When dead airlines rise, where’s my refund?

It's alive ... maybe! / Photo by Carb B - Flickr
Duncan Fox saw a glimmer of hope when Mexicana Airlines recently announced it would return to the skies. Back in 2010, he’d booked a flight from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, but shortly before his trip, Mexicana filed for bankruptcy protection and then folded.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Why do I have to pay twice for the same ticket?

Question: I am hoping that you can help me with a current problem that I’m experiencing. My wife, 13-year-old stepson and 5-year-old daughter are taking our first big family vacation together to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

We booked the trip through Expedia a few months ago, but last week, when we reviewed our itinerary, we discovered that Expedia messed up my stepson’s last name (his is “Nielsen” while the rest of us are “Slain”).

We have contacted both Expedia and our airline, Mexicana, but the answer is the same: Because the ticket is nontransferable, they can’t make the change. Well, we’re not trying to transfer the ticket; we’re trying to correct a mistake. Every other piece of information that we entered about Bailey, including his middle name and date of birth, matches up. We simply want him to be able to use the seat that we bought for him.

Some friends that we have talked to say that this shouldn’t be an issue because my wife and I can use our IDs to check in, get boarding passes issued, and go through TSA without ever having to show our children’s passports. When we get to customs, they will check the passports but not the tickets we used to fly. What is your take on this? — Jared Slain, Mattawan, Mich.

Answer: I wouldn’t risk it. It’s true that kids’ IDs aren’t checked as thoroughly as adults’ — I just experienced that this morning while traveling with my family — but that doesn’t apply to international flights. While it’s possible your airline or TSA might let this slide, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Is this Expedia’s fault? I don’t think so. Since you booked the flights through its website, you would have had to type in all of the passenger names. You goofed.
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I had to pay twice for my flights to Mexico

Question: I booked two round-trip tickets through Travelocity from Chicago to Ixtapa, Mexico, almost two years ago. It was paid in full by credit card. Up until the time of travel, the airlines changed our itinerary many times, and Travelocity asked me to call to confirm the changes, which I did on all occasions. Each time, I was assured everything was in order. I even called two days before the trip to reconfirm our flight.

We arrived at the airport to check in at Mexicana for the first leg of our flight to Mexico City. The remainder of our flight was on Aeromexico. When we checked in, the Mexicana agent told us he could see our reservations, but that we needed paper tickets.

We had to purchase two one-way tickets from Chicago to Mexico City for $948. We had no choice, since we had a connecting flight in Mexico City. All I had were electronic tickets I received from Travelocity and Aeromexico, which they would not honor.

I immediately called Travelocity after our return and followed their instructions for getting a refund. When I received no response, I started to email them. It’s been more than a year since our flights, and there’s still no resolution to this matter. I’m at a loss for what to do next. — Colleen Farmer, Crystal Lake, Ill.

Answer: Your ticket should have been completely valid. When it wasn’t, Travelocity should have rebooked you on another flight without forcing you to buy a new one-way ticket, or to pay anything extra at all.
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“We knew something was wrong when there was no place to check in for our flight”

Flight schedules change. It’s a simple fact of life in the air.

But timing is important. If the flight is rescheduled before your departure, you normally have an opportunity to take another flight of your airline’s choosing or to get a full refund. If it’s canceled at the time of your departure, you’re entitled to more compensation.
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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.
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