PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Cary Westmark says he sure is glad he contacted 3 On Your Side. "Well, magically, American Airlines has figured out a good solution for us," Cary told 3 On Your Side.
In a previous news report, Cary explained how he had booked seven airline tickets to the Bahamas, where his family was going to rent a beach house. But because of COVID, the Bahamas closed its borders.
The Westmark family booked a vacation to the Bahamas, where seven of them planned on renting a beautiful house right on the beach. But then, COVID-19 hit, and in July, the Bahamas closed entry to all incoming flights.
As a result, American Airlines gave Cary two options, which was a full refund or option 2. "Option 2 was I could leave the tickets on the books if you will with the airline, and when the Bahamas opened back up we can just reschedule a new date for the new flights," he said.
Cary chose option two and let American hold on to his money. But when Cary recently tried to rebook the Bahama vacation, he says American Airlines told him they would have to charge him an extra $200 per ticket in voluntary change fees for a total of $1,400.
But remember, Cary isn't the one who canceled. "I would say to the supervisor that this wasn't a voluntary change. And she would say to me, I understand that, but I have to charge you for the change because it was voluntary. And I'm like; you didn't hear what I just said. It wasn't voluntary."
So, 3 On Your Side got involved and asked American to look into the issue. "Not even an hour after Gary Harper contacted American Airlines did they call me and worked out a deal," Cary said.
American Airlines sent 3 On Your Side an email saying despite what Cary says, he was told he was not being charged an extra $1,400 in "voluntary change fees."
Instead, the increase in price he was quoted was due to a fare difference, meaning airfare had gone up from when he initially booked it.
American claimed if Cary and his family would agree to return from the Bahamas a day later, then tickets would be even cheaper than when he initially booked. "Not only did we not have to pay the $1,400, but we actually got $400 back," he told 3 On Your Side.
Cary says he has spent hours arguing with American Airlines and is adamant that American representatives told him he was being charged "voluntary change fees."
Regardless, he says the issue was only resolved after 3 On Your Side got involved. "Yea, I think it's better than what I was hoping for."
Below is the statement from American Airlines regarding this issue:
To provide our customers additional flexibility, American Airlines has been offering travel waivers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing customers to keep the full value of their original tickets if they change their travel plans prior to the scheduled travel without incurring change fees. In addition, we eliminated change fees on all new bookings effective August 31. In both instances, however, fare differences do apply if there is a price difference for the new booking.
Our team reached out to Mr. Westmark to assist him with rebooking his travel and to clarify any misunderstanding. The increase in price he was quoted was due to a fare difference given his preferred travel dates. We look forward to welcoming him and his family on board for their trip to the Bahamas.