A one-year wait for an Air One refund

Question: I’ve been having trouble getting a refund from a flight that was canceled. I bought a ticket through CheapOair for a nonstop flight from Chicago to Milan for $670. A few months later, I got an email from them that the flight had been canceled.

They offered a substitute flight that was in no way comparable, so I called them and requested a refund. They said I had to take it up with the airline, which was Air One out of Italy, so I called them and they said no, that I must request the refund through CheapOair.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United. If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

I then spent about an hour on the phone with CheapOair, explaining my situation over and over again with different agents that I was transferred to. Finally I spoke with someone who confidently said, yes, it would be no problem for me to get a refund, but that it might take up to 12 weeks.

More than three months later, I still hadn’t received my money, so I called the CheapOair agent I had spoken to before and no one seemed to know who she was. I spent another hour being transferred from person to person at CheapOair and the consensus with them was, “What refund? You need to request that through the airline.”

So I spoke with someone at Air One again and they very firmly repeated what they had said before — that they would definitely provide a refund but that the proper channel was through CheapOair. Many phone calls and many hours later I still had gotten nowhere with CheapOair.

It’s now been almost a year since I first asked for a refund. Help! — Dani Lind, Soldiers Grove, Wis.

Answer: CheapOair should have helped you get a quick refund from Air One. As your travel agent, CheapOair should have advocated for you, rather than sending you directly to the airline for help.

One of the reasons you buy airline tickets from a third party like an online or offline travel agency is that they stand behind your purchase, offering to act as intermediaries when you need help. A good travel agent would have helped you fill out a ticket refund request and kept the pressure on Air One to send you the money.

I’ve been mediating these kinds of refund cases for a while, and I’ve noticed that it takes longer and longer to process refunds. It doesn’t help that you were dealing with Air One, which at the time was part of troubled Italian carrier Alitalia.

You shouldn’t have tried to contact CheapOair by phone. A refund request is almost always better handled by email (remember the paper trail!) and it will save you time, too. Here’s how to get in touch with the online agency.

Another option is a credit card dispute. True, you only have 60 days to dispute a credit card charge by law. But many credit cards will go to bat for you even if it’s been longer than that. Simply put, Air One didn’t give you the product that you were sold, so you might have had a strong case for a successful credit card dispute.

The other options — which are long shots — are taking CheapOair and Air One to small claims court. I say “long shots” because technically, neither company is keeping your money. The airline is just taking its time with your refund.

I contacted CheapOair on your behalf. After a considerable amount of back-and-forth between you, the agency and the airline, and another three-month wait, you received a full refund.

4 thoughts on “A one-year wait for an Air One refund

  1. Make the airlines pay a healthy interest rate on the amount they owe.  As it is they make money holding on to our money.  Take that incentive away and I bet they would be sending those refunds overnight!

  2. hi. i have waited 9 months for a refund from cheapoair and nothing! they even took the money for the cancellation fee too! I am now paying heavy interest charges becuase i cant pay off the creidt amount on my visa care. they are giving me the run-around and i wnat justice. This is insane to wait a 9 month period for a refund. and if i didn’t keep phoning everyday they would have just kept the money. i am never using their site again of course, but i want my money back . this is fraud! please help.

  3. The ‘online fare websites’ simply take the information from the central clearing house and present the information.  Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, Priceline etc etc generally ALL have the same fares – want to prove it?  Go to Kayak.Com = check ‘all’ in the box as to where to go – and you’ll pull up all of the same fares on the same airlines – if for some reason there is a fare that is significantly less than the others- try to buy it – I dare you.  Its a bait and switch. 

  4. The travel ‘AGENT’ is guess what?  The AGENT of the airline.  They possess the authority to accept funds and forward the funds to the airline.  Thus – they also possess the authority to get the funds back as the AGENT of the carrier – the reason ‘cheapoair’ or substitute any fare website for them – did not do it is because it takes effort and human time [which is money] to keep track of the process.  They don’t want to make the effort or expend the money to do anything other than sell you something . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: