Rules passengers should know when faced with AA cancellations


American Airlines has been canceling flights over the past week and the prognosis for the coming week is not good as pilots begin to bump up against their monthly maximum flying times. Though American Airlines has committed on their website to getting passengers rebooked within two hours of their original flight time, that is not always possible. What are passenger options?

Passengers can get their money back, they can be rescheduled without a change fee on AA and they can be re-accommodated on a different airline. In the case of being denied boarding (being bumped) because of rescheduling of so many AA aircraft, passengers are due compensation from the airlines according to strict DOT regulations.

AA’s website notes the following: Refunds, re-accommodation and rescheduling

You may be experiencing some cancellations or delays as a result of some of the operational challenges we have been experiencing in recent days. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused. Rest assured that we are doing everything possible to maintain the service levels that you expect.

We also want to thank you for your business and let you know we value you as a customer. If you have been impacted by delays or cancellations, know that we are doing all we can to put you on the next available flight.

In an effort to better serve your needs during this time, we will also:

Increase staffing to better assist you
Increase food available on our flights
Provide the ability to stand by for earlier domestic flights
Offer you one of the following options if your affected flight has been delayed more than two hours:
— Receive a full refund if you decide not to travel, or
— Reaccommodate on another carrier if available, or
— Change your American flight plans at no charge.

If our recent operational challenges have impacted your trip, you can submit a request for compensation. In the Message box on the form, please tell us about the inconvenience.

Problems with overbooking
The other natural consequence of shifting passengers from one flight to another and rebooking thousands of passengers is overbooking that will result in bumping. Since AA does not reveal how they make decisions about bumping passengers, it can be expected that elite flyers may out-rank run-of-the-mill passengers when it comes to getting seats.

Should passengers end up bumped from their flight because AA has rebooked others, they are due compensation from AA. If the rescheduled flight after being bumped arrives between one and two hours of the original scheduled landing compensation is 200% of the one-way fare to the final destination that day, with a $650 maximum; If new flight arrives more than two hours after the original scheduled landing, compensation doubles. Both of these penalties must be paid in cash rather than airline scrip if requested by the passenger and the airline must provide this information in writing.

Photo: Angeloangelo from Flickr Creative Commons

  • Jeff

    I am scheduled to fly AA next month using FF tickets. What is my recourse if one of those flights gets cancelled/delayed or I get bumped?

  • Charlie Leocha

    As I understand it, your rights are the same as if you purchased your ticket. AA will refund your miles, or put you on the next flight. FF tickets are covered under the new DOT rules in effect since last year.