Dear Travel Troubleshooter: I used my US Bank Visa card points to purchase 3 economy tickets on American Airlines to attend a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic. The wedding was moved to Mexico because of the hurricane.
I have been in touch with American Airlines but they are unwilling to reschedule as my departure date is not included in American Airlines travel alerts. I have to pay her three more tickets to attend the wedding in Mexico.
When I asked the US Bank Rewards Center what they could do about this situation, they said I had no choice but to contact American Airlines to see if they would consider other options. And when I ask American Airlines, they just refer me to US Bank Visa.
— Char Collins, Minneapolis
answer: It seems we are stuck between banks, airlines and hurricanes. Not a good place!
Destination weddings were moved from the Dominican Republic to Cancun, Mexico after a hurricane hit the island. Apparently we had travel insurance, but the storm wasn’t imminent, so it wasn’t covered.
I have already paid for 3 tickets using my points via US Bank Visa. Generally, this is a one-way transaction and points cannot be refunded to your account. American Airlines apparently approved a flight change for him from Sept. 17 to he Sept. 25, but the wedding took place later that month.
American Airlines should have seen the problem and made an exception to their refund rules. Unfortunately, American Airlines customer service department staff could only repeat the policies they were trained on. Escalating this to a higher level in the previous one might have helped. With a brief and polite email, Flight could have used her credit for a rescheduled wedding in Mexico.
Your case highlights the risks of using credit card miles to book flights. If another party (bank or credit card company) is involved, they are often at the mercy of their policies in addition to the airline’s rules. Also, if changes are required, the ticket may have extra restrictions and become useless.
Again, I recommend getting travel insurance the next time you have to go abroad. You could have submitted a claim and received a full refund for your ticket without going through all this hassle. Also, consider purchasing a more expensive economy class ticket that allows for changes.
I have contacted American Airlines on your behalf. The manager has reviewed your issue and has agreed to refund $582 in travel credits that you can use to pay for your flight to your new wedding venue in Mexico.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a non-profit organization that helps solve consumer problems. Email email@example.com or contact elliottadvocacy.org/help/ for help.
(c) 2023 Christopher Elliott
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