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One of the things I like most about writing Points With a Crew is the ability to help other people with their travel.  My first foray into travel hacking was to get enough miles to fly the 8 of us to Lake Tahoe for a family reunion.  The 180,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards we collected and used probably made the difference between us being able to attend or not.

Sand Harbor on Lake Tahoe

Sand Harbor on Lake Tahoe

We’ve helped a family of 5 go to Berlin, a family get down the west coast of the US, and most recently we’re trying to get a family of 3 to Australia.  If you ever have a travel-related question, email me at dan at pointswithacrew dot com and I’d be happy to try and help, if I can!

Canceled flights to Athens

While I have learned quite a bit about travel, there are still some (many?) things that I do not know.  Today’s reader question is one of those, so I thought I’d throw it out to my readers to see if there are any of you guys that can give some advice!american plane

After reading my recent posts about receiving compensation for my canceled Aer Lingus flights, reader Joe writes in to ask

In November, I booked an award flight for March 2016 from Philly to Athens on AA for only 70k, which considering the way back is first class, is a great deal.  Worth about 4400$.

Got a mysterious call about 2 weeks ago advising me to call about itinerary changes.

Evidently AA cancelled all spring flights to Athens.  Everything til May was vaporized.

Already been on the phone several different times.  No One World partners can help with my exact dates.  And they want me to pay the London airport fees if using BA…

Would I qualify for the EU 261?  Does it matter that it is a US carrier?  From Greece to the states would make it a “European” segment, right ?

AA has not offered me anything except a full refund.  Not one mile, nor a bump ticket, nor even an apology.  Is there anything I can do ?  They will tell me tomorrow if there is a possible replacement.  Otherwise I will be asked to cancel.

So I believe I can answer the question about the EU261 rule – that applies if you’re leaving FROM an EU member state even if it’s on a non-EU airline (in this case American Airlines).  I believe (though I am not sure) that even though it’s a roundtrip flight that originates in the US, the Greece -> Philadelphia segment should be covered by EU261.  There would not be any cash compensation however because the cancellation notice was given more than 2 weeks before the flight

I believe though that Joe should be entitled to his choice of

  • Re-routing to the same destination at the earliest opportunity (under comparable conditions)
  • Later rerouting, at the passenger’s convenience, to the same destination under comparable conditions (subject to seat availability)
  • Or, a refund of the ticket as well as a return flight to the point of first departure, when relevant

(from Wikipedia)

It sounds like AA is trying to let him re-route, but Joe doesn’t want to use British Airways because of the fees (note that there are 2 different kinds of fees – fuel surcharges if you fly British Airways, or the UK Air Passenger Duty if you depart London), and the AA agents aren’t giving him any other options.

It seems that with an involuntary schedule change (cancellation), American should be able to open up revenue seats, even if there is not award availability.  That’s the trick I used when the schedule changed for me – it got us 16 extra hours in Rome!  As far as not flying British Airways our out of London, there is a flight on Iberia from Athens to Madrid, though that doesn’t show up on (I use British Airways to search for Iberia space)

It may be necessary to “feed” the agent the flights you want to take, and possibly hang up and call back, maybe even multiple times.

If anyone else has better suggestions for Joe, leave them in the comments!

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