Travel Troubleshooter: Online agency canceled their Sun Country tickets without notice

Q: I bought two roundtrip tickets through MyFlightSearch on Sun Country from Minneapolis to Newark for $477. The night before our flight, we tried to print our boarding passes but got the response that we had to check in at the airport. At the check-in desk, a Sun Country representative told us our tickets were not valid.

Sun Country staff called MyFlightSearch and found out that they had canceled our reservations. We had to book a new flight for $1,279. We also had to fly into Hartford, Conn., and get ground transportation to Newark at our own expense.

While we were at the check-in desk, someone from MyFlightSearch called me and told me that he had e-mailed a notice to me. When I told him that there had been no contact, he admitted that he had not, in fact, notified me but that he “had tried to.” He said that the charges were refunded to my credit card.

After I got home, I checked my credit card statements and found that I had received only $437. I called MyFlightSearch and asked for the other $40 back, and it agreed to refund the money in seven to 10 days. It’s been weeks and I haven’t received the refund. can you help?

Donna Fredkove, Minnetonka

A: The $40 charge is a booking fee. You deserve a refund of both the fee and your fare. Actually, you should get more than that, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Of course, MyFlightSearch should have notified you when it canceled your flight. It should have owned the cancellation instead of first telling you that it had notified you, then admitting it didn’t. It should have offered the “prompt personal attention to your travel-related queries and requirements” that it promises on its site.

MyFlightSearch shouldn’t have canceled your flight. The “check with us at the counter” warning is a red flag. When you see that, it’s time to call the airline. It may be nothing, but it often is a sign that something has gone terribly wrong.

I think Sun Country could have assisted you when your agent canceled your flight, helping you get to Newark at a reasonable price. It seems you paid hundreds of dollars extra. It might consider refunding part of that.

Ultimately, this was for your online travel agency to fix. I think it should repay your $40 booking fee immediately and consider covering your additional flight costs.

I contacted MyFlightSearch on your behalf. It refunded its booking fee but would not cover your additional costs. Maybe next time you should consider booking directly with your airline — or using a human travel agent.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.

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