Ticket refund on “hold” while travel agency squabbles with airline

Patience is a virtue. Particularly if you’re waiting for an airline ticket refund.

Lakia Harcum knows. She asked her online travel agency, Travelocity, for a refund after one leg of her recent flight was canceled. But the money wasn’t showing up in her account.

She explains,

My initial flight was cancelled due to the weather, so I was placed on a second flight that was also cancelled. I ended up paying $794 to fly to from Baltimore to Dallas on United Airlines. United managed to get me to Dallas without any issues.

Now, I am requesting a refund for the unused portion of my flight. I sent American Airlines an email and they told me that it was Travelocity’s responsibility to refund the money for my unused ticket. Now, Travelocity is arguing with American Airlines and I am just frustrated.

A review of American Airlines’ contract of carriage — the legal agreement between you and the airline — makes no mention of checking with a travel agent before issuing a refund. “If the ticket is partially used,” it says, “the refund will be the difference between the fare paid and the fare for the transportation actually used as determined by the applicable rules.”

Harcum was entitled to an immediate refund for her unused flight, but she might have been more successful invoking American’s contract and contacting someone at a higher level at both American and Travelocity.

Lengthy refunds are one of my pet peeves. The only winners during an intramural squabble like the one between Harcum’s agency and airline are the agency and the airline, who get to keep her money while they fight it out.

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A credit card dispute or a trip to small claims court would just slow down the process. So I contacted Travelocity on her behalf. A few days later, she offered the following update:

I heard from Travelocity. They are refunding the money for the unused portion of my flight. Thank you for help, I know this wouldn’t have happened without you!

Another happy ending. Thanks, Travelocity.

(Photo: mgrenner57/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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