An American Airlines customer who was left without a return flight from Lima, Peru, sued the airline in a class-action lawsuit seeking ticket refunds for flights cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19 after the airline rampantly denied customer requests, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman, in conjunction with Webb, Klase & Lemond LLC and Vaught Firm LLC.
The class-action law firm brought similar claims against United Airlines and Delta Air Lines recently, and attorneys say consumers are entitled to monetary refunds – not travel vouchers – under the law. If an airline denied your refund request after your flight was cancelled due to the outbreak, find out more about the lawsuit and your rights.
According to the lawsuit filed Apr. 22, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Fort Worth Division, American Airlines acted in deceptive and unfair manners in failing to honor ticket refunds and requests from its passengers in light of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The suit accuses the airline of, “…limiting and forcing customers into a rebooked flight or travel voucher instead of returning their money.”
American Airlines Leaves Passenger Stranded in Peru
The suit’s named plaintiff is a resident of Arizona who purchased tickets for a Mar. 12, 2020, flight to Lima, Peru from Las Vegas with a layover in Los Angeles. Plaintiff’s return flight was scheduled through Miami and was booked on American, through American’s agent, OneTravel.com. After the plaintiff had travelled to Peru, his return trip was cancelled by American.
Despite requesting and being entitled to a refund for his cancelled flight, American has refused to provide plaintiff a refund. Roundtrip, the flights totaled $1,052. “At Plaintiff’s own expense he booked a return flight home from Peru on different airlines,” the suit states. “Since returning from Peru, American has refused to refund Plaintiff for its portion of his cancelled flight back to Las Vegas.”
The plaintiff also purchased another trip to Lima due to occur in May 2020, returning August 2020, for which he paid American and other airlines $2,176.36. He has also requested a refund for this travel given Arizona’s current stay-at-home order. American has so far refused his request.
“Our client was left without a flight home, and he isn’t the only individual who has been stranded by the airlines. American Airlines – like United, Delta and others – has refused to take responsibility to their customers during a global health emergency,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney for consumers in the class action. “Even during a pandemic, even when faced with their own customers left abroad with no flight home, the airlines are only concerned with profits. We intend to change their tune by every measure available under the law.”
American Airlines Changed Refund Policy
Under American Airlines’ Conditions of Carriage, if American cancelled a flight or changed a flight time by over four hours, passengers could receive a full refund. “However, American is focused on keeping passenger money through providing travel credits, not refunds,” attorneys say in the filed class action.
According to the suit, “As American announced flight cancellations (combined with decreased domestic bookings), American took a variety of steps to make it difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to receive any refund on pandemic cancelled flights.” Passengers are similarly entitled to a refund if an airline makes “a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the passenger chooses not to travel,” according to the class action.
“Not only is American refusing to refund passengers for cancelled flights, American is misleading passengers about their rights by making it difficult to locate information about refunds, refusing refunds, unilaterally providing travel vouchers if a passenger is unable to contact an American customer service representative, and waiting until the last minute to cancel flights to induce passengers to cancel their flights.”
As the Department of Transportation advises consumers of their rights: “If your flight is cancelled and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation—even for non-refundable tickets.”
The lawsuit against American Airlines seeks refunds for class members for the amount paid for airline tickets, punitive damages and an injunction directing American to issue refunds for cancelled flights.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with nine offices across the country. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” and MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.