Re­fund put on standby af­ter flight time change

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Christo­pher El­liott

QA: The air­line should have re­funded your fare promptly. Ac­cord­ing to sec­tion 11.3 of its gen­eral con­di­tions of car­riage — that’s the le­gal agree­ment be­tween you and the car­rier — you’re owed ex­actly $280.

But the fine print de­serves to be re­viewed, as it al­ways does. Malaysia Air­lines says if it can­cels a flight or fails to op­er­ate a flight “rea­son­ably ac­cord­ing to sched­ule,” and if no por­tion of your ticket is used, you’ll re­ceive a full re­fund. Vir­tu­ally ev­ery air­line has an iden­ti­cal pol­icy, al­though some car­ri­ers will squab­ble about the def­i­ni­tion of “rea­son­able.”

The im­por­tant ques­tion that comes next is: When?

“All re­funds will be sub­ject to the laws, rules, reg­u­la­tions and gov­ern­ment or­ders of the coun­try in which the ticket was orig­i­nally pur­chased and of the coun­try in which we make the re­fund,” says the con­tract. But it doesn’t say you’ll get your money in three weeks, three months or three years. And that’s a prob­lem. See, Malaysia Air­lines can take your money in an in­stant, thanks to the mir­a­cle of credit cards. But when it comes to re­turn­ing it, the air­line can take its time, as many air­lines do. It is un­der no obli­ga­tion to re­fund you quickly. So it takes its time.

True, some­times it takes a few ex­tra weeks for the money to show up on your credit card (please don’t get me started with billing cy­cles). But, even so, you should have had your money a long time ago.

A brief, po­lite email to Malaysia Air­lines might

Malaysia Air­lines changed my flight times on a trip from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Phuket, Thai­land. The air­line con­tacted me and asked me to ac­cept a new flight, but I couldn’t. I asked for a re­fund.

Malaysia Air­lines said the re­fund would take three weeks, but it’s been more than three months. Can you help me get my $280 back?

— have shaken some­thing loose. I list the names, num­bers and email ad­dresses of the air­line’s ex­ec­u­tive con­tacts on my con­sumer-ad­vo­cacy site:

They some­times have the power to give the ac­count­ing de­part­ment a lit­tle push.

I con­tacted Malaysia Air­lines on your be­half. It sent you the promised re­fund, mi­nus a mys­te­ri­ous $33 ser­vice charge and a $22 travel in­sur­ance charge. Air­lines!

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