Home Airlines Lessons Learned When Trying To Redeem An American Airlines Voucher

Lessons Learned When Trying To Redeem An American Airlines Voucher

by joeheg

When a flight is oversold, airlines start looking for passengers willing to take a different (usually later) flight. The airlines typically use a voucher good for a future flight as the incentive to get passengers to accept the offer. I’d been reluctant to volunteer for these offers because I remember back when a friend of ours was given a voucher (good for a round-trip flight) years ago that was capacity limited. He was unable to use it to fly anywhere, and it eventually expired.

After hearing several offers at the airport for flights we were on, I decided to do a bit more research. I started by looking into Delta Dollars, since they were the airline offering compensation most often, and found out the vouchers are now the equivalent of a gift card that you can use for any flight operated by the airline.

I convinced myself that the next time the opportunity arose and the situation was right, I’d try to take the bump (and the money). It wasn’t long before we were proactively called by American Airlines about one of our flights that was oversold. They said if we moved from our connecting itinerary to a non-stop flight later in the day, they’d pay us $400 each in American e-Vouchers. I was told the only restriction was that I had to book a flight using the vouchers within a year.

Well, it’s coming up on a year and I still haven’t used the vouchers. Our trips for 2019 were mostly booked and American flights didn’t work well for our other destinations. The clock was ticking louder, so I started looking for upcoming trips to use the vouchers before they expired. I finally found one.

The seemingly straightforward process wasn’t as easy as I imagined. Here are some of the hiccups I discovered when trying to use my vouchers to book a simple one-way flight.

Choosing a flight

Since I was spending someone else’s money, I could afford to shop for the flights that best fit our schedule even if they were a bit more expensive than I’d usually pay. Limiting myself to American flights increased the cost of the flights, as I could have booked on Delta or Southwest and paid significantly less. As it turned out, American did have a flight with the best times that connected through Dallas. This was an important factor as I didn’t want to connect through one of the ex-US Airways hub cities (Charlotte, Philadelphia or Phoenix) because then we’d have no power outlets for the flight.

Booking a flight using American e-Vouchers

The process seems straightforward enough. This is the only information provided on the email with the vouchers.

Here is the transportation voucher you were promised. This voucher may be used toward the purchase of a ticket on American for yourself, or anyone you choose.  **This voucher cannot be reissued after expiration**

When clicking through to American’s website, here’s their info on how to use your voucher.

American Airlines eVouchers are easy to redeem on AA.com. You may retrieve your eVoucher # and PIN # by clicking on the link sent to you via email.

On the payment screen, enter both the eVoucher # and PIN # exactly as they appear on the retrieval page. You may use up to eight eVouchers at one time. If the total price of the ticket exceeds the value of your eVoucher(s), you may use a credit card for any remaining balance.

So just go to book the ticket and enter the voucher amount on the payment screen. How hard can that be?

I selected a flight and the airfare for both of us was $610. I still had $190 left. What should I spend the rest of the money on?

I know that flying in an economy seat on American is not comfortable for longer flights and if I want to get any work done, I have to type like a T-Rex.

IMG_0647

I selected Main Cabin Extra seats for our flights, which came to a little over $100 for each of us. When I went to check out, there was one problem. Nowhere on the payment page did I find a place to enter in an eVoucher.

American allowed me to put the reservation on hold for 24 hours (actually until midnight the following day). It was already late, so I decided to call after work the next night and find out what the problem was.

The Call

I called the American Airlines help desk. After a moderate, yet reasonable wait time, I was connected to a representative. I explained my problem and she looked up my reservation.

She immediately noted that I selected seats that require additional payment and that the website can not handle using an eVoucher with a such a reservation. They (American) are aware of the problem and are working on a fix. She could ticket it for me and charge me for the amount not covered by the vouchers. I wouldn’t need to pay for the phone ticket fee since the reservation could not be completed online.

Sounds good. I provided the voucher numbers and she said that all I needed to do was provide a credit card to pay the $200 for the seat fees.

Huh?

I was told that the eVouchers can only be used to pay for airfare, not seat assignments. Great. I had no intention to pay over $200 in fees for seats on what was supposed to be a free flight. I asked if we could just cancel out what we’d done so far and I’d go back on the website to select seats myself.

What kind of BS is this that a voucher can’t be used for seats?

I found a blurb on the website that states the restrictions on the vouchers. Let me know if you think this means seat assignments aren’t covered?

eVouchers may not be used for upgrades, Admirals Club memberships enrollments, Admirals Club One-Day passes, AAdvantage Award Travel or other non-flight products and/or services sold on AA.com. eVouchers are valid for one year from date of issue and cannot be reissued after expiration.

I guess a seat assignment is considered an “upgrade” which is crazy since American charges for almost half the seats on the plane as either Main Cabin Extra or Preferred seating.

Booking The Flight (Part 2)

I went back to check the reservation and everything was the same as I left it. I went to the seat map and picked seats for our flights. I was “lucky” to snag the last two free economy seats for one of our flights, two middle seats located 5 rows apart.

When I went to the payment page, amazingly, the eVoucher payment option appeared. I was able to enter our numbers and book the flight.

Now that the flight is ticketed, I can go back and “upgrade” our seats by paying for seat assignments. On one segment, preferred seats are $17-$19 and MCE $37-$39 and the other segment preferred is $31-$37 and MCE costs $67. I’m going to be stuck paying at least $35 to get us out of our two middle seats on the first flight.

Final Thoughts

While this may be common knowledge to people who get eVouchers often, I was shocked to find out that seat assignment fees are not covered. I still have not found anywhere where this is explicitly spelled out in the terms and conditions. Saying vouchers are good for the purchase of a ticket is a bit misleading because people consider seat assignments (and baggage fees) as part of their ticket cost.

I am disappointed, but not surprised, that American’s website can’t handle booking a ticket with seat fees when using an eVoucher. I wonder if the fix that the rep talked about will ever happen. Maybe they shouldn’t fix the problem. This way, you still get to speak to a person to have them explain what should be spelled out on the initial email with the voucher.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually about 3 or 4 times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group (that has over 10,000 members) – we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

9 comments

Christian January 1, 2020 - 4:59 pm

Really good information. I’d wondered about situations like this.

Reply
Jan Mardis January 1, 2020 - 11:23 pm

I always pay for seat assignments when I am flying on a reward point flight. I just like picking my own seat, so I don’t mind paying extra for it.

Reply
joeheg January 2, 2020 - 1:18 pm

Don’t mind for an award ticket but being told I couldn’t use what essentially is a gift card to pay the fees is just crazy IMHO.

Reply
Jason January 2, 2020 - 9:32 am

Could you have purchased in a higher fare bucket (ie something uogradeable), and then selected seats for free?

Reply
joeheg January 2, 2020 - 1:10 pm

Possibly but which American tickets lets you choose an MCE ticket for free?

Reply
KTCube February 8, 2020 - 2:52 pm

I just bought a roundtrip flight on the American Airlines website, using an eVoucher from 2019. It was no big deal, no extra charges. The ticket was basic economy, and I had to enter the voucher info on the payment screen. Now just wondering if they’re going to issue a new voucher with the remaining balance that is still good for a year from now, or if that policy has changed.

Reply
Danny Cobb October 29, 2020 - 9:13 pm

I called an AA agent to change a flight. She told me that the transaction was an even exchange. I moved my return flight ahead 24hrs. This was 48hrs ahead of the original flight. I do repair work and have to make a guess how long it will take me to get the job done. I got the diagnosis and repair done in half of the first day. There was a hurricane headed toward my home with my wife there alone. Needless to say, I arrived at 11:30 the same night the hurricane was hitting my area in north Louisiana. Eight days later my wife sees a $75.00 charge from AA. Naturally, I made a call and got the run-around about how a “Same-Day” flight change is $75.00. I appealed to this lady about first, It wasn’t changed the same day and, if there was a charge which I originally expected, why didn’t the lady who changed the flight, charge me at the time? She informed me that she could not explain that. At this point the conversation became pointless. Moral of the story, they don’t realize what $75.00 will actually cost them in the long run. I was not trying to cheat the airline. I just wanted a reasonable explanation of why the charge was there.

Reply
DOROTHY GREEN November 9, 2020 - 10:13 pm

I purchased upgraded seats. I was in my seat.. the stewardess allowed a man come from the back of the plane to come up & sit in a seat that cost me money. I filed a complaint, they didn’t care. I will not fly American again. They don’t care about there customers.

My husband, after his ordeal today, he will never fly American again. His plane had trouble getting started, was delayed over 45 minutes. Reached Phoenix, ran to the next plane, they were closing the door. Wouldn’t allow me on. That is crap. It was the airlines fault, didn’t hold the plane 1 min. Went to customer service,, they don’t care, they don’t even try to help.. Had to sit in the airport 7 hours to next flight. Customers in line had worse situations then mine, they don’t take care of there customers. It was a terrible day.

We both have had American Airline credit cards for 20 years. They don’t care about there customers either. I put my card in the drawer. WE ARE DONE.

Reply
Paul November 11, 2020 - 1:26 pm

I had a evoucher from a previous change in flights and tried to use it when I had to make a different change in a booked reservation and did not see an option to use it to pay for the difference on the website. After 40 minutes waiting for a customer rep, they informed me that an evoucher can only be used for making new reservations. Really disappointed in that.

Reply

Leave a Reply

Stay Updated

* indicates required




Want to keep up to date with our latest posts?

* indicates required




BoardingArea
%d bloggers like this: