American Airlines cancels flight and charges an extra $1,147

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I have a problem with an American Airlines ticket. I recently flew from San Angelo, Texas, to Washington, D.C. On a stopover in Dallas, American Airlines canceled my connecting flight. The airline rebooked me on a flight later that day, but it also ended up canceling that one.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter ...
Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

I received a notice on the American Airlines app saying I could book another flight at no charge. So, I booked another flight. As soon as I did, I noticed the airline had charged me $1,147.

I called immediately, and a representative assured me she would fix the charges. But when I went to pay my bill for the original ticket, the $1,147 charge was still on my card. I called American Airlines and my credit card company, and they both said I had to submit a written request for the ticket I had purchased. I submitted that request, but my credit card company denied it because I had a nonrefundable ticket. Can you help?

— Sandy Burchett, Appomattox, Virginia

ANSWER: American Airlines should have rebooked you on the next available flight without charging you.

But the rules are a little different. If an airline cancels your flight, federal regulations require it to offer a full refund or a flight of its choosing — not yours (more information regarding this can be found at www.elliott.org/ultimate-consumer-guides-smart-travelers/what-should-i-do-if-my-flight-has-been-canceled-or-delayed/).

American Airlines appears to have gone off-script by offering you a flight of your choosing through its app. Fortunately, you had that promise in writing. You kept a screenshot of the offer.

I can’t overstate how important a reliable paper trail is to resolving a complaint like this. If you don’t have it in writing, it’s American Airlines’ word against yours. And I think we all know how that will end.

You tried to appeal this through the regular customer service channels. And I should add that your flight experience on American Airlines was less than ideal. It involved numerous delays, a missed day of work and a night spent on an airport floor. To your credit, you didn’t ask the airline for any compensation other than the refund it said it would give you.

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