I fainted at the airport, and then I lost my vacation

When Beth Langston faints at the airport and is taken to the hospital, her nonrefundable trip to London is the first casualty. Is her refund DOA? Read more “I fainted at the airport, and then I lost my vacation”

“How can they leave you stranded in a foreign country like that?”

Debi Garlick’s Panama Canal cruise from San Diego to Miami on the Celebrity Infinity seemed to last forever. That’s because the cruise line showed her the cabin door halfway through the cruise, while they were docked in Cabo San Lucas.
Read more ““How can they leave you stranded in a foreign country like that?””

Why won’t US Airways refund my change fees?

US Airways promised Kirkland Clarkson that it would refund her fees, but it hasn’t. Did the airline misspeak? Or did Clarkson misunderstand?
Read more “Why won’t US Airways refund my change fees?”

My sister is in the ICU – can United Airlines keep my money?

When Patricia McConkey’s sister ends up in the intensive care unit, she has to cancel her cruise. Royal Carribean offers a full refund, but her airline pockets all of her money. Can it do that?

Question: My husband and I booked a Royal Caribbean cruise for last March. But before we left, my sister was taken to the intensive care unit and put on a ventilator. I have power of attorney, and the family was called in, and there was some decisions that I had to make.

On March 7th, I called both the cruise line and United Airlines, and asked for a refund. The cruise line refunded our fare (thank you, Royal Caribbean) but I just received an email from United saying it would not do anything for me.

They told me my ticket was non-transferable and non-refundable. I thought they might do something for me, considering that this was a medical emergency. Is there anything else I can do? — Patricia McConkey, Northfield, Ohio

Answer: I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. You could have certainly done without the additional stress of canceling your vacation and then worrying about a refund. It’s a good opportunity for your cruise line and airline to show some compassion.

It was exceptionally generous — and, I should add, highly unusual — for Royal Caribbean to offer a full refund under these circumstances. Normally, if you’re outside the cancellation window and you don’t have any travel insurance, you’re outta luck.
Nice work, Royal Caribbean.

I’m puzzled by United’s response. Normally, an airline would offer a ticket credit if you cancel a flight before leaving, which you did.

In reviewing your paperwork, it seems United was confused by the fact that you were asking for a full refund, and after it rejected the claim, it also tagged you as a “no show” for the flight. In effect, you lost your entire airfare because of it.
United should have said, “No, but you can get a ticket credit” when you asked for a refund. It appears the airline sent you the wrong form response.

In a situation like this, you can appeal to the airline, but you have to know what to ask for. A ticket credit might have allowed you to use the money (minus a change fee and fare differential) on a re-do of your cruise, if you have the time for it. You can find the names of United’s customer-service managers on my site. Its email addresses are formatted as firstname.lastname@united.com.

I contacted United on your behalf. It offered you a full refund.

Should United have refunded Patricia McConkey's fare?

View Results

 Loading ...

Note: If you leave a comment here, please also consider visiting this column on the Orlando Sentinel site and leaving a column there. As you know, I’m switching syndicates, and the Sentinel is on the line about renewing the Travel Troubleshooter. Every click matters. Every comment counts. Thank you!

Charged an extra $400 for a vacation I can’t take

Yoga mats, reinterpreted. / Photo by christianyves – Flickr Creative Commons
Question: I recently booked a retreat to Costa Rica through a yoga studio in New York. Just before I was supposed to leave, I was admitted to the emergency room and had to cancel my trip.
Read more “Charged an extra $400 for a vacation I can’t take”