Budgetair’s new travel itinerary doesn’t work for me — how about a refund?

When Joshua Menang’s travel agency changes his itinerary, he asks for his money back. The agency promises a partial refund but then fails to deliver. Can our advocates help him?

Question: I have a problem with Budgetair.co.uk and I desperately need your help. I found two cheap airline tickets this summer from San Francisco to Cameroon. I am a humanitarian worker with little money.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb. Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Budgetair emailed me weeks afterwards, changing the itineraries to new ones that do not fit my plans. I requested full refunds of both tickets but they said that they can only refund one. Since then, they have not refunded the ticket and are not answering my calls. They seldom reply to my emails. I need to rearrange my travel and am on a tight budget. Can you help? — Joshua Menang, Yaounde, Cameroon

Answer: This is a strange case. Normally, online agencies don’t change your schedule; airlines do.

Or do they? I searched our records to and stumbled upon an almost identical case involving, of all companies, Budgetair. Sadly, that case was never advocated. In retrospect, we should have — the poll on the article urged us to get involved. (The reporter who wrote the story is no longer with us.)

That made our advocates wonder if something else was going on here. Could Budgetair be fiddling with the schedules, perhaps in an effort to keep their customers’ money or to land them on a cheaper, comparable flight?

As our advocacy team reviewed the paper trail between you and Budgetair, we could see the red flags flapping in a gale-force wind. Budgetair first said the tickets couldn’t be refunded. Then they said the tickets hadn’t been issued and were partially refundable. Then they went into radio silence.

Well, what’s it going to be?

It’s pretty clear to us that something is not quite right with this situation. For the record: When an airline changes your flight, you have two choices: either a full refund or a flight of the airline’s choosing. There’s no partially refundable. It’s all or nothing.

If Budgetair didn’t issue the ticket yet, it should have promptly refunded it — no questions asked.

This time, instead of soliciting our readers’ opinions on a Budgetair case, we found the nearest phone booth and did a quick costume change. We contacted the company on your behalf. It issued a full refund of your ticket, as promised.

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