Expedia said it refunded my airline tickets, but it didn’t. What should I do?

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By Christopher Elliott

Keith Dawe has been waiting since 2020 for Expedia to refund his airline tickets. But neither the online agency nor his airline can find the missing money. Where is it?

Question

I need help getting a refund from Expedia. I booked two roundtrip Air Transat tickets from Toronto to Paris through Expedia back in 2020. I had to cancel the flights. Under the refund rules during the pandemic, Expedia said I could get my money back. Expedia said it would process the refund in a matter of weeks.

I waited a few months, but the refund never showed up on my credit card. Then I contacted Expedia in early 2022, and they told me to contact Air Transat for my refund. I did, and an Air Transat representative said the airline had already sent my refund to Expedia. 

I’ve contacted both Expedia and Air Transat on numerous occasions since then, and I’ve also asked my credit card company for help. It says there’s no record of a refund from Expedia or Air Transat. 

I would love to get a refund. Can you help me? — Keith Dawe, Toronto

Answer

Expedia should have refunded your money three years ago. I believe this is a new record for the longest airline refund case. (Congratulations, Expedia!)

Air Transat is a relatively small charter airline, so that might explain the initial delay. But at some point, Expedia should have taken ownership of this problem and helped you get a refund. Instead, it looks as if you bounced between Expedia, Air Transat and your credit card company for years. Literally, years. You must be exhausted. (Here’s our guide to booking an airline ticket.)

Who’s responsible for your airline ticket refund? Your agent or your airline?

When you buy an airline ticket, the booking source matters.

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  • If you purchased your ticket through a travel agency, the responsibility for processing a refund typically falls on the agency. However, a travel agency may defer to the airline if the airline hasn’t refunded the agency yet.
  • If you booked directly with an airline, then it is usually accountable for issuing refunds. Again, that may not always happen. In 2020, airlines cited “extenuating” circumstances involving the pandemic as a reason they could not issue refunds or could only offer ticket credit.
  • Here’s an easy rule to remember: The company that took your money is the one that should return the money. Any mention of an airline not refunding the agency first or of special circumstances, is absolutely irrelevant to you. They took your money; they should return it. (Related: This is how to fix an Expedia booking mistake.)

Bottom line: Companies like to take your money and refund you with excuses. Fortunately, the Department of Transportation this morning announced a new rule that would require airlines and ticket agents to issue prompt and automatic refunds, so hopefully, that will change soon.

The very complicated truth about your refund

So what happened? It looks as if Air Transat may have refunded part of your purchase with a check, which looks like it was for taxes and fees. That left an outstanding balance of about $1,002. Air Transat claims it sent the money to Expedia, but Expedia said it never received the money.  (See? What did I say before?)

But as I’ve already mentioned, when you buy an airline ticket through an online travel agency, it is responsible for the refund. It doesn’t matter if the airline refunds it or not. So if Expedia says you’re entitled to a refund, and it promises to process a refund in a few weeks, it’s on Expedia. (Related: Hey Expedia, where’s our airline ticket refund?)

You were way too patient with your airline and online agency. You should have received the promised refund promptly, and if not, you should have filed a credit card dispute to recover your funds. (Related: Expedia owes me a flight refund. Instead, I have a credit — on Qantas!)

I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Expedia executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief but firm email to one of them might have motivated Expedia to find your missing money.

My advocacy team and I contacted Expedia on your behalf. In response, the company apologized and admitted there was “an error with the refund.” 

“The refund has been processed,” a representative said. Expedia also added $200 worth of points to your loyalty account as an apology for the delay.

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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.

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