Airline travel credits: confusion about flight rebooking and more

“Aer Lingus tells me they have refunded and I should call Orbitz. I got a call back from Orbitz four hours after I called,” said Ms. Woolard, a retired nurse from Winston-Salem, NC. “I had to wait another hour to speak to someone. Orbitz said they don’t have access to my data and I may not get the refund until the end of 2021,” more than 18 months after the flight was cancelled. “I know the airlines are struggling, but you feel so helpless,” she said.

According to Nisreene Atassi, a spokeswoman for the company, the delay in the refund was due to a malfunction in Orbitz’s computer system that rejected the refund because it was approved after the one-year expiration period. (After an investigation by The Times, Ms Woolard has now received her refund.)

To improve its customer service, Expedia has hired 500 additional representatives for its companies to add to its 6,000 total in 30 countries, Mr Singh said, but it will take three months to train them before they can do the job. Similarly, American Airlines said it is hiring “hundreds” of customer service representatives to handle increased call volume.

Expedia expects customers to see improvements soon. The companies can now handle 80 percent of flight cancellation requests through their websites, up from 10 percent at the start of the pandemic. And by August, it expects to answer 80 percent of customer service calls in 20 seconds or less, Ms Atassi said.

With more customer service representatives for the airlines and online travel agencies, wait times should start to decrease. For those who still can’t get satisfaction from either, Consumer Reports’ airline consultant Bill McGee recommends that passengers challenge the charges with their credit card company. “Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you are entitled to a refund if you do not receive goods and services,” said Mr. McGee. “A lot of readers are satisfied in this way.”

Both Mastercard and Visa require transaction disputes to be filed within 120 days of the original payment. But the fare is non-refundable if the original ticket was a non-refundable fare, a Visa spokesperson said.

Even with the extended expiration dates, vouchers will still eventually expire and the customer will lose the amount if the voucher is not used. If specific circumstances prevent a customer from traveling next spring, American Airlines will work with customers on an individual basis, said Andrea Koos, senior manager of corporate communications at American Airlines.

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