A missing vacation refund mystery – and a troubling resolution

By | March 30th, 2014

/Ollyy/Shutterstock
/Ollyy/Shutterstock
If you thought that reading the terms and conditions on your next travel purchase is enough to keep you out of trouble, meet Thomas Hanko.

The veteran cruiser had booked an air-inclusive cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Holland America Line for himself, his wife, their daughter and son-in-law to celebrate the Hankos’ 50th wedding anniversary. But several months before the trip, Hanko’s wife died.

Hanko canceled the vacation and received a full refund of the cruise portion from Holland America. A cruise line agent reminded him that his airfare wasn’t refundable and said that it was “up to his airline” to reverse the charges on his ticket purchase. Hanko turned to US Airways, which agreed to refund $2,071 to Holland America.

And then the cruise line kept his money.

“Holland America said that I had purchased a non-refundable airfare,” Hanko says. “They refused my request for a refund.”

Can a company do that? Yes.

Hanko’s story isn’t that uncommon, particularly for travelers who book package tours. Each individual component might come with its own restrictions, but even if they allow for a refund, you still have to live by the tour operator’s rules. The only way around it: Book the items a la carte or buy travel insurance.


Holland America’s written policy on cancellations is unclear. Although cancellation fees apply to the entire cruise booking, including air add-ons such as the one Hanko booked, the policy doesn’t explicitly say whether airfares can be refunded along with a cruise. When the company contacted Hanko to tell him that it couldn’t refund the airfare, it blamed US Airways’ rules, noting that his tickets were non-refundable.

Related story:   “Expose Carnival cruise lines for what they're doing to their customers”

Hanko pushed back. Wasn’t there an exception for the death of a passenger? In response, Holland America offered him a $480 cruise credit — but still no refund.

“It’s complicated,” says Richard Alderman, director of the University of Houston’s Center for Consumer Law. Hanko’s rights to a refund, if any, are typically spelled out in a cruise line’s ticket contract, the legal agreement between the passenger and the cruise line. “Generally, it’s the cruise line’s terms that will control the refund, not the airline’s terms.”

Refund problems like this are most common when travelers buy packages such as a cruise with airline tickets and shore excursion, or a tour with accommodations, meals and event tickets. The issue, Alderman explains, is that the tour operator has taken on some of the risk by buying these tickets in bulk and is contractually entitled to impose additional restrictions on a refund.

That also applies to tours that your operator cancels. Back in 2011, AnnMarie LaRosa-Gee asked me to help recover $6,032 for a tour of Egypt that had been canceled for security reasons. The company offered her two choices: either re-book the same tour later in the year or transfer all her credit to a new tour that same year. It turns out that the tour operator was well within its rights to impose those limits on the refund, even if it received all the money back from the hotels and restaurants with which it was working.



  • polexia_rogue

    and don’t forget if you use a 3rd party site like expedia or travelocity the refund will go back to the site and it will be up to the site if they wan to pass along the refund.

    so like you said buy each piece yourself or get really good travel insurance. or else you have a middle man to deal with.

  • Cybrsk8r

    “We sincerely regret that this has taken so long, especially under the circumstances,” a representative e-mailed him. “Please accept our sincere apologies that this was not handled in a timelier manner.”

    Translation: “We sincerely regret this has shown up in a travel blog which is going to make us look bad”.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    This is unfair beyond belief. To get a refund from the airline but still keep the money. Once again, the travel industry has practices that amaze me. Practices that would be illegal in most other businesses. I’d file a lawsuit in small claims court and let the rep explain how its fair to keep a refund and not perform any services. I won’t bore with the specific legal arguments.

  • Thetine

    Unlike a lot of other cases on this site, this one is cut and dry. The cruise wasn’t uncomfortable. Hanko didn’t suddenly change his mind about it. His wife is dead. She can’t go on the cruise. Really. Refund the money, end of story. How dare they keep a chunk just for kicks? Even for a little while…!

  • Cybrsk8r

    It’s even more egregious when you consider that it was Mr. Hanko’s appeal to the airline which got the airfare refunded to the cruise line. So the cruise line was essentially saying, “Thanks for getting us the refund from the airline, Mr. Hanko, but now we’re going to keep the money.”

  • TonyA_says

    It appeared that the cruise line was keeping his money (airfare). So you are not really sure, right?

  • Alan Gore

    Just like all the other times, that blank wall of “company policy” mysteriously vanishes when the CyberFloodlight ™ is shone upon it. Online shaming is the consumer’s best friend.

  • sirwired

    Speaking as somebody who usually says: “Buy insurance or keep to the contract” HAL was way out of line here. If USAir remitted a refund to HAL, HAL should have passed it along. It was valid (if not very nice) for HAL to pass the buck to USAir to pursue the refund (HAL, acting as their agent, should have done this themselves), but once it was granted, keeping the money anyway was beyond the pale. (If they weren’t going to issue a refund anyway, why did HAL send him to USAir to begin with? That’s cruel to send him to convince USAir to refund him due to his wife dying, and then pocketing the cash that resulted from his efforts.)

  • Raven_Altosk

    …and Holland America was shamed into doing what’s right. If that’s what it takes…this is a sad day indeed.

  • sirwired

    I think the airfare was for the whole party, not just his wife. (It’d be difficult to spend $2k on advance-purchase airfare for one (or two) people for a Western Carribean itinerary, as those virtually always depart from FL.)

  • Doug Marshak

    I respect the concept of nonrefundable fares, but the idea is to protect the airline/hotel.cruise ship from people cancelling, a refund, and then lost income on the service. I’m sure people cancel for many, many reasons. But turning a blind eye to things like a customer’s death is pretty stupid. Or if the political climate of a country forces a tour cancellation… that’s something the travel company should have insurance for, not the consumer. I realize illnesses can be a slippery slope, so OK, require travel insurance and spell it out. But something like death or cancellation due to safety issues outside of the control of the consumer is not something the consumer should be held accountable for. Travel companies are selling a service, not the promise of a service.

  • omgstfualready

    As a typical ‘you signed the contract, live with it’ person this is disturbing. If USAirways said no, then that’ that and I’d say end of story since there was no travel insurance. They didn’t, but had they known their end customer wasn’t getting the money back they’d have not agreed to the refund. Holland America behaved shamefully but where are the kudos for USAirways? Certainly if the story read that they said no even though the cruise line gave back the cruise fare this board would be lit up.

  • TonyA_says

    You seem like a smart guy, have you read the CONTRACT between USAir and the passenger?
    Take a quick look at cheap USAir Domestic Fares and read the penalty rules?
    Ticket is NON-REFUNDABLE and there is no mention that death is a valid reason for a refund.
    Maybe the OP needs to show us what kind of tickets were purchased and what the rules were for those tickets.
    The DOT does not require airlines return fares in case of death of pax, does it?

  • Alan Gore

    Not EVERYONE in the travel business has the mentality of a water moccasin. Airlines typically do refund a dead passenger’s ticket, and USAir did in this case. It was Holland America that stole the air refund.

  • bodega3

    If the cost of the airline ticket was refunded to the cruise line, they, just like me, are required to refund it. They were the ticketing agent and are required to give the money back to the passenger. Agents have been sued and lost for similar actions on their part. Rarely, if ever, do we sell cruise line’s air.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I have not read the contract but the contract between USAir and the customer is a red herring. There are two unrelated issues that should not be conflated. Issue 1, whether USAir must refund the ticket. Issue 2. Can HAL keep the money if USAir refunds the ticket.

    Issue 1, USAir’s rights and responsibilities are irrelevant to this discussion as USAir refunded the money. The legal expression is that there no longer exists a controversy between USAir and the LW as all issues between them have been resolved.

    Issue 2 is the only unresolved issue. This is without a doubt, the most egregious business policy that I have seen. For a supplier to pocket a refund is beyond unethical, I would daresay immoral. I would even say that this is worse then time share contract shenanigans.

    Anticipating your next question what does the contract between HAL and LW state”? Probably that HAL keeps the money. But that’s not dispositive. In law, looking to the terms of the contract is merely step 1. Step 2 is determining whether the contract violates any laws or legal principles. That’s why, for example, If I lend you money at 11% interest rate, I could not collect any interest, as the maximum interest for is 10% in California, barring certain exceptions. Thus, although the contract may call for 11%, that provision runs afoul of California usury laws and as such is unenforceable.

    In this case, some potential arguments by the OP might be that HAL is being unjustly enriched, is engaging in an unfair business practice, the contract is unenforceable as unconscionable, etc.

  • bodega3

    You can find several lawsuits in the State of CA where these refunds have been required to be returned. An agency, which Holland acted as an agent for the airline in issuing the ticket, can not keep a refund if the client is entitled to it. In this case, USAIR agreed to refund and the cruise line was required to forward it on to the client. But it is important to note that refunds get sent to ARC and then shows up in the ticketing office’s account. With the amount of tickets they handle and if they didn’t initiate the refund, I can see where this could be an oversight.

  • bodega3

    I think ‘stole’ is not the appropriate term. They didn’t initiate the refund and it didn’t have a follow through when the refund showed up in their account. The airline’s doesn’t cut a check to the ticketing agency. The refund shows up in the ticketing agency’s account. Researching and tying it in with the correct booking and why the refund, which does get explained in any paperwork from ARC, take time and could get overlooked. Not excusing them just explaining how things work since many have misconceptions on the process.

  • Annie M

    I just don’t understand why people don’t buy travel insurance when they book their vacations. Air is almost always non refundable even if the cruise is canceled before final payment.

    The question to ask yourself every time you put money down on a trip is “can I afford to lose all the money I have paid for this trip if something happens and I can’t travel?” If the answer is yes, you don’t need insurance. If it’s no- buy insurance.

  • bodega3

    The refund comes across to the ticketing agency’s account with no explanation of the reason for the refund. With no insurance on file, they could have easily assumed it wasn’t to be refunded to the client as many of their fares fall within this policy.

  • AL

    I learn a lot of tips to protect myself, reading these stories. But, most importantly, I’m creating a nice list of companies that I won’t/shouldn’t do business with. Holland America is now on the “watch out” portion of that list.

  • bodega3

    This shouldn’t put them on a concern list. This was probably just an oversight. Refunds come through ARC with no explanation. Someone may have looked at the OP’s record, didn’t see any refund list, since the carrier did the refund, not the cruise line requesting it. If there was no insurance on account, then they didn’t take any more steps. It should have been refunded, but I am not that upset with how it could have been overlooked.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The article doesn’t make it seem like an oversight. is contractually entitled to impose additional restrictions on a refund.

    That sounds like the doublespeak some of my colleagues routinely engage.

  • bodega3

    They would if they initiated the refund, but in this case, the OP did it.

  • TonyA_says

    I am glad you still have the courage and stamina to keep on explaining how airline ticket issuance and accounting happens. I have just given up.

  • TonyA_says

    But your version does not make for a dramatic story :-)
    However, your version makes complete sense.

  • jim6555

    The way that I understand what is posted here is that If the passenger had not contacted Chris Elliott, Holland-America (owned by Carnival Cruise Lines) would still have the $2,071 in its bank account. A reasonable person can only deduce that they had no intention of refunding Mr. Hanko’s money and were forced to do so under the threat of negative publicity.

  • John Baker

    If a reservation is non-refundable, I don’t have a problem when a TO opts to make a partial refund. Call it what ever you want. That isn’t the case here.
    My reading of this case is that like most cruise fares, the OPs cruise fare was completely refundable. US Air decided to refund his air fare. At that point, Holland should refund the air fare immediately. Keeping it is unconscionable.

  • jim6555

    Whether or not the passenger had travel insurance is irrelevant to this conversation. The point here is that the airline did refund the ticket and the cruise line did not pass the refund on to the passenger. Bottom line, Holland America was committing theft.

  • LonnieC

    Well stated.

  • TonyA_says

    Intentions is not accurate.
    Bodega is correct. There is no easy way to track a credit to one’s account on a netting basis from ARC unless the agency was the one that initiated the refund request.
    And considering that this is a very large travel company buying thousands of flights and becoming the merchant for all those tickets, it is easy to understand Bodega’s point. The form of payment for these tickets is CASH and the amount Holland-America paid is not the amount it charged the customer so good luck finding a paper trail.

  • TonyA_says

    Did you even bother to research your own question…

    Cancellation of Restricted Air will incur cancellation fees of the
    full cost of the ticket. The air carrier may generate a Future Air
    Credit (FAC) memo. FACs are notations in the booking that show the guest
    has an outstanding credit with the cancelled airline which can be
    applied to a future Holland America Line air booking with the same
    airline or redeemed directly with the airline, typically within 365
    days. FACs are non-transferable and non-refundable.
    Tickets are nontransferable and name changes are not allowed.

  • Carchar

    I am awaiting the time when companies have become so inured to online shaming that they just don’t pay it any mind.

  • Alan Gore

    HAL didn’t just forget to get back to Hanko. Hanko contacted the line as part of the ongoing correspondence, they saw the refund in their account, and their response was, in effect, “Ha ha – screw you!”

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    ” (But read the policy carefully before filing a claim to make sure you’re covered.)”

    No read the policy carefully before buying it in the 1st place.

    & why have a no refund policy, if you are going to bend it.

    Next thing everyone will say, well u refunded Joe & his wife only died. Mine has cancer/sore toe/etc. or I’m now divorced which is worse than death !!!!!!!

  • bodega3

    In this case, it is also illegal.

  • bodega3

    The cruise line had an obligation to return the money, but please understand how a refund works. If the cruiseline has initiated the process, they would have had documentation in the PNR or reservation file. But the cruise line didn’t initiate the refund process, the OP did. Refunds are processed through ARC. There is a weekly report. You get a message of a refund to a ticket number with the amount on it and that is it. It takes some research at that time to put a name to the ticket number. Then they would have looked up the PNR or reservation file and NO message would be in it about the refund. So then a call or an email would be made to get clarification regarding the money in the ageny’s (cruise line’s ticketing office) account. Easy for this to get bypassed…not right…just easy for it to be overlooked.

  • bodega3

    Things are not always as cut and dry and a easy as you think. Someone dropped the ball, yes. On purpose? I am going to say no to that. I know how refunds are handled and in a busy office, with no documentation in the OP reservation regarding the refund, it would take time to figure it out and with that, I do think they messed up.

  • bodega3

    I think the cruise line dropped the ball, but I can see why this may have been the case.

  • Bill___A

    Once again, why I don’t patronize cruise lines.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Either HAL had the money, or they didn’t. The airline no longer had it. Mr. Hanko didn’t have it. That leaves only one other place where the money could be, doesn’t it?

  • TonyA_says

    How the heck do you know the airline does not have the money?
    Unless there is a paper trail you really don’t know, do you?

    So now you believe everything the airline says when day in day out people here accuse the airlines of lying. It must be very convenient to believe exactly the opposite so it will suit the “facts” of the story. Mind you USAirways low fares are non-refundable and they have no written exception due to death of passenger.

    That said, the OP made an end run (bypassed the vendor process) because he knew the ticket was non-refundable. He is responsible for proving that USAirways actually gave the cruise lines the money since he did not observe the cruise lines procedure.

    What if another couple (with a sick spouse) decided to buy a refundable ticket or cover their risk with travel insurance. They would definitely get their money back but they paid more than the OP. So what makes the OP so entitled when he bought a non-refundable fare? Why does he get the same benefit as the other couple above?

  • TonyA_says

    Because the fare was NON REFUNDABLE (no death exception). That’s why.

  • TonyA_says

    Or you can buy an airline fare that is refundable if the pax dies or buy travel insurance.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Read the article carefully. No where did it state that a credit was issued, but rather a refund was issued. Are the two the same in your parlance?

    Hanko turned to US Airways, which agreed to refund $2,071 to Holland America.

    Further, if a refund equates to a credit, the article still does not suggest that said refund was available for the LW’s use.

  • TonyA_says

    I don’t think that is the scenario.
    HAL could easily refund the CRUISE fare since it is their fare.
    HAL could not refund a non-refundable AIR fare since it is not their fare – the fare owner is USAirways and US validated the ticket.
    If you are an agent for an airline and you read the rules saying it is NON-REFUNDABLE with no death exception, what would you do?
    Also consider that HAL has a more flexible air fare and also sells travel insurance.
    So they can take a tough sh*t stance — probably what happened so the OP made and end run and contacted the airline directly.
    Problem is HAL is the merchant on record and the ticket was paid by HAL in CASH (I assume). Any refund will go back to the original Form of Payment (CASH to HAL).
    So even if the OP convinces USAir to refund the non-refundable ticket, all USAir would do is tell ARC (the billing and settlement plan in USA) to credit the account of HAL.
    Unless HAL sees the credit and knows what it is for, HAL has no idea what happened.
    Without a paper trail, the money gets lost.
    So the OP complains to Elliott :)

    Is this correct Bodega?

  • TonyA_says

    Sure both the OP and the USAir did NOT follow the stated FARE RULE (tariff). IMO HAL read the fare rules and saw it was NON REFUNDABLE. So end of story.

    Also agreeing to and actually doing it is not the same. Do you have a receipt?

  • Bill___A

    Think I will stick with not dealing with them, thank you.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Hardly. For the legal reasons I articulated elsewhere, HAL cannot keep the money. HAL is being unjustly enriched. IF USAir wants to give back its money, that’s it business. I would also quote Bodega who apparently disagrees with your analysis

    You can find several lawsuits in the State of CA where these refunds have been required to be returned. An agency, which Holland acted as an agent for the airline in issuing the ticket, can not keep a refund if the client is entitled to it. In this case, USAIR agreed to refund and
    the cruise line was required to forward it on to the client.

    Very different from your position. Incidentally, Bodega’s statement is consist with legal principles against being unjustly enriched.

    Edited. There is no suggestion in the article that USAir reneged on its agreement to refund the money. A receipt would only be relevant to this discussion if USAir denied that it received the refund from HAL. As it does not make that assertion a receipt is a non-issue.

  • bodega3

    Yes, that is correct. Then HAL has to look at the record and see what to do with the money. If nothing is in the record, then there is a good chance it wasn’t followed up on, which means that HAL did drop the ball. If I remember right, since I haven’t done an ARC report in years, is no name is associated with the ticket number on their end. So with a credit, a ticket number showing a credit would be sent electronically. Someone would have to reconcile that refund with a reservation.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I have no issue with HAL dropping that ball. That happens in any industry. That just becomes a matter of substantiating the claim, which is just paperwork, albeit perhaps time consuming an tedious.The article implies that HAL was trying to keep the refund and hiding behind the contract.

  • bodega3

    Carver, I think there is a confusion here. A nonrefundable ticket issued is nonrefundable by the ticketing agency. However, an airline can ok a refund on a nonrefundable ticket. They handle it on their side, send the message to ARC for the refund, then that refund message is sent to the agency. And this last part is what I keep bringing up. If there is NO message in the record about the refund being approved, which in this case there wasn’t that message as the OP handled it on his end, the cruise line didn’t follow up on it. I really don’t think they deliberately kept the money, which is illegal to do. They just didn’t pass it on down the line to check with the carrier as to why the refund came through.

  • bodega3

    I think initially, the ticketing office was confused on the refund as the ticket was nonrefundable. Again, no documentation in the record as requesting a refund. A mix up that got straightened out.

  • TonyA_says

    And since a huge company like HAL is not expecting the refund (since they did not process it), I suppose we really don’t expect them to put a bunch of people to manually find it.

    I’m not sure the OP himself can prove a credit was actually processed, could he?

    I’m not sure what you meant by HAL dropping the ball?
    Why would they bother to request a refund (from their end) if the fare rules clear states NON REFUNDABLE and there was no death exemption?
    They could call their contact and ask but you know that is mainly blah blah.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Then the article was misleading or perhaps merely erroneous.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Some have argued that HAL has the right to keep the money. A thoroughly untenable position. But, I defer to your experience. I feel infinitely better that this is probably just a mix-up rather than a policy decision :-P

  • TonyA_says

    I would also like to add that if USAir was the merchant on record that charged the OP’s credit card, then there would have been no issue. The money simply goes back to the CC on record (and a recall commission is issued to HAL).
    But this is not the case here I believe. The OP paid HAL and then HAL settled the tickets (in cash). This is a recipe for a messy situation.

  • TonyA_says

    Some can argue the USAir can and should keep the money :-)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Sounds messy :)

  • TonyA_says

    Very! This is one reason why I refuse to accept CASH.
    I always want to pass the customer’s credit card to ARC and the airline so the airline becomes the merchant on record with the CC charges.
    Any refund goes directly to my customer’s CC.
    The less you handle money the better :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Agreed. Cash makes this messy. I won’t accept cash either. Even for the bankruptcy practice, I make the client go to the 7-11 and get a money order. Cash has too many issues.

  • TonyA_says

    Even if the OP paid HAL with his credit card, it would not change the situation.

    I am not an expert on dealing with USAir. But maybe he could have asked USAir some kind of authorization (WAIVER) code that HAL could have put on record that authorized the refund thus creating some kind of audit trail.

    I would not be surprised that USAir will charge his refund to goodwill since it is more complicated to research what happened.

  • TonyA_says

    I happen to agree with Annie M. The OP would not be in this situation had he bought the correct travel insurance.

    Whenever I sell a (expensive) fare that is completely non-refundable, I plead to my clients to buy travel insurance. I usually don’t bother to sell it except on fares with very restrictive clauses since you will lose all your money.

    Theft is way too strong a word to use in this case. IMO no one in HAL knows where the money is since the records are probably in limbo.

  • TonyA_says

    Carver, why do you think the OP made an end run and talked to the airline directly? IMO because HAL was not giving him a refund since the fare was non-refundable. So now he expects HAL to look at all the automated ARC entries and spot the refund. Good grief.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    How the heck do you know the airline does not have the money? Unless there is a paper trail you really don’t know, do you?

    Easily answered. The airline said they refunded it and HAL doesn’t dispute it. Thus, a non-issue.

  • TonyA_says

    Of course, there is another explanation – they got pressured by an article by Elliott :)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Couple things.

    The OP is not a professional within the travel industry. He has no particular reason to go to HAL over the travel supplier. Its perfectly reasonable, if you’re not in the industry, to think that going directly to USAir is the proper procedure.

    Even if he was doing an “end-run” around HAL, so what. That’s his right, and it was successful. Professionals within a field must follow the industry norms. Non-professionals have no such legal, moral, or ethical constraints.

    Sux to be HAL. That’s the system that their industry put into place. Enjoy the reading.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Nah. Not this time. ;-)

    Refund processed b4 Chris got involved. According to Bodega they had to refund the money.

  • TonyA_says

    So you saying that HAL was dragging its feet?
    You KNOW they KNEW they had the money and was not doing anything to refund the OP?
    I certainly did not get this impression and nothing in the article convinced me this was the case.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Nope. Not saying that at all.

  • bodega3

    If the fare paid was a published fare and the airline refunds to the ticketing agency, then the agency MUST give the ticket holder their money back. If they get a commission on the ticket and the published fare was nonrefundable, they get to keep the commission, as their contract between them and the carrier was that the ticket was nonrefundable.

  • Lindabator

    Bodega is correct – and ARC doesn’t necessarily respond in as timely a manner as would be preferred wither. VERY convoluted and confusing.

  • bodega3

    If this is your reason, it isn’t a good one.

  • Bill___A

    I would say my reasons are aggregate from all of the problems people have with cruise lines, It would not bring me happiness to deal with them, therefore I do not. Other people can make their own decisions.

  • bodega3

    IMHO, more serious concerns should keep you from this form of travel. This one example is not worth throwing the bath water out with the baby. If you don’t think you would enjoy cruising, that is one thing. If you get seasick, that is another. But what happened here with the refund, should not keep anyone from cruising.

  • Bill___A

    Point taken. It is all of the things, as I said.

  • DesignIt

    I’m confused. US Airways agreed to refund the airfare, but until Chris got involved Holland America was going to keep it???

  • bodega3

    Please scroll down and read my various posts. I have explained how airline refunds are handled.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Legal Schmegal. If someone’s travel companion spouse DIES, do the right thing for goodness’ sake. Just because your rules say you can “keep the money” you should not keep the money. Imagine the angst this guy went through being reminded of his loss over and over again as he dealt with the issue. Ugh.

  • FQTVLR

    Holland America should have promptly forwarded the air refund to the passenger as soon as they received it. That they did not do so is appalling in the extreme. Once US Airways decided to refund the money, the issue of non-refundable tickets became a moot point. Greed pure and simple.

  • bodega3

    It sounds good in principal, but have you read my posts? How did they know what it was for? Was the record documented? Answer is probably NO. You can request on your own a refund, but it can take weeks to receive to the agency. Most of their air isn’t refundable, so why do you feel this one should have been caught? I am not defending the cruise line, just letting you know that this isn’t as easy as you think. No message comes to HAL saying, “Your client requested the refund on this nonrefundable fare, so please send it to them’. Everything is done electronically, once a week and only by ticket number.

  • bodega3

    HAL’s main market are seniors. They are running a business and offer a cancel waiver or 3rd party insurance is another option. Will Macy’s return your mother’s dress, months down the line that she never wore and you don’t have a receipt for, when she passes even though the tags are still on the dress?

  • bodega3

    I think people think that a nice letter comes to HAL stating that the client requested this refund, so kindly sent it to them. You and I know that isn’t how all this goes down. We get notes from our bookkeeper weekly asking, ‘Do you know anything about this?’. She has no access to anything but the report and doesn’t know the name of the passenger, the reason for the refund. Only our initials from our login tell her who to ask. And yes, refunds can take months, especially from international carriers.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    Actually, bodega3, Macy’s just might take the dress back! I grew up in Minnesota, home of Dayton’s, the world’s best retailer, and they would take ANYTHING back, anytime. Of course, they’re now out of business … but that’s because they sold to Marshall Field.

  • bodega3

    But you don’t know, so be prepared for not getting the money back.

  • Annie M

    If their terms and conditions say they needed to purchase HAL’s insurance to be refunded, that is why the cruise lines sell insurance. BTW – I am not saying what HAL did was right – but the client would not be out of this money if they had insurance.

    If I were the OP, I would have been on HAL’s facebook and twitter pages posting my experience. They hate to see things like this in public and I would think that posting it might get her someone else to contact her and perhaps do the right thing. I still think that perhaps HAL just doesn’t know where the credit is or what to do with it if they did get it back.

    Theft is not the right word – what HAL did was unscrupulous. But I also think that they may not have been able to determine that US Air did refund back to HAL. This is a very odd situation and it seems that it just needed to be pushed to the right person (which Chris did) for HAL to do the right thing.

  • sunshipballoons

    What does the tour operator protect itself from by refusing to refund to the customer money that was refunded to it by the airline? I do not believe that the contract provision allowing them to do this is enforceable.