Will Amer­i­can Air­lines lend a hand to Boy Scouts?

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Christo­pher El­liott

A: I’m sorry about your can­celed Boy Scout event in New Mex­ico.

The tick­ets your travel agent booked for you were highly re­stricted, and Amer­i­can Air­lines was ab­so­lutely within its rights to charge you a change fee and then ex­pire your tick­ets a year from the ini­tial date of your book­ing. That’s how it works for ev­ery­one else with these tick­ets. To pro­tect you from sched­ule changes, your travel agent could have rec­om­mended travel in­sur­ance or a more ex­pen­sive but less re­stricted ticket.

Here’s what you have go­ing in your fa­vor: You have a group reser­va­tion, and air­lines of­ten will bend rules for a group, par­tic­u­larly a group with a char­i­ta­ble pur­pose. The eco­nomic cir­cum­stances of the Scouts and their par­ents is prob­a­bly a less-com­pelling ar­gu­ment, at least from Amer­i­can’s per­spec­tive. As both a for­mer Boy Scout and a sin­gle par­ent, I’m sym­pa­thetic to your case. But as I said at the be­gin­ning, Amer­i­can’s rules are clear. You can ask for an ex­cep­tion, but you should not ex­pect any­thing.

To make your best ar­gu­ment, hone your mes­sage and make it brief and un­emo­tional. You’re do­ing this for a good cause, and a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter pre­vented you from reach­ing your des­ti­na­tion. Your tick­ets will have zero value if you wait for the Philmont Scout Ranch to re­open. Plus, you’re trav­el­ing as a group. You can send a brief, po­lite email to one of the |

I’m writ­ing on be­half of Boy Scout Troop 130 in More­head City, N.C.

We post­poned a trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch for 13 Boy Scouts and six adults be­cause of wild­fires in New Mex­ico. I have an ex­ec­u­tive or­der is­sued by the state of New Mex­ico declar­ing an of­fi­cial state of emer­gency due to the Ute Park fires. As it turns out, Philmont ac­tu­ally can­celed all ex­pe­di­tions for the sum­mer of 2018.

Our travel agent has made at­tempts to ne­go­ti­ate with Amer­i­can Air­lines, and the air­line is will­ing to waive only the cost of the change fee ($200 per per­son). We are very ap­pre­cia­tive of this, but this will not help our sit­u­a­tion, as the tick­ets must be used within one year from the date of is­sue (May 29).

The Philmont Scout Ranch does not open un­til June, and our newly as­signed camp ex­pe­di­tion for 2019 has been resched­uled for June 26. All the funds for this trip were raised by Boy Scout fundrais­ing. Each of these Scouts “earned his way” dol­lar by dol­lar, and it took over two years for them to ac­com­plish their goal.

We are dev­as­tated at the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing to can­cel the trip due to not be­ing able to af­ford a re­turn trip. We have sin­gle par­ents on lim­ited in­comes, and this was a trip of a life­time for all trav­el­ers. We would be very ap­pre­cia­tive for any help you can pro­vide to us. Amer­i­can Air­lines ex­ec­u­tive con­tacts. I list their con­tact in­for­ma­tion on my con­sumer-ad­vo­cacy site: www.el­liott.org/com­pany -con­tacts/amer­i­can -air­lines/.

It turns out that an­other par­ent had al­ready tried to con­tact Amer­i­can twice to see if you could get those vouch­ers ex­tended, so I agreed to give it a try. Amer­i­can agreed to reis­sue 19 vouch­ers, valid for a year from the date of is­sue. Have fun in New Mex­ico.

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