The Travel Troubleshooter: The travel company canceled the flight to Newark but didn’t tell him. Now what?
Q: Last year I purchased round trip tickets through MyFlightSearch for my husband and I on Sun Country from Minneapolis to Newark. MyFlightSearch charged us $477 for these tickets.
The day before our flight, we tried to print our boarding passes from the Sun Country website, but received the response that we needed to check in at the airport. When we arrived at the check-in counter, a representative told us that our tickets were not valid. Sun Country staff called MyFlightSearch and found they had canceled our reservations. We had to book a new, more expensive flight to Newark.
Neither Sun Country nor MyFlightSearch informed us of this cancellation. While we were at the check-in counter, someone from MyFlightSearch called me on my cell phone and said they had emailed me a notice. However, when I told him that there had been no emails or further contact from MyFlightSearch after we received the e-tickets, he admitted that he had in fact not informed, but that he “had tried”. He said that the amount I was charged had been refunded to my credit card account.
Neither Sun Country nor MyFlightSearch were prepared to take responsibility for canceling our tickets without notice. Sun Country charged us $1,279 for airfare when the original price we paid for our return flights was $477. We also had to fly to Hartford instead of Newark and get additional ground transportation from Hartford to Newark the same day at our own expense.
After getting home, I checked my credit card statements and found that MyFlightSearch had paid Sun Country a total of $477 in two transactions – one for $40 and one for $437. I only received the $437. I called MyFlightSearch and asked for the $40 refund, and they agreed to refund the money in 7-10 days to my account. It’s been weeks and I haven’t received the refund. Can you help ? –Donna Fredkove, Minnetonka, Minnesota
A: The $40 fee is a booking fee associated with your reservation. You deserve a refund of fees and your fare. Actually, you should have more than that, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Of course, MyFlightSearch should have notified you when it canceled your flight. He should have owned the cancellation instead of first telling you that he notified you and then admitting that he didn’t. It should have offered the “prompt personal attention to your travel-related questions and requirements” that it promises on its site.
These online agencies are highly automated, so something didn’t work the way it should. You didn’t want to cancel your flight, so MyFlightSearch shouldn’t have canceled it.
The “Check with us at the counter” warning is a huge red flag. When you see this, it’s time to call the airline. It may be nothing. But in my experience, it’s often a sign that something has gone terribly wrong.
You may have contacted a Sun Country executive to figure out what happened and ask for some sort of compensation. I publish the names, numbers, and email addresses of Sun Country executives on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/sun-country-airlines/. I think Sun Country could have helped you when your agent canceled your flight, helping you get to Newark at a reasonable price. Looking at your correspondence, it looks like you paid hundreds of dollars extra. He could consider reimbursing part of it.
In the end, it was up to your online travel agency to solve this problem. I think he should immediately refund your $40 booking fee and consider covering your additional flight costs.
I contacted MyFlightSearch on your behalf. He refunded his 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 Advocacy Director of Elliott Advocacy, a non-profit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or [email protected]