Anatomy & Timeline of a Cancelled American Airlines Award Ticket (LGA-DFW-SNA)

Good morning everyone.  A long time ago (February 2020), I purchased 2 American Airlines award tickets to fly from LaGuardia, New York (LGA) to Dallas, Texas (DFW) to Orange County, California (SNA).  Laura and I were going to be in NYC in early July and then fly to Orange County for Fourth of July weekend.  I picked this route because I wanted to check out the American Express Centurion Lounges at LGA and DFW.  I used 20,000 American Airlines miles per ticket (40k total), paid the taxes with my Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card, and paid for upgraded seat assignments with my American Express Gold Card and JPMorgan Chase Ritz Carlton Visa Infinite.  Then the Coronavirus Pandemic hit and we cancelled our entire NYC trip.

This was my first time cancelling an American Airlines award ticket, so I didn’t know what to expect in terms of refunds and redeposited miles.  In this post, I will walk you through the timeline of events.  I cancelled our American Airlines award tickets on May 7 and received the following Trip Cancellation email immediately.  In the email, it said, “If you booked with AAdvantage miles, and your trip is eligible, we’ll automatically reinstate your miles within 48 hours.”  Unfortunately, 48 hours came and went, but nothing happened…

On May 11, I called American Airlines to check on the status of the cancelled award ticket.  The rep was very friendly and helpful in describing the process.  He said I would receive refunds for the taxes paid ($5.60 x 2) and refunds for the various seat upgrades I purchased (totalling $141.95).  He also said that every refund has an associated American Airlines ticket number, even for seat upgrade transactions.  He then provided me with all 6 ticket numbers (2 for our original tickets + 4 for the seat upgrades).  Here are the ticket numbers (last 4 numbers shown to identify each ticket number):

Original Tickets:

  • GT: 001-#####-#0169 ($5.60)
  • LT: 001-#####-#0170 ($5.60)

Seat Upgrades:

  • GT: 001-#####-#3231 ($35.63)
  • GT: 001-#####-#3232 ($28.90)
  • LT: 001-#####-#3233 ($42.75)
  • LT: 001-#####-#3375 ($34.67)

I asked about the 40,000 American Airlines miles I was still waiting for and he said he would process the award redeposit and I should see the AA miles back in my account within 1-2 days.  The AA miles did post to my account on May 12, roughly 5 days after initially cancelling the award ticket.

Now it was a waiting game for those 6 refunds to post to my cards. 2 of the seat upgrade fee refunds posted to my American Express Gold Card on May 13 and a third refund posted on May 28.  For those playing at home, here are the ticket numbers: 3231 ($35.63), 3232 ($28.90), & 3233 ($42.75).

Then on May 20, I received 2 refunds for the taxes/fees paid for the award tickets on my Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Here are the ticket numbers: 0169 ($5.60) & 0170 ($5.60).

Last but not least, I received the fourth seat upgrade fee refund on my JPMorgan Chase Ritz Carlton on May 28. Here is the ticket number: 3375 ($34.67).

To summarize chronologically, here are the order of events:

  • 05/07 – Cancelled AA award ticket online
  • 05/11 – Called AA about missing miles and refunds
  • 05/12 – 40,000 AA miles redeposited to my AA account
  • 05/13 – 2 seat upgrade fee refunds posted to my AMEX Gold
  • 05/20 – 2 AA taxes/fees refunds posted to my Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • 05/28 – 2 seat upgrade fee refunds posted to my AMEX Gold & JPMorgan Chase Ritz Carlton

I’m really glad that all the miles and refunds posted, but I was surprised to see that the refunds came through randomly on different dates.  Keeping track of the American Airlines ticket numbers is very important so you can make sure you received all your refunds.  All 4 seat upgrades were purchased and originally reimbursed by airline incidentals fee credits, so now I need to wait and see if American Express and JPMorgan Chase take back the airline incidental fee credits.  This is the beginning of a new waiting game.  If you have any questions about the process, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

8 thoughts on “Anatomy & Timeline of a Cancelled American Airlines Award Ticket (LGA-DFW-SNA)

  1. Patrick Griswold

    My understanding is that you can’t cancel award tickets on-line if your have more than one passenger on your itinerary. I needed to cancel several award tickets with multiple passengers and decided to call. Once I spoke to an AA rep the miles were redeposited by the end of that day and refunds were processed in a few days. Overall, I was really pleased with the response

    1. Grant Post author

      Hi Patrick, that makes sense. It would be helpful if the AA website said something like “To cancel award tickets with more than 1 passenger, please call AA customer service.” I’m pleased with the final result, but not very pleased with the time it took and the sporadic refund posting times.

  2. Connie

    The Airlines are fighting for their survival like every other business across the US. We all need to demonstrate patience and understanding during these challenging and difficult times.

  3. JackNYOC

    We had a similar experience in late March with AA award seat cancellations for our London-LA flight, but a bit speedier than yours. It is a bit more of a convoluted, multi-step process, but all worked out. The agent was very helpful providing info. and walking me through the necessary steps. We had to do the same for our UA award flights LA to London, but which was much simpler and faster. Literally within 48 hours miles the points were redeposited and refunds posted to my credit card. I was grateful they worked out as easy as they did…given the horror stories I’ve heard re: flight refunds.

    1. Grant Post author

      Wow, sounds like you had a very easy experience getting your airline miles and cash refunded. Sorry your trip to London didn’t work out, I flew LAX-LHR a few years ago on AA Biz and really enjoyed the flight.

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