I canceled my flights within 24 hours. Why hasn’t Expedia refunded the tickets?

Kengo Tashiro books two flights using Expedia which he cancels within 24 hours. He should be entitled to a refund, but several months later he still doesn’t have one. Why?

Question: My flight reservation on Expedia was canceled under the 24-hour full refund policy, and a representative promised that refund will be made within eight weeks.

However, more than three months have passed and this refund has not been delivered as promised. Can you help me? — Kengo Tashiro, Philadelphia, Penn.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the prompt refund to which you’re entitled.

The language is clear in the explanation of consumer rights on the U. S. Department of Transportation’s website.

Airlines must either allow you the passenger to hold a reservation without payment, or cancel a booking without penalty for 24 hours after the reservation is made if they make the reservation one week or more prior to a flight’s departure date.

The language is equally clear about how quickly the airlines must make that refund.

For purchases made with a credit card, airlines must forward a credit to the your credit card company within seven business days after receiving a complete refund application when a refund is due. For purchases made with cash or checks, airlines must provide a refund within 20 business days.

There are two factors that may have complicated the refund process in your case. You purchased your tickets through Expedia, adding a third party to the process, and you used a debit card.

When making travel reservations for airlines, rental cars or hotels, we highly discourage using debit cards. This is especially true when making these reservations through third party platforms. The system travel companies use for holds and refunds causes many issues when dealing directly with your bank account.

Also, when using credit cards your available bank funds are not tied up while awaiting resolution on issues such as this, and you are provided additional protections under federal law. On top of all that, many credit cards provide travel benefits, such as trip interruption or rental car insurance.

Expedia told you it would take up to eight weeks for your refund to appear in your account. I don’t understand why a refund should take that long, and apparently even that timeline had been exceeded when you wrote to us.

You might have tried making your case up the corporate ladder using the contacts at our advocacy website.

Our advocates contacted Expedia on your behalf, and we’re pleased to hear that their customer service team has reached out to you to confirm the refund is in process and apologize for the inconvenience this experience has caused you. I don’t understand the foot-dragging, but it looks like you will finally receive your refund.

Dale Irvin

Dale Irvin is a semi-retired writer and editor, now living in south Florida after three years roaming around North America in an RV. You can read about those adventures at fabulousfifthwheel.com.

  • Noah Kimmel

    I would be really curious to learn what Expedia and others do with their cashflow. Sure they make money on comissions, but they have huge cash flow benefits with agreements that let them hold customers money for quite some time.

  • BubbaJoe123

    “When making travel reservations for airlines, rental cars or hotels, we highly discourage using debit cards.”

    You can drop “When making travel reservations for airlines, rental cars or hotels” from this. Unless you’re incapable of controlling your spending without using a debit card, there’s no good reason to use one.

  • Lindabator

    they pay the airlines directly, so no “holding” of monies – they just need to ensure the refund is properly requested, and follow up to see what theee airline responds

  • Bill___A

    There should be a rule about how long refunds can take, 8 weeks is far too long.

  • jim6555

    “I don’t understand the foot-dragging, but it looks like you will finally receive your refund.”

    I understand why Expedia is foot-dragging. It’s called float. If you have refunds due to thousands of customers and can delay paying the amounts due for several months, that money can sit in a bank account and earn interest for Expedia. There should be some teeth put into the rule that requires that the refund be made within 7 or 20 business days (depending on the for of payment). I propose that the airline or online travel agency shall be be liable for the amount to be refunded plus 15% annual interest payable from the day after the refund request was made. If that happens, there will be few complaints on this site about providers not processing refunds.

  • Maxwell Smart

    everything would be much simpler & therefore cheaper if no refunds ever, whatsoever. Why is there a 24 hour rule in USA ? Don’t think any other country has such a silly rule.
    The 24 hour rule only applies if ticket originates in USA doesn’t it ? So if you buy 2 x one ways. One USA to overseas, it’s refundable within 24 hours, but the other way around is not.

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