Beaches vacation goes bust, but how about that ticket promise?

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By Christopher Elliott

Jen Knight’s family was looking forward to an all-inclusive vacation in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, until the resort sent her some bad news: Her hotel, Beaches Boscobel, would be closed for renovations.

A Beaches representative verbally agreed to rebook the family at a sister property, Beaches Turks and Caicos. She was also told the company would cover the difference in airfare as well as the fees for changing their tickets from Jamaica to Turks and Caicos.

Case closed? Not quite.

It turns out that neither of the airlines on which she’d booked various family members — JetBlue and Airtran — flies to Turks and Caicos, nor do they codeshare with anyone who does. But both airlines will allow them to cancel their reservations and receive a credit for the value of their flights that must be used within a year, less applicable change fees.

That’s when she hit a snag.

When I called the Beaches agent back to let her know the final tally of the change costs, she told me that Beaches will cover the difference in airfare between what I paid before and what I will have to pay to buy new tickets, but that it will not reimburse me for the change fees because I am flying on a different airline than the one on which I had originally booked. If I had originally booked on an airline that served both Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, they would cover the change fee as well as the difference in airfare.

Now, the resort at Turks and Caicos is much nicer, and Beaches is paying us a substantial amount for the increase in airfare. But this still strikes still as unfair. My family is going to be out $425 because of a change Beaches made, and only because I happened to book on certain airlines and not others.

Am I being unreasonable in expecting them to pay the change fees in this circumstance? I am awaiting a call back from the supervisor to discuss this issue further. Is there anything else I should do?

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My advocacy team and I don’t think Knight’s request was unreasonable, but her methods left something to be desired. As far as I could tell, all communication with Beaches had taken place by phone. That means Beaches could deny anyone offered her anything, because there was no written proof of its initial offer.

I have received complaints about Beaches before. I recommended that she put her request for a refund in writing and begin a paper trail, which she did. Knight sent a thoughtful, polite and well-reasoned letter to Beaches. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

Here’s how it responded:

Thank you for your recent correspondence in reference to the two reservations above.

We would first like to thank you for your patience in receiving this response. We are happy to inform you a refund in the amount of $1,058 for booking #5999023 and $1,321 for booking #5999009 is being processed to the credit cards on file, the amounts should be reflected in your account in the next four to six business days. We look forward to hosting you at one of our resorts in the not too distant future.

I love a happy ending! Remember, start a paper trail and stay off the phone. Your case may move a little slower, at first, but you’ll be happier in the long run.

(Photo: Ro b In h00d/Flickr Creative Commons)

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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.

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