[Editor’s Note: This is a new column on travel problems and solutions from Christopher Elliott. Christopher writes for USA Today, Forbes, and a number of other publications.]
Melissa Crespo receives a $2,060 ticket credit when she cancels her flights to Frankfurt, Germany. But now her online agency has told her she can only use 25% of the credit at a time. Can it do that?
Q: I booked three tickets from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Frankfurt on American Airlines from Military Fares. I even bought coverage that allowed me to cancel for any reason and receive a refund.
I received a $2,060 ticket credit that had to be used within a year. But when I tried to use the credit, a Military Fares representative told me I can only use 25% of the future travel credit at a time. So, in other words, I have to spend $10,000 to use my $2,000 credit.
This is insane. I really want my money back or to use 100% of my flight credit toward another trip via their website. Can you help or direct me to someone who might help me? I am so frustrated and can’t afford to lose $2,060. — Melissa Crespo, Wendell, North Carolina
A: I’ve never heard of a company restricting its ticket credit. So I had to know if this was some kind of new rule designed to extract more money from customers.
“It seems that there was a confusion in reference to the usage of the voucher,” a Military Fares spokesman told me. “All our customers at MilitaryFares.com can use any vouchers for its full value amounts and not 25%.”
The refund rules vary. If you cancel your flight, you usually can receive a ticket credit. But if the airline cancels, you’re entitled to a full refund. You canceled this flight, but you also purchased Military Fares’ “No Questions Asked Cancellation Protection.” This option allows you “to cancel all or any portion of your order, for any reason, up and until 24 hours before your first travel date and receive a refund with absolutely no questions asked.”
There’s a catch, though: You have to pay a $100 deductible.
When I reviewed the paper trail between you and Military Fares, I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary. You decided to cancel your flight and asked for a refund, minus the $100. A representative told you in writing that the refund process would take approximately 90 business days “due to the high volume of refund requests.” You can thank the pandemic for that.
So what went wrong? It looks like the 90 days turned into a little longer because of a backlog of refund requests. That led you to conclude that you might never receive your money back, which is an absolutely fair assumption.
I think buying the protection plan was a smart move. Regular travel insurance wouldn’t have covered your decision to cancel. But this protection product offered through Military Fares offered an opportunity for a full refund, minus a deductible. You might have reached out to someone at a higher level at Military Fares (owned by Sky-tours International) to see what’s going on.
I reached out to Sky-tours International on your behalf, and it processed your refund.
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(c) 2022 Christopher Elliott
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.