When your flights are cancelled or substantially delayed, and the airline can’t get you where you’re going, sometimes you’re willing to… fly somewhere else. If you’re flying cross-country, you might even take something hundreds of miles away from your destination, if the trip is important enough. Maybe you’d fly to Los Angeles instead of San Francisco and drive.
An interesting question is, what if anything does an airline owe you if you do actually fly – but don’t fly where you were trying to go?
American Airlines has changed its policy. They used to provide a refund if they had to fly somewhere that was more than 300 miles from their ticketed destination.
Now, American will actually provide a partial refund even within 300 miles, as long as the passenger didn’t fly to a co-terminal (e.g. New York LaGuardia instead of JFK). The value of the partial refund will be calculated based on the cost of flying between the city of arrival and the city of intended arrival.
Here’s the internal memo updating on this change:
What’s striking to me is that American Airlines employees are instructed not to tell customers about this policy unless they ask. A passenger may be entitled to a partial refund under American’s rules but they won’t tell you this and if you don’t ask for it, American won’t provide the refund.