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Or How the Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease

Or How You Don’t Get What You Don’t Ask For

Or How to Cancel an American Airlines Award for Free

In early 2015, I booked an awesome award that would have allowed me to see Bangkok, Dubai, and Egypt while flying Etihad and Emirates First Class. Then I was invited to a wedding that conflicted with the dates, and I had to figure out how to cancel the awards for free.

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The Emirates flights booked with Alaska miles I immediately cancelled for free because Alaska allows free changes and cancellations until 60 days before departure. The American Airlines award pictured above was a struggle.

First I moved the dates back for free (free date changes if greater than 21 days before departure) until the last possible second (all flights must be flown within one year of departure.) And then I waited, hoping for a schedule change of more than one hour to get a free cancellation. Check out my planning and execution of this plan in this post.

The schedule change never came, so about a month ago, with a week until departure, I called in to cancel. The agent asked took my credit card for the $150 cancellation fee. To avoid paying that out of pocket, I gave my American Express Platinum number, since the card has a $200 Airline Fee Credit each year. I could also have used the $250 Air Travel Credit on my Citi Prestige® Card, but I had already used that for 2016.

The agent said my award was cancelled and then said if I needed the miles back immediately I could stay on the line for a while she worked that out. Otherwise I could hang up and get them back in a day or two. I told her a day or two was fine.

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Fast forward a week, and I don’t have the miles, so I direct messaged @AmericanAir on twitter. That got some movement because the next day I got an email from American Airlines asking for my original confirmation number and my cancellation confirmation number. I gave both within a few hours.

Four more days and nothing. I direct message @AmericanAir on twitter, but they tell me to call AAdvantage Customer Service. No thanks. I think telling one person in the company about the problem should be sufficient. I shouldn’t have to follow up through several means of communication. At this point I indicate that I would also like the $150 refunded. It is a reinstatement fee, and my miles certainly haven’t been reinstated in a timely manner, so it seems ridiculous to pay.

Five more days and I send the following by email: “HELLO?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?”

Finally another four days later, a full 22 days after cancellation, I get the following email:

Thanks for contacting AAdvantage® Customer Service. Extraordinary
circumstances have kept us very busy. We’re sorry you’ve been kept

The miles have been reinstated back into your account and we made an
exception to refund the reinstatement fee. You should see the credit
reflect on your credit card statement in 7-10 business days.

Have a wonderful weekend!

The miles have indeed returned to my account. The reinstatement fee has not been refunded yet, but it has only been about 3 business days.

The bottom line is that American Airlines customer service was terrible in this case, but saved itself from being a complete abomination by refunding my fee in the end. Another lesson is to ask for compensation when you are aggrieved by an airline. If your request is reasonable, you just might get it.

Now I just have to figure out whether I want to burn these miles with an award booking by March 21 to beat the massive devAAluation.