‘Am I in some kind of bureaucratic travel hell?’

Question: Last year, I booked a flight from Washington to Bozeman, Montana on US Airways, through Travelocity. About a month later, US Airways changed my flight schedule, leaving too little time for my connection in Denver.

Travelocity worked with the airline to make the change so that I could take a later flight to alleviate this problem and there was to be no charge. But when my credit card statement arrived there was an additional charge of $1,534 for this same flight.

I have contacted Travelocity numerous times through calling and e-mails and I am still being told it is US Airways holding it up. I have contacted US Airways and am getting nowhere. I have contacted my credit card company and was told that if I said I did not authorize the charge my flight would be canceled.

Am I in some sort of bureaucratic travel hell? What can I do to get this refund? — Peggy Kite, Charlottesville, Va.

Answer: You shouldn’t have been charged extra to fix your flight. Instead, Travelocity should have worked with US Airways to ensure you were taken care of.

According to US Airways’ contract of carriage — that’s the legal agreement between you and the airline — you’re entitled to a new ticket to your destination “without additional charge.” If the airline can’t get you to your destination, “US Airways may attempt to rebook the customer on the next available flight of another airline with which US Airways has an agreement allowing the acceptance of each other’s tickets,” according to the contract.

Travelocity’s “guarantee” makes similar assurances. It promises to look out for you “all trip long,” adding, “Everything about your booking will be right, or we’ll work with our partners to make it right, right away.”

It’s unclear why your credit card was charged an extra $1,534. It appears your first ticket was canceled and a second one was booked at a higher rate, without your consent. That’s highly unusual.

I would have written Travelocity immediately to alert them of the overcharge, and if I didn’t hear back, I would have gotten in touch with US Airways. By the way, I’m not sure your new tickets would have been canceled if you’d questioned your credit card charges with your bank. Formal credit card disputes take a long time to work their way through the system. You probably would have used the ticket long before US Airways had a chance to cancel it.

I suggested you contact Travelocity for help, in writing. You did, but despite appealing to the highest level at the online agency, it couldn’t make the refund go any faster.

I asked US Airways to have a look at your case. It refunded the charge for your second ticket.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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