Why I’ll Be Choosing American Airlines for my Next Transatlantic Trip

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Whenever one is making travel plans, a few factors are usually considered. Price is certainly a major factor. Elite status – both perks and re-qualification – is definitely something to consider. Of course you should be thinking about earning miles / Avios. Perhaps you also look into the hard and soft product (seats, service, etc.) on offer.

But once travel returns to normal (somewhat), there will be something else to be considered…  which airlines treated their customers right in a time of crisis.

What is British Airways Doing?

It is fairly obvious that British Airways is doing the bare minimum. Perhaps senior management are genuinely concerned that every single pound will be needed for the airline’s survival. Perhaps they are merely jealous of how Ryanair thrives… despite apparently treating their customers as dismissively as possible.


But there really is no excuse…  If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund. British Airways begrudgingly accepts this, but makes you phone an overwhelmed call centre to apply for a refund.

Some of IAG’s other airlines – such as Iberia and Vueling – are doing even worse. Many call centre agents are insisting – despite the clarity of EU law – that they will only offer a voucher, even when the airline was the one to cancel your flights.

Where are my Vouchers at Least?

Good question…  Despite being legally entitled to a refund, I decided to accept a voucher for a recent BA flight cancellation. Now… I don’t have any imminent plans to book future travel, so I don’t particularly NEED to receive my email just yet.

Perhaps that is for the best…  According to Head for Points, British Airways can’t even manage to include vital information regarding:

  • The amount of the voucher and how this amount was calculated
  • The expiry date of the voucher
  • Who the voucher can be used for

But still… if you are offering vouchers in lieu of refunds, at least send out the vouchers!  Particularly when you are deliberately suppressing the functionality that automatically handles refunds.

Elite Status

I’ve already written about the embarrassingly poor show from British Airways Executive Club when it comes to treating its elite status customers properly…

American Airlines is Showing How to Do it Properly

I had planned to visit the United States during the second half of March. I decided not to travel a few days in advance – and perhaps a week before things went truly crazy – so I had to cancel a paid ticket on American Airlines.

The process couldn’t have been easier. My flight was covered by a waiver, so I could cancel in exchange for a voucher. The email arrived almost immediately, and I could call at any time for redeem my voucher by quoting my original PNR or e-ticket number.

Events progressed… and eventually my original flight was completely cancelled. I decided to check out AA’s refund page a few days ago.

After inputting some basic information, I discovered that I was entitled to a refund, despite having requested a voucher days prior…

And yesterday, my refund arrived, much quicker than the 7 business days AA promised…

Support Those Airlines Who Treat You Right

There aren’t enough adjectives available to describe the difficulty of this crisis for many people and companies. But some travel companies are managing to do the right thing and some just aren’t. And that deserves to be rewarded, so the next time I need to fly to North America, I’ll be making every effort to fly there on American Airlines, even if it costs a bit more.

What about you? Have any airlines been particularly good (or particularly bad) at handling any IRROPs, flight cancellations, etc. during this crisis? Let us know in the comments section…


  1. Andrew Horrocks says

    IBERIA: received a voucher within a day from Iberia for a non refundable flight that I cancelled.
    AIR FRANCE: Flight cancelled by them and I’ve been waiting 10 days so far with my request for a refund.
    BA: flight cancelled by them, trying to get refund but impossible to contact them.

  2. Derek Hardy says

    Listen Craig, I really understand the point you are making but the industry doesn’t do itself a lot of favours. We’ve been keen advocates of Easyjet using them quite often and even invested money in their shares. As a lower cost airplane they have been doing an excellent job. And right now we have a couple of flights booked in April and then in May so, nearer the time, we will see what they are planning to do. BUT it’s going to take a lot of persuading for us to take vouchers rather than refunds since our experience last year when a delayed flight was rescheduled and, without us being notified, the flight left much earlier than we had been told. We missed the flight and had to spend real money to find alternative flights with another carrier from another airport. Their attitude was, shall we say, not helpful and has totally damaged our advocacy of this airline. Apparently the flight was boarding even whilst we were on Easyjet Web chat being told the flight was being delayed! We look with interest to discover their attitude to us as we approach the flight dates but our cooperation is not to be taken for granted and this airline has some work to do before they receive our support again.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      I agree that the industry doesn’t do itself any favours and I’m sure that somebody could come along and say that AA left them abandoned in Dallas whilst BA were superstars in getting them home.

      But if we keep booking with airlines – regardless of how poorly they treat us – then we can’t really blame anybody but ourselves if they continue to treat us poorly. Right now BA are giving me many reasons to not book with them (at least for a long while), whilst other airlines are doing a much better job of at least pretending to care more about my concerns than their own.

      I hope it goes well for you with Easyjet and, if it doesn’t, you’ll start choosing another airline…

      • Joe Deeney says

        Although – surely transatlantic AA/BA is basically the same to the bottom line of the airlines due to the JV? 😉

        • Craig Sowerby says

          😉 Indeed, but I’m not sure “my next flight from Las Vegas to Chicago” is relatable to our audience… 😀

          I have occasionally wondered, though, why AAdvantage awards miles for BA flights based on miles flown instead of $, when presumably they have some visibility over the fare paid for a LHR-JFK due to the JV. Or that codeshares on the same flight are often priced differently…

          • Joe Deeney says


            Yes, I wonder if they just use amalgamated totals rather than sharing full details on. Codeshares is an interesting point – presumably they have different allocations (and/or pricing strategies based on majority market for that specific route/flight, but working within an overall envelope) for some reason regardless of JV.

        • Tim says

          Hopefully when all this is done these cough cough… monopolistic JVs will be dumped too. I’m 100% for calling out BA, easyJet and Virgin on poor responses.. Let the three of them die. Especially BA after Virgin and easyJet. Someone else will take over instead. Better to seed a new entitity than prop up these three. And if these three are propped up, the socialists will likely win the game in the near future anyway. So: let Virgin, easyJet and BA die!!! [Long live BA Swiss style].

  3. Iain Allan says

    I must disagree. I was due to fly to IAD from LHR this afternoon with BA, Club and silver ec member. I called yesterday to discuss the choices available to me. Got through to an agent within 5 minutes. Agent could not have been more helpful and pleasant. I was offered vouchers or full refund despite the fact that the flight hasn’t been cancelled. I chose a full refund. Now waiting for a credit to my cc. I may have to bite my tongue if this credit is not received in good time!

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Glad to hear it. I do suspect that the paid Club World ticket was more important to BA than the Silver status. But the important thing is that BA (and other airlines) should recognise that their interactions with customers during a crisis – good or bad – are really going to impact on future travel decisions. Fly the flag, protect the employees, etc. isn’t going to be a successful strategy longer term.

      • David Blake says

        I had a First ticket return to Dallas with BA. I could not get through to the call center so have accepted a voucher which just provides a number and no detail. I booked partially with Avios and the points have not been returned. I always usually support BA but find the current service rather limited.

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