You don’t ask, you don’t get

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I’ve done pretty well getting United and American to refund me, give me travel credit, or kick me miles when they’ve been crap, which, you know, is often. Or even when I’ve just been smart enough to know when to ask for the right thing.

American: 7,500 AAdvantage miles awarded; $656.80 refunded.

American Refunds (when you want to request cash)

American Customer Relations (when you don’t have grounds for a refund, but you want points)

AA had a flight on 16-Mar-17 where I flew first class (not even Business! First!) from JFK to LAX, on points, in a miraculous unicorn First Saver award that rescued me from economy. (I hate economy! It’s full of people.) Anyway, the flight had a 2+ hour mechanical delay during takeoff, because of course it did, and then sat for 70 soul-stripping minutes on the ground at LAX before arriving at a gate. This made me miss a “connection” (really it was a whole different ticket) on United to Santa Barbara, so I had to take a Lyft up there for $100 instead. I wasn’t super happy.

I filled out the customer service form on the AA web site, and I got a nice response explaining that while they weren’t responsible for getting me anywhere past LAX, they would still give me 7500 AA miles as a courtesy for my trouble. AA miles may not be worth what they used to be, but they’re still better than a kick in the teeth, and, combined with the 10% points rebate I got for being an AA cardholder, my first class flight ended up costing me only 32,500 miles, and I still got to Santa Barbara in the ballpark of my original schedule. Way to make a flyer happy.

Then AA had another flight I was booked on in Economy, back in October, for $305.60. Since then, I became a JetSmarter member, and so elected to fly that instead, since it’s a thousand times nicer. So I cancelled the AA ticket. But I noticed that its flight time changed to 45 minutes earlier from when I booked it. I filled out AA’s refund form, saying that the flight time changed substantially and I had made other arrangements. They refunded the entire ticket. Kick ass!

Finally, I missed a LAX->JFK flight in which I had a paid business class seat, because I’m a jackass. They put me on the next flight, but in Main Cabin Extra. I filled out the refund form and asked them to refund the cost difference between the seats, and they sent me a check for $351.20. (I paid using gift cards, so they didn’t refund my credit card.)

AA also once did my mom a solid, where she couldn’t take a flight for medical reasons. I politely explained the situation, my awareness of their policy, and asked if they could make an exception. I think in that case they didn’t actually execute a refund but they did waive the $200 change fee on the ticket, so its full value was usable for another flight.

United did even better for me, though maybe not proportionately to the number of flights fucked up. But anyway, I’m still happy. I’ll explain later.

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