The travel troubleshooter

Help, my travel agency pocketed my airfare refund

 

christopher@elliott.org

Q. I recently had to have jaw surgery, and my doctor recommended that I cancel a planned flight on Delta Air Lines. I submitted a request through my travel agency, but it refused to refund the ticket because it had a policy that tickets are nonrefundable, except in cases of illness or death.

So I contacted Delta directly. It processed my refund, but told me they had sent the money back to my travel agency. I contacted the agency and asked it for the refund, but they refused, citing their refund policy.

I have tried repeatedly to contact my agency, but it won’t return my calls. I don’t want to lose the $1,771 I paid. Can you help me get my money back?

Nartach Djepbarova

Seattle

I’m sorry about the problems with your ticket refund. The bottom line is: it’s your money and you should get it back immediately.

Using a travel agent is a good idea. I’m a big believer in using a competent travel adviser.

Most agencies have refund policies that reflect those of a travel provider. In other words, if a flight is nonrefundable, then the agency policy would match it. It may add a separate agency transaction fee, in the event of a refund, but that’s usually all.

In your case, the agency policy on refunds matched Delta’s. You had a nonrefundable ticket. Then Delta decided to make an exception to its policy. And then you and Delta assumed the agency would also make an exception. It didn’t.

I suppose your agency was technically right. It could have pocketed the entire $1,771 and made a nice profit on your ticket. But that seems wrong to me. Delta offered you a refund out of compassion, so that you could attend to your health needs. Your agency should have, too.

You could have avoided this in one of several ways. If you suspected that you might need surgery, you could have purchased a more flexible, refundable fare (but those can be significantly more expensive). Booking directly through Delta would have prevented this too, but as I mentioned before, having a good agent can be helpful.

By the way, I’m not sure if you’re working with the right agent. Any travel agency that would refuse to pass along a refund from your airline needs to have its moral compass checked. I would find a new agent, right now.

I contacted Delta on your behalf and asked if it could put in a good word with your agency. It made sure the $1,771 it refunded made it all the way to you.

Read more Travel Troubleshooter stories from the Miami Herald

  • The travel troubleshooter

    My wife is in intensive care — what about her airline ticket?

    Q: Earlier this year, I booked flights with Expedia on Icelandair for a trip to Paris and London for my wife and me. It was to be in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. Since the day I bought the tickets, my wife was stricken with a very serious bacterial infection and has been in the intensive care unit at the hospital. If she can recover, she will be in rehabilitation for several months and will not be able to go on the trip.

  • The travel troubleshooter

    An empty vacation package from Expedia

    Q: I’m writing you about our problems with a vacation package we booked on Expedia to Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

  • The travel troubleshooter

    Where’s the refund for my Air France ticket?

    Q: I’m a graduate student at the University of Texas and I was recently awarded a fellowship to conduct research for two months 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.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK



  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category