A hurricane ruined his St. Thomas honeymoon. Now American Airlines is keeping his money

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By Christopher Elliott

When a hurricane ruins Evan Hasara’s honeymoon, he’s stuck with a $200 American Airlines cancellation fee. Can he get a refund from Travelocity or American Airlines? Does he even deserve one?


I had to cancel my honeymoon trip to Sugar Bay Resort and Spa in St. Thomas a few days before my departure in October because of Hurricane Irma.

I had booked the package through Travelocity. It included roundtrip airfare and hotel. But the hurricane damaged the resort and it won’t be open until sometime in 2018. I received my full refund for the hotel, but I was hit with a $200 American Airlines cancellation fee.

The tickets are supposed to be refundable. I’ve been trying to get a refund on the cancellation fee, but Travelocity says there’s nothing it can do and American refuses. Can you help me get my $400 back? — Evan Hasara, Milwaukee, Wis.


Congratulations on getting hitched. I’m sorry about the timing. Last year’s hyperactive hurricane season ruined so many vacations, including yours, unfortunately. Travelocity should have helped you secure a full refund for your honeymoon. And if it couldn’t, then American Airlines should have stepped up and done the right thing. I mean, come on. It’s your honeymoon!

But let’s talk about that for a second. You booked your special vacation through an online travel agency. That’s fine if you’re taking a quick getaway, but doesn’t your honeymoon deserve the white-glove treatment that only a personal travel advisor can deliver? You can find a list of qualified agents on the American Society of Travel Agents site.

A $200 American Airlines cancellation fee even after a hurricane? 

Still, Travelocity should have taken care of you. “For every step of the journey,” the site promises, “we’re here.” Specifically, Travelocity assures you that in the event of a weather threat or mass disruption, “We’ll work with our travel partners to make any necessary itinerary changes at the most reasonable cost to you.” And a $200 American Airlines cancellation fee is definitely not reasonable under the circumstances. (Related: The travel industry is lying about fees — and now it’s gone too far.)

I reviewed your paperwork, and it appears you were flying on a special ticket that could be changed, if necessary. My Travelocity contact read the fare rules differently, leaving little hope for you to get a refund. (Here’s how to get a refund on a nonrefundable airline ticket.)

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest-growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

A brief, polite appeal to one of the customer service executives might have helped. I list the names, numbers and email addresses for both Travelocity (owned by Expedia) and American Airlines on my consumer advocacy site. (Related: These “truly evil” charity scams follow every storm. Don’t get taken by them.)

I contacted American Airlines on your behalf, and it refunded your cancellation fees.

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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 Panamá City.

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