Family says American Airlines botched its Caribbean adventure, wanted $ 30,000 to fix it

Sam Taussig was eating breakfast at his Denver home on July 4 when he decided to check his family’s itinerary for an upcoming sailing cruise vacation in the Caribbean.

“I used to travel a ton for work,” said Taussig, 29, head of global policy for Kabbage Inc., a financial technology company owned by American Express. “I’m always kind of obsessive when it comes to travel.”

He immediately noticed on his American Airlines app that some of his nine passengers were flying out of a different country – St. Lucia, instead of St. Vincent. The island countries are about 100 miles apart and there are no scheduled flights or ferries between the two.

What happened next is now the subject of a complaint Taussig filed with the US Department of Transportation and American Airlines. He told the story Wednesday on Good Morning America and ABC 7 Chicago, prompting a call from an airline executive who apologized but didn’t offer to help.

In an interview with The Dallas Morning News, Taussig said he quickly picked up the phone after discovering the mix-up over departing islands and called the Fort Worth-based airline to fix the trip scheduled for Friday. He said he was told his flight di lui was overbooked and that was why the party had been split up. But when Taussig had looked, he said seats were still available.

“They were selling one-way fares from St. Vincent back through Miami for like $ 2,800 to $ 3,000 a ticket,” Taussig said. “So they clearly bumped us to maximize their revenue and their profit because we had low fare tickets. They wanted to make more money on this route. “

After three hours on the phone with multiple customer service representatives and managers, he wasn’t getting anywhere. He said the options American Airlines offered included keeping some family members in St. Lucia for over a week and charging fees and fares amounting to over $ 30,000 – in addition to the original ticket price of $ 850 a person.

Frustrated, Taussig started looking for options and homed in on Barbados, where American flies more frequently. He found an island hopper charter costing around $ 2,000, but it also meant the family would need to stay another night at a hotel.

When he asked American to pay the extra expenses, he said the company refused and instead tacked on another $ 3,000 for change fees to go to Barbados, Taussig said. He eventually spoke with a supervisor who waived the $ 3,000 change fee but told him “you should be so lucky that we’re waiving these fees because you’re putting American Airlines out $ 3,000.”

“We’re only going on vacation for a week and we have all these people,” he said. “We want to get back to work and have medical appointments and dentists appointments that following week.”

American Airlines told The News, “We are concerned by the experience our customer is reporting and a member of our team is in contact with them regarding their travel plans.”

American gives customers the option of making additional changes or seeking a full refund if a schedule change doesn’t meet a customer’s needs. The airline confirmed Taussig was notified of a schedule change resulting in a change to his itinerary on April 4. American is currently reviewing the situation and in contact.

Taussig will be on a trip with his girlfriend’s family, two members of which are from Dallas, for the week. All have to return from the trip for a July 30 family reunion in Fort Collins, Colo., With several hundred relatives.

The family will embark Friday on its patchwork itinerary for a sailing trip around the Caribbean on a 65-foot catamaran. As for Taussig, he said he will be “very hesitant to fly American again.”

“I don’t want a travel voucher, I want (American) to pay for our out-of-pocket expenses,” Taussig said. “I don’t want to be committed to flying American again and I hope they understand that.”

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