If your daughter doesn’t have time for this, neither do we

Editor’s Note: We help a lot of travelers with a lot of different problems — everything from cell phone bills to computer problems, and from filthy rentals to canceled flights. But we do have limits on the cases we will take, and this case falls under one of those limits.

Elisabeth Gully and two family members purchased British Airways tickets through Webjet, an online travel agency (OTA). A few days prior to departure, Gully went to the emergency room at her local hospital — she was admitted for surgery and required continued care at home after being released.

Her flight was supposedly canceled with Webjet — her mother and brother used the tickets, as planned. Webjet apparently promised a refund of the cost of the unused ticket, but after sending the hospital records that Webjet requested, the refund was denied.

Gully could have contacted executives at Webjet, but instead she contacted us and asked for help — or so we thought.

We received a request for help from someone claiming to be Elisabeth Gully. The request included details of her medical conditions, hospitalization, the correspondence with Webjet, and the denial of a refund from British Airways. The correspondence continually indicated that the person writing the emails was Elisabeth Gully.

According to an email sent to the refund claimant from a Webjet representative, British Airways’ position was that the ticket was nonrefundable and no refund was due. Webjet even shared the email it received from the airline, which was succinct: “BA does not provide waiver for any reason. You will have to go by the fare rules.”

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Our advocates began researching this case and noticed two things of importance. First, all the references to the tickets were under the same record locator. When multiple tickets are included on the same record and one is canceled, the airline separates the ticket being canceled and assigns a new record locator. For whatever reason, it seems that the ticket for Elisabeth Gully was never canceled and British Airways probably recorded a no-show.

The conditions of carriage for British Airways tickets does provide for a credit on non-refundable tickets:

3e) Your rights if you are prevented from travelling by events beyond your control

  • you are a consumer.
  • you have been prevented from travelling by events beyond your control and
  • all or part of the fare for your ticket is non-refundable.

we will give you a credit for the non-refundable part of the fare. We will do this if you:

  • have a completely unused ticket
  • have told us promptly about the events beyond your control and
  • have given us evidence of these events.

The credit can be used for future travel on us by you or any person you choose. We may take a reasonable fee from the credit to cover our administration costs.

Had the ticket been properly canceled, Gully would have been eligible to receive a credit for a future flight. We don’t know if Webjet made a mistake in the cancellation or if Gully never officially canceled the flight because of the second thing our advocate noticed about this case: we weren’t actually working with Elisabeth Gully. The person who originally sent the request for help and with whom we had been corresponding was actually her mother, Katherina Gully.

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Our advocate explained that we have to hear directly from the consumer in order to help advocate a case. Our policy about cases we will not advocate is explained in our FAQs.

When we finally heard directly from Elisabeth Gully she told us:

My mother has recently been in contact on my behalf … regarding the cancellation of a flight in June. I am allowing her to discuss the course of action regarding that canceled flight with whomever due to the fact that it is difficult for me to email back and forth in a timely matter because of my work schedule. Thank you.

I understand having a busy work schedule but it doesn’t change our policy and we won’t work with a traveler’s mother, friend, or other third party. If Elisabeth Gully finds time to work with us directly we’ll be happy to help. Until then, there’s nothing we can do.

Michelle Bell

Michelle worked in the travel and hospitality industry for almost two decades. Born in Germany, she has lived in 15 states and two foreign countries, and traveled to more than 35 countries. After living and working in Southeast Asia for several years, she now resides in New Orleans. Read more of Michelle Bell's articles here.

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