Q. I had to cancel my honeymoon trip to Sugar Bay Resort and Spa in St. Thomas a few days before my departure in October because of Hurricane Irma.
I had booked the package through Travelocity. It included round-trip airfare and hotel. But the resort was so damaged that it will remain closed for most of 2018. I received my full refund for the hotel, but American Airlines charged a $200 fee for changing my ticket.
The tickets are supposed to be refundable. I’ve been trying to get a refund on the cancellation fee, but Travelocity says there’s nothing it can do, and American refuses to resolve this. Can you help me get my money back?
A. Congratulations on getting hitched. I’m sorry about the timing. Last year’s hyperactive hurricane season ruined so many vacations, including yours, unfortunately. Travelocity should have helped you secure a full refund for your honeymoon. And if it couldn’t, then American Airlines should have stepped up and done the right thing. I mean, come on — it’s your honeymoon!
But let’s talk about that for a second. You booked your special vacation through an online travel agency. That’s fine if you’re taking a quick getaway, but doesn’t your honeymoon deserve the white-glove treatment that only a personal travel adviser can deliver? You can find a list of qualified agents on the American Society of Travel Agents site: web.asta.org/imis/Travelsense.
Still, Travelocity should have taken care of you. “For every step of the journey,” the site promises, “we’re here.” Specifically, Travelocity assures you that in the event of a weather threat or mass disruption: “We’ll work with our travel partners to make any necessary itinerary changes at the most reasonable cost to you.” And a $200 cancellation fee is definitely not reasonable.
I reviewed your paperwork, and it appears you were flying on a special ticket that could be changed, if necessary. My Travelocity contact read the fare rules differently, leaving little hope for you to get a refund.
I think a brief, polite appeal to one of the customer-service executives might have helped. I list the names, numbers, and e-mail addresses for both Travelocity (owned by Expedia) and American Airlines on my consumer-advocacy site: www.elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia/ and www.elliott.org/company-contacts/american-airlines/.
I contacted American Airlines on your behalf, and it refunded your change fee.Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.