What’s particularly galling is that you bought a last-minute ticket, the kind normally reserved for business travelers who are on an expense account. Those are usually twice as expensive as the advance-purchase tickets bought by everyone else, sometimes much more. Often, they are refundable — not that it makes any difference.
If an airline fails to operate a flight, it must refund your money. No “ifs,” “ands” or “buts.”
Instead of filing a credit card dispute, I might have taken it up the chain of command at American first. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of American’s executives on my website: http://www.elliot.org/contacts/american-airlines-2.
Even a cursory review of your case by a manager would have shown that American was in the wrong. Had that not worked, you could have appealed your case to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Aviation Consumer Protection Division, which could have helped the airline see the error of its ways.
A credit card dispute is a last resort for a refund problem like yours. It’s a process that appears to be fairly automated, and it generally favors the airline. For example, if your ticket is nonrefundable and the flight isn’t canceled, all an airline must do to prevail is show the credit-card-dispute department its fare rules, and it wins.
I contacted American Airlines on your behalf. A representative investigated your claim and blamed the refund problem on an “agent error.” American refunded your ticket.