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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I recently purchased an airline ticket online (UK website)

Resolved Question:

I recently purchased an airline ticket online (UK website) from LA to Reno and return from Reno to LA. My flight from Heathrow to LA was cancelled so I had to travel to San Fran instead. This meant that I didn't make my outbound flight from LA to Reno with American Airlines. However, they cancelled my return tickets (3 passengers) because we didn't make the outbound flight and claim that in the small print I have to use my tickets in sequence or they automatically cancel the tickets. American Airlines refused to refund my return tickets or allow me to fly from Reno to LA even though I had paid in full for the fares. Is this a violation of my statutory rights? I feel aggrieved that I paid for something and didn't receive the service for it regardless of the small print.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts : Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return You do not need to wait here as you will get an email when I reply.
Alex Watts : Have you read the terms, does it say that?
Alex Watts : Did you book the ticket sectors individually or as a package please?
Alex Watts : Who cancelled the flight?
Customer:

I've looked for this on their website's terms and conditions of carriage but can't find it.

Customer:

http://www.americanairlines.co.uk/i18n/customerService/customerCommitment/conditionsOfCarriage.jsp?locale=en_GB

Customer:

I booked the American Airlines tickets online separately to any other flights.

Customer:

The Virgin Flight which we were going to catch from Heathrow to LA cancelled before we booked it. However we already had the American Airline flight in place.

Alex Watts : If the AA flight was booked before VS was cancelled, why didn't you change the AA flight.
Customer:

We had to fly to San Fran and then drive to Lake Tahoe and wrote the LA to Reno Flight off. Our return flight to the UK was still from LA, so we still needed our return flight from Reno to LA.

Customer:

It was cheaper to write the LA to Reno flight off than to amend the booking with American Airlines as they charge $200 per person to make any changes. Driving was our only option financially.

Alex Watts :

Did you inform AA you would not be taking the outbound flgiht?

Customer:

No, we didn't tell them that we weren't going to make the outbound. They said that if we had, then they wouldn't have cancelled our return flight. However, I wasn't aware that I had to inform them that I wasn't making the outbound. I thought it reasonable to think that If I paid for my seat and I didn't turn up AA wouldn't be financially worse off, they would save money on fuel, drinks etc. If I knew I would have been penalized so severely for not letting them know, I would have phoned them. In my opinion this rule exists to give them more time to re-sell our seats and double their profits.

Alex Watts :

That is a commercial decision for them whether to resell. People have different types of tickets - some which can be changed and cheaper ones which can not.

Alex Watts :

However their terms there are more than this.

Alex Watts :

There should be quite a long contract page.

Alex Watts :

Sadly it is quite normal if you do not go outbound they rightly or wrongly assume you are not coming back.

Alex Watts :

If you don't tell them you are not going out - then they can and do cancel your inbound.

Alex Watts :

If you didn't make the outbound flight and told them you are coming back and have made alternative arrangements, they would be fairly safe to assume you hadnt made it

Alex Watts :

Sadly this has happened to me (not with AA) so I am speaking from experience

Alex Watts :

I learnt that I needed to tell the airline I was not making the outbound trip and they were very accommodating.

Alex Watts :

You could try and sue them of course - but I do not think you would be successful.

Alex Watts :

But you would probably need to issue proceedings in the USA if that is where you are from because AA are based there and that was where your flight originated from.

Alex Watts :

I can tell you about UK law but not US law.

Alex Watts :

I know they have a small claims Court but I do not know what the process is.

Customer:

Surely, if they were going to cancel my ticket because they "assumed" I hadn't made it to my destination. They should phone me and ask if I still require my return before cancelling something I'd paid for?

Alex Watts :

If you had travel insurance this may cover you for such an eventuality but you would need to check the terms and conditions of your policy.

Alex Watts :

But the same could be said of you - if you were not going to make the outbound you should have called them and asked.

Alex Watts :

I am sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you want and certainly not the one I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest.

Customer:

If I paid for my ticket 1 way to Reno and then paid for my ticket 1 way to LA, then I wouldn't have anything cancelled in the same scenario. Is this treating customers differently and discriminating against me for booking in a different way to someone else?

Alex Watts :

Was it on the same booking or two separate?

Customer:

I booked a return trip, but if I had booked a 1 way out and a 1 way back I wouldn't have been exposed to this rule. Which seems unfair to me. If I had known this at the time I would have booked differently.

Alex Watts :

Exactly.

Alex Watts :

But it is not discrimination - that would be unlawful on the grounds of sex, race, colour, religion etc.

Alex Watts :

Its not unlawful to discriminate on booking type

Alex Watts :

I am sorry it is not better news.

Alex Watts :

You could try a small claim and take a chance.

Customer:

If you treat 2 customers differently, is this not unlawful?

Alex Watts :

But sadly I think because you didnt inform them and didnt take outbound, you may face an uphill struggle.

Alex Watts :

Only if its unlawful discrimination

Alex Watts :

If its not on the grounds I have stated above, then it is lawful and perfectly legal

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you at all?

Customer:

OK, I'll not pursue this through a legal channel based on your advice.

Customer:

Thank you

Alex Watts :

Sorry its not better news.

Alex Watts :

If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.


Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.


 


Please bookmark my profile if you wish for future help: http://www.justanswer.co.uk/law/expert-alexwatts/

Customer:

No that's everything I need to know. You've been very helpful

Alex Watts :

All the best

Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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