“We got there by following your advice to just keep trying, be polite and firm”

Martha Mauser did all it by herself. She had a case — a good case — and she advocated it on her own.

I love stories like hers, because they show that the proven techniques we offer on this site — sometimes referred to as the Elliott method — can solve almost any problem.

“We got there by following your advice to just keep trying, be polite and firm,” she says.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance. The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

So what went wrong? Well, strictly speaking, nothing.

Mauser and her family had planned a trip to England this Christmas. The plan: fly from Boston to London on Virgin Atlantic and then catch a five-day cruise on the Queen Elizabeth. Brrr.

Joining the group were her mother, daughter, brother-in-law, husband and son, Angus.

“Angus joined the Army Reserve last year and trained as a combat medic,” she says. “His unit in New Hampshire knew they were being deployed, but he was told he was not going because he had not been with the unit long enough. At the last minute, his commanding officer substituted Angus for another soldier. He left for an estimated eleven-month deployment in July.”

The Mausers decided to invite her brother to join the group. Cunard made the switch with no fuss. But Virgin was another story.

“They would not change the ticket,” she says.

Airlines don’t change the names on tickets. It’s just not done, for a variety of reasons that have a lot to do with revenue and a little to do with security. I won’t go there today.

“The only thing they offered was a ticket he could use within a year. My travel agent suggested I try petitioning Virgin, which I did,” she says.

Her first stop? A brief, polite email through Virgin’s site.

“They told us that since the ticket was purchased through a third party, that was where we had to go for assistance,” she says.

Next, they appealed to one of the Virgin executive contacts. The Mausers asked for a full refund of Angus’ ticket, a total of $1,323. And with good reason. Mauser’s brother had purchased Angus’ seat. Literally.

It didn’t seem fair.

Now, I realize some of you reading this will say, “Oh, but it was fair. Mauser agreed to the airline’s terms. Rules are rules.”

Trust me, you’re wrong. It wasn’t fair.

Mauser didn’t give up. She politely refused to allow Virgin to throw her agent under the bus. She did not take “no” for an answer, no matter how nicely Virgin stated it. Angus would not be able to use the Virgin credit and the airline would simply pocket the money, and that was wrong.

But it looked as if Virgin would not change its answer. That’s when she got in touch with our advocacy team.

Before we had a chance to review the case, Mauser contacted me with a resolution.

I wanted to follow up on this and let you know that after I sent you my request for assistance, and before I filled out your form, Virgin decided to work with us and process the refund. We are very happy that it was finally resolved.

Well, that’s awesome.

Many of you, dear readers and industry employees, believe we publish this site to show everyone how great we are (and don’t forget the great hair!). That’s so untrue. I mean, except for the hair part.

In fact, we publish it to show how great you are. My favorite cases are the ones where you, the customer, use the information at your disposal to fix a problem yourself. And that’s exactly what Mauser did.

Kudos to her — and here’s hoping she and her family have a great Christmas cruise.

Should Virgin have refunded Martha Mauser's ticket?

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10 thoughts on ““We got there by following your advice to just keep trying, be polite and firm”

  1. Great resolution. I hope that the airline’s decision was based on the fact that the change of plans was not because of a whim but because of job related responsibilities that prevented the trip. Seems like a good policy for although probably complicated to administer, i.e., how do you prove that your job is mandating a change in plans.

    Also curious about whether the fact they had another person ready to take the seat (versus just getting a refund) helped, and the overall timing, i.e., how far in advance of the trip did this all play out.

    1. This isn’t the same as job related responsibilities. A normal person can choose to quit their job and still go on the trip. Not a pleasant option, but still free choice of movement. A person in the military can’t choose to not show up. I’d they take that track they are AWOL and subject to arrest.
      It’s apples Vs oranges.

      1. I was thinking of a broader exception. Lots of jobs can have sudden and unexpected inflexibility that affect travel plans. Not sure how one would go about documenting.

  2. The son’s ticket should have been refunded immediately because he was under military orders. Perhaps the family confused the issue by offering to ‘substitute’ the brother, which no airline will let you do. They should have pursued the son’s refund as a separate issue and just bought a new ticket for the brother.

  3. Virgin did the right thing but they should have done it right up front; military orders should always be an exception to the rules. Very happy to read about this success story. We’ve had several OPs come back with their own success stories on the forum over the last few weeks … polite, persistent, patient often works. Sailing across the Atlantic at Christmas boggles the mind … but they’ll probably have a ball on the ship as long as they don’t go out on deck.

  4. I’m willing to bet she didn’t actually do it on her own, but when she wrote your advocacy team she copied the email to Virgin, and they caught that and decided to take the safe and positive PR route.

    1. Right. The unit, under orders, was deployed (so it must have been mobilized as these units do not just go somewhere of their own volition) and unfortunately one member who was supposed to go did not because of whatever reason and the Commanding Officer selected Angus to take his place.

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