Where’s the refund for my Air France ticket?

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By Christopher Elliott

Air France is holding $2,400 of Daniel Jean-Jacques money for a fully refundable ticket. Why won’t it surrender the money?


I’m a graduate student at the University of Texas, and I recently received a fellowship to conduct two months of research in Ibadan, Nigeria. Believing that I would be departing from New York and then returning to Austin, Texas, I booked the trip in two legs. However, knowing that this could change, I reviewed the refund policies for both legs carefully to make sure the tickets were refundable.

My plans did change, and a roundtrip between Lagos, Nigeria, and Austin became more appropriate. I called Priceline, the company that arranged the outbound leg, and they approved my refund within 15 minutes. But Air France, through which I arranged the return flight, was not so accommodating.

As per the instructions on its website, I sent an email to their “Customer First” program within 24 hours with my refund request and the appropriate information. I also called their web support number to make certain everything was in order. At that point, they began to claim that I booked my ticket through the Nigerian Air France website, even though I received no indication of this when I purchased the ticket.

No response from the Air France Nigeria office

I was referred to the Air France Nigeria office, and I made numerous attempts to contact them by email, but I never received a response. I also reached out to several other Air France offices and their affiliates. On at least five occasions, they confirmed that they forwarded my information to the Nigerian office, but despite three months passing since I first submitted the refund request, I still haven’t received any communication from that office.

At this point, I am more than exasperated. I have spent more than 24 hours on the telephone and have written many emails. Despite my efforts, I cannot even get a representative from the Air France refunds department to speak directly to me on the phone. The closest I have gotten is to reach the refunds department of its codeshare partner, Delta Air Lines, which can get Air France’s US refunds department on the phone, but refuses to transfer me through or provide me with a contact number.

At stake here is roughly $2,400, one quarter of my fellowship award and the equivalent of one month’s income for my wife and I combined. I am contacting you out of sheer desperation. They lied to me, put me off, and handled me very rudely. After three months, I feel that I have made no progress. — Daniel Jean-Jacques, Austin, Texas


If you had a fully refundable airline ticket, then Air France should have credited to your card within a week of your request. That’s not just me saying it; there’s a Transportation Department rule that says refunds must be made within seven business days.

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Don’t believe me? Here it is.

This business between you, Delta, Air France and the Nigeria office — from where I sit, it just looks like a delay tactic, although I’m sure there’s a perfectly good bureaucratic reason for it. The refund should have come quickly from the place you bought it. End of story. (Here’s how to get a refund for a non-refundable airline ticket.)

I’m willing to give Air France the benefit of the doubt. After all, even the Transportation Department notes that sometimes it can take one or two credit card billing cycles before your refund shows up. I’d like to think that’s what happened here. (Related: When dead airlines rise, where’s my refund?)

If you ever run into a refund problem again, I wouldn’t waste my time on the phone. You can escalate your case to a manager at Air France by email. The email format is the first two letters of the firstname and lastname, all as one word, @airfrance.fr (so if I worked at Air France, my address would be [email protected]). Pretty clever, huh? (Air France canceled another reader’s flight, and now she wants a refund, here’s what happened.)

I also list Air France’s managers on my site.

I contacted Air France on your behalf and it promptly processed your refund.

Should the government require airlines to refund fees faster?

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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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