Rich Conforti said he is a frequent traveler and usually uses the same airline.
"I fly with American Airlines all the time," he said. "Sometimes for work, a lot for personal."
In June, Rich was booked on American Airlines Flight 2333 from Miami to Philadelphia. When the airline canceled the flight a few hours before departure because of weather at its destination, Rich said he first checked the different rebooking options that popped up on the airline's app.
"But everything they can rebook me on, it connects through Charlotte, Cincinnati and there's these very long layovers and I'm not going to get there until extremely late or the next day," he said. "I needed to be there Saturday so it wasn't going to work."
Rich said he tried calling customer service and "…every time I called American I got the message – which was crazy – 'we have a high call volume, call back later.'"
Rich then went online and found a direct flight, on the same airline, leaving out of Fort Lauderdale. He paid $276 for that last-minute flight but thought he would be able to get a refund for it later. Rich had used award miles to pay for the original flight so when he finally reached someone by phone a few days later, he had what he thought was a simple request.
"I said, can you refund me back for the second flight I had to purchase and keep the skymiles?" he said he asked. He said he received the following response: "No, you got the skymiles back from the canceled flight but you have to pay for the flight that you booked."
Frustrated, Rich called NBC 6 Responds.
"I don't want free flights," he said. "Why not just, whatever I paid for the first one, make it for the second."
American Airlines told us that since Rich "…booked a separate ticket not associated with his canceled flight, we refunded him his ticket, which was booked in the form of AAdvantage miles". The airline added: "We encourage our customers to use one of our options to rebook – or cancel and request a refund – on another flight, as we do not issue refunds to customers who book a new reservation on their own."
American Airlines told NBC 6 Responds their system will automatically rebook a customer on the next available flight to their destination, but if they want to see other options, they should always either try to reach a customer representative over the phone or go to a rebooking station at the airport.
In the event of a cancelation or extensive delay, American said customers can always cancel their itinerary and request a full refund.