Pacific Coast Airlines canceled my flight — so where did my refund go?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Pacific Coast Airlines canceled Eric Holman’s regional flight in Canada, he expected a quick refund. So why didn’t that happen?

Question

Last year, I booked flights through Expedia on Pacific Coast Airlines, a regional carrier, from Vancouver to Bella Coola, B.C. The airline canceled the flights after the COVID-19 outbreak, and it agreed to refund our airfares.

I believe Pacific Coast Airlines sent the refund to Expedia right after it canceled the flight. But despite repeated efforts, Expedia says the airline didn’t send the money. I have a receipt and email confirmation from the airline that says they refunded the money to Expedia. Can you help me? — Eric Holman, Sudbury, Mass.

Answer

I love British Columbia, and I’ve always wanted to try heli-skiing in that part of the province. I’m sorry you had to cancel your trip during the pandemic. Fortunately, because Pacific Coast Airlines canceled your flight, you’re entitled to a full refund. Both the airline and Expedia agree on that.

Refunds can take time, especially during a once-in-a-generation pandemic. But this doesn’t look like a delay. As I review your paper trail — and good job with keeping detailed records on this — it seems as if Expedia has offered you a refund but then failed to send it.

How do you fix something like this? First, check with your credit card to ensure you didn’t receive the money from somewhere else. For example, your airline might refund your tickets directly to your card, bypassing your travel agency.

If that doesn’t yield any results, then you have to go back to both the agency and airline to find out who has the money and what they’ve done with it. By the way, the Elliott Advocacy research team lists the names, numbers, and email addresses of Expedia’s executives in our database that you can access from the top of our homepage.

So where is your refund for the canceled Pacific Coast Airlines flight?

But your case was a little complicated. After Pacific Coast canceled your flight, an Expedia representative initially told you that it didn’t have your money but that the airline had approved a refund. But when I asked Expedia about your case, it appears the airline only approved a flight credit, which was issued to you. Then, a few months later, the airline approved the refund request and processed the refund. (Related: Will I ever see my refund from Pacific Holidays?)

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Expedia suggested that you check with your credit card. But the money wasn’t there. (Related: My flight never made it to Lima. Why won’t American Airlines get my refund approved?)

So what happened? Well, it turns out that when you asked your credit card about the refund, it initiated a dispute of the charges. So when the airline tried to return the money, it found that the original purchase had been disputed. That gummed up the works on your refund.

As Michelle, Elliott Advocacy’s executive director, points out in her article on how to use credit card disputes the right way, you never want to initiate a chargeback unless you have something to dispute. But after you clarified that you were only asking about the status of your refund, rather than disputing the purchase, the refund appeared in your account.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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