American Airlines is Openly Defying DOT Refund Regulations
We recently wrote about the rules for airline refunds. Those regulations dictate that an airline must process a credit card refund within 7 business day. The Department of Transportation even went so far as to put an enforcement notice out to airlines to remind them of its refund policies. Delta and other airlines have class action lawsuits filed already for alleged violations of these rules.
Well, I’m now having trouble getting my refund. Over 14 days ago, I contacted American Airlines to request a refund. My husband and I had a flight to Miami for the end of this week. American canceled our flight. Under AA’s policy for tickets originally issued before April 8, 2020, that cancelation warrants a full refund if we decide to not want to take another flight. Due to the uncertainty of the outbreak, we decided to cancel the flight.
AA Customer Relations
I received a refund denial email today claiming that we voluntarily canceled the flight. Immediately, I called AA and inquired about the response to our refund request. I mentioned that the agent told me the flight was refundable at the time of cancelation. I also mentioned DOT regulations require a full refund for canceled flights. Under AA’s policy noted above and DOT regulations, the flight was fully refundable.
The customer service representative informed me that even if it was refundable, it is taking a long time to get refunds. Again, I noted the policy laid out by DOT that requires a processed refund within 7 business days. As of today, over two weeks after canceling, the refund isn’t processed.
The agent called another customer relations agent. The agent informed her that we have to wait up to 10 more days for the refund to be processed. That means that it will be over three weeks by the time the refund will be processed since we originally canceled it.
American Airlines Told Us To Be Flexible
The customer service representative then old us to be “flexible” because AA is going through a hard time. However, this is not a matter of a few days. AA was politely reminded of that rule and in response told us to be flexible. That means the airline is openly ignoring federal government regulations.
I am submitting a complaint to the DOT. I’m doing that because it’s important to hold the airlines accountable during this time. It’s interesting we got an email denying the refund, but as soon as we highlighted DOT regulations and AA’s own policy, the agent told us the email was sent in error.
When Do Airlines Give Flexibility?
It’s interesting for AA to tell a customer to be flexible, when they are so inflexible on a day-to-day basis. In the normal course of their business, AA doesn’t take the time to be flexible when its customers need them to. In fact, AA eliminated their bereavement leave policy for passengers several years ago. And when passengers are stuck at a destination due to weather or mechanical issues they don’t exactly jump to try to help clients with dire needs. It doesn’t matter what your reason for needing flexibility (a job loss, death in the family, etc.), there are few circumstances where AA will be flexible with you.
I’d like to see if this is a line given to other people while dealing with AA. Has an AA customer service representative told you to be “flexible”? Two customer service representatives used the same line, and the reality has been that we have waited more than double the amount of time required for a refund. So one has to believe this is AA’s current policy. If that is the case, I hope DOT holds them accountable for openly defying regulations. Other airlines have class action lawsuits against them, but I haven’t seen one yet for American. These regulations are in place to protect consumers, and that’s an important thing to stand by right now.