Flying in circles with Air Canada and LIAT. Will this case ever be resolved?

When Michelle Frederick’s flight from St. Vincent to Port of Spain is two hours late, it threatens to delay her return home by a week. Thank goodness LIAT has offered to refund her ticket. Now, if it would only do what it says.

Question

My partner and I would like to kindly request your help in obtaining a refund from LIAT airlines for missing our connecting flight from Trinidad and Tobago to Toronto, Canada, due to a two-hour delay of our first leg from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

After our late arrival in Trinidad, we were sent to a hotel to spend the night with the promise that we would be placed on the next available flight on any airline the next day. When we returned to the airport the next day, a LIAT representative told us we would be rebooked on an Air Canada flight leaving Trinidad one week later.

We could not afford to extend our vacation by another week. We had to purchase seats on an American Airlines flight in order to complete our travel to Toronto.

Before leaving Trinidad, we contacted a LIAT supervisor at the airport. He informed us that it was company policy to give us a refund for the flight that we missed. He documented our situation on an itinerary he printed at the terminal and signed it as proof of our situation.

We submitted a refund request to the airline’s customer relations department. A representative promised us a reply in “a few weeks.” But a few weeks later, we had no response. The only official feedback we have received from LIAT is an email acknowledgment of our refund request. Can you help us get the refund we’ve been promised? — Michelle Frederick, Sanborn, N.Y.

Answer

Trying to get from St. Vincent back to Toronto was a real odyssey for you and your partner. LIAT made things worse by first promising you a refund and then dragging its feet.

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Why the delay? I contacted Air Canada and found that your ticket was issued by Air Canada, but it used LIAT for part of the journey. Air Canada deferred to LIAT for the refund, since a LIAT representative had promised you the money. It’s a little complicated.

This kind of finger-pointing is common in the airline industry. If you don’t mind a small diversion from our flight plan, allow me to say this: Airlines love to act as one when it’s convenient for them (the technical term is “code-sharing”), but when it’s inconvenient, they pretend they’ve never heard of each other.

You kept a great paper trail of correspondence between yourself, LIAT and Air Canada. That’s so important when you’re trying to resolve a case like this. I also love the fact that you noted the name of the LIAT supervisor who offered a refund and got that promise in writing. Should I be worried about my job?

You could have reached out to the executive customer service contacts at LIAT or the executive customer service contacts at Air Canada.

After a little back-and-forth, Air Canada finally refunded the ticket.

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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