American Airlines Updates Its Rules: Has No Responsibility For Delays And Cancellations

When an airline tells you they aren’t going to do as much for you in the event they delay or cancel flights – even when it’s their fault, not the weather – you should take the message loud and clear. They expect delays and cancellations to be a serious issue otherwise why bother with the change? And they don’t take responsibility for it, that’s not a customer-centric airline.

American Airlines has updated its contract of carriage to make clear they don’t want to be on the hook to their customers when they fail to deliver promised transportation. (HT: @JTGenter)

  • They don’t have to take responsibility for getting you to your destination if they decide it’s too costly or inconvenient for them to do so – the most they owe you is a refund.

  • Even if your overnight delay is their fault (such as a mechanical) they will never reimburse your hotel. Wait in a long line of passengers for a voucher to a hotel you probably wouldn’t want to sleep in, if they can provide you with a voucher to start with.

For the most part this is bringing the airline’s written terms into line with how the carrier already treats most customers.

By the way American’s two co-brand credit card issuers Citibank and Barclays have stopped offering travel protections like trip delay on most cars when you buy tickets on their cards, so it’s not a good idea to buy American Airlines tickets with an American Airlines credit card.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Copy this article to your US Congress rep and Senators and demand that Congress pass rules like EUrope has to provide protection for Americans from these practices. They need to hear from a large segment of the public or the airlines will again slip out from any enforceable regulations.

  2. If this helps the stock get back to pre Covid levels, it’s a good move for shareholders. While the people on here know about this, the average sap has no clue and buys the cheapest flight. So they have to cut costs to compete with the budget carriers. Good move and won’t ever effect EXP or ever PP loyalists so it’s a non story.

  3. If this is true, and sounds like it is, goodbye 20 years of AA/Citi credit card.

    Use leverage, people. In addition to avoiding booking AA, cancel your credit card and be very explicit to the agent and have them record the reason for cancelation.

    That’ll hurt Parker more squarely in the nuts than simply walking away.

  4. A cursory read of AA’s website independently confirms the shameless money grab by Parker and friends.

    Gary,
    You missed this one —
    If they switch aircraft and you find yourself with no seat, no compensation FOR YOU!

    Yep, bye bye AA. Hope you choke on that bailout steak we fed you. Twice.

  5. Goodbye AA. And no more CLT covid cattleyard where disabled and elderly can’t get a seat while waiting to board.

  6. My daughter had the biggest nightmare experience with AA a couple of weeks ago. Canceling two flights at the last minute right in a row, only having a first class seat available for the next morning’s flight, being charged a $1,000 for a two hour connecting flight. Due to AA being useless, she was stranded in the middle of the night in Dallas, all alone trying to find a hotel which were all booked around the airport because of so many cancellations from AA. That $1,000 seat was a joke. She said it was worse than Spirit Airlines regular seats but she was desperate and wanted to get home to CA after 24 hrs in the airport Shame on AA. You took the $$$ and screwed your customers

  7. I flew my last America Airlines flight in May. Connecting flight was cancelled due to weather delays in Dallas. Understandable, except the way AA handled it. They could not get me a flight home for 2 days. They wanted me to spend 2 nights in Dallas. I purchased a Delta flight home early the next morning. I requested in person at the Dallas airport an interline luggage transfer to Delta. AA did not do it. My luggage arrived at my home airport a couple of days after I arrived home. I requested AA deliver it to my house and they refused. I had to drive back to the airport. If this is how they treat first class passengers could you imagine buying a coach ticket from AA. I have a lot of AA miles. I will use them with their international partners. I will stick to Delta and Jetblue for flights within the US. I only fly with AA and United for shorter flights, no longer worth it. Ive had flights cancelled before but never delayed more than 1 day.

  8. If Doug Parker ran a restaurant, he’d have a disclaimer that customers must have no expectation of getting food in a timely fashion at the agreed upon price. This incontrovertibly shows that some very similar version of EC261 is direly needed in the USA.

  9. so the short version of this post is “AA is terrible but ill still give them at least $12,500 in revenue yearly” okay. lol.

  10. FWIW, UA stopped making backup reservations even for 1K’s pre-COVID. Only GS passengers get proactively protected on another flight if it looks like they may misconnect or have a significant delay on their booked flight.

  11. I don’t understand why all are up in arms over this. I think this is the way it has always been it just seems they are making it very clear for all those people who don’t have a clue. Believe me most people have no idea. I would even say that all the US airlines do exactly the same thing.

    I could be wrong but I challenge everyone to read other Airlines’s contracts of carriage. I think you will see they are similar if not the same. I’m guessing but I thing it’s true.

    I guess this sells more ad space so this is put out as if it is something new and horrible. I think it’s just actually old news and horrible.

  12. Just finishing my honeymoon in Hawaii – lost 36 hours spent at DFW while AA tried to get two different planes to fly putting us on a rolling delay with 12 updates and canceling 8.5 hours later. List the first paid night in our hotel. Lost the first night’s restaurant reservations that took 3 weeks to make. Lost the first two row seats on a 77W (first class seat) after paying $5k for tickets to get on this plane. Now the plane is delayed going home. Already lost our connection and rebooked in coach. I’m going to spend every day for the next
    Month repeatedly writing my congressman and senator. But in the end it won’t matter as the lobbyists have bought them off!

  13. American Airlines is the worst company in America. My wife and I were returning to BWI from Cancun (pre pandemic) via CLT. American’s “computer algorithm” incorrectly anticipated we would miss our connection. As such, our seats were given away. We ended up waiting at the gate for an hour watching our connection board without us. (It was a special trip/occasion, so we were booked in first class.) What was worse was the American employees essentially told us, “too bad.” They asserted they had no power or responsibility for what the corporate computer does. They offered us 1000 ff points for leaving us stranded in CLT. It made me want to scream. Absolutely unacceptable. I complained to the federal government, which resulted in a $100 voucher. Still totally unacceptable. I can only conclude American really does not care about individual passengers. As a result, I will only book on American if there is NO other option. The industry would be better off without them.

  14. This is an eye-opening article.

    Some Comments here seem to be saying that this is “the old normal” – -and nothing new. Take it from me, the 5-million mile man, and I am nearly 70 and stopped flying for business over ten years ago – – I got stranded MANY times in Denver using United. Instead of waiting in line, along with the Sheep, I would march right over to a phone booth (remember those?) and I would call United and ask for help…..I already knew That the Best Western would have rooms.

    Quite often, United would have “available” first class seats (My company would NOT afford Business for me, even though I was an owner, shareholder and Exec VP of Worldwide sales and Marketing.

    SO, I would ask: “By the way, since you have delayed me, I am kindly requesting an upgrade!” That ALWAYS happened with United but from the tone of this article, I may be “peeing up a rope” to get that kind of service.

    My wife and I are scheduled in First Class next year with AA (through Philly) and I am wondering what rung of hell we will go through to get back to SFO. That will be telling, I think. I will already have called AA to ask them which Hotel they will park us in should we be delayed. Chase Sapphire has benefits and I will simply put in a claim for reimbursement. Has anyone tried that here?

    Thanks for the GREAT articles here!
    DJ

  15. American Airlines is the worst! I has my flight to the Bahamas cancelled without any notice. They didn’t give a damn. I will never travel AA again and will tell everyone I know the same! Hood they go under!

  16. Another reason that reinforces why I am happy with my decision to go from being loyal to AA, to willing to consider them in limited circumstances if the price and flight times etc. were good, to now ACTIVELY avoiding them.

  17. I don’t understand why tax payers had to foot the massive bailout bill for AA, only for AA to keep screwing travelers! Shame on our government and American Airlines!

  18. I have not have experience with Chase, Nationwide Insurance, with claims for lodging, but a few times with auto damage claims. They are excellent.

  19. Seems like you have an issue with AA on your posts! These rules have been in place for a while!!

  20. Are we certain that Barclay’s card stopped offering travel protection? I have the AA Aviator Red card and under benefits, it still lists Baggage Delay, Trip Accident and Cancellation/Interruption as benefits of the card.

  21. Cheap tickets, hotels that exceed the price of the tickets on the canceled flight. Purchase travel insurance. Remember when the government swore that everyone wanted deregulation? You got it.

  22. I lived several years in the US and now I’m very happy to be back to Europe for some years now, but one thing I can say, who said that deregulation keep the ticket prices down?
    In Europe all airlines (including the European leech Ryanair) have to compensate travellers for delays, not only reimbursing for meals and hotel rooms, but really paying money compensations for delays (starting with 250€ – that’s almost US$300 – for a 3-hour delay in an European flight). So you would expect that EU flights are much more expensive than a comparable US one. There’s were you are wrong… they aren’t!!
    Yes, for some time now even the full service airlines (BA, LH, AF, KL…) are starting to charge for some services (booking a seat, inflight snacks, checked luggage…) but even these services are much cheaper here. Not to talk about what one calls First Class in the US, where you are offered the choice between a bag of peanuts or chips… in Europe you still get full meals, even in flights under two hours!!

    So guys, yes… call your congressman, call your senator!!

  23. I fly out of DFW for the last 25 years and have tried to maintain my points together on AA, even though at times I could get there quicker and cheaper on Southwest. Having an assigned seat without having to show up an hour early made it worth it, even though SW has always had way better customer service. AA service has gotten progressively worse the last few years, reaching the point where their customer service policy is simple: “We don’t do that here.” In August, it took me 14 hours to get from DFW to St. Louis (a 90 minute flight), while AA continually pushed the departure time back 30 minutes, for 12 hours. By the time we left at 10:30 pm (barely), many people were already out of any other options, and the next flight that American could get them on if we hadn’t taken off, was 8:00 pm THE NEXT DAY. They strung people along all day so that all other options to get to their destinations on time were gone. Since I am normally flying inside the U.S. for a week at a time to my destinations, I only qualify for base Platinum, which to AA is a small step higher than pond scum. They made my decision to leave AA in my rear view mirror extremely easy. Even having to connect through other cities flying on Delta or Southwest will at least reassure me of getting to my destination on the planned day. Maybe if AA goes belly up, it will open up DFW for a real airline.

  24. We had several flight delays and cancellations while on a trip to Seattle for a cruise, luckilly I booked the flights for a day early. When I complained the issued me a $50 future flight credit. I have already cancelled my 2 AA credit cards and I’ll donate my remaining FF miles to Make a wish on their next campaign, I’m done with the AA B/S

  25. In the last 30 years the ONLY time I have flown AA is to the Caribbean because, at the time they were the only option. That is no longer true and I will not fly AA ever again. As a business owner, I know my customers are the reason my business exists. Any company whose business model says “hey, we don’t give a s&*t about you” doesn’t deserve to stay in business.

    AA…..you don’t deserve to stay in business.

  26. Not a transportation company…just a sales and marketing company. I would expect no less. Time for a strong passenger bill of rights. Including the airlines having to pay customers for change in schedule in amount equal to what you pay them if you make a change.

  27. What about the DOT regulations ? What about the law ? AA simply give a damn about all regulations and the law (not to mention the passengers. Normally, whoever does not respect the law or regulations from Government Institutions become a delinquent, usually named as a crook.

  28. Goodbye AA – I will never fly with you again. Hope you choke on the lobster you bought with MY tax money and every taxpayers money you received for the bailout.

  29. I’m a platinum for life and haven’t flow that lousy airline for over 2 years. My last flight involved a “mechanical” issue which took out our flight from DFW to LHR. Took off 3 hours later. One of our bags went to ORD, two went to MIA, and the forth stayed at DFW. It took 3 days for our luggage to make it to LHR. Zero compensation from AA plus zero customer service. I will never fly AA again until they get rid of Parker and try to have some concern for their customers. They are simply a different version of Spirit and Frontier now.

  30. I guess it doesn’t matter whether you pay cash, use Avios, fly Domestic or International, use AA or partner….you could be left to fend for yourself anywhere in the world. ?

  31. AA offers customers no more than a faint hope that if they pay for a ticket maybe AA will take them somewhere someday. I’d like to think Congress would step in, but our political system is too broken to count on that. Best we can do is avoid. AA LIKE the plague and urge others to do the same. And no govt bailouts for AA. Let them fail. No loss to the public.

  32. The best way to deal with AA is not to fly it. Be careful in asking for government intervention, since one doesn’t know what one will get. Remember the days of regulated, high fares? Government intervention will likely be an excuse to raise fares. Fly the competition, take the train, or drive.

  33. I will never fly AA again after what happened to my husband and I one week ago.

    We had a flight out from Charlotte to Las Vegas for a short holiday weekend (Friday through Tuesday). Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9pm. We were in the airport waiting on our flight when I get a text that says your flight has been cancelled. Went to our gate to talk to someone, but no representative from AA ever came to our gate. I called AA and they said it was a maintenance issue. Mind you, the cancellation came 2 hours before our flight was scheduled to take off… do you mean to tell me they knew 2 hours in advance that there was a maintenance issue so large that they could not fix it? Ha. Doubtful. I think they were short-staffed and waited until the last minute to notify passengers.

    Anyways, they could not get my husband and I on a flight until 4pm the next day with a connecting flight in Austin, TX…putting us in Vegas at later than 9pm the following day. We declined because it was a short vacation to begin with and we would be losing out on a chunk of our vacation by waiting that long for a flight. I asked for a refund and the AA rep. said she could only give me credits. When I told her I didn’t want credits because I wouldn’t be flying AA ever again, she said she would see what she could do. The call ended with her saying we “should” get a refund but that she could not guarantee. I’m still waiting on that refund. Also, I ended up spending over $1000 for flights to/from Vegas just to try to salvage some of our short vacation time.

    Yep. Won’t be flying AA again. Ever.

  34. Most of these changes are not as material as people make them out to be
    You will be booked on the next flight with available seats in the class you booked (so AA will not upgrade you to First, if you booked Basic Economy and that class is full)
    You can not book a Luxury Hotel for an overnight delay and then claim that you want to get reimbursed, when AA is offering a mid-scale hotels (yes, you will have to stand in line and get a voucher – like I had to do several times on several airlines – including UA, LH, AA, QR – or call their CS)

  35. I don’t understand all the alleged frequent flyers dquaking about standing in lines for hotel vouchers, etc. I’m exec Plat with AA and yes they are not the business flyers dream, they use to be. However, I was stranded at DFW at 11pm after 3 hrs of delays awaiting my short conx to AUS. It was one of AA worst days, 2 hrs post landing waiting for a gate, the customer service lines in the terminals were already hundreds deep. My flight gets cxl at 11pm and I look at the line for reaccomadations, when my phone buzzes. I have a hotel, either, in Dallas, at the Hyatt, I have a transfer voucher, I have a re accommodation flight for 2 days later. So I Uber to the hotel, as the taxi line is too long, get to the Hyatt, sleep and eat breakfast with the AA voucher, the took Vonlane to AUS. They gave me $400 [n flight vouchers plus a decent refund for my unused portion of my ticket to AUS . All via the app and an email to customer service. Things happen, it’s not the world we use to travel in anymore, but if tou really travel that much, you know how to avoid the disaster lines. I only travel in paid first, which helps tremendously, as I a great, in couch you could be left out in the cold.

  36. Stopped flying anyone but United and SW a long time ago. And American was one of the first I bailed on. Good luck with that AA. You’re no better that Spirit or Frontier but at least most know what they get with those two.

  37. Considering that airlines were some of the first things to get bailed out over this epidemic, bailed out far faster than the citizens were, this kind of behavior from an airline is unacceptable, especially considering what we pay now in airfare, new fees, raised fees, etc.

    If they want to say it’s not their responsibility whether or not I get from point A to point B on one of their flights/partner flights, then its not my responsibility to fly with them.
    It’s that simple.

  38. I dumped AA for good several years back after they lost my luggage for the third time in 3 weeks.
    They even strand their own employees. My bride was a F/A for 35+ years, now retired. She started with Piedmont back in the golden years of flying. Prior to the Covid mess, she was the extra F/A on a flight from CLT to LGA, she was supposed to deadhead back on the turnaround, it got cancelled. The deadhead was supposed to be the last leg of her four day trip. She was informed it would be 3 days before a seat was available to get her home. She found her own way home via another airline.
    I switched to Delta 5-6 years ago and have had minimal issues. When they do crop up they are promptly handled. I typically fly 35-50 trips a year domestically. AA might be cheaper, but that is assuming they get you there and back, which, they are incapable of doing on a consistent basis.

    Good Riddance.

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