Azores Airlines runaround

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May 26, 2020
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I was recently notified of an itinerary change that changed my return flight departure time by 7+ hours and included a different flight number effectively "cancelling" by original itinerary. On this basis, I notified the airline on 5/17/20 that I did not wish to accept the change in itinerary and requested that it be cancelled with a refund issued. I have since responded to 3 additional emails from the airline declining their voucher and reiterating that I would like a refund. In one email the customer service rep even acknowledges that I am "entitled to a refund". Despite 4 communications since May 17, today I received by email electronic ticket receipts for the itinerary in question. I wrote again, including the previous email chain, expressing concern and again stating that I was refusing the itinerary change and requesting a refund.

My question is, at what point to I mention US DOT and/or EU regulations? Or file a complaint with the DOT? We were to be flying Boston to Ponta Delgada (Azores). Am I correct in my understanding the because the plane would have been on US soil, they are supposed to abide by the US rules, including a refund to credit card within 7 business days?

I'v kept my communications concise and polite so far, but now I'm getting worried and increasingly frustrated.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Did the flight begin or end in the US? If not, it doesn’t fall under DOT rules.
“We were to be flying Boston to Ponta Delgada (Azores).”

I would state they are required to refund you based on the DOT. Have you tried escalating your case to the execs? As a last resort, file a dispute with your credit card.
 
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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Although Azores Air is required to offer a refund, we have another post now where Air Canada states that they are not required to refund and that the DOT regs do not apply to them.
 
May 26, 2020
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I want to escalate to the executive level at this point, but have not been successful in finding the contact info. An old link on this site is not longer accessible. On the Azores Airlines site the only email is a generic [email protected] which I have been using. Even on the associated SATA site all I have come up with are generic emails with the message:
Help us to serve you better!
If you would like to make a suggestion or give us your opinion about one of our services, you may do it through our Customer Service, using the following contacts:
[email protected] or [email protected]

If anyone else has a lead on an executive contact that would be outstanding!

weihlac, just saw your post. Fortunately I have it in writing from them that I am entitled to a refund, so if it comes down to it, I'm hopeful that will make my case if I have to do a charge back. (fingers crossed)
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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Be very persistent with this. Travel providers are running out of cash and soon there will be no funds available to refund, no matter what DOT says. Just pound away notifying them you wish to cancel and asking for a refund. This is an absolutely horrendous time ... I can't blame the airline for refusing the refund, it's buying them a little time. There's a light at the end of this virus tunnel and things will get moving again soon I think. But travel providers have to maintain enough staff to function, and that's money right out the door with nothing coming in.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
Although Azores Air is required to offer a refund, we have another post now where Air Canada states that they are not required to refund and that the DOT regs do not apply to them.
That’s not what the DOT rules state, although apparently some airlines don’t think it applies to them. A complaint to the DOT needs to be done.
 
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May 26, 2020
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Well, I got email confirmation this morning that my flights have been cancelled... But the email is not part of the previous chain of communication and states that the cancellation was "due to the evolution of the pandemic." This time a choice of voucher or reschedule was presented. I emailed back reiterating my refund request and indicating that they had already said I was entitled to a refund. (So this is now 5 emails back and forth saying the same thing)

It has only been 10 days, so I guess I'm looking for advice at this point on how many times, or how long, to go back and forth before I file a complaint with the DOT and/or EU? Do I give the airline warning that I intend to file a complaint or just file? How long should I wait after a complaint before giving up and trying for a charge back with my credit card?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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I would advise you to wait at least a few weeks. In the past few days, we have seen several consumers who came here wanting refunds finally getting them without doing much- it simply took time for these companies to get organized.

This is an unprecedented time and it has caused total upheaval in the travel industry. It is just taking time for everything to be sorted out.
 
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Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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When is your flight supposed to depart?

I am unclear if you have received an email confirmation that you are due a refund or have you just received an email from a customer service saying you are entitled to a refund. To me, those are not the same thing. Depending on your answer to my question, I would file a complaint with DOT now if you have not received confirmation of a refund due. No need to inform them of your intentions. If they have confirmed you are due a refund, then I would follow Neil's advice about waiting for the refund to appear.

When I requested a refund from Delta, I received an email stating that I was due a refund and that it would take x amount of days for the refund to post on my credit card. It was not an email exchange from a customer service rep but rather a company-generated email. Same for a flight with Alaska.
 
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May 26, 2020
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They have emailed that I am "entitled to" a refund. I have now responded to 6 emails asking me to reconsider a voucher or confirm that I still would like a refund. If their next email continues the cycle I'll be following your advice and filing a complaint with the DOT.

After filing, how much time should I reasonably wait for a resolution before considering a charge back on my credit card? I know that's the "nuclear option" so I want to be realistic in giving the complaint process a chance to work. I don't know if it matters but we were scheduled to fly on June 19.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Please give it a couple more weeks. All travel suppliers are having a tough time finding cash for all of us refunds due. If they keep emailing you it sounds like they are aware you want a refund and trying to talk you into a credit.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Okay, that is good news. They are trying to wear you down by offering you other options. I think it does matter when you are flying as they are addressing refunds by date. Since your flight hasn't even happened yet, they probably won't address it until July at the earliest.
 

smd

Mar 14, 2018
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I suggest you contact your credit card company, find out the latest date you can challenge the charge and do not wait past that time. Azores wasn't in the best financial state before and it's unclear if the Portuguese government is able/willing to bail them out. Even if they do get a bailout, it may be done as part of a reorganization that includes reneging on their refund obligations (since the Portuguese voters won't be happy to see their tax dollars going towards US refunds.)