I Was Very Impressed With How American Airlines Handled My Refund


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One very noticeable theme that has been running through the travel world since the current pandemic brought daily life to a grinding halt has been the theme of airlines doing everything in their power to withhold refunds from customers to whom refunds are owed. With that as a backdrop, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I submitted a refund request to American Airlines but, as the title of this post suggests, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised.

The Situation

In a little over three weeks time, MJ and I are meant to be heading back to LA to enjoy the beaches, some sunshine, a few hikes and more avocado toast than anyone can reasonably be expected to consume but, instead, we’ll still be in the same place we have been for the past there and a half months – the UK. This is all thanks to Covid-19 and the fact that various airlines have canceled 3 out of the 5 flights in our itinerary.

I could have chosen to ask the airlines to rebook us on alternative flights but considering the fact that we’re nowhere near the end of this pandemic and the fact that this wasn’t an essential trip, I took the decision to request a refund and to wait a little longer before I head back to the West Coast.

Requesting The Refund

Most of our flights were for travel on British Airways but the fare was booked through American Airlines (it was a great deal that was only bookable through AA) so it was Amerian Airlines that I had to deal with.

I called up customer services and despite only having mid-tier Platinum status with American Airlines I got through to an agent within 5 – 7 minutes (good job #1). The agent was very polite and helpful (good job #2) and he asked me to stay on hold while he canceled the remaining flights in our itinerary. After a couple of minutes, the agent came back on the line to confirm that both tickets in the booking had been canceled and to tell me that the most efficient way to request a refund is via aa.com.

After confirming exactly where on aa.com the refund option is to be found (it’s the second option in the left column in the grey footer at the bottom of every aa.com page) I hung up the phone and proceeded to fill in the very simple form that aa.com generated….but there was an issue.

When aa.com processed my information and then presented me with what was about to get submitted for review, both tickets were showing a refundable amount that was considerably lower than the cost of the fares – the difference was over $1,100/ticket.

If only this was how much a roundtrip Business Class fare between Europe and LA really cost!

I called up AA customer services again and, after another very brief hold, I got through to another friendly agent (good job #3) who confirmed what I had suspected: Because these tickets had been reissued at some point (due to a schedule change) the current ticket numbers were not associated with the true original cost of the fare. I was advised to use the comments section in the refund request to give the person reviewing the request our original ticket numbers (which the agent was able to give me) as well as the original cost of the fare.

After hanging up for a second time, I headed back to aa.com and filled out the refund forms as instructed:

Now I just had to wait and see what would happen.

The Result

8 business days after I submitted my refund requests I got two emails from American Airlines confirming that the refunds had been processed.

When I compared the refund amounts quoted in the emails to the cost of our original booking, they matched exactly.

Bottom Line

I’m often very hard on American Airlines (the criticism is always warranted) but on this occasion I have to say that the airline and its staff did an excellent job. The call wait times were short, the customer service agents were friendly and helpful, the advice I was given when it looked like aa.com was about to submit an incorrect refund request was great, and the refund processing time was a lot shorter than I was expecting it to be.

Overall this was a pretty painless process and it’s a process that a lot of other airlines can learn from.

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