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I am writing about the newly-opened routes to Mexico with US airlines, including the American Airlines flights from Miami (MIA) to Merida, as well as others on Delta and Southwest. The Merida route was supposed to begin Nov. 4, and sales of flights began months ago. Since Nov. 4, every single flight on this route has been cancelled.

I have a flight booked on this route coming up and my accommodations are now non-refundable. Does American Airlines have to get me to my destination, or are they allowed to simply cancel the flight and refund my money, leaving me scrambling to find an alternate way to Merida? And how close to the flight date do they notify me of the outcome?

I cannot get any answers from American, and I can find no news mentions or DOT info on what is happening with the newly approved agreement for flights into Mexico.

  • Are the AA flights from DFW landing in Merida? – Giorgio Nov 15 '16 at 18:09
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    Why can't you get any answers from American? Have you tried calling them? What did they say? – Michael Hampton Nov 15 '16 at 20:15
  • I have contacted AA and they have been mostly ignorant of the situation. I was actually told the flight were canceling because of weather on my first call. – Pamela McLean Dec 4 '16 at 20:14
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    I did reach out to the operating carrier and was sent this reply "Republic Airlines met all of our filings and deadlines with the DGAC (Mexican FAA) and we were approved operationally to fly into Merida. Once DGAC is approved, it then goes to the SCT (Mexican DOT) who issues the permit to operate into Mexico. At this time, we (and several other carriers) are awaiting the Mexican SCT to issue the permits. As soon as the Mexican government issues the economic route authority we will begin service. Unfortunately, we are unsure of their anticipated timeline." – Pamela McLean Dec 4 '16 at 20:14
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It's common for airlines to sell seats on new international routes with the caveat pending government approval or awaiting regulatory clearance or some such language if the paperwork is not finalized. American Airlines will have the first word and the final one as to whether and when those flights will operate or not— if they cannot give you an answer, neither can we.

I checked the flight status for AA MIA-MID flights, and from the looks of things, they are still holding out hope that the approval will come through at any moment. AA4717 is still showing on the schedule for Thursday, November 17, 2016. But indeed, all flightrs since November 4 have been canceled.

Uncertainty over whether a flight will operate will probably not be accepted as an excuse to make flight changes without fees, but you can always attempt to call them and try.


Once the flight is canceled officially— which apparently occurs only a day or two in advance— what AA will do is governed by their Conditions of Carriage, the contract you agreed to when you purchased the ticket, and by their Customer Service Plan.

Since the airline does not have control over regulators' decisions, or their pace of approval, they could invoke the force majeure clause readily.

American may, in the event of a force majeure event, without notice, cancel, terminate, divert, postpone or delay any flight or the right of carriage or reservation of traffic accommodations without liability except to issue an involuntary refund. The involuntary refund will be made in the original form of payment in accordance with involuntary refund rules for any unused portion of the ticket. American will also reserve the right to determine if any departure or landing should be made without any liability except the afore mentioned involuntary refund.

(emphasis added) In other words, their only obligation to you, legally, is to return the money you paid. As you note, if this official cancellation occurs the day before your departure date, your money will not go as far in obtaining passage, but those are the breaks.

In practice, when there is a hurricane or baggage handler strike or something else which forces a cancellation, the airline will usually try to reaccommodate you. The options aren't necessarily good ones— once, with my EWR-ITH flight canceled due to weather, I was offered 1) a flight to BUF, three hours from ITH; 2) a flight to ITH three days later; 3) a partial refund. In the event, I took the refund and paid for a bus ticket. You'll need to consider what you'll be willing to accept.

In that light, American might offer any of the following:

  • Rebook you on a MIA-DFW-MID flight (DFW-MID appears to be Saturday only)
  • Rebook you on a MIA-CUN flight, as Cancun is the nearest airport to Merida they actively serve
  • Reboook you on a MIA-MEX-MID flight (assuming their partnership with InterJet is still active, and InterJet is still operating MEX-MID), or MIA-DFW-MEX-MID, or some such
  • (rarely) Rebook you on some other airline that serves that airport, e.g. United or AeroMexico

If none of those work, they should issue you a refund.

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    Thursday's flight showed up as cancelled for me when I looked at it earlier today. Now it doesn't. – Michael Hampton Nov 16 '16 at 2:25
  • Unfortunately since I booked using miles, AA has informed me that they will not rebook me on another airline or any route with Aeromexico. I'm not sure if they will put me on an Interjet flight, but likely not. – Pamela McLean Nov 17 '16 at 20:47
  • @PamelaMcLean I'm amazed you were able to use miles on a new route. But checking now that it's the 17th, and the flight was indeed canceled, it looks like they're squeezing MIA-MID passengers onto all kinds of crazy double connections to get them on Saturday's DFW-MID flight— MIA-TLH-DFW, MIA-BHM-DFW, MIA-PNS-DFW, MIA-BNA-DFW… For example, 9:36p-10:59p MIA-JAX tonight, then tomorrow JAX-DFW at 11:49a-1:30p, then the 12:35-3:12p DFW-MID on Saturday. This might be your fate if you cannot get your flight changed to CUN or something. Sorry you are caught up in this. – choster Nov 17 '16 at 21:16
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Their responsibility is to get you from A to B or refund your money in full. They are not responsible for any other bookings you have made at the destination, nor any other trip preparation expenses such as visas, inoculations, etc.

If there are alternative routes on American and/or partner airlines, they will likely offer to re-book you on one of those routes. If they or their partners do not serve the destination city via an alternate route, they will simply refund your money. They are not required to re-book you on another carrier.

While you could try legal action for your non-refundable hotels, the "Pending Government Approval" statement is their way out. They have effectively told you up front that the flight is not guaranteed.

Government approval rarely happens on time and booking a new route shortly after it opens is always risky.

  • Thanks for the response. When I booked, AA assured me they would get me to my destination one way or another. Unfortunately the response I'm getting now differs as I booked this flight using miles, the new answer is that they will simply refund my miles and taxes. I found a woman today who is booked on this route for next week. When she logged into her booking, all seat assignments had disappeared, yet she had heard nothing from AA, nor had her flight been cancelled yet. – Pamela McLean Nov 17 '16 at 20:43

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