Holland America kept 100 percent of my airfare — can it do that?

By | October 29th, 2010

Cruise refunds. There, didn’t your blood pressure just go up? Mine sure did.

Cruise refunds can be an endless source of frustration for travelers like Jeff Grill’s in-law’s, who missed their Holland America ship in Venice, Italy, recently. They knew they were going to lose the value of their cruise. But their airfare? When Holland America pocked that, they were surprised.

Under Holland America’s cruise contract — the legal agreement between you and the the company — any airfare refund should have been passed along to the customer. Rule 4 says, “[If] the air transportation we arrange is unavailable or otherwise fails to materialize, our sole liability will be limited to refunding the air add-on paid or cruise only credit.”

But that didn’t happen.

He says,

The flight was canceled at 1 a.m. after hours of delay. Since they couldn’t get their luggage and were exhausted after hours in the airport, they opted not to rebook the flight the following night and join the cruise at the midway point. They figured they could take the entire cruise at a later date since they are retired.

So here’s the problem: It’s not that Holland America didn’t refund their cruise — under the rules, it didn’t have to — it’s that they kept their airfare.

They actually kept 100 percent of the airfare that was refunded by Delta directly to them. Net, they actually made more by my in-laws not going, since they kept 100 percent of the airfare.

In other words, Delta told Grill’s in-laws that it had refund the airfare to Holland America. But Holland America was refusing any refund, including the airfare.

That doesn’t seem right.

I contacted Holland America on Grill’s behalf. A few days later he received some good news.

I just wanted to let you know that my in-laws heard today from Holland America. They were given a $3,600 credit against a future cruise if used within a year, which my in-laws consider to be a good outcome, as it covers about 75 percent of the cruise.

Thanks for intervening on their behalf. It’s greatly appreciated.

That works for me. Thanks, Holland America.

(Photo: Anju m/Flickr Creative Commons)