Air France and American Express seem to be engaging in a conspiracy to rip off customers in contravention of EU law. This is really an upsetting story that may have ramifications in the United States if flight restrictions remain in effect for a longer period due to COVID-19.
Air France Won’t Refund Ticket After Flight Cancellation
A man purchased several Air France tickets for travel in 2020. His flights were cancelled. The passenger, who is an Air France Platinum member and spends thousands of Euros on Air France each year, contacted Air France to receive a refund. Air France refused, stating, “Due to the nature of the flight cancellations as per extraordinary circumstances, a refund is not currently offered.”
Here’s a screenshot of the Twitter exchange:
Seems like a perfect opportunity to call American Express and dispute the charge, right?
American Express France Won’t Initiate Chargebacks Against Air France
In France, American Express and Air France are partners. After Air France refused to refund the ticket for his cancelled flight (despite a clear and unequivocal mandate from the European Union to do so), the passenger reached out to American Express in France (he is not a U.S. cardholder) to initiate a dispute.
American Express refused. According to the passenger:
“So I just called the Platinum line. No refunds for non-refundable tickets. Period.
“I then called AMEX France to request a chargeback. They refused to open the case stating that they have been instructed, as Air France is a partner, to not open any cases.
All reimbursement cases have to be processed by AXA as an insurance claim.
“So now even AMEX Platinum is washing its hands. Unbelievable situation.”
(AXA is a French insurance company that underwrites insurance on many American Express tickets)
This represents an even more sinister shift in the game airlines are playing against consumers.
Credit card companies are supposed to have our backs, not the backs of merchants who prey on customers in an inherently weaker position. If this becomes the new norm, we will see a protest against credit card companies that will be even harsher than against the airlines.
Shame on American Express for playing this game. Look AMEX, you are aiding Air France in breaking the law by refusing to put pressure on them to refund a cancelled flight. The law is clear. Air France will lose. AMEX lose. But in the meantime, consumers are losing.