American Airlines announces hurricane policy after charging Arizona woman $200 fee

SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. - Shari Harvey, a woman from San Tan Valley, wants to know why American Airlines didn’t do more when she had to cancel her trip to St. Martin in the Caribbean.

She had a stay at the Royal Palms Resort planned for Oct. 6-13. The resort has since announced its closure, which will last until at least April 2018.

"Now we don't have a place to fly into,” Harvey said, explaining she was concerned she’d have to pay a re-booking fee even though the airline wouldn’t be able to fulfill the service she paid for.

The Princess Juliana Airport is reportedly “half flattened,” and Harvey asked an airline representative last week if the re-booking fee would be waived because of the storm's devastation.

"She said 'Absolutely not,'” Harvey recalled, “and I was taken aback."

The answer changed four days later. American waived the fee.

As tickets tend to do, Harvey said prices went up, more than what the original re-booking fee was, over those same four days.

She said it cost her more than $600 more to reroute her vacation to Mexico with American.

Now she wonders if airlines are trying to make an extra dollar off the natural disaster.

"I understand having to make money,” she said. “Shame on any airline that puts more stress on anyone having to deal with [the devastation directly]," explaining she’s at least grateful her vacation is optional but that countless people call it home.

The airline told 12 News a special policy has been put in place for Saint Maarten and other Florida and Caribbean destinations that were hit hardest by Hurricane Irma.

Re-booking fees will be waived for all these destinations.

The airline also said it will honor the original ticket price the passenger paid for a future flight to the same destination between now and December 2018, assuming the original flight was planned between Sept. 5 and Dec. 31, 2017.

The airline said it tried to create a policy that was best for all passengers.

If passengers choose a new destination, as Harvey did, they must pay the difference.

Harvey said she didn’t expect any money back. She said she was not a satisfied customer, because she didn’t think it was fair to pay more to re-book for a shorter flight to Mexico.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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