Refund-less after six months: “I feel as though we have been taken advantage of”

Everyone knows airline refunds can take a long time. But how long is too long? A month? Three months? Six months?

If you said more than half a year, then meet Haley Richards and her husband, Eric, who have been patient — very patient — with Mexicana Airlines and Travelocity, their online travel agent. And now they’re done.

Here’s what happened to the Richards: Shortly after booking their tickets from Denver to Oaxaca, Mexico, last spring, they got a call from Travelocity, telling them that their outbound flight to Mexico City had been canceled by Mexicana. The couple booked an alternate flight through their online agent. Or so they thought.

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On July 22, 2009, we arrived at Denver International Airport and attempted to check in for our flight with American Airlines. We were told that American Airlines did not have us confirmed for their flight. We were informed that Mexicana Airlines needed to re-issue our tickets.

Eventually, American Airlines insisted that the only way they would be allowed to board is if they paid an extra $527 for a one-way ticket to Mexico City, which, they promised, Mexicana would reimburse. The Richards felt they had no choice but to buy the new ticket.

We have pursued reimbursement for the $527 with both Travelocity and Mexicana Airlines since then, and neither airline will assume responsibility for the problem.

We have been advised repeatedly to pursue action with the other airline. We recently submitted a claim through the travel protection insurance plan that I purchased when I bought the tickets, but I am uncertain of whether or not this situation would count as a “trip interruption” according to the insurance policy.

I feel as though we have been taken advantage of to some extent, especially by the way that the airline and Travelocity seem to blame someone else. Clearly, the transaction was broken somewhere along the way when flights were changed.

I had a confirmation of tickets, and I had no reason to doubt that I was confirmed on any specific portion of our flight. I feel as though we are being penalized for purchasing the tickets to continue with our much-anticipated vacation, and we do not feel it is fair or good customer service to penalize us for a mistake that was not our doing. Essentially, we had to pay for that flight twice.

I agree that six months is way too long to wait for a refund, and that as her travel agent, Travelocity should have taken the lead in securing a prompt refund for the Richards. The couple might have considered sending a brief, polite email to a Travelocity executive, but I could see from their correspondence that they’d done everything they could, short of alerting the media.

I contacted Travelocity on behalf of the refund-less customers. A few days later, I heard back from Richards.

I received a call yesterday from Travelocity’s executive office, and they shared that they will be reimbursing me in full for the cost of the extra ticket I had to purchase. It is supposed to be credited to my credit card in the next three to five days.

The woman I spoke with mentioned your name, and she apologized for the lack of responsibility the consumer relations department accepted in my situation.

Thank you for contacting them on my behalf. It feels great to finally get reimbursed after seven months.

I’m glad Travelocity did the right thing — eventually.

(Photo: graymalkn/Flickr Creative Commons)