After a multinational travel nightmare, who has my money?

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

I think Samuel Anderson-McCoy is trying to set some kind of record with his multinational travel nightmare. The paper trail runs 83 pages, which has got to be some kind of record.

And in the end, my advocacy team had to give him one more piece of paper — his walking papers.

We didn’t want to, but we had no choice. I’ll explain in a minute.

McCoy’s case is many things, but mostly it’s a cautionary tale about complex bookings, paying with a debit card and dealing with a non-U.S. travel agency. Bottom line: Don’t do this on your next vacation.

Let’s dive right into this multinational travel nightmare

McCoy, an American expatriate who lives in Abu Dhabi, bought airline tickets last year to Seychelles via Madrid through a British travel agency called Travel Up. The tickets, booked through Air Seychelles, were on Etihad and Air Seychelles.

When he arrived at the airport, an Etihad representative told him he didn’t have tickets. So McCoy called his travel agency in the U.K. to ask for help. An employee told him to buy new tickets, promising to reimburse him.

McCoy spent $6,061 for four one-way tickets.

And … you can probably guess what happened next. (Related: Stuck in Munich, but I need to be in Barcelona.)

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

“This could have been avoided by following our booking conditions”

When McCoy tried to secure the promised refund, his agency balked.

We have investigated your booking history and can confirm that all the tickets were issued correctly.

The flight had been cancelled by the airline. All the tickets were reissued and sent to your registered email address after the airline made schedule changes to your original booking.

I can also see on the booking that you had not re-confirmed your flights 72 hours before travel (which is a mandatory requirement of booking to stop any issues like this from happening). If you had reconfirmed your flights 72 hours before we could have rectified this for you and re-instated the whole booking.

Unfortunately on this occasion we will not be able to reimburse flights that you had purchased. I am very sorry, however this could have been avoided by following our booking conditions to reconfirm your flights.

So the agency is saying that because he didn’t “re-confirm” his flight 72 hours before his departure, he’s out of luck. That’s interesting. Isn’t that what travel agents are supposed to do? (Here’s what you need to do if your flight gets stuck or delayed.)

No recourse

McCoy checked with Air Seychelles, and here’s what it had to say:

Our records indicate that your booking was not updated in the system, it was automatically cancelled. As mentioned by the issuing agent, reconfirmation of the tickets would have helped in updating the booking.

In view that the tickets were not purchased with us, the sectors were not flown by Air Seychelles and the ticket numbers are not that of Air Seychelles I regret to advise that we are unable to refund the unused sectors nor the new tickets purchased.

In other words, Air Seychelles is throwing this back on the travel agent and denying a refund.

McCoy couldn’t dispute the charges because he paid for the tickets with a debit card. Even if he’d used a credit card, he would have probably lost the chargeback.

My advocacy team had to send McCoy’s case into our “dismissed” file. Here’s why:

✓ He didn’t have any record of a promise of reimbursement by his travel agency.

✓ He used a payment method that made a resolution virtually impossible.

✓ Difficult as it may be to accept, he didn’t follow the directions for checking in.

I feel terrible for McCoy. I wish I could have fixed this ticket for him. But this case is simply unsolvable.

Photo of author

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.

Related Posts