AeroMexico canceled my flight. I want a refund, not a ticket credit

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By Christopher Elliott

AeroMexico cancels Patrizia Azzellini’s flight and offers her a ticket credit. She’d prefer a refund. Who’s right?

Question

I recently booked a ticket on AeroMexico from Sacramento, Calif., to Sao Paulo, Brazil, with two stops in Mexico. 

 The airline canceled my flight three weeks later and rebooked me on a different flight. The new itinerary added a ten-hour stopover and no longer met my needs, so I asked for a refund.

I called AeroMexico three times to ask for my money back. Although the representatives were very friendly, they were unable to help me. When I ask for a supervisor, there was never one available.

AeroMexico has given me two options: Either I accept a flight voucher or I take the new flight. But I thought when an airline cancels a flight or makes substantial changes to someone’s itinerary, I’m entitled to a full refund — even for nonrefundable tickets. Can you help me? — Patrizia Azzellini, Sacramento, Calif.

Answer

You’re correct, if an airline cancels your flight, you get a refund. That’s a Department of Transportation (DOT) regulation. And not only that, but the airline must reimburse you within a week if you paid by credit card, which you did.

Ah, but wait — does that apply to an AeroMexico flight to Mexico City? As a matter of fact, it does. DOT regulations affect any commercial aircraft operating in the United States, regardless of destination.

Airlines would prefer you accept their new flights or a ticket credit. And you certainly can do that if you want. But you don’t have to. We had a problem with airlines pushing vouchers on passengers during the pandemic. Airlines said they couldn’t offer refunds because of “extraordinary” circumstances. But the DOT would not allow that and reminded airlines that they were required to offer refunds.

AirAdvisor is a claims management company. We fight for air passenger rights in cases of flight disruptions all over the world. Our mission is to ensure that air passengers are fairly compensated for the inconvenience and frustration caused by delays, cancellations, or overbooking.

It looks like you tried to call AeroMexico to resolve this. Then you sent a formal request in writing — first through the airline’s website and then to one of the executive contacts at AeroMexico that I publish on my consumer advocacy website. The airline ignored you.

Asking for a supervisor in a phone call rarely works. Chances are, they will pass you off to a colleague pretending to be a supervisor and tell you “no” in a hundred different ways. 

You also told an agent that you would take legal action against AeroMexico if you didn’t get a refund. I understand your frustration, but if you do that, your complaint may get routed to the airline’s legal department, which is often a dead end. (Related: Do I really have to pay for this airline ticket twice?)

I have some more tips on my site for resolving an airline complaint. Remaining calm and polite and reminding the airline of its requirements under the law would have been more effective than threatening a lawsuit.

You could have also filed a complaint with the DOT. The agency would have contacted AeroMexico, and I’m sure you would have had a refund quickly. 

But none of that was necessary. I reached out to the airline on your behalf, and it agreed to refund your ticket.

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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. He is based in São Paulo.

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