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American Airlines Delay Compensation & Refund for Canceled Flights

American Airlines made the news recently for getting the largest-ever fine for tarmac delays, but in Cirium’s February 2024 report, the airline showed a 7-point improvement in its on-time performance ranking. They moved to the 3rd place position with 84.43% on-time performance.

Meanwhile, from the published DOT stats, American Airlines had an overall on-time percentage of 76.46% for 2023, with 125,338 delayed flights in total. But what does this mean for you as a passenger? What recourse do you have when you have flight disruptions with AA? Read on, because we’re going to explain your rights, compensation, and more.

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American Airlines Delay Compensation & Refund for Canceled Flights
Anton Radchenko
Reviewed by a licensed lawyer.
Last Updated: June 18, 2024

Your Air Passenger Rights

Even though American Airlines is a US carrier subject to the regulations of the US Department of Transportation, the airline must also comply with air passenger rights regulations in the regions it serves. This means that no matter where you’re from, you still have air passenger rights in the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Canada as well as in the US.

EU and UK Air Passenger Rights Regulations

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If you take an AA flight from any airport in the EU or UK, you will be protected by their regulations.

What is American Airlines EU261 Compensation?

We’re grouping the UK’s Regulation UK261 and EU’s EU261/2004 together because they are virtually identical and provide the same protections if your flight is delayed, canceled, or overbooked. EU261, also known as EC 261, is an EU regulation that was introduced in order to protect passenger rights.

Thanks to this regulation, it’s possible for travelers to make a claim for flight delay compensation or canceled flight compensation after an issue with their American Airlines flight.

What Flights Are Covered by EU261 and UK261?

AA flights that depart from an EU airport are eligible under EU261 and for UK261, that regulation covers American Airlines passengers as long as the flight departs from a UK airport. Simply put, any time you have an AA flight that departs from an EU or UK airport, you will be covered by one of these regulations.

Wondering about how much money you could receive from your EU 261 compensation claim? Here are the fixed amounts (converted to dollars from the original euros) for different lengths of flight.

  • Flights less than 1,500km - Approx. $260 per person
  • Flights that range from 1,500 and 3,500km - Approx. $420 per person
  • Flights in excess of 3,500km - Approx. $630 per person

So, let’s say you’re on a short flight from France to Spain, for example, then you’ll only be able to claim a relatively small amount.

However, if you’re on a much longer flight, like from Germany to California, for example, you’ll be able to claim the maximum amount!

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Canada

If you have an American Airlines flight to, from, or within Canada, then you are protected by the Canadian Transport Agency regulations that offer similar protections as the EU and UK for flight disruptions. So, if you have a flight delay, cancelation, or denied boarding situation you are protected by Canadian law regardless of your citizenship or country of residence.

United States

If you’re flying with American Airlines on a domestic US flight, then your rights are protected by the United States Department of Transportation. Interestingly, the US has no federal regulations requiring American Airlines or other carriers to provide their passengers with compensation for delays or cancelations.

They do, however, require airlines to compensate you for denied boarding situations where you’re involuntarily bumped from an overbooked flight. They also mandate refunds for canceled or significantly changed flights. Unlike the EU, UK, and Canada, American carriers make their own rules for compensating passengers, and what you get is mostly provided as a goodwill gesture.

Flight Delays

Flight Cancelations

Denied Boarding

EU and UK

Up to $650/€600 in compensation

Care & Assistance

Up to $650/€600 in compensation

Rebooked flight OR Refund

Care & Assistance

Up to $650/€600 in compensation

Rebooked flight OR Refund

Care & Assistance

Canada

Up to $1,000 CAD in compensation

Care & Assistance

Up to $1,000 CAD in compensation

Care & Assistance

Up to $2,400 CAD in compensation

Rebooked flight OR refund

Care & Assistance

United States

None

None

Up to 400% of your one-way fare or $1,550 USD (whichever is lower)

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American Airlines Flight Delay Compensation

American Airlines delayed plane under maintenance

The US Department of Transportation reports that in 2023, American Airlines had 558,717 departures. Of these, 125,338, or 22.43%, were delayed by 15 minutes or more. So, what can you expect from American Airlines if you have a delayed flight? The answer depends on where you’re traveling, how long you were delayed, and whether or not the airline is to blame for the disruption.

AA Flight Delays in the EU and UK

If your American Airlines flight departs from an EU or UK airport and is delayed, then you could receive financial compensation, care and assistance, and refunds. What you are entitled to depends on how long you are delayed and whether AA is culpable for the flight disruption. The table below will help you understand what you could receive.

EU and UK Delay Compensation

Length of Delay

Compensation

2 hours or more

Complimentary meals and refreshments

Access to communication

3 hours or more

Cash compensation up to $650/€600 (if AA is to blame)

Meals and refreshments

Access to communication

5 hours or more

Cash compensation up to $650/€600 (if AA is to blame)

Meals and refreshments

Access to communication

Full ticket refund

AA Flight Delays in Canada

In Canada, compensation requirements depend partly on the size of the airline and also the length of your delay. American Airlines counts as a large airline, so the following compensation reflects your entitlements for flight delays from, to, or within Canada on an AA flight.

Canada Delay Compensation

Length of Delay

Compensation

2 hours or more

Complimentary meals and refreshments

Access to communication

3-6 hours

Complementary meals and refreshments

Access to communication

Cash compensation ($400 CAD if AA is to blame)

Refund or rebooking

6-9 hours

Cash compensation ($700 CAD if AA is to blame)

Meals and refreshments

Access to communication

Refund or rebooking

9 hours

Cash compensation ($1,000 CAD if AA is to blame)

Meals and refreshments

Refund or rebooking

AA Flight Delays in the US

As we mentioned in the earlier section, the United States has no federal requirements for American Airlines to compensate passengers for flight delays. Instead, each carrier has its own policies.

However, if you have an hours-long delay on the tarmac, American Airlines will “make every reasonable effort” to provide their passengers with:

  • Crackers or biscuits
  • Water
  • Access to the bathroom
  • Medical attention if necessary

Additionally, in a new announcement from the DOT, the rules for passenger refunds due to significant flight changes have been established. Passengers can now apply for a refund if the departure or arrival time is changed by more than 3 hours for domestic flights and more than 6 hours for international ones. Significant changes also include:

  • An increase in the number of connections.
  • A change of one or both airports.
  • Instances of service class downgrading.
  • Connections at different airports or aircraft that are not as accessible.

When asked about this update to the refund rules, Pete Buttigieg, the US Transportation Secretary said:

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Passengers deserve to get their money back when an airline owes them - without headaches or haggling. Our new rule sets a new standard to require airlines to promptly provide cash refunds to their passengers.

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American Airlines Canceled Flight Compensation

AA flight - AirAdvisor

According to our research on the most reliable US airlines and data from the US Department of Transportation, in 2023, American Airlines had 4,619 flights canceled. That’s a cancelation rate of 0.83%, which is quite low. Not only that but during one of the busiest travel periods (December 20 to January 8), American Airlines operated 71,000 flights with 7.8 million passengers and only had 16 cancelations. (Business Traveler USA)

David Seymour, Chief Operating Officer at American Airlines said in a company statement,

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When customers purchase tickets on American, they place their trust in us to deliver a safe and reliable operation, and I'm proud to say that thanks to the hard work of our team members, we delivered on that commitment - despite holiday headwinds, including some challenging weather and increased air traffic control congestion.

While these numbers suggest a steady improvement in the airline’s cancelation rate, you can still expect to experience them from time to time. When you do, here’s what you can expect to receive from AA in different regions.

AA Flight Cancelations in the EU and UK

If you have an American Airlines flight cancelation in the EU and UK, the law requires the airline to assist you in getting to your destination as quickly as possible and to offer you care and assistance as well as cash compensation as long as extraordinary circumstances weren’t at play.

  • If American Airlines cancels your flight from an EU or UK airport with more than 2 weeks' notice, then you will not receive cash compensation.
  • If American Airlines cancels your flight with less than 2 weeks' notice, then you will be able to get up to $650/€600 in cash compensation as long as AA is not to blame for the cancelation.
  • If your American Airlines flight is canceled with less than 2 weeks' notice, they are required to offer you the choice of a rescheduled flight or a full ticket refund. You could get financial compensation as well.
  • If you accept a rescheduled flight that is delayed by 2 or more hours, then you are entitled to free meals and refreshments and access to communication.

If you accepted a rebooked AA flight, but it doesn’t depart until the following day, then the airline must provide you with:

  • Complimentary overnight accommodation
  • Transport to and from the accommodation
  • Access to communication
  • Meals and refreshments

The amount of compensation you get is calculated by the distance of your flight and the length of your delay. The following table will give you a better idea.

American Airlines Compensation in the EU & UK

Delay Time

Flight Distance

 

Flights under 1,500km

EU/UK flights over 1,500km

Flights between 1,500-3,500km

International flights over 3,500km

Over 3 hours

 $270 USD (€250)

 $433 USD (€400)

 $433 USD (€400)

 $650 USD (€600)*

Under 3 hours

 €0

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* American Airlines might try to reduce this amount by as much as 50%, but AirAdvisor always works to get the full amount.

AA Flight Cancelations in Canada

If your American Airlines flight is canceled in Canada, the airline is required by law to provide you with the following provisions:

  • Cash compensation of up to $730 USD ($ 1,000 CAD) if American Airlines is to blame for the flight disruption, and you are given less than 2 weeks' notice.
  • The choice of a rescheduled flight or a full ticket refund.
  • Complimentary overnight accommodation, if your rescheduled flight doesn’t leave until the next day, plus transportation to the accommodation, access to communication, and complimentary meals and refreshments.
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It’s important to remember that if the airline is at fault for the canceled flight then you could receive care and assistance, rebooking, or a refund as well as cash compensation.

American Airlines Compensation in Canada

Duration of Delay

Compensation Amount

3 to 6 hours

$295 USD / $400 CAD

6 to 9 hours

$515 USD / $700 CAD

9 or more hours

$730 USD / $1,000 CAD

AA Flight Cancelations in the United States

When you have an American Airlines flight cancelation in the US, the airline has no contractual obligations for its passengers except to reschedule you on the next available flight to your final destination.

American Airlines says they will try to seat you in the same seating class as your original booking, but if they can’t or if you aren’t happy with any of their alternate flights, they will offer you a refund for the “remaining ticket value”. Additionally, they will provide hotel accommodation if they are at fault for the canceled flight, and if your rebooked flight doesn’t depart until the next day.

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Some passengers who experience a flight cancelation make the mistake of securing a hotel stay without American Airline’s approval. As a result, they don’t get reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses. So, if you have a cancelation and you’ve accepted an AA rebooked flight that doesn’t depart until the following day, make sure that you get written authorization from the airline before you make a hotel reservation.

Similarly, if the delay or cancelation is beyond American Airlines’ control and caused by extraordinary circumstances, then they will not pay for a hotel, meals, or refreshments. In fact, their contract of carriage states:

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If the delay is beyond our control or you book your own arrangements without written authorization from American Airlines, you’re responsible to pay for your hotel, meals, and other expenses.

If you feel intimidated about submitting a flight compensation claim with an airline as big as American, you’re not alone, but that’s why AirAdvisor is here to help. Our legal team has been defending passengers’ rights since 2017, so we know what it takes to secure the compensation you’re owed. Plus, we only get paid if you win your case! Check to see how much compensation you can get with our free compensation checker.

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Denied Boarding with American Airlines

Passengers can be denied boarding for many reasons, but if your American Airlines flight was overbooked, and you're involuntarily “bumped” as a result, then you will be protected in the EU, UK, Canada, and even the US.

But how often are passengers denied boarding because of overbooked flights?

According to the US Department of Transportation, American Airlines had 6,764 instances of involuntary denied boarding out of 147,514,287 enplaned passengers in 2023.

To put this in perspective, during the same period, Delta had no instances of involuntary denied boarding out of 148,562,283 enplaned passengers. So, while this is a fairly uncommon occurrence, you’re more likely to encounter this situation when you fly with AA.

You might be wondering why airlines overbook flights, to begin with. Here’s what American Airlines says:

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We do this because historical information shows that some people do not cancel their reservations when they change their travel plans. Overbooking is done in the best interest of both customers and the airline. Without the revenue produced by filling seats that would otherwise go empty, every airline would have to compensate by raising fares.

Check our experts guide to find out what are your entitlements for Denied Boarding with American Airlines.

Missed Connections

If you miss a connecting flight because of an American Airlines delay or cancellation, then you will be entitled to the compensation offered for the given flight disruption we discussed in the earlier sections.

For example, if you missed a connection in the EU, UK, or Canada because of an earlier AA delay, then you will be offered a replacement flight, cash compensation (if AA is to blame) as well as care and assistance according to the laws of each region.

In the US, AA will try to book you on the next available flight to your final destination.

Denied Boarding with American Airlines

What are Extraordinary Circumstances?

We’ve mentioned in earlier sections that extraordinary circumstances will exempt American Airlines from paying you cash compensation. But what does this mean? It means that if a flight disruption happens despite AA’s best efforts or total inability to prevent it, then it is attributed to extraordinary circumstances.

Here are a few examples of what can be considered situations outside the airline’s control.

If you’re wondering how you can tell when extraordinary circumstances have affected your flight, just ask the airline or airport staff what caused your flight disruption, then see if other flights in the airport are similarly affected.

You can also let AirAdvisor handle your compensation claim process for you. We can do all the hard work, including finding out if your delay or cancelation was caused by American Airlines or by factors outside their control.

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All you have to do is submit the application and wait for the compensation to be received.

How To Fill Out an American Airlines EU261 Claim Form

The forms are usually available over on the official American Airlines website, although they sometimes don’t work or can be hard to track down. To find the contact info for AA complaints related to travel disruptions, go to the Contact Us section and select “Compliments and complaints,” then “Complaint,” then “Delayed/canceled flight.” You’ll need to fill in a bunch of details in order to submit the form.

What if the AA Form is Not Working?

Filing a claim with the airline directly can be a really long and tedious process for a lot of people, and many travelers just give up and miss out on a lot of money. This is especially true when the form is giving you an error message or just not working at all. If you’re looking for an easier option, you can choose to work with the airline compensation experts at Air Advisor.

Why You Can Trust AirAdvisor

  • We operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, meaning we only get paid if you get paid.
  • More than 250,000 passengers have turned to AirAdvisor to get them the compensation they deserve
  • We have an outstanding 98% win rate as well as 7 years of experience protecting air passengers’ rights.
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People Also Ask

How do passengers file a compensation claim with American Airlines?

To submit a compensation claim for an AA flight disruption, you will need to send an email to AmericanAirlinesCustomerRelations@aa.com. You can also do this via their web form. Be sure to include as much supporting documentation as possible including boarding pass, photos of information boards, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses. You can also use AirAdvisor and let us take care of the claims process for you.

What are the rules for American Airlines EU261 compensation?

In the event of a travel disruption, such as a delay or cancelation, passengers are entitled to up to 0 USD (€600) for the inconvenience. This is in addition to the right to care (meals, phone calls, etc.) during the interruption, and a refund in case the flight is canceled.

Are babies and children eligible for flight compensation with American Airlines?

Yes! If you purchased a ticket for your child, then they are eligible for compensation.

If AA cancels a flight, what happens to the checked baggage?

If you have a canceled flight, then AA will either forward your checked baggage to your final destination or send it back to you via the baggage carousel. You can also claim American Airlines compensation for delayed, lost, or damaged baggage.

 

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What happened with American Airlines clients

Recent Comments

Eunice from United Kingdom (American Airlines AA 20 Flight delay)
April 13, 2024, 3:06 pm

Coming from Dallas with American Airlines instead of BA which I had previously booked. Getting to Heathrow to connect to another BA to Nairobi, American Airlines could not Land stay inthe air for a long time causing delays for 10hrs waiting to be rebooked to another flight.


Nick from United Kingdom (American Airlines AA 39 Denied boarding)
April 9, 2024, 2:46 pm

Advised by American Airlines customer service that we could orgmanise ESTA at the airport pre flight this was incorrect advice and we were unable to board.


Madeline from United States (USA) (American Airlines AA 6724 Flight cancellation)
April 6, 2024, 12:35 pm

My flight was cancelled the day before at 4:30 pm. I was rebooked on a flight for 5 hours later.


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