Ashleigh Yarnik says American Airlines promised to refund a $ 1,700 ticket after a canceled flight.
Despite many calls and emails, she’s received far less in flight credit, she says.
This is Yarnik’s account of her compensation mishap, as told to Insider’s Urooba Jamal.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Ashleigh Yarnik, who is still waiting to be refunded for a $ 1,700 ticket after a canceled American Airlines flight. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I had an American Airlines flight on July 1 from St. Louis to Los Angeles. I was flying during Fourth of July weekend, which I had some uncertainties about from the get-go with all the stuff that’s happening with travel.
But I got direct flights there and back to try to limit some of that uncertainty.
I was going through security when I got an alert on my phone saying the flight was delayed. Then an hour before it was scheduled to take off, the airline canceled it.
The airline’s representative informed me that there were no flights to Los Angeles until Sunday – this was on Friday.
I was first told by the American Airlines representative that she had me on a direct 6 am flight with United the next day
She said all I had to do was show up the next day and check in with United Airlines.
But I saw online that the flight wasn’t a direct flight. It had a stop in Houston. I had a limited window to travel because I had an internship and had already taken one day off. And I had to work a certain number of hours to get credits for school.
That’s what raised my concerns and made me think that she might be spitting out anything to get me out of the way.
I expressed my concern that I didn’t want to be in the same situation the following day, but she confirmed that I was booked. She even gave me a hotel voucher. She said there was no need for me to pay anything extra, and that I was good to go.
I thought, “Perfect, this is the best situation that could have come out of this.”
Related video: How American Airlines flies 715,000 pounds of cargo every day
I woke up at 3 am and got a shuttle to the airport from the hotel
When I got to United’s check-in, I explained my situation and gave the reps all the details the American Airlines representative had written on a card.
They searched for my name and said: “I’m sorry. You’re not on this flight.” They sent me back to American Airlines’ customer service, and there were probably 80 to 100 people in front of me.
When I finally spoke to someone, I explained my situation, and an American Airlines representative ended up informing me that the flight was fully booked, so there was no way I could get on it. She told me that this happened to multiple people on this specific day. So it was definitely something on the airline’s system, on its part, that it messed up.
I decided to cut the first half of my trip and see if there were flights to San Diego.
I found a United Airline flight with one ticket for $ 1665.60. I was told by an American Airlines representative that I had to buy it on the spot because it was so last minute that the aviation staff couldn’t physically purchase it through their machine, but that I would be compensated for it.
I never would have paid that amount in a million years otherwise.
Fast-forward to when I tried contacting American Airlines for my refund
I called, and the airline said it handled these complaints only by email. So I wrote an email with as many details as I could.
A couple of days passed, and I hadn’t received a response. So I called again and was met with even more unfriendly customer service.
When the airline finally answered my email, it seemed like a boilerplate response. It said: “I’m sorry for your inconvenience. We do not want to lose your loyalty,” and it offered me 7,500 miles in flight credit.
It’s worth about $ 75. I can’t go anywhere with that.
So I filed an appeal and started tweeting about my situation
The American Airlines account responded to my tweet and said, “If you’re unhappy with their customer service, respond to the email that they sent you.”
So I did that. I explained my situation in even more depth and asked to speak to someone. I also responded to the Twitter account and asked to speak to a live representative. I received radio silence on both ends. I do not expect to hear from the airline.
I’ve also sent a complaint to the US Department of Transportation.
Later on August 2, I received an additional $ 300 in flight credit. I have not done so yet, but I may refile a complaint for additional credit.
American Airlines has a large barrier between its customers and actual customer service
Despite my efforts, I couldn’t give my complaints to a live person at American Airlines. The airline seems to filter complaints through an email system that feels extremely impersonal and easy for American to ignore.
Throughout all this, it seemed as though no one cared, and that perhaps my complaints got lost among thousands of other complaints and might never be heard.
I love traveling more than anything, and I’ve never had such a terrible experience where I felt so helpless and taken advantage of.
American Airlines has definitely lost my trust, and probably the other airlines as well because based on this experience, it seems their words have little value.
Editor’s note: American Airlines did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
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