Travel Troubleshooter: Canceled flight, no wedding

09/23/2012 12:00 AM

09/21/2012 4:20 PM

I'm having a problem with a refund for American Airlines tickets I booked through

We were flying from Kansas City, Mo., to the Virgin Islands for my brother's wedding, and our total fare was $1,643. When we arrived at the airport, an American representative told us our flight was canceled and handed us a slip of paper with a phone number on it.

Since we knew we had to catch two connecting flights that day, we rushed to call the number. After five hours of trying to get flights to the Virgin Islands in time for the wedding, we were left with one option: Arrive two days late, miss the wedding and two days of our five-day vacation. Plus, we were going to be charged about $1,000 extra for airline tickets because American would not cover the flight that we would have to take. And we would have had to find a place to stay in Puerto Rico for the night, another extra expense. None of the options was in our budget, so we decided to cancel the trip.

American Airlines would refund only $1,313, which it said is the value of the tickets. That left $330. I sent email messages to the customer-relations department for CheapOair. I received one call back on my answering machine from CheapOair; it said it was looking into the matter and would get back to me in six to eight weeks.

That was eight months ago. Can you help?

– Ronnee Schweizer, New York

CheapOair should have promptly refunded your entire ticket. But there were so many things that should have been done differently – by you and by your online travel agency.

Start with CheapOair. American would have notified it of a change, and it should have contacted you quickly to let you know your flight wasn't leaving on time. The only exception is a last-minute cancellation, which CheapOair couldn't have known about.

American was required by U.S. laws to refund the entire canceled ticket within seven days. That money would have gone to CheapOair, and it should have passed the money to you quickly.

You might have done things differently, too. First, always call to confirm flights. It's possible you could have learned of this cancellation earlier, which might have allowed you to reschedule and still make the wedding.

When you learned of your cancellation, your first call should have been to CheapOair, which is your online travel agent. One of its representatives might have had other options for getting you to the Virgin Islands on schedule. I'm not saying you shouldn't have phoned American Airlines, too – only that CheapOair might have been able to save your trip.

I contacted CheapOair on your behalf. A company representative called you and said it was waiting to hear back from American Airlines about the $330. Even so, the company agreed to send you a check for the balance of your refund.


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