A “gesture of goodwill” that took 15 months to receive

When Elizabeth McKelvey needed to cancel her flight on Virgin Atlantic, it gives her a waiver to rebook her ticket at a future date — but then won’t honor the waiver. Can our advocates help McKelvey secure a refund for the cost of her ticket?

Question: On Oct. 9, 2015, I booked a flight from JFK to London for May 2, 2016, to May 10, 2016. Unfortunately, this trip had to be canceled due to the fact my grandson developed a brain tumor and was scheduled for radiation treatment.

I submitted all the papers and received a waiver from Virgin Atlantic to rebook at a later time. I called back on Oct. 8, 2016, to rebook, and that is when the problems started. Expedia said they could not do it because Virgin Atlantic took back the ticket.

I went all through Expedia offices and got to their corporate office that said they had contacted Virgin Atlantic and would issue a refund. When I spoke to Virgin they said they have no documentation on this transaction.

I have been emailing Expedia for close to eight months on this problem. I think at this time they should just credit my credit card for the $1,396 they took on Oct. 9, 2015. At this point in our life we can’t travel to Europe due to my grandson’s condition.

If we can’t get a refund then we’d like a credit that could be used on Delta, Virgin Atlantic’s partner airlines. This way we could use it to fly domestic. Elizabeth McKelvey, Simsbury, Conn.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your grandson’s condition. I hope by now he is recovering.

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I’m also sorry about the runaround you’ve been getting from both Virgin Atlantic and Expedia. It’s the greatest company pastime of all: passing the buck.

You did the right thing by immediately canceling your flights. People who wait often get involved in family issues and forget to cancel their flights. Once the flight dates have passed, there isn’t much we can do to help.

When you initially canceled your flight, Expedia informed you that you had one year from the date you originally booked your tickets to rebook — until Oct. 9, 2016. When you called on Oct. 8, 2016, to rebook your flights, it should have been a simple matter. But for a reason that remains unexplained, Virgin Atlantic took possession of your tickets and Expedia said it couldn’t rebook the tickets for you.

You contacted multiple Expedia offices multiple times, receiving promises that the company would resolve the issue with Virgin Atlantic. When it didn’t, you could have used our Expedia contacts to escalate your case. Expedia never resolved the issue or contacted you to tell you why, and when you finally contacted Virgin Atlantic it said it didn’t have any record of the transaction.

After months of trying to resolve the issue you gave up on rebooking your flight and asked for a full refund. This was a request that Expedia couldn’t honor. While you originally booked your flights through Expedia, it wasn’t able to assist you with the refund. According to its Customer Service Portal, the rules that apply to a ticket are those of the airline, not Expedia.

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Virgin Atlantic has its own Conditions of Carriage that indicates that nonrefundable tickets only retain their value for one year, which had passed.

You could have reached out to the contacts we list for Virgin Atlantic on our website. Instead, you asked us to intervene, which we did.

After multiple messages to Virgin Atlantic, the airline agreed to refund the full amount you originally paid, but only processed a refund for $927. When both you and our advocates questioned the amount, the airlines said that the additional money would come from Expedia or Virgin Atlantic. A strange response, but no further explanation was given.

Another month and multiple messages later you finally received a promise from Virgin Atlantic that the full amount is being refunded to your credit card. I hope by now you have received it.

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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