Tuesday, November 07, 2006

American Airlines doesn't do refunds.

I bought plane tickets from American Airlines. I changed my mind shortly thereafter and decided to fly a different airline, but AA won't give me a refund. They'll give me a discounted voucher but no refund. It doesn't matter that I bought the tickets directly through them, the departure date is more than a month and half away, and I only bought the tickets a couple days ago.

I'm sure they spell this all out in the fine print on their site, but somehow it still doesn't feel right.


Anonymous Scott Delap said...

American Airlines is setup to extract money from business travelers that don't care who pays the bill. Earlier this year I had a $70 credit that required the assessment of a -$100 penalty to use. So it would have cost me -$30. Tell me how that makes you want to fly AA?

7:45 AM  
Blogger Bob Lee said...

That's insane.

My life would be a lot simpler if Southwest or Frontier flew direct from St. Louis to the Bay Area.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Jason Carreira said...

You don't want to fly SouthWest... unless, of course, you like feeling like cattle. The seating is cattle call, where you're herded into one of 3 groups who are then allowed, one group at a time, to push and shove their way onto the plane to jockey for the seat they want. It's ridiculous and dehumanizing.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Bob Lee said...

I thought that when I first heard about Southwest's seating arrangement after years of flying first class on TWA, but now I actually prefer Southwest. It seems more fair--if I check in first and get in line first, I get my pick of the seats.

Not to mention, I'm flying with a one year old. I get on first no matter what time I get there. :)

Southwest's customer service is excellent. They're always nice and helpful, unlike AA. I've never had a problem moving flights around.

Plus, I love Southwest's transparent pricing model. They always charge you the same thing, and it's affordable. I don't worry that I could have gotten the same ticket for half the price, and I don't feel like I've gotten screwed.

Nowadays, I do prefer Frontier to Southwest. Frontier has a TV in every seat with a full cable lineup and changing tables in the bathrooms (what's with that Southwest?).

8:50 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

You must not travel much :-)

Most discount-rate tickets are non-refundable. Been that way for years. See, for example, this 1998 news story. They also have a significant fee for changing; many of the deeper-discount tickets aren't changeable at all.

Part of the reason that the price is discounted is because the airline can schedule that flight in confidence that whether or not your seat is filled, at least they're going to get paid for it.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Bob Lee said...

Believe it or not, I flew on a weekly basis for years. Thanks for the link--that's a useful tip.

I didn't buy these tickets personally, and I haven't used AA's site in awhile, so I went and checked it out. When searching for a flight, you have to click "more options" and explicitly choose to search for fares "without restrictions". If you search from the home page, you'll get restricted fares by default.

Compare that to Southwest's site where they make your "abilities" abundantly clear.

I guess I should rename this post "American Airlines doesn't do refunds (by default)," but I think I've annoyed my readers enough for one day. :)

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you close a consultancy deal a couple of months in advance and the client pays you all in advance, of course you'll be more than happy to refund them the money if they change their mind in time, right?-)

6:54 AM  
Blogger Bob Lee said...

That would depend on the contract. I wouldn't even consider presenting a client with a contract where I get paid 100% no matter what. It would be wrong, and I doubt anyone in their right mind would go for it.

Now, AA didn't do that either. I can still get a discounted voucher.

The consulting equivalent would be my client deciding I charge too much. If I did business like AA, I'd let the client put their money toward other work at the same rate, but I wouldn't give them any of it back under any circumstances.

1:08 PM  
Blogger leprous1 said...

I'm having a real problem with AA as well. They charged me for round trip tickets and when I got to the airport, their system said I hadn't paid yet, even though my credit card showed the balance paid to AA already. Not wanting to miss my flight, I bought another pair of tickets. When I came home, I tried the same ticket numbers I had originally purchased and they worked. So I only was able to use half of my round trip tickets because of a flaw in their system that said I had paid for them when I had. I have been arguing it with them for over a month and even talked to a manager about it. They were extremely rude, all of them, and refused to even listen to my full story. They owe me $300 for half of some round trip tickets.

6:33 PM  

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