In February, Darren Martin booked two American Airlines award tickets for his parents between Boston and London Heathrow with a brief stop in Chicago. But two weeks after Martin booked, he learned that American had decided not to operate the first flight of the journey. And that was a problem.
Martin’s parents would miss their connecting flight to London and thus would not be able to reach London on schedule. Martin wanted American to make it right, to get his parents to London on that day without charging more fees or taxes. But American would not, and Martin was left with few good options for his parents outside of canceling the tickets.
So what did Martin do? He filed a 19-page complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“This complaint arises out of American Airlines cancelling its early-morning nonstop service BOS-ORD on which I had redeemed and ticketed two AAdvantage awards as part of a BOS-ORD-LHR itinerary,” Martin wrote. “AA then refused to provide alternative comparable transport unless I paid additional fees (repeatedly mischaracterized as “tax”), in violation of AA’s prior commitments to passengers and to the Department of Transportation.”
After a substantial discussion of the problem in which he goes as far as to cite Twitter direct messages with American, Martin asks the DOT to take action. Here’s just the first three things he wants DOT to do:
1. Exercise its authority under 49 USC 41712 to open an investigation of American Airlines for having engaged in, and continuing to engage in, the unfair or deceptive practices described above;
2. Order American Airlines to provide to the DOT and to me all notes, PNR annotations, call recordings, and other records prepared by its systems and its staff in the course of the discussions herein.
3. Pursuant to such investigation, order American Airlines to refund to ticket purchasers all monies represented to ticket purchasers as “taxes” or government-imposed fees, but not actually remitted to governments.
What do you think of Martin’s move? A futile waste of time? Or genius?
Here’s the complaint: