American Airlines Delayed Flight Compensation: What to Know

American isn't likely to compensate you unless your flight is delayed for a controllable reason (i.e., not weather).
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Published
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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Flight delays are frustrating. Whether it’s because of thunderstorms or an overbooked crew, the result is the same: You don’t get to where you’re trying to go.

It’s never pleasant when things go awry, but if you’re flying on American Airlines, you have some options. Let’s look at American Airlines delayed flight compensation, your rights and other things to know.

What to know about American Airlines delayed flight compensation

1. American Airlines may not owe you anything

Although the Department of Transportation (DOT) has regulations when it comes to flight cancellations and compensation, there isn't a similar ruling for flight delays.

Recently, airlines have begun to make clearer commitments to the type of compensation you’ll receive during a flight delay with one specific caveat: These apply only to controllable delays.

This means that airlines have only guaranteed to give you compensation when things such as missing crew or maintenance issues arise. It doesn’t apply to air traffic control or weather delays.

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2. Your credit card can reimburse you

Even if American Airlines isn’t willing to reimburse you for delays, there’s a good chance your credit card will. Many travel credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance, which includes trip delay insurance, trip interruption insurance, delayed luggage insurance and more.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card is among the best for complimentary travel insurance — simply because it provides so many protections. This includes trip delay insurance, which kicks in after a six-hour delay or one that forces you to stay overnight.

The protection caps out at $500 per person and will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of the delay. These expenses can include:

  • Meals.

  • Toiletries.

  • Lodging.

  • Medications.

  • Other personal use items you may need.

Importantly, credit card travel insurance can also cover more than one person. In Chase’s case, this means you, your partners and your legally dependent children up to age 26 are all covered as long as you charge a portion of the fare to your card.

3. There is more than one type of compensation

American Airlines offers more than one type of compensation if your flight is canceled or delayed. If your flight is significantly delayed and you choose not to fly, you’ll be entitled to a refund. However, the DOT has not specifically defined what constitutes a "significant delay," so this may be difficult to enforce.

For controllable delays, American Airlines has made a variety of commitments to its passengers, including the provision of accommodation and food vouchers.

4. The DOT dashboard outlines your rights

The DOT maintains an up-to-date dashboard for 10 airlines outlining your rights. This provides information as to what American Airlines has committed to providing if your flight is delayed or canceled.

Here is what American Airlines has committed to providing its customers in the event of a controllable delay:

  • Rebook you on a new flight in the case of significant delays.

  • Rebook you on a partner airline or an airline with which it has an agreement in the event of a significant delay.

  • Give you a meal or meal voucher for a delay lasting three hours or more.

  • Provide you with hotel accommodations for an overnight delay.

  • Give you ground transportation to and from your hotel for an overnight delay.

5. Delayed EU flights can compensate you

Although the DOT doesn’t have many protections for customers on flights, the European Union does. Under EU261, airlines are required to compensate you for delays on most flights from or through the EU. The regulation also requires airlines give compensation for disrupted flights headed to the EU from outside — if the airline is an EU airline.

The amount of flight delay compensation is based on the amount of the delay and the distance of your flight.

Flight length

Compensation

1,500 kilometers or less

250 euros (about $275).

Flights from 1,500 to 3,500 kilometers

400 euros (about $440).

Flights longer than 3,500 kilometers

600 euros (about $660).

Note that compensation is applicable only for controllable delays, such as mechanical issues. Severe weather or air traffic issues aren’t eligible for reimbursement.

6. You’re owed if you get bumped

Overbooking is a common airline practice. This means that airlines will sell more seats than they have in the hope that some passengers don’t show up. However, sometimes everyone does arrive and airlines are forced to bump passengers. They’ll first ask for volunteers; if there aren’t enough volunteers, they’ll then start bumping people involuntarily.

You have rights if you get involuntarily bumped from your flight. If you arrive within one hour of your originally scheduled arrival time, you won’t get any compensation. Any more than that, however, and the numbers start rising.

Depending on how long you end up delayed, the airline will owe you between 200% and 400% of the fare that you paid (note that there are maximums to this).

You’ll also be eligible for compensation if you were traveling on an award ticket and end up bumped. In this case, your compensation is based on the lowest cash, check or credit card payment charged for a ticket in the same class of service on your flight.

American Airlines delayed flight compensation recapped

There’s no good way to deal with a flight delay. This is true on any airline, American Airlines included.

However, if your flight has been delayed for a controllable reason, you may be entitled to compensation. Do your research, check out the DOT’s dashboard, and make sure you get what you’re entitled to when American Airlines makes you late.


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