‘Am I in some kind of bureaucratic travel hell?’

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By Christopher Elliott

Peggy Kite’s flights from Washington to Bozeman, Mont., are rescheduled by her airline, leaving her with an abbreviated connection time – and an expanded bill. Specifically, there’s a charge of $1,534 on her bill. How does she get that removed?

Question

Last year, I booked a flight from Washington to Bozeman, Montana on US Airways, through Travelocity. About a month later, US Airways changed my flight schedule, leaving too little time for my connection in Denver.

Travelocity worked with the airline to make the change so that I could take a later flight to alleviate this problem and there was to be no charge. But when my credit card statement arrived there was an additional charge of $1,534 for this same flight.

I have reached out to Travelocity multiple times through calls and emails, and I continue to be informed that US Airways is causing the delay. I have contacted US Airways and am getting nowhere. My credit card company informed me that claiming non-authorization for the charge would result in the cancellation of my flight.

Am I in some sort of bureaucratic travel hell? What can I do to get this refund? — Peggy Kite, Charlottesville, Va.

Answer

You shouldn’t have incurred an additional charge to rectify your flight. Travelocity should have worked with US Airways to address your needs.

According to the airline’s contract of carriage— the legal agreement between you and US Airways—you have the entitlement to receive a new ticket to your destination “without additional charge.” If the airline can’t get you to your destination, “US Airways may attempt to rebook the customer on the next available flight of another airline with which US Airways has an agreement allowing the acceptance of each other’s tickets,” according to the contract.

Travelocity’s “guarantee” makes similar assurances. It promises to look out for you “all trip long,” adding, “Everything about your booking will be right, or we’ll work with our partners to make it right, right away.”

Unexplained charges and resolution from Travelocity

It’s unclear why an additional $1,534 was charged to your credit card. It seems that your initial ticket was canceled. A second one was booked at a higher rate without your consent. That’s highly unusual.

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

I would have promptly written to Travelocity to report the overcharge. If there was no response, I would have contacted US Airways. By the way, questioning your credit card charges with your bank might have prevented the cancellation of your new tickets. Formal credit card disputes take a long time to work their way through the system. You probably would have used the ticket long before US Airways had a chance to cancel it. (Here’s how to get a refund on a nonrefundable airline ticket.)

I suggested you contact Travelocity for help, in writing. You did, but despite appealing to the highest level at the online agency, it couldn’t make the refund go any faster. (Related: Travelocity refund problem: Where’s my$4,000?)

I asked US Airways to have a look at your case. It refunded the charge for your second 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 Panamá City.

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