Is TAP Air Portugal finally sending the refunds it owes?

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By Christopher Elliott

By the looks of our complaint files, TAP Air Portugal owes plenty of passengers refunds right now. Sandra Einhorn is one of those unfortunate souls. She hopes we can track down the money the airline promised to send her months ago. Can we?

Question

In 2019, I booked seven roundtrip tickets from Miami to Budapest on TAP Air Portugal through Expedia. I planned to fly to Europe the following spring with my husband, two daughters, mother, and cousins.

In March 2020, a week or so before our scheduled departure, TAP Air Portugal canceled our flight because of COVID-19. I waited a few months before doing anything since I got an automated email about flight credit. And who knew when the world would open up again?

Eventually, time passed, life circumstances changed, and I knew that the seven of us would not be able to take that trip to Budapest anytime soon. So I began the process of trying to get a refund.

It’s been a year since I asked for a refund, and there’s still nothing from either Expedia or TAP Air Portugal. When I try to check my refund process, it either doesn’t have anything in the system or still shows a TAP Air Portugal credit.

I am exhausted from having to go back and forth between the two. Anything you can do to help me would be so much appreciated. — Sandra Einhorn, Hollywood, Fla.

Answer

TAP Air Portugal should have refunded your flights promptly since it canceled them. But like several airlines during the pandemic, it didn’t. Instead, it offered a ticket credit, which EU regulators eventually said was not allowed. Under existing EU rules, an airline must either offer a full refund or a credit for a canceled flight, no matter the reason for the cancellation.

By the way, TAP still hasn’t issued refunds for many tickets.

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The correspondence between you, TAP Air Portugal and Expedia is pretty confusing. It looks like Expedia believed TAP had resolved your case because you had asked TAP Air Portugal directly for a refund, so it closed your case. And, as is so often the case, no one was willing to take responsibility for your missing refund.

You might have asked for your money back a little sooner. It looks as if you waited several months to start the process. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes to get your money back. That’s just a general rule when it comes to my consumer advocacy. Waiting only benefits the company that already has your money.

You could have also reached out to executives at both companies.  We list the names, numbers and email addresses of the customer service managers at Expedia in our database. We also publish the executive contacts for TAP Air Portugal.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. It reached out to TAP Air Portugal, which refunded your ticket. Expedia also sent you a $50 certificate by way of apology.

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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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