Termination

Since there are fewer flyers they are spending more time pushing away their most elite members. I have been Chairman (US) and EXP (AA) for about 10 years. Million Miller and Business Extra Member. I got the email below, beware if you have ever taken a Hidden City Flight. Is there anything I can do?

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 Aug 20, 20, 12:18 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
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Originally Posted by HappyInTheAir561 View Post
Since there are fewer flyers they are spending more time pushing away their most elite members. I have been Chairman (US) and EXP (AA) for about 10 years. Million Miller and Business Extra Member. I got the email below, beware if you have ever taken a Hidden City Flight. Is there anything I can do?

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.
Is there anything I can do?

Is there anything you can do? They’ve told you exactly what you can do. They have offered you a clear way to keep your account. What else would you like them to do?
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 Aug 20, 20, 12:31 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: ORD
Programs: Once a somebody now a nobody
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How many trips are they saying were hidden city tickets? How many miles do you have?

At this point they have you dead to rights. I've never heard of AA corp security negotiating. They are going to give you a $$$ figure and that's the figure.

The question is, what value do you put on your miles and other other earned loyalty benefits. Once they give you the dollar amount you need to decide if it's worth it.
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Old Aug 20, 20, 12:34 pm
  #4  
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Originally Posted by chicago747 View Post
How many trips are they saying were hidden city tickets? How many miles do you have?

At this point they have you dead to rights. I've never heard of AA corp security negotiating. They are going to give you a $$$ figure and that's the figure.

The question is, what value do you put on your miles and other other earned loyalty benefits. Once they give you the dollar amount you need to decide if it's worth it.
The number of hidden city trips is in post #1 .
Jaimito Cartero is offline  
Old Aug 20, 20, 1:03 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: BOS
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Originally Posted by HappyInTheAir561 View Post
52 HIDDEN CITY TICKETS (Included each one of the flights they believe is a hidden city ticket)
Originally Posted by HappyInTheAir561 View Post
I have been Chairman (US) and EXP (AA) for about 10 years. Million Miller and Business Extra Member. I got the email below, beware if you have ever taken a Hidden City Flight.
52 tickets, likely across several years does not really equal "if you ever." Not really sorry this happened to you, since you most likely knew the risks and reaped the benefits for a long time, but good luck nonetheless.
emcat is offline  
Old Aug 20, 20, 1:11 pm
  #6  
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Programs: US - Chairman
Posts: 15
I have about 600K miles and still (pre-COVID) fly about 100-120 segments a year. What do I want them to do? negotiate of course. ~$2,500 is what they are asking.
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:15 pm
  #7  
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Unless your calculations are different and AA has made a factual error, I am not sure why AA would negotiate against itself. Selecting an EXP is a way of sending a message that it won't tolerate the practice from anyone.

I suppose that you could offer $2,000 and see what happens and be prepared to send in the full amount on the 30th if you have not heard back.

AA;s history is that if it did this to OP, there will be a lot more of these out there.

Last edited by Often1; Aug 20, 20 at 1:20 pm
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:16 pm
  #8  
 
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Is 600K miles worth more than $2500? If so, pay; if not, walk away.
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:19 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: LAX
Posts: 9,535
this concept of legacy pricing is archaic, wasteful and highly environmentally unfriendly and airlines should spend effort on developing better way to price their product rather than telling customers how to book or not to book tickets...
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:26 pm
  #10  
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Definitely worth the $$ based on how much I fly. No reason I can't try and negotiate, seems like it might be futile.
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:28 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
this concept of legacy pricing is archaic, wasteful and highly environmentally unfriendly and airlines should spend effort on developing better way to price their product rather than telling customers how to book or not to book tickets...
Perhaps. But, OP agreed to the contract and broke it. He is the ideal candidate to target because he is a long-time EXP with a lot to lose (forget the miles) if booted from the program. No need to sue him or involve a court.
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:34 pm
  #12  
 
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Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
Is 600K miles worth more than $2500? If so, pay; if not, walk away.
I guess it depends on the situation. I would think $2,500 would be worth it, plus the OP is a MM and EXP and is still flying so those items factor in as well.

Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
this concept of legacy pricing is archaic, wasteful and highly environmentally unfriendly and airlines should spend effort on developing better way to price their product rather than telling customers how to book or not to book tickets...
Agreed. DOT should step in and revoke the rights of airlines to place hidden city and other clauses in their CoCs, shouldn't be a hard item to add in their next bailout package. If the website sells it and you can get on and off the plane where you want to be, you ought to be able to do it.
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:36 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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52 tickets and the bail is only $2500? Plus, you seem to admit fault? And, you still want to fly about 100 segments annually on American?

That's an easy decision......pull out your credit card.
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:38 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
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$2500 divided by 52 Violations = $48 a ticket. Assuming you saved more than that per ticket? Pay them, and Know you came out ahead! if you Didn't save more than $48 per ticket... Pay them, and consider it a " Stupid Tax" for being a cheap a$$! I'm guessing the 600K miles and your Status are worth more than $2500 given the amount you fly!?
FWIW, I'm a Cheap A$$ too. I'd have tried it as well, just not 52 times! RT
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Old Aug 20, 20, 1:43 pm
  #15  
 
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Money is obv money and it all adds up, but at saving $50 per ticket it’s presumably a pretty competitive and cheap route in the first place

Nice of AA allowing you to freeroll them though!
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