Flight credit or refund? Here’s why you should always take the money

Q: For months, I have been trying to get a refund from Expedia for my unused flight credits. I had canceled my flights back in 2020. Expedia offered me a partial refund after I rebooked a new flight for 2021 that used two-thirds of the original flight credit. But I had to cancel that flight, too, because American Airlines kept dropping flights.

Expedia refunded the two-thirds of the credit I used for the new flight. A supervisor told me the only way I could get the remaining amount refunded was by booking another flight through Expedia and American Airlines for the same travelers. Then I had to pay for it and call them back to start the refund process.

I complied with Expedia’s instructions and called them. A representative said a request for a refund would be submitted. After two additional phone calls and 12 weeks of waiting, I have yet to receive my money.

I would like a refund for the remaining one-third ($ 569) of the original flight credit. Can you help?

TO: Most flight credits are nonrefundable. But during the pandemic, airlines and online travel agencies bent some of their rules – and made up a few as they went along.

There are a few moving parts here. You booked through Expedia, and then received credits through American Airlines. The terms of those credits changed during the pandemic, confusing customers and sometimes travel agencies, too.

An Expedia supervisor told you that you could get a full refund for your flight credits. You did the right thing by asking your online travel agency for help. It’s Expedia’s job to figure out what you can and can’t do with your flight credit.

When American canceled your second flight, you should have received a refund or a flight credit. But things got very confusing between the cancellations and credit requests. In the end, nothing happened.

If an airline or travel agency offers you a choice between a refund or credit, always take the money. Cash doesn’t expire, and you can use it to book travel anywhere. Most airline credits expire before they’re used, which means the company gets to keep your money. Don’t let that happen to you.

I contacted Expedia. “Our agents are going to process the outstanding refund and let the customer know it’s been completed,” a representative told me. “This was an unfortunate situation where we didn’t provide the level of service we strive to provide, and we’re sincerely sorry for the frustration. We’ve added a voucher to the customer’s account as well for the inconvenience caused.”

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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