Hey, what happened to my Expedia airline ticket refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

Dan Lachapelle is promised a prompt refund for his canceled Antigua vacation. But it’s been weeks, and there’s no sign of the money. Now his online agency isn’t responding to his queries. Will he ever see the money again?

Question

My wife and I planned a trip to Antigua this summer and purchased round-trip flights, hotel room and a kayak excursion through Expedia in December.

Everything was a “go” until we received a call one day in early April from an Expedia representative informing us of a change to our American Airlines flights. American had apparently changed quite a few flights to the island and, unfortunately, none of the changes worked for us.

The Expedia rep said that if we chose not to accept the changes for the flights that we could expect to see a full refund due to an “unacceptable” involuntary schedule change by the airline. After getting the rep to verify that we could cancel the hotel, excursion and flights at no charge, I authorized them to go ahead and cancel the trip completely.

The rep was able to instantly provide a refund for the hotel and kayak trip, but advised that the refund for the flights would take between four to six weeks to go through.

Six weeks later, having received no refund, I checked with Expedia. It informed me that it had already given me a refund, but it turns out it only was referring to the first refund. I emailed Expedia back to let it know that it got the wrong refund, but have not received a response yet. It concerns me that no one can seem to tell us when we will ever get the refund or why it has been held up for so long.

I am at my wits’ end with Expedia, Chris. Can you please help me get this resolved? My wife and I would be so grateful. — Dan Lachapelle, Sudbury, Canada

Answer

I wouldn’t be so quick to blame Expedia. Airlines are known to drag their feet when it comes to refunds, and my initial reading of your problem suggests American might have something to do with the delay, too.

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This is a common problem. You buy your tickets through an agency, and the agency takes your money. But if you want a refund — or something else, like a name change — then the agency defers to the airline. (Here’s our guide to booking an airline ticket.)

If you paid the agency, why can’t the agency just give you a refund? (Related: What Expedia’s purchase of HomeAway means to you.)

Why Travel Refunds Remain Elusive

I’ve been covering the travel industry for years, and I still haven’t heard a reasonable answer to that question. I’m told that it’s technology or policy or even tradition that keeps your money from flowing back in your direction promptly. Either way, it seems the only beneficiaries are the companies that get to keep your money for two to three billing cycles. It shouldn’t be that way. (Related: Another canceled flight! Why won’t Expedia help?)

Expedia should have been able to refund your entire purchase and then retrieve the money from the airline. Instead, it made you wait. And when you made inquiries, it told you the check was in the mail, and when you followed up, refused to answer.

For what it’s worth, I think your refund would have come — eventually. But you’ve been more than patient. You can find the names of Expedia’s executives on my new customer service wiki, On Your Side and appeal your case to someone higher up the food chain.

My advocacy team and I asked Expedia about your refund. It contacted you and admitted losing the information for your flights and refund. You received a full refund for your trip.

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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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