Author Topic: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?  (Read 921 times)

sui generis

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What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« on: May 03, 2020, 05:08:47 PM »
So I made the mistake of booking airfare through a third party a few months ago instead of directly through the airline, because it was a certain amount cheaper.  It's a mistake because, something I learned from the pandemic!, while airlines that cancel your flight are obligated by US Dept of Transportation regulations (for flights originating in the US) to give you a refund if you request it, if you've booked that same flight through a third party vendor and it gets cancelled, they are not obligated to provide a refund.

I knew the former, but not the latter.  When my flight was cancelled, I contacted this third party (flyus.com, btw) and said I'd like my refund, thanks!  They charged me $75 for doing me the great favor of cancelling my reservation on said flight (an action I didn't ask them to take!  For a flight that doesn't exist! With my credit card info that I don't think I agreed to let them keep on file??) and told me refunds were not an option and I could have a voucher for a year for the exact same itinerary.

I pretty much went ballistic and they have now contacted me letting me know a refund is possible, but they will charge me $100 to obtain it. So I should let them know what I want to do.

In the meantime, I have filed disputed charges with my credit card on both the flight (which was verrrrry expensive) and the $75 charge.  That was about 2+ weeks ago and I haven't heard anything yet (no surprise), but if the companies don't respond to my credit card people, the temporary credits on my card becomes permanent on July 15.  The very interesting twist here is that the original charge on my card for the airfare is directly from the airline, not the third party vendor.  So my credit card is waiting to hear back from the airline on that charge and the airline is, of course, obligated to give me a refund anyway, so I was sorta wondering if they would just not bother disputing it (I had also put in a claim directly with them to get a refund and have not heard back, although I was expecting them to tell me I had to go through the third party).

I am definitely going to file a BBB complaint regarding Flyus when this is done.  But in the meantime, I'm a little conflicted about what to do next.  I honestly don't know what my chances are with the credit card company and the disputed charge.  But I also am incensed at the idea of paying this company another $100 and not sure I have enough time to let it play out and see if the airline allows my disputed charge to stand.  I really want the refund, not the voucher, but I'm not sure if my chances are so good with the disputed charge/airline, that I should refuse to participate with the third party.  Or if refusing to participate with them might endanger my disputed credit card charge??

Is a bird in the hand better than two in the bush?  Is there another option I haven't thought of?  What would you do?

beltim

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2020, 05:16:26 PM »
I once had a similar situation.  Like you, the third party said they would refund me, but it took long enough and they gave me enough of a run-around that I had to file a dispute with my credit card company.  The credit card company eventually sided with me, but it took two rounds of my providing information, including the e-mails that said I would be getting a refund.  The experience certainly dissuaded me from ever using a third-party booking service again, because of this very falling through the cracks.

I would check the terms of service of the third party and see if the fees that you've been charged are what you agreed to.  If they are, expect to have to pay them at the end.  If they aren't, I would continue the dispute.  The fact that the airline is who actually initially charged your credit card is also a factor in your favor.

Either way, let us know how it goes!

sui generis

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2020, 02:17:32 PM »
I'm not positive this is resolved, but it did have a little twist.  The offer of giving me a refund for $100 more got clarified.  Customer service contacted me after I posted a negative review on some site, and clarified since I already paid $75 (the charge that I had disputed), this would only be another $25 for a total of $100, not $175. 

I was feeling somewhat confident about my credit card dispute on the airfare working....but not 100%  And god forbid I refuse to pay an additional $25 on prinicipal and end up somehow losing out on the several thousand dollar refund.  So I authorized them to charge me $25. This time they seemed to want my explicit permission instead of just charging me and letting me know post hoc.  And they asked me to be patient about the refund.  I didn't mention the credit card dispute and neither did they, so they must not know about it somehow.

So I don't know if anything else will happen or not.  I've already got the credit on my account because of the disputed charge.  Will they send me a refund and then my credit card will rescind the credit they gave me and post the refund (for a net zero effect)?  Or will I never know whether they actively gave me a refund vs. just letting the dispute stand unchallenged?  Or (and I'm just cynical enough, especially about anything to do with airlines, airfare and airports to believe this latter case is most likely) will there be some further wrinkle and a month or so from now I'll discover they aren't processing the refund AND they somehow disputed my dispute and my credit card company sides with them?  Please no....

(crossing fingers)

clarkfan1979

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2020, 03:09:24 PM »
I recently had 2 flights cancelled on me. One through United Airlines and the other through Southwest. Southwest was very transparent and emailed me stating that I was entitled to a refund, credit or re-book the same flight within 2 weeks for the same price.

United emailed me stating that my flight was cancelled, but they put me on another flight. This new flight now has a connection and the total travel time is almost twice as long. Instead of 7 hour direct flight, it's 13 hours with a connection.

When I asked for a refund from United Airlines they told me that I was not entitled to a refund because I booked an economy fare. I had to argue and fight with them for 30 minutes on the phone and demand a refund. After it was approved by a manager, I had to wait 23 days for the money to be refunded to my credit card.


sui generis

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2020, 03:44:43 PM »
Yeah, I am committed to never flying United again, no matter how much it costs.  And I live at a United hub, so this will cost me dearly, assuming I ever go back to flying. I won't bore you with the whole story of misery I experienced on both my outbound and return flights last summer to Africa and back, but it involved 2 different planes taking off while the gate agent refused me boarding, even though I had what should have been a valid boarding pass; being stuck overnight in Frankfurt airport; 2 red eyes in a row (only one of which was anticipated); and 1.5 hours on the phone with customer service the night before a flight, only to arrive the next morning to find our tickets were *still* fucked up and they were, yet again, not going to allow us on to the airplane we had paid thousands of dollars to fly on.  It's even worse than that makes it sound, but I promised not to bore you, so I'll stop there.

Southwest is a million times more transparent and accommodating and user-friendly.  If only they flew to Europe and Africa!

Cranky

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2020, 04:39:00 AM »
We are still waiting for a refund from American. It was a lot of $ and they practically wept over the phone.

How do you get actual $ if they refund the cost to the credit card? I havenít gotten the energy to work out that part yet.

sui generis

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2020, 08:52:47 AM »
We are still waiting for a refund from American. It was a lot of $ and they practically wept over the phone.

How do you get actual $ if they refund the cost to the credit card? I havenít gotten the energy to work out that part yet.

My credit card gave me a temporary credit (that could become permanent) right when I filled the dispute. I ended up with another huge charge on my credit card recently (my cat needed surgery) so it just made my final bill this month a lot lower than it would have been. If your credit card charges aren't high enough, I imagine you might carry a credit for several months as you spend it down with new purchases. But yes, I wouldn't expect actual cash in your bank account.

NotJen

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2020, 09:03:43 AM »
We are still waiting for a refund from American. It was a lot of $ and they practically wept over the phone.

How do you get actual $ if they refund the cost to the credit card? I havenít gotten the energy to work out that part yet.

My credit card gave me a temporary credit (that could become permanent) right when I filled the dispute. I ended up with another huge charge on my credit card recently (my cat needed surgery) so it just made my final bill this month a lot lower than it would have been. If your credit card charges aren't high enough, I imagine you might carry a credit for several months as you spend it down with new purchases. But yes, I wouldn't expect actual cash in your bank account.

I believe you can request a check from your credit card company if you have a credit that you won't spend down.

MoseyingAlong

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2020, 09:18:44 AM »
We are still waiting for a refund from American. It was a lot of $ and they practically wept over the phone.

How do you get actual $ if they refund the cost to the credit card? I havenít gotten the energy to work out that part yet.

My credit card gave me a temporary credit (that could become permanent) right when I filled the dispute. I ended up with another huge charge on my credit card recently (my cat needed surgery) so it just made my final bill this month a lot lower than it would have been. If your credit card charges aren't high enough, I imagine you might carry a credit for several months as you spend it down with new purchases. But yes, I wouldn't expect actual cash in your bank account.

I believe you can request a check from your credit card company if you have a credit that you won't spend down.

After cancelling a Vrbo rental, I have a large credit on a Chase card. The local branch told me that they will send a check if it remains after a couple months.

I'm mainly just using that card for current spending so will gradually whittle it down.

Cranky

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2020, 11:16:39 AM »
We are still waiting for a refund from American. It was a lot of $ and they practically wept over the phone.

How do you get actual $ if they refund the cost to the credit card? I havenít gotten the energy to work out that part yet.

My credit card gave me a temporary credit (that could become permanent) right when I filled the dispute. I ended up with another huge charge on my credit card recently (my cat needed surgery) so it just made my final bill this month a lot lower than it would have been. If your credit card charges aren't high enough, I imagine you might carry a credit for several months as you spend it down with new purchases. But yes, I wouldn't expect actual cash in your bank account.

It would take *years* to use up that credit!

sui generis

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Re: What would you do about this airfare refund situation?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2020, 11:28:42 AM »
We are still waiting for a refund from American. It was a lot of $ and they practically wept over the phone.

How do you get actual $ if they refund the cost to the credit card? I havenít gotten the energy to work out that part yet.

My credit card gave me a temporary credit (that could become permanent) right when I filled the dispute. I ended up with another huge charge on my credit card recently (my cat needed surgery) so it just made my final bill this month a lot lower than it would have been. If your credit card charges aren't high enough, I imagine you might carry a credit for several months as you spend it down with new purchases. But yes, I wouldn't expect actual cash in your bank account.

It would take *years* to use up that credit!

Hopefully you can get an actual check then! I guess I just assumed and never thought about it, given my other major expense was timed perfectly.

But I would prefer to be in your shoes and be trying to get a check. The cat surgery was an unwelcome blow! And now I'm kinda glad my big trip for the year was cancelled so my budget doesn't go too far sideways.