American Airlines Institutes Free Flight Cancellations

Aug 4, 2011

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You can read it here on The Points Guy first: As of August 1, 2011, American Airlines now allows penalty-free cancellation of valid, ticketed flights. At least, when it’s them doing the canceling.

Yes, that’s right. Even if you make a valid, ticketed reservation on, they have now instituted a policy where they can cancel your ticket at at any time, free of charge, without letting you know.

The Backstory

Okay, you may be scratching your head and if you haven’t picked up by now, I’m being sarcastic. Last week I told you about a BIG issue I was having with an American Airlines reservation. In short, I paid over $3,700 to fly from Hong Kong to New York round-trip on Cathay Pacific in first class. I purchased the ticket on and got it confirmed and charged to my credit card. However, nine days later, American sent me an aggressive email saying I had actually purchased coach. Wait, huh?

They gave some incommensurate, unacceptable re-routing options and I rejected them on the phone and sent them an email saying I wasn’t okay with their less-than-customer-friendly options. Personally, American has held nearly $4,000 of my money hostage for almost a month and most importantly wasted my time – all because of an error on their part. I understand errors happen, but I told them on the phone and via email that a simple refund wasn’t enough – they should give me something for wasting my time and resources. Last time I checked, they charged their customers steep fees when they needed to cancel or change tickets – so why should it be any different for American when they decided they no longer wanted to honor a legitimate fare that they sold me via their website?

I never heard back from them and yesterday I logged into my account and I noticed my ticket was canceled. I never received a response to my email or another phone call from them confirming that they ignored my concerns and canceled my ticket, which, quite frankly, I think is garbage customer service.

My canceled trip - good thing I logged in to know it was actually canceled

We Won’t Pay Change Fees!

I personally don’t want to create a war over this and I don’t want to pull a, “Do you know who I am?” like many of you suggested, because, to be quite honest, I don’t think American Airlines cares. They admitted they made a mistake on the fare and they decided to do what was in their best interest.

Not that I’m going to give American Airlines any money anytime soon, but I say let’s all of us together start a new strategy with the airline that gives them a taste of their own medicine. If they try to charge you a change fee, just tell them you made an error and you don’t feel like honoring the contract anymore, since it’s obviously okay for them to that to customers when it behooves them. Extra points if you use the word “behooves.”

Oh and by the way, I still don’t see a refund from American Airlines on my American Express statement. I’m sure they are taking their sweet time to get that processed.

Rant over.

Am I overreacting here?

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