How I Got American Airlines to Refund My Non-Refundable Ticket

November 3, 2015 The Fire Guy 110 comments

Short answer: annoy the sh** out of them.

Below is the epicly frustrating monologue outlining my story of getting American Airlines to refund my non-refundable ticket. Overall, this process took about a month. I didn’t do anything special, but I took every avenue possible and just didn’t take no for an answer.

A few months ago, my wife decided she wanted to visit a friend in Nashville. So we did our usual shop around and the best rate we ended up finding was a $202 American Airlines round-trip fare on Kayak (best travel search engine, still waiting on the sponsorship). A few weeks go by and long story short, this ended up being the weekend that her friend had to move to her next location because of a rotating job. I was pretty upset. For a while. Mainly because I had enough knowledge from previous encounters with American that I knew this money might as well have been thrown out the car window while driving 80 down the highway. For all intents and purposes (NOT intensive purposes – I need a better editor – LOL – thanks to reader Mara for pointing out), this money was gone and the fare was unuseable.

The first step was a phone call to the amazing AA customer service department (HA! sarcasm much?). The lady on the phone told me that there would be a $200 change fee, no exceptions, blah blah blah. She explained to me a situation where I could still recover some of the fare with a re-booking strategy even with paying the $200 change junk fee. I asked, “so this could save me between $2 – $4, seriously?”. She said yes without laughing. How helpful. Thanks lady. Next.

Next strategy was social media. I tried to keep it respectful, but still get the point across:

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.41.06 AM

About an hour later, I was greeted with this helpful reply:


Are you effin kidding me American? You send me a link that shows that I can get boarding group 1, same-day flight changes, and other misc. crap (for a large fee). Next.

So next, I found a very helpful consumer advocate named Chris Elliot that helps steer consumers in what to do with situations like this. His website can be found here. Basically, the strategy was to write an email explaining my situation and hoping that I catch the right person that day. Here is what I came up with:

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.11.01 AM

Notice, I was intentional in mentioning the words “family emergency”, but kept it very generic. I instead focused the meat & potatoes of my message on the fact that they have competitors (your turn, Southwest) who don’t penalize customers when circumstances come up. I emailed this to the AA customers relations email and also submitted on their cute little customers relations form website. After no response for a week, I forwarded the email to their executive contacts in the order that Chris Elliot suggests.

Also, make sure that you do go ahead and cancel the flight before it takes off (I did this the day before the flight) and request a refund through that method, as well. If you have talked with people on the telephone or have actual humans that have responded to your emails make sure to include these names and a quick synopsis of their response (only if it helps your case) in your next round of emails to AA.

After a couple of more phone calls and another email back to the original customers relations department. I got this and just about stood up and screamed in joy at work:

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 12.26.17 AM

I couldn’t believe it, my persistence had paid off and I’d been successful in getting American to FULLY refund me on a non-refundable ticket. Persistence. That’s the name of this game. Funny thing, I got an email later that week (YES – after I received said refund) saying they were still looking into my potential refund and explaining their non-refundable policy. HA! Just goes to show you how on top of things they are.

In case you got lost in the story, here is a summary list of resources to help, I’m sure other airlines would follow similar suit:

  1. Tweet @AmericanAir – I like Twitter better than Facebook, because companies can’t delete your tweets directed at them.
  2. AA Phone Number List – if you are an AAdvantage member – talk it up!
  3. AA Customer Relations (12/30/2016 – updated link – thanks to lora b for pointing out) – email, send them a letter, submit the form, all of the above!
  4. AA Refunds – make sure to cancel the flight (preferably the week of)
  5. Elliot’s great list of AA contacts
  6. BE PERSISTENT. This is most important, you can’t just do one of these and expect to get your money back. Don’t take no for an answer.


What other methods have you all been able to deploy to get refunds on airfare or other travel tickets?

110 Comments on “How I Got American Airlines to Refund My Non-Refundable Ticket

  1. Hey there Fire Guy,

    I see you’re rockin’ over here. Good stuff.

    I was not aware it was even possible to get a refund. I once paid over $200 just to CHANGE a non-refundable ticket, and they weren’t exactly nice about it either. Hats off to you for going for it.

    Laura Beth

    1. Thanks Laura. I actually was really surprised I got it back in terms of a refund, at best I was hoping for a credit for future travel with no $200 junk fee. I think they just decided they wanted me to go away, but that was okay with me. 🙂

  2. This post gives me hope, but I am afraid it is going to be a long fight. I purchased 2 tickets (each $250), but now plan has changed, and cannot use the tickets.
    What do you think about filing a credit card dispute? Do you think it works on fighting against AA?

    Plus, I just found that the exact same flight on AA website dropped its price by $100 each. Do you think price drop can help me fight for refund for my non-refundable ticket?

    1. Hi, I’m glad you at least have hope left! Keep that, add some persistence, and with a bit of luck you might get a positive outcome. I would try contacting your credit card to see their thoughts. I doubt that this avenue will work, but doesn’t hurt to try. Unless the price change is within 24 hours of the booking, AA likely isn’t going to care about that price change, as this type of price discrimination happens all the time. If you want to cancel your best bet is to continue to contact AA and be a pest. Let them know there is a family emergency, but keep it very general in nature. Good luck

  3. Hi there. I am in a similar situation here. An unforeseen event has forced me to get my tickets cancelled and I need this refund. I am an Army wife. I even asked them to consider as a gesture towards an Army person who’s serving the nation but they did not care…

    I am doing what you have suggested. I called the expected “No Luck” I was directed to raise a request to customer solutions on web site. I did that. I also wrote an email to customer relations and to Mr. Bentel. Got a call from a lady from Mr. Bentel’s office who was just playing with words and straightaway said that her office “customer solutions” does not have the authority to get me the refund. I was again directed to refunds department on web site. now I tagged AA on twitter asking for help and as expected “Generic Response”….

    I am not giving up. I have now forwarded the mail with additional words on dissatisfaction to the next person in hierarchy. I don’t know if I am going to get this in my favor but not closing this here. The only thing that worries me is “I have this booking for 21st – just 10 days to go. Woooo too much to worry and follow up 😐

    1. Sorry to hear about your problems and know that you aren’t alone. Keep trying and hopefully you will succeed! Let me know if you are able to get the refund. -TFG

      1. Well…you would be happy to know that finally the persistence paid off.

        I did what you said and yeyyyy…I tweeted on twitter…spoke over the numbers…and then I started to escalate to the pyramid… I believe, escalation to the higher authorities was one thing that forced them to re-evaluate the decision.

        I got a call and an email promising the refund with no cancellation fee.

        I can’t thank you enough. In the whole process your guidance and “Don’t Give up”, these two things made me believe that I would do it. A BIG THANK YOU 🙂

        1. EXCELLENT! so glad to hear things worked out for you. It’s hard to say what flips their trigger but I have a feeling you might be right and the senior management communication helps. -TFG

        2. Hi, I am in a similar situation. Could you tell me which steps you took to get a successful refund for a non refundable tickets?

  4. Hello,

    after reading your article 3 weeks ago, I skipped the tweets advice and I decided to just send AA Customer Relations an e mail regarding our family’s overseas trip that cost me over $2,000. I explaining that I had a family emergency and I am giving them more than 2 month notice regarding my cancellation. I also used the line regarding their competitors offering refunds for similar situations. I checked my credit card account today (3 weeks later) and a full refund of over $2,000 was credited back to my credit card. I could not believe it 🙂

    Thank you so much for posting this. You rock!!!

      1. Hi Amy – I can’t speak for Lorenz, but in my case I didn’t. I figured it was better to wait until the week of to cancel to kind of create a bigger “sense of urgency”. By canceling, it could be signaled as I am giving up. Sometimes it seems like things like these just come down to timing and a lot of luck. The way I look at it is the more persistent I am the better chance of getting lucky.


  5. Amy, when I called to cancel my ticket, the lady on the phone told me that they can only offer me a credit that I can use up to one year from the date of purchasing the ticket. She also told me that they were going to charge me $250 in cancellation fees, so i told her not to cancel the ticket until i think about it.

    When I found this blog, I did what TFG suggested, but I just sent the e mail directly to customer relations. I kept checking the status of my refund online and it kept showing “pending review”. After 3 weeks, the status changed to “ineligible for refund”, so I figured it is becaue I never officially cancelled my ticket. I logged back into my account on AA and hit cancel on all 3 tickets , and then i checked the status later that day. The status changed to “pending review” for a second time, and then a day later a full credit was issued back to my credit card.

  6. Beginning this process today and hoping for the best. What email did you use to contact Customer Service? I submitted the contact form but I’d like to shoot them an email too. Can’t find that anywhere on their website. Thanks for the thorough article!

  7. I just was told all this nonsence about not giving my money back. I was flying out to see my daughter before she was deployed and she got deployed out earlier then we all expected and this is how they treat military families!…WOW is all I can say! I WILL NEVER USE AMERICAN AIRLINES EVER AGAIN! And I will continue to tell people about this as I am sure this WILL piss a lot of people off……Thanks for nothing!
    I will let all military families know of this….

  8. Hello!

    I’m currently in a somewhat similar situation, and was wondering how long you waited in between emailing up the executive ladder? So if you emailed the VP of Customer Relations, and didn’t hear anything back for a few days, did you wait a week until emailing the next person? Thank you so much for this post, it is extremely helpful and I am determined to not accept anything but a yes!

  9. Hi, thank you so much for this post. I used your email as a guide to email them as well and tweeted and called. Thankfully, they waved the $200 fee and let me change the dates on the flight. You saved me! Thank you once again!

  10. Hi I have the same problem here with my family purchased 4 rounds trips tickets from pls to Miami Miami to JFK now the person we was supposed to go to send back Miami cause of sickness now we decided to stay only Miami call customer service the charge me $800.00 to change the tickets I tell them that’s ok cause the tickets was more money anyway to go to JFK but the still want charge me $800 I really need some help please

  11. I found this blog yesterday after going back and forth with American Airlines to let me change a non refundable ticket and waive the fees. My original ticket was $196.20 so with a $200 change fees, I was going to loose everything. Anyway I don’t have twitter so I emailed customer relations directly and followed your tips. I received an email today that they have waived the change fees so I can go ahead and change my reservation. Thank you for the great tips, I nearly gave up.

    1. Hi Nik – as you found out, you just gotta keep fighting and be resilient. Sometimes that is the toughest part of dealing with a large corporation as a small individual consumer. – TFG

  12. Hey guys

    I used the above mentioned tips to refund a ticket last night. In fact that skipped the twitter and went straight to email. I cancelled the flight via the AA portal then emailed Sean CC’ing all the contacts.

    12 hours later, I got an email saying that I will be refunded with the change fee, so success. Now it’s just a matter of waiting. I”ll keep everyone posted if/when the money gets through.

    Thanks again! this has been so incredibly helpful

  13. I’m in the process of trying to get a refund! The ticket is only 143$ but i’m a poor college student! I am wondering if we would have to cancel the ticket before contacting them first?

    1. maybe my question is, my flight is in 2 weeks. Should I wait until the week of to cancel and reach out to them or can i start now?

    1. I first called and tried to talk to them, with no luck. Then I emailed Customer Service through their contact form, and received a reply in less than 24 hours saying they have authorized to waive the change fee! I just have to call them to re-book/cancel.

  14. I had the same bad experience with AA. Even worst, I believe, I bought my ticket on Nov 13 for Jan 9 next year and in the next 30 minutes I tried to cancel and to get my money back. Too much optimism when we are talking about AA. Finally, I took the simplest way after a few phone calls like the ones mentioned in other posts, I never will buy a ticket with AA again.

    1. Hi Michael – what ended up happening? If you booked a ticket and tried to cancel your ticket within 24 hours of the booking companies are required to let you cancel – it’s federal law. If you have proof that they broke the law, you should challenge it.

  15. Followed all the tips and just sent the email to the executive contacts provided. I have been trying to get a refund for a cancellation due to the CDC ZIKA advisory ( I am expecting in March) I cancelled within the guidelines on the AA website and the refund department refuses to give a refund. I hope your suggestions work for me THANK YOU!!

      1. YES! After receiving several rejection emails from the AA refunds department, I kept sending emails to Customer Relations via the AA website. After about 3 rounds of emails. I received a FULL REFUND! All I can say is to NOT GIVE UP. Even after the Refund Department rejects the claim and tells you there is nothing more they can do. If you have a legitimate case, keep emailing Customer Relations. It worked for me.

  16. I have just applied the similar steps. Within one day, AA Customer Relations contacted me and put an authorization on my record. So I do not have to pay $200 penalty! Thank you. This method really worked

  17. Hi All,

    Using one of the methods above today I got my full non-refundable ticket amount back. First, I cancelled my tickets. Then, immediately I sent email through their customer relationship web form and told them that I have to cancel trip due to some reason and I need the refund. Then, as suggested above I emailed to CEOs list, which resulted in call back to me from one of their officer, and they offered me 1 yr of full credit to be used for any flight in future.
    But, what actually worked for me is, filling that web form. After 2-3 days, I got email from them that they are giving me back my whole money, which was quite a surprise. After 3-4 days today I got the money in my credit card.
    Thanks for sharing the tips, and all thanks to this blog.

    1. HI, could you share the email for CEO’s the Elliot website links are not working well. I have a trip coming up in June, we have to cancel as my husband has mandatory trip for work and they are not willing to refund us. I never fly AA and this is just reaffirming how much they suck. I already sent two emails to customer relations so any advice would be appreciated. I didn’t cancel my tickets yet

  18. Hello,

    Thank you for this amazing post!

    I followed your post and emailed AA and they accepted to refund the change fee …. yayyy! 😀

    However, their reply seems very ambiguous to me (refer below)

    Thank you for writing us. We are pleased to respond to your email.

    “Based on the information you’ve provided, we will make a one time exception and place an authorization on your ticket to waive the applicable change fee. Before we can do this, you must cancel your reservation. We are not allowed to make changes or cancel active/future reservations, but we can see you are still confirmed.

    Once you have canceled your reservation, please reply to this email and we will add the change fee waiver to your ticket. We apologize for the extra step, but we can only add these waivers to canceled reservations.”

    I am not sure if I can modify the reservation or do I have to cancel the entire reservation.

    Can you please guide me. Your advice will be very helpful.

    Thank you again for this post 🙂

    Keep rocking!

    1. Hi – I would say you are probably safe to cancel the flight that you were looking to cancel at this point. If AA tries to give your problems, make sure you keep all the documentation you have from them affirming that they will in fact accept the refund of the change fee in case you need to use it against them. Good Luck, hope this helps!

      1. Hey,

        I got my refund for the change fee though they issued a voucher which I can use for later purpose, still not bad than donating AA the 200$.

        Thanks for the help 🙂

          1. I need to do this asap – question – can I still get my refund even if I canceled my flight (it was for end of feb 2017) end of November 2016. And then my friend who I was a guest of, canceled the whole trip as well as her tickets due to her school schedule. I should be able to get my refund correct?

  19. Oh boy, this page was a godsend! My wife and I are having to deal with an unexpected flight change so we’ll be taking these tips to heart. I’ll try to keep you update on our progress!

      1. I’m finally back with an update, though not the one I expected! The information I’ve got provides some interesting information, though, so I think it’s worth sharing!

        So I started to go through the steps above that FG outlined. When I e-mailed AA’s customer service, I received an e-mail stating that they were apologetic that we couldn’t use our tickets but no refund could be provided.

        From there, I was prepared to call in and start escalating up the chain from there. Before I could do that, I got an e-mail from AA notifying us of a schedule change for our departing flight. Our departure time was pushed back by an hour and our arrival time was pushed back by just under two hours. With this information in mind, I went to AA’s website and found a section in their Customer Service FAQ that states that nonrefundable tickets are eligible for a refund to the original form of payment if there is a schedule change of 61 minutes or more. Bingo! Our arrival time was pushed back by more than one hour, so I figured we were good to go. To be safe, though, I thought I should call in and get an AA rep to confirm that we were indeed eligible for a refund.

        AA’s service reps on the phone are laughably unhelpful. The first lady I spoke to stated that we would only be eligible for a refund if the delay was 2 hours (!) or more. When I tried to explain that their website stated 61 minutes or more, she basically said that it was her computer that was telling her that she couldn’t process a refund. Getting nowhere with her, I then spoke to a supervisor who basically echoed the same thing but said that I should go ahead and submit the refund requests since the website said 61 minutes or more.

        I don’t know what’s up with AA, but apparently their phone reps operate on a different system than their internet counterparts. In any case, I canceled our tickets, requested the refunds (citing the schedule change of 61 minutes or more) and got both of our tickets refunded as of this weekend! Just goes to show you–it pays to be persistent with other potential methods of getting refunded!

        1. Excellent – another interesting anecdote to add to the list. And I know what you mean. I’ve been known to hang up with no customer-service just to call right back. Sometimes it can depend who you are talking to, as well. Glad it worked out for ya! – TFG

  20. Thanks guys! Emailed customer relations yesterday without even calling the 800 number for cancellations and got an email back in couple of hours about a notation on my account that the Change fees will be waived.

    Not as great as getting a refund (which I will try by sending the emails to the higher ups) but much better than losing $200 out of a $280 ticket. Thanks much ‘The Fire Guy’, for putting this page up.

  21. I used the same excuse ‘family emergency’ and they asked me to clarify what that means? I contacted one of the higher up emails. Can someone help me out?

    1. From my perspective – that’s incredibly bold of an executive at AA to ask for clarification of a family emergency. I would try to move on with other avenues because it sounds like the person you are dealing with is likely hard-headed and difficult to deal with. Good luck – keep us updated.

  22. Hi,

    So I first started out with the customer relations department but they denied me. So do I submit another form through customer relations or should I email those exec contacts? Worried that they might actually ask me why, though I somewhat do have a reason.

    1. Hey there – yes if you aren’t getting a quick and favorable response from customer no service I would recommend you email executive contacts. Keep the emails simple and to the point. More than likely, this will expedite the resolution to your problems. Good Luck! – TFG

      1. Hey, so update. I went the exec route and emailed him on Saturday morning. Today, I received a very early phone call from American Airlines and it said that on my cellphone so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a spam caller. They agreed to refund me in the original form of payment and confirmed my mailing address. Does that mean I’m in the clear?

      2. UPDATE: So I did customer relations twice (got them to waive the change fee) but no refund. Then I emailed the exec with short but explanatory email, with my (supposed) loyalty to American Airlines and that I had a family circumstance. I got a phone call the following morning and the guy who was from the Card Member area, confirmed my address. 3 weeks later, I got all my points back! Patience and PERSISTENCE!!

  23. Thank you for this post! I was content to accept my fate and lose the $385 I paid for a ticket that I can no longer use…but decided to write into AA support. What’s the worst that could happen?

    They got back to me within the hour and are going to waive my $200 change fee. I probably will end up rebooking so this is much better than what I was expecting!

    I think the important part of the message was mentioning something along the lines of “I want to continue to use AA, but know that their competitors (Southwest) do not charge to change or cancel so I will probably be moving my business over to them…etc”

  24. Hi there,

    how did you cancel your flight without the cancellation/change fee? Typically when you cancel a flight, the fee to capture funds is automated to original form of payment. did you have to cough up the $200 and then they reimbursed you for that as well?

    I do understand how you got a refund your your ticket price.


    1. Hi Anne – good question. I was not charged $200 more. The fee was in the original payment – so my original flight was $202 and after the cancellation fee, I would have been left with about $2-3 credit. Instead, they refunded me the whole thing! Keep fighting the good fight.

  25. Hello , I had to cancel my flight due to a tragic family house fire here in NV and I’m dreading their empathy towards this matter. I have faxed and emailed . I even faxed the story that our local news channels have going. Please wish me luck TFG you are awesome.

  26. Hi. So far I tweeted, and emailed 3 of the 4 contacts. Long story short had to cancel sons ticket due to him being in hospital for a week right before the trip. I canceled his ticket before the flight and faxed over hospital paperwork. I tried reaching out to Chris Elliot but it doesn’t seem like they can help me. So frustrating. Ill post if I ever get a refund. Thanks for you web page.

    1. I guess persistence is the answer. I went up the chain of command and I am happy with the results. It took two months and emails and calls, but in the end it worked. Thank you.

  27. I booked through priceline and missed the cutoff to cancel the tickets. I can’t take the flight due to sudden monetary issues, though so far using the steps above: emailing c.s. web form and higher ups, the higher ups have replied they are only able to waive change fee. I am looking for a full refund obviously (over $4k in tickets for family).
    I’m not sure how to go about the whole cancelling first/apply for refund due to this being a ticket bought through a 3rd party…?

  28. I am currently running through this process now. I had accidentally cancelled my flight online. The rep I spoke with was so incredibly rude, when I asked to speak to a manager she initially refused! With much instance she transferred me to her supervisor whom yelled at me and blamed me for cancelling my flight (which I know I did! but wanted a workable solution). I had no idea about the change fee, but what I wanted to do was get my money back and get the flight again, but they never told me that I could have the ticket reinstated. The supervisor ended the conversation by hanging up on me! I was utterly dumbfounded. I’ve been using your tips constantly trying to keep in contact with them to see if there are any amends they can make. I truly appreciate the help and seeing the comments is helping to put me at ease for the time-being.

  29. THANK YOU for this blog post! I had booked a ticket and then noticed it was going to go through fathers day and well, it’s my husbands first fathers day and his wife and daughter cannot be out of town for that 🙂 So I wanted to change my flights.

    To make story short I emailed customer relations and just said I had a family emergency and customer service didn’t want to wave the fee . I explained how it really isn’t an inconvenience since neither flights were full and it was still a month away. Told them I was tempted to go to another airline such as southwest.

    I’m so happy I was able to change it!

    Oh and I didn’t do the twitter thing, I just straight up emailed customer relations.

    1. I’m really in need of advise my holiday I have booked with these guys have been ruined we sent for 11 evisa but 9only got through two were turn down for criminal offences which happened years ago not life threatening but this alerted us they needed a visa this was turned down only got this info today
      This was a family holiday our mothers life savings as she and dad was renewing there vows in Miami 4 days in Florida and 10 in Miami

      They have told us they cant re route our flights
      They said we are not getting any money for flights which cost 14.000 they were ask if a change of names could happen they inform us no
      They informed us we could get back tickets for Disney and hotels but AA has refused to show any empathy at all my mum and dad are devastated they have saved as years to be able to do this and it has shattered under our nose they don’t care one bit
      I wanted them to even change us to Cancun but said Additional costs but had the nerve to ask for 30,000 any advise would be welcome please thanks jen

  30. THANK YOUUUUU!!! Thank you! I had to cancel a trip in order to stay with my dad after he badly tore his achilles tendon. Over $500 big ones so it was painful to cancel, but it was the only week I was gonna see my Dad for a year. They gave me a voucher but I live abroad so it was useless to me. I followed the link to Elliot’s page and emailed the first name and BAM in ONE DAY they got back to me saying they would extend my Voucher for an extra year! I’m so psyched! Thank you so much for this article and for the links! YAHOOO!!

  31. Hello,
    I bought two airfares on to attend my mother’s funeral in France on my birthday 5/23/17. After a heated conversation with a family member, I decided to cancel my ticket. A few minutes later, another family member called asking me to reconsider, so I purchased another airfare for $100.00 more with the same itinerary. After thinking of unsuccessful bouts of conversation with those family members, I made the decision to cancel this ticket, too. Emotions were running high. The representative at refunded the first ticket, but another representative refused to fully refund $1,189 for the second ticket. A friend is graciously helping me obtain the partial refund ($525.00). However, a Senior Executive Representative named Ula, has still not answered my friend’s calls. She was supposed to e-mail me back and crosscheck around May 22 and I haven’t heard from her at all. She e-mailed me on May 21 stating she needed at least 12 hours to crosscheck! This week, I e-mailed her and told her my friend tried to reach her over the phone without avail. It is complete silence. By the way, this American Airlines ticket was non-refundable as well. Also, both tickets were canceled within hours of being purchased. I won’t take “no” for an answer as I am a persistent perspn by nature. My friend will keep trying to contact Ula. How long is a reasonable deadline to stop calling her and/or e-mailing Ula? What next steps do you recommend? Thank you for your advice.

  32. Okay so i made a mistake booking a flight to a one way ticket instead of a round trip. I used the email method to customer relations and I alsotold them the “family emergency” situation as well their other competitors and this is what I received.

    Thank you for contacting American Airlines.

    I appreciate you writing us regarding your July 20, 2017 nonrefundable tickets. Based on the information you’ve provided, I have put an authorization on your records to waive the applicable change fee.

    When you’re ready to book, call us at 800-433-7300 and refer the Reservations agent to your VCR remarks. They’ll know what to do from there. Be sure to have your ticket number available when you call. It’s important to note that tickets are valid for one year from the original date of purchase, if completely unused, and rescheduled travel must commence within one year of the date the original ticket was issued. Also, any fare difference and applicable ticketing fees will still apply.

    Is there any other ways to get them to refund my money? The waive is okay but I really need the refund.

  33. Thanks Fire Guy,

    I followed your email suggestion to their executive contacts requesting a refund on a two(2) non refundable tickets and two days letter I received this:

    Ticket Number Refund Date Refund Amount Status Details
    001213xxxxxx Wednesday, July 12, 2017 $569.40 Issued to Visa Card ending in XXXX
    00121xxxxxxxx Wednesday, July 12, 2017 $515.60 Issued to Visa Card ending in XXXX

  34. I’m not sure how mine is going to end. Basically, I bought a return international ticket for my wife from Asia to US back in March for about USD $1,300. On the day of departure, just 3 hours before her supposedly departure time at the airport, we realised her flight had already left the day before as we got confused with the midnight timing. After calling AA for help, they told us in order to put her on the next flight to catch the remaining of her connecting flight, it’ll cost a whopping USD $4,000. So I had no choice but to look online and book for a new return tickets for her. At the very last minute, I was able to get one for USD $1,800-ish which was also sold by AA.

    I just sent an email to AA and they responded saying that my ticket is eligible for refund minus a $150 cancellation fee. And they will have to ‘review the record to determine the applicable refund amount for the ticket’. So I really hope they will come through with refunding a good chunk hopefully! Otherwise, I really don’t know what else I can do.

  35. My trip isn’t until November and the wedding that I was going to was cancelled. I’ve already contacted the trip insurance that I bought but of course no luck, then went to customer service on the phone, no luck there (they told me about if my trip would change more than an hour I could cancel), I’ve now tweeted it out. The only thing is, is that I didn’t lie about a family emergency, thought I shouldn’t do that since it is a couple months away. Any advice?

  36. Hi all, had to cancel two days prior due to a knee injury. Filled out online form, they emailed me a day later, asked for backup from Dr, I sent it, then the customer service rep called me and emailed me and said she is “authorizing a refund and I can check status online”. As of today, three days later, it says “pending review “. She said someone would contact me within 5-7 days so I’m waiting to see what happens, but I have it in writing she said she authorized a refund. Will see…

  37. I can confirm that the email method works, especially if you are okay with just having the money applied as a credit for a future flight. I’ve done it more than once and both times were successful.

  38. I have a unique situation where I have mistakenly booked 2 tickets for the same flight. I am past the 24 hour window for cancellation. Any advice on what I can do. I am thinking using the “family emergency” will not work since they may also see another reservation for me.

  39. Hi there! I found your post just by chance, but I’m looking forward to starting my odyssey to get my money refund… This is my situation, any suggestion would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    I’m an Argentinian citizen. I was planning to go back from Europe to Argentina. I booked flight tickets which have a connection in the US. A few weeks before the flight departs, a random guy that I was talking to asks me if I have already applied for the visa to enter the US. I thought he was joking since I was gonna be at the airport in NY for less than 3 hours. Why would I need a visa? To my amaze, it turned out that I needed a transit visa C-1. I filled out the forms, paid for it, travelled 7 hours to the embassy for the interview and now, I have just checked online, and my visa has been refused. meaning I won’t be able to fly back to Argentina with the current flight tickets I have… so I apparently I have just thrown to the garbage quite a lot of money only because some guys at the embassy didn’t believe me that I was actually travelling back to Argentina, despite showing them the tickets and as many proofs as I was able to get….
    I could keep insisting at the embassy, but my flights depart in a week from now so that would mean to keep spending money in rescheduling them with the chance of getting another refusal… It might be an option… but I’m finding this situation extremely frustrating and I think it would be better to simply find another way to travel back that doesn’t involve making a connection in the US…
    What I’m wondering now is if it’s possible to get any sort of refund on those tickets. They are non-refundable tickets but since I’m not gonna be able to fly for reasons that go beyond my control… wouldn’t be possible to get a refund? I can’t change the connections because they are American Airlines and so all the flights from Europe to America, make a connection in the US….

    Any advice?

    1. I would provide this story to American Airlines through all of the different methods highlighted in the article. If they are not helpful – I would go to social media and make sure that American knows that this is what you are going to do. I would think its bad publicity for American Airlines for a passenger to not be able to use the flights they purchased because of a passport snafu. Good luck – let us know if you have any luck.

      1. Hi, hope you can give a quick feedback to this as it’s turning more crazy than what I have expected. Due to a severe storm the EXACT date my flight is departing now they are offering the option to rebook the flight with no charge of fee, which is… “cool”. However, I would still like to get a refund instead of a change of flight. I called them and they told me I can’t get a refund because the flight has not been “cancelled” yet. So I don’t get it, are they offering me to change the dates because they suspect the flight will be cancelled but is not cancelled?
        Besides, in the Conditions of Carriage they say: American may, in the event of a force majeure event, without notice, cancel, terminate, divert, postpone or delay any flight or the right of carriage or reservation of traffic accommodations without liability except to issue an involuntary refund.
        So, as far as I understand, now they are diverting the flight… so…. is it just that I had bad luck with the agent that I talked and I should keep trying?

        1. Unfortunately airlines have all the rights and consumers have very little rights. Just like you said – when a customer wants to re-book a flight we are charged a exorbitant change fee, but when an airline changes a flight they can do it at will and without any financial repercussions. I would continue to reach out to AA and fight for your right for a refund instead of a change.

          1. Just to keep the story updated. I doubt that is gonna turn useful to anyone, but still…
            The flight was not canceled due to bad weather it was just a “”””warning”””” so I was not able to get a refund that way.
            In the first email from Customer Relations they said that it is my responsibility to have all the travel documents necessary so according to them I’m screwed
            I resigned myself to the idea that I have to pay the 200USD fee and simply book another flight. So I called to cancel it one day before and the girl who talked to me offered me to book a new flight in another date for a similar price without making a connection through the US. I was still quite dizzy because of all that happened so I couldn’t just decide on a date. She told me there was no problem, the ticket is valid for a year so I “JUST” needed to call again and I was gonna be able to -pay and- change it. Ok, sounds fair enough.
            Some time went by, I rearrange my things and today I called back to change the flights……. (here is where the funny part begins) I have spoken with 5 different agents and each one of them is giving a different shitty excuse of why now suddenly I can’t change them. Even paying the fee!!! Well, I actually can BUT then I can only change it for business class and end up paying 4 times the original price (4000USD) or I can change a part of the whole journey but at least one flight has to go through the US, or I can’t change any…. It is almost funny to wonder what the next excuse is gonna be. So now I’m just basically calling hoping to have some luck. It’s like going to the casino, maybe someone willing to change my flights will pick up and I won’t lose all my money!!. Apparently, there are no rules whatsoever to dictate whether or not they can change it, it’s just randomness in its purest form.
            So I will just keep calling. Or I will write to someone up in the pyramid or who knows. If nothing works I will just simply create a social media campaign and I’m gonna give away my tickets to whoever has my same name. That would be fun 😀



  41. This article is awesome. With Elliott’s list and the guidance in the letter above, I was able to get my change fee waived on a flight. I can’t believe it! Thank you, thank you.

  42. Your post and the comment about tickets being refundable after an AA schedule change of 61 minutes or more saved our family $2,600!! Thank you!!

    To save readers the research – These are the steps I took:
    1. Go to the AA website, login and find your reservation. Cancel the trip.
    2. You wil receive an Trip Cancelled email. It will have “Refunds” link and the ticket number on it (different than the Record Locator).
    3. Click on “Refunds” and follow the steps
    4. When you get to the Eligibility page look for the link that says “Click here for further options” and click on it.
    5. On the Review Your Information page, find the Reason for Refund drop down menu and select “Involuntary Flight Cancellation or Schedule Change”
    6. In the comments box I wrote: “Return flight was rescheduled by AA, return delayed more than 61 minutes. Refund eligible per AA policy stated on Customer Service FAQ’s web page”

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