The Morning Call (Sunday)

Can I get a refund for my canceled Hawaii flights?

- By Christophe­r Elliott

A: If Hawaiian Airlines canceled your flights, you should have received an immediate refund. The representa­tives at Hawaiian and Travelocit­y were wrong. Under Department of Transporta­tion rules (www.transporta­tion.gov/ airconsume­r), you were entitled to a full refund within seven business days if you paid by credit card. The rule also applies to tickets booked through an online agency like Travelocit­y.

Hawaiian was correct about one thing. You needed to go through your travel agent for a refund. That means reaching out to Travelocit­y. The company should have an automatic system in place that asks you if you want a refund or ticket credit. But it looks like that notificati­on system wasn’t working

Q: In 2019, I booked flights through Travelocit­y to fly from Kauai to Minneapoli­s in April. The first two legs of my flight, from Lihue to Honolulu to Los Angeles, were on Hawaiian Airlines. The last leg, from Los Angeles to Minneapoli­s, was on Delta Air Lines.

In late March, Hawaiian canceled our flights because of COVID-19. Travelocit­y contacted us and promised we would hear from them soon about receiving a ticket credit or refund. But we never heard another word from them.

I contacted Hawaiian, and it sent us a note saying we needed to work with Travelocit­y. I tried calling Travelocit­y on numerous occasions, and it would automatica­lly disconnect because my flight was not within 72 hours.

I tried to “chat” online with a representa­tive who said we could only get a credit to use by Dec. 31. I insisted on speaking to a supervisor, and they gave me a number to call, but you could not get a live person. I’m trying to get my$1,100 refund. Can you help me?

— Jacquelin Heinen, Lakeville, Minnesota during the pandemic, at least for you.

Travelocit­y wasn’t totally honest with you. I reviewed the emails it sent you and it gave you only one option: to claim your airline credit. This gave the appearance that Travelocit­y was working with the airlines to keep your money.

I wouldn’t have called Travelocit­y for a refund. Sending an email works better, because you can keep a copy for your records. Unless you record the call, there’s no evidence of it. You could have also appealed your case to an executive at Travelocit­y. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of key Travelocit­y executives on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/ company-contacts/expediacus­tomer-service-contacts. (Expedia owns Travelocit­y).

Your case is a reminder of the importance of keeping a paper trail and knowing your rights as a consumer. I’m glad you questioned the Travelocit­y representa­tive who told you that your only option was to accept a ticket credit. That was untrue.

I checked with Travelocit­y, which reviewed your case. It turns out you were eligible for a full refund after all. “Our agents are processing her refund,” a Travelocit­y representa­tive told me.

Christophe­r Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organizati­on that helps consumers resolve their problems. Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott. org.

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