I lost my vacation. Can I get a refund from Travelocity?

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By Christopher Elliott

When Beth Langston faints at the airport and is taken to the hospital, her nonrefundable trip to London is the first casualty. Can she get a refund from Travelocity?

Question

I need your help with getting a refund from Travelocity. Last year, I booked a package online, flying from Washington, D.C., to London and staying at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London.

I passed out in the airport and was taken to the ER by ambulance. The airline kept calling from the gate while I was in the back of the ambulance and asked where I was, since they were waiting on me to board.

I didn’t have travel insurance, but it wouldn’t have mattered. I read Travelocity’s travel insurance policy, and if I understand it correctly, it would’ve covered me only had I requested a change in my flight 24 hours prior to departure. So I “decided” not to make my flight from a gurney with paramedics roughly an hour before my flight was to leave, so I’m not sure if that would’ve mattered.

I’ve asked Travelocity for a refund for the hotel and airfare. Virgin Atlantic won’t give me a ticket credit because I was a “no show” for the flight, and the hotel portion of my trip was completely nonrefundable. Is there anything else I can do? — Beth Langston, Alexandria, Va.

Answer

I’m so sorry to hear about your health problems. I’m glad you’ve recovered from your ER visit and are back to worrying about the less important things, like the fate of your canceled vacation.

Travelocity, Virgin Atlantic and the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London should have been sensitive to your situation, and based on the correspondence you showed me, they kind of were. Travelocity tried to advocate your case with the two companies; the companies responded with sympathy for your situation. Unfortunately, your airline and hotel also responded with hard “noes” — apparently without bothering to fully review your case.

Rules are rules, except when they’re not. While it’s true that your vacation was nonrefundable, travel companies are known to make exceptions when a customer can’t make it for reasons beyond his or her control. A sudden hospitalization or a natural disaster definitely fall into that category. (Related: A Travelocity typo triggers ethics crisis.)

Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

By the way, there’s a reason your package wasn’t refundable: If you don’t show up, your airline or hotel can’t easily resell your seat or room. Refunding you would result in a loss of revenue. When you booked your trip, you agreed to these rules.

But this situation was extraordinary. You literally passed out at the airport and couldn’t board the flight; Virgin Atlantic called you in the ambulance, and you told them you were en route to the hospital.

You could have sent a round of appeals to all of the companies. I list the names, numbers and addresses of the Travelocity executives (Expedia owns Travelocity) on my consumer advocacy website.

You can find Virgin Atlantic’s executives on the website as well.

I list the contacts for Park Plaza (owned by the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group) on this site, too.

Can she get a refund from Travelocity?

My advocacy team and I asked Travelocity to request that both of these companies review their decision one more time. Virgin Atlantic agreed to a full refund for your ticket.

Initially, Park Plaza refused to offer a refund or credit, noting that your rate was “highly restricted.” After a version of this story appeared in syndication, you circled back with the hotel. It turns out there was another reason for the hotel’s refusal: Travelocity hadn’t paid the resort.

Travelocity refunded you an additional $2,400.

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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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