When things go wrong with the airlines I’ve turned to the DoT to complain and have had good results. They have a convenient online complaint form here if you ever need it.
A couple of months ago, after delaying our outbound flight and forcing us to fly to NYC, American cancelled our return flight from NYC to Cleveland.
I called Iberia for a refund of my Avios at least 2 dozen times, probably more. Sometimes they promised a refund would be coming, sometimes they said we took the flight, most of the time they said I reached the wrong department and that I had to hang up and try again as they didn’t have the ability to transfer me to the right department.
I Tweeted Iberia and they wrote back that I needed to email them.
I emailed Iberia and they wrote back that I needed to call them.
I Tweeted American and they said to go pound sand.
So I filed a DoT complaint against Iberia and American and waited.
Iberia wrote back that we took the flight, which was impossible as it was cancelled. American wrote back to deal with Iberia as we used their miles. Eventually the DoT put them together and American told Iberia that they did cancel the flight and that we didn’t use the tickets.
Iberia needed a certified letter from American stating this, and eventually American got this to them.
Iberia has now finally refunded the miles, though they said they still need to investigate about a refund of the taxes paid.
Meanwhile though, the promotional Avios officially have to be used by December 1st!
I have nothing that I need to book currently, so I transferred the Avios to British Airways.
You can combine points via this link via the BA site. Sometimes that link doesn’t work so you can also try this link on the Iberia site to combine points.
Will Iberia claw back the Avios from BA? Will Iberia put my account into a negative balance and/or ban me?
I have no idea, but I guess I’m about to find out!
What will you do with your Iberia Avios?
This wasn’t the first time the DoT helped me out of an jam with a cancelled American flight.
When American had the nerve to cancel our flight to London, strand us overnight in JFK, lose our baggage, and refuse to cooperate in providing a refund, the DoT stepped in and took care of business. It took a good amount of time, but it was resolved in the end.
The DoT also helped me cancel an American award ticket for free after the electronics ban went into effect, as that materially changed the flight.
I recommended filing DoT complaints against Southwest when they changed their terms overnight to stop allowing hotel mileage transfers to count toward companion pass. And sure enough, Southwest relented and honored the deal for another 3 months.
After Delta’s epic $50 first class tickets to anywhere in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii, some people with reservations that weren’t ticketed were able to get them honored thanks to the DoT.
Alitalia offered a coupon that made tickets from JFK to Israel under $400 round-trip and then cancelled the tickets by adding terms to the coupon used. I recommended contacting the DoT and Alitalia decided to honor them in the end.
JAL offered the cheapest option to fly Emirates Shower Class, but last November they stealthily added $1,700 in fuel surcharges without warning to that redemption option.
People who transferred Starpoints to JAL were left holding miles that were effectively devalued without notice. JAL refused to waive the fuel surcharges or return their Starpoints. Generally speaking, once you transfer points to an airline, they are stuck there.
I recommended that people complain to the DoT.
DDF member “rileywiles23” wrote to the DoT back in November. It took 2 months, but JAL responded that they will indeed refund his miles back into Starwood Starpoints.
Several other readers booked Emirates First Class tickets with fuel surcharges after transferring points before there were fuel surcharges and the DoT had JAL refund those as well.
Have you filed a DoT complaint? Share your results in the comments!