Reader Question: American Airlines Flight Cancellation, Downgrade & Incorrect Number Of Miles Credited Back – What Recourse?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me a question by email regarding an unfortunate situation with American Airlines that she has not been able to successfully resolve with the airline.

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I recently cashed in some AA miles to travel First Class (2 adults) one-way from BOS to MIA. When the date approached, a hurricane had just hit Florida and MIA was closed.

The day before departure, MIA reopened. AA confirmed our flight was cleared to go. However at 10:00pm EST I received a call the our 6:00am flight was canceled. After over an hour on hold, I was told we were already re-booked on the 7:00am flight, but in coach. There was no First Class availability for at least a week.

I was told I would be refunded all the FC miles and then, due to the inconvenience, “re-charged” the lowest option mileage option, Saver. (25,000 total miles) Once in Miami, I called AA Advantage CS and confirmed that this was all set and was assured it would take a few weeks but it would be done.

Of course, they didn’t do it. They refunded the FC miles but then deducted the Anytime miles (40,000 miles). I have tried to get the difference back but it’s been months now, and they insist that my FC Anytime miles only translate to Coach Anytime, even though the re-booking was their doing and not mine.

Do I have any recourse to getting those miles back?

American Airlines should have rebooked the reader in first class but involuntarily downgraded them to coach promising to charge them the lowest coach award price. Later, American Airlines apparently changed their mind and decided to charge Coach Anytime price and is refusing to credit the promised difference back.

The reader has two options:

1. They should open a case with Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection unit. This can be done online here. I am almost certain that American Airlines will fix this issue once they get nudge from the DOT.

2. File a case with the Small Claims Court. I assume that the reader lives in the United States where this is viable and very cost effective option.

Conclusion

It is very unfortunate that most US airlines have essentially outsourced their Executive level customer service to DOT. Nothing happens unless you file consumer complaint and suddenly most issues can be easily fixed.

I once had an issue with American that the airline was dragging forever. Simply filed with DOT and the issue was promptly corrected.

US airlines are currently making billions in profits every year. Shouldn’t cost too much to ensure long term viability by beefing up their customer service departments that would lead to customer satisfaction…..

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