Compensation for a Cancelled Flight (And I’ve Moved Halfway Across the Country)

I’m Living in Austin!

Instead of traveling to Austin at least once a month, I’m now traveling to DC at least once a month.

I haven’t changed jobs, I’ve only changed a bit of my area of focus and where I’m working from.

I lived in the Washington DC area for the past 18 years, so it’s certainly strange to become a Texan (trading in my Virginia drivers license, anyway).

Austin’s absolutely fantastic, in some ways of think of it as San Francisco in the middle of Texas. And the food — not just barbecue — is uniformly great. The concerts here are non-stop. I’ll miss the bulk of South By this month though, working from DC.

Sunday’s Flight Home from DFW Was Cancelled

I was flying Emirates first class (trip report forthcoming) Colombo, Sri Lanka – Dubai – Dallas. The Emirates first class lounge that’s an entire level of the A concourse is the most bizarre lounge I’ve been in. But my “Night of the Comet” experience there is a story for another day.

My flight arrived Sunday morning, and I was connecting on a separate ticket from Dallas to Austin on American.

The Austin flight was cancelled as part of the aftermath of the weather issues plaguing DFW airport last week. No other Austin flights were available on Sunday — or on Monday.

I got an email from American while I was on my Emirates flight, “sorry we couldn’t reschedule you” or words to that effect.

It turns out there weren’t any Southwest flights available out of Love Field that day either (except for the 8am flight, departing an hour before I would land at DFW).

I booked a rental car to drive home, but didn’t really want to drive after traveling for more than a day. And I didn’t want to transfer to the Love Field Doubletree to catch the bus either. I just wanted to be home.

I booked a car through Groundlink (as a ‘guest’ rather than logged in, so that a 20% off coupon code would ‘take’). Minutes later I got an email saying as a new customer they’d need a scan of my drivers license and credit card to dispatch a car. Wasn’t going to happen inflight, but I gave them the email address of an account I had set up long ago. They said the security measures were because I was a new account, I assumed it was because they didn’t want to do the ride on the cheap. But once I identified my account, they re-instated the ~ $400 booking.

Compensation from American

I submitted a refund request for my wife’s flight and my own. That was going to cover half the cost of the car.

Then I emailed AAdvantage customer service for each of us.

  • Asking for ‘original routing credit’ for the 500 elite qualifying miles and 1000 redeemable miles I would have earned on the flight.
  • And unspecified ‘additional miles’ for the inconvenience.

I sent the exact same note to AAdvantage customer service for each. Two days later we each got calls from American confirming that the flight would be credited and we’d each get miles.

Interestingly she got 12,500 miles… and I got 15,000.

So net net I consider us ‘ahead’ for the cancellation. We even got home about 45 minutes earlier than if we our flight hadn’t been cancelled.

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, 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. That is interesting. I actually had a flight cancelled on Southwest a few weeks ago due to weather, and they couldn’t rebook my family of four until two days later. I asked a couple times about compensation, but got nothing so far. I also asked on FT, but generally people seemed to agree that airlines don’t give compensation for weather related delays.

  2. Welcome to Austin! It appears you are already situated here, but if I can be of assistance, let me know. Am also available for a barbeque run!

  3. Related question – The storm had my flight Cancelled. The best they could do to reschedule was Saturday for my normal flight. So I opted to go to a nearby airport (3 hours away from where my car is) for tomorrow. I have to stay another day in DC so had to extend my hotel visit. With AA reimburse for these expenses/inconvenience? I am also currently on a status challenge with AA and think they put me on a shorter flight, do I just need to contact AA to have them credit the original miles once I land?


  4. They wouldn’t compensate me for equipment malfunction (broken window shade on a sunny day) but gave you 15K for a weather delay. Funny how they make these decisions.

  5. Let’s be honest about all of this – Gary is a Platinum Exec and we all know that the top tier gets treated differently than the masses. I am a 1k on United and have also found that even with delays/issues arising due to weather (or out of their control), United will make accommodations or provide some “compensation” even though they did not need to. This is just them wanting to ensure that those who spend the most money (not fly the most miles) are treated with velvet gloves. Sorry but that is just the way it is…

  6. Congrats! Every time I’m in Austin I seriously wish I could relocate there. What a great city.

  7. It’s nice that you chose to live [speculating on personal information redacted]. Is money that good pushing credit card links?

  8. @ordfreqflyer, DL compensated me on a weather delay, while AA didn’t on their equipment failure. I have no status with either. Now, I will say the inconvenience was much greater in the weather delay, so maybe their decision is based on that. That would actually be a very good customer-centric metric, though I doubt it’s consistent.

  9. Austin is the best, I’m glad you made the move! I unfortunately just had to move from Austin, and I miss it like crazy! Now that you are living there, please go try out LA barbecue, and john mueller meat company. Also I hope you have been to Uchi, if not make sure you go as soon as possible!

  10. Gary, I recently also made a move to Austin… from SF. I still work in SF but the lifestyle in Austin suits my needs much more.

    I’ve noticed, outside of a few markets – that flights to/from Austin are fairly expensive. Given the growth in Austin (in particular the tech sector) I’d love to see a major airline make Austin a mini-hub or a focus city and provide more nonstops. The demand for it (and the $$) certainly must be there.

  11. Welcome to Austin! Moved here 3 months ago myself. I think an ATX meetup is in order, perhaps at one of the great BBQ joints.

  12. Smart move, Gary. I still live in Arlington VA but have a second home in the Hill Country outside Austin. It’s snowing like crazy in Arlington today and all I can think of is being in the Hill Country.

  13. I made the move from DC to Austin last summer, couldn’t be happier.

    +1 to what Tony said about the flight prices and availability but I do love the small airport feel of Austin, door to gate in 10 minutes or less.

    JetAway, weather here is iffy last two days, crazy fog yesterday 30 degree temp drop and ice earlier today with crazy wind. But yeah I am definitely not thinking of being in DC either…ha ha.

  14. Hey – welcome to Austin indeed. Moved back myself last summer. My extended family has a bar in town (Halcyon @ 4th & Lavaca – they have food too) if you’re interested in an ATX-meet-up ever. Learned lots of things from this blog, would be happy to buy a round (for all assuming the numbers aren’t outrageous 😉 ). Cheers

  15. @Tony – at one point United was making Austin a focus city, American just started Miami service today (was on the flight). The airport is building new gates.

    All — thanks for the warm welcome!

  16. @atxtravel Hah, I just liked the picture!

    Funny the conclusion you jumped to..

    (1) you have no reason to believe I live where you speculated, although it makes sense why you might guess that’s where the photo was taken (by someone? a resident or not?)

    (2) My income isn’t your business except it’s (a) public record / in public documents that I’ve long had a very good salary at work, (b) I do earn income from this blog including advertising revenue, I have an award booking business, I do freelance writing and also consulting work. So you also have no basis to speculate on one factor or another driving income and thus decision-making.

    I’m a pretty private person, so I’m not going to say where in Austin I live, but pretty funny the conclusions you jump to based on including a pretty Austin photo in a post!

  17. @italdesign – AA has an algorithm that involves status and also past disservices that generate a Helix score and dictate how generous they’ll be (they were more generous with me than my wife)

  18. Welcome to Austin. As someone who has lived here for 13 years now, let me be the first to encourage you not to fall into the trap of frequenting mainly overpriced hipster joints (which are exploding in number in the last few years). There are (still) some excellent restaurants in this town that allow BYOB and have their feet on the ground when it comes to food prices. Feel free to email me for recommendations anytime.

  19. I’d like to join the chorus welcoming you to Waterloo. It’s a fine city, although a bit warm in the summer. I hope you brought your own water 🙂

  20. I’ve lived 60 miles from Austin for most of my life. You guys are right, it’s a great place, but you should have seen it in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a down-to-earth rocking place. Keep Austin weird! And should I mention, the hills west of Austin often have fantastic sunset views! Or, should I mention, the lakes (think ‘drinking water’) are going dry.

  21. We’re actually checking out Austin for a month (starting in two weeks). Very glad to hear you like it, I hate the cold so it fits the bill for southern America… without the unbearable parts of southern america. Maybe we’ll see you there.

  22. I’ve lived in Austin since 1982…and I’m moving out! Just retired and put my house on the market two days ago. I’m 5 minutes north of downtown/UT for those of you looking for a place to buy and be close to everything. 🙂

  23. An additional data point like Comment #4. I had a southwest flight from SJU that was delayed for weather and would missed the only connection to my final destination. I took an alternate SW flight to ATL which is a 2 hour drive to my home. Afterwards, I complained to SW asking for at least the compensation for the second leg. They proactively offered me 25000 RR points (more than what I paid for the full one way flight) for every passenger (even the 2 on companion passes).

  24. Wow! I’m amazed they compensated you so well for a weather-related cancellation that was outwith their control! Were you expecting so much? By comparison after major in-flight failings that were all totally within their control I only received 12k.

  25. Welcome to Austin! I made a switch from Oregon (rainy, dark/depressing) and never looked back. No state income tax, great sunny/warm weather, young crowd, non-stop music, FOOD, 3 other big cities (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio) close-by and coast-line in driving distance. You will love the Zilker park & Lake and all it has to offer…

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