That’s not the ticket credit you promised me

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By Christopher Elliott

After a canceled flight, a merged airline and crossed wires with Expedia, Anoop Ramaswamy is the proud owner of a worthless airline ticket. Where is her ticket credit?

Question

I booked a roundtrip ticket from Buffalo, NY, to Chennai, India, on Continental Airlines, just before it merged with United Airlines. The reservation was made through Expedia. I completed the one-way trip but due to a family medical issue, I had to cancel the return. I called Expedia and requested a cancellation.

Expedia issued a cancellation, saying it would be in the form of an airline credit that would last a year. I called Expedia a few months later to use my voucher, but was told they couldn’t book the flight because of the merger with United. They asked me to call United directly.

I called United and they informed me that fare rule mentions that I can only book the same return flight and nothing else.

I called Expedia back and it admitted the representative who helped me cancel the ticket made a mistake by not informing me of the fare rules. Expedia offered to a $400 credit, but the ticket credit I had was worth $1,150.

A representative told me that’s all that she could do. I did accept it, but I detest the fact that they are making me pay for their mistake. Is there any way I can elevate the issue? — Anoop Ramaswamy, Buffalo, NY

Answer

Our advocacy team is no stranger to flight credit issues. Expedia should have told you about the fare rules when you called to cancel, of course. But in fairness to the online travel agency, the representative might have been confused about the fare rules. Or the rules were somehow changed after the United merger, which was consummated last year.

But Expedia doesn’t dispute your claim that it gave you the wrong information by phone.

The problem here, other than confusing fare rules, is too much time being spent on the phone. I know it’s convenient, but when you call an online travel agency, you’re needlessly complicating the issue. Remember, the only party that has any record of your conversation is the company. There’s no way to prove you spoke with someone, unless you’re recording the call. I wouldn’t want you to run afoul of your state’s wiretapping laws.

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands, including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Had Expedia sent you the fare rules, and had you reviewed them before you tried to make your next reservation, then this might have been avoided. Here’s our complete guide on airline ticket credits.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. A representative corroborated your version of this story, but added that the agency did try to advocate on your behalf with United Airlines, asking it to apply the credit to a different flight. The airline refused. As a sidenote, I think these fare restrictions are ridiculous, and perhaps the best way to avoid getting ensnared by them is to avoid booking one in the first place. But I know few travelers who bother to read the fare rules — they just see the price and book.

Expedia issued a refund for the remaining value of your flight credit.

Who's responsible for this mess?

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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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