Reader Question: Issues With American Airlines Flight Credits?

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A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question regarding using American Airlines flight credit from Europe to the US?

Readers are encouraged to send us questions, comments, or opinions by email, FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. We’ll try to cover them here several times a week.

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Question from the reader:

I’m writing to you in order to get some directions in the following unfortunate situation with American Airlines.

I’m based in Barcelona and two years ago we were supposed to travel to the USA. We had 2 separate bookings for this trip, first with British Airways BCN-MIA + ORD-BCN (paid by cash), and second with AA MIA-LAS + LAS-ORD (paid with an AA voucher + cash). In order to avoid issues I’ve planned a few days both in MIA, LAS and ORD to accommodate time for possible flight schedule changes.

Our BA leg was cancelled due pandemic and our money was reimbursed. But we had no luck with AA because the flight was scheduled as expected so our only choice was to cancel the flight (two days before expected departure) and obtain a credit linked to our original ticket numbers.

When a few months ago I’ve tried to book on the phone a new flight (BCN-ORD-BCN)to use this credit, while I was speaking to an agent, she pointed me out that “my domestic flight credit” cannot be used with this booking because departing from USA was mandatory. As I live in Spain, this wasn’t working for me.

I insisted on performing a simple currency conversion of the original amount (USD 600) to € but she insisted that such operation was not allowed because the original fare was in USD. I’ve asked her about performing the purchase from the AA website in the USA but she told me that the fare for any ticket is quoted in the currency from the departing country regardless of the website location and then converted “visually” to the currency selected. I insisted on speaking with a supervisor but she told me the only way to try to solve it was to contact Customer Relations through the AA website.

I filled a form on the website on May 4th. I received two automated emails saying that response time is typically within 5-10 working days. 6 weeks had passed with no further response at all.

I have no status with AA.

What do you recommend as further action?

The reader is not alone with this problem. Many in Europe on BA-issued tickets from non-Euro countries, such as Sweden & Norway, face the same issue.

The airline requires you to use the flight credit in the currency it was originally issued, and it cannot be converted from, i.e., Swedish krona to Euro.

Some airlines have allowed the flight credits to use for mile purchases/conversions (Qatar and Air Canada), but this is not the case with American Airlines.

I would try to use it for internal flights within the United States or flights ex-US. But, unfortunately, I don’t believe there is any other use for this.

Conclusion

When many had to cancel their flights or airlines canceled them, I always told our readers not to accept a credit, even if a bonus was offered, but to request a refund.

This was impossible in a scenario such as a reader’s where the flight was not canceled but went out as operated. If the flight was not refundable, AA had no legal requirement to refund the ticket or even issue a credit.

I would either write the credit off or try to use it for a flight or flights to which it can be applied to.

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