Q: American Airlines made a data-entry error when my husband and I booked our airline tickets by phone. An agent entered our return dates as January 2016 – a full year after our planned dates of travel. The airline agreed to refund the tickets, but we’ve had no luck with getting the money back. Our original tickets were purchased in April 2014.
Since then, we’ve been back and forth with the airline. Every piece of required documentation was enclosed with our letter. We meticulously followed the directions on its website for obtaining a refund.
Finally, in desperation, we turned to American Airlines’ AAdvantage desk. A representative informed us that, despite what was stated on the website, the refunds department does not handle this type of refund request, and instead we should submit our documents to the customer-relations department. We were dismayed that after we had exhaustively followed the directions, the airline completely disregarded our refund request.
Apparently, American Airlines had no intention of informing us that we needed to resubmit our claim, and had we not called, our inquiry never would have been reviewed. The utter lack of customer regard, professionalism and attention to detail on the part of the airline baffles us.
Elaine Stokols, Alexandria, Va.
A: If an airline agent erred when entering your dates, the airline should have offered you an immediate, no-questions-asked refund. A one-year delay is unconscionable.
At the very least, it needed to send you an answer of some kind, even if the answer was ”no.”
It’s unclear if the problem was related to American’s merger with US Airways, as some of the correspondence suggests, or if you just went to the wrong department.
But what is clear to me is that someone should have responded to you and offered some guidance. In reviewing your correspondence, it appears that no one did.
You could have escalated this to one of the executives at American Airlines. I list their contact information at elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/.
I contacted American on your behalf. It promptly refunded your airfare.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at email@example.com.