Getting out of no-refund airline tickets due to coronavirus

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Apr 2, 2020
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My wife and I booked no-refund roundtrip tickets through a travel agent on a UAL flt to Japan; made the reservation in mid-Feb. before the coronavirus hit. Now with the virus forcing world wide alterations to plans, we do not want to go on the trip scheduled for May 7 - June 9. UA has cancelled our flight no.to Japan for the month of April, but has not cancelled May flights as of now. Japan has issued declarations telling travelers from USA not to come to Japan. On top of that, we are both over 70 and I have health risks, none of these were an issue when we booked the flights in February.

I would like to cancel the tickets but feel I would be better off waiting for UA to cancel our flights, probably closer to the May date.
Meanwhile, my credit card charge for the tickets is waiting to be paid; thousands of dollars. I must pay it by April 8 or face interest charges. If I pay, then I lose any leverage with the travel agency.

Should I pay for the no-refund tickets and then wait for the flights to be cancelled and take my chances with Pleasant Holidays, the travel agency wholesaler I'm using...
Or, dispute the fee to Visa? While they are adjudicating it, United will in all probability cancel May flights to Japan, and then it's a mute point...or is it?
If Visa rules I cannot refuse to pay for the tickets, I will probably be charged interest at 20%, not a small penalty (approx $2K) to have to pay.

Our travel agent is helpful but she tells me that if I don't pay, then her wholesaler (Pleasant Holidays) will charge her company. "That's the rules" she tells me.

I am not familiar with ways to get out of No-Refund Tickets. With covid-19 everything is so different, will that be considered in decisions. Plus, Japan is not accepting American travelers as I write this.
Do I have any rights? I do have Travel Insurance but why pay for tickets I will not use, then submit a claim for loses to the insurance company when at the moment I can refuse to pay the initial Visa charge for the no-refund tickets.

Any suggestions for the way forward would be appreciated.
Thank you.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Your flight to Japan was cancelled but the return was not? I would request a refund stating that your flight was cancelled and there is no way to take the return flight if you cannot get to Japan. Your travel agent should be advocating for you to receive a refund. That is why you hired a travel agent!
 
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Jun 24, 2019
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Your flight to Japan was cancelled but the return was not? I would request a refund stating that your flight was cancelled and there is no way to take the return flight if you cannot get to Japan. Your travel agent should be advocating for you to receive a refund. That is why you hired a travel agent!
No, his flight in May has not yet been cancelled.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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What dispute will you advocate with Visa? You bought non-refundable tickets. As of today, United still shows that flight as operating on the dates you selected. You will likely lose that dispute.

You asked what rights do you have? Not to be difficult, but you had the right to buy refundable tickets and you chose not to.

It is not clear that if the flight operates that your travel insurance will cover anything, unless you purchased CFAR insurance. That has been much discussed in other posts on this site. Unless you personally have some condition which fits into the coverage you bought, gthen it would seem unlikely that your travel insurance will help. Unless you have CFAR insurance (unlikely), your generalized fear of travel in these times is not generally a covered reason under insurance.

You have two choices now. First, you can wait to see if United cancels your flights. If it does, it may offer a refund or a credit. (See the discussion about this elsewhere.) Second, if United does not cancel these flights you can ask United to make an exception for you and give you a credit for a future flight to Japan.

Since you have a travel agent, you ought to ask their advice and for them to advocate for you.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
2,840
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Maui Hawaii
My wife and I booked no-refund roundtrip tickets through a travel agent on a UAL flt to Japan; made the reservation in mid-Feb. before the coronavirus hit. Now with the virus forcing world wide alterations to plans, we do not want to go on the trip scheduled for May 7 - June 9. UA has cancelled our flight no.to Japan for the month of April, but has not cancelled May flights as of now. Japan has issued declarations telling travelers from USA not to come to Japan. On top of that, we are both over 70 and I have health risks, none of these were an issue when we booked the flights in February.

I would like to cancel the tickets but feel I would be better off waiting for UA to cancel our flights, probably closer to the May date.
Meanwhile, my credit card charge for the tickets is waiting to be paid; thousands of dollars. I must pay it by April 8 or face interest charges. If I pay, then I lose any leverage with the travel agency.

Should I pay for the no-refund tickets and then wait for the flights to be cancelled and take my chances with Pleasant Holidays, the travel agency wholesaler I'm using...
Or, dispute the fee to Visa? While they are adjudicating it, United will in all probability cancel May flights to Japan, and then it's a mute point...or is it?
If Visa rules I cannot refuse to pay for the tickets, I will probably be charged interest at 20%, not a small penalty (approx $2K) to have to pay.

Our travel agent is helpful but she tells me that if I don't pay, then her wholesaler (Pleasant Holidays) will charge her company. "That's the rules" she tells me.

I am not familiar with ways to get out of No-Refund Tickets. With covid-19 everything is so different, will that be considered in decisions. Plus, Japan is not accepting American travelers as I write this.
Do I have any rights? I do have Travel Insurance but why pay for tickets I will not use, then submit a claim for loses to the insurance company when at the moment I can refuse to pay the initial Visa charge for the no-refund tickets.

Any suggestions for the way forward would be appreciated.
Thank you.
You purchased the non-ref tickets and unfortunately, you are obligated to pay the credit card bill for them. You need to wait and see if the flights in May are canceled. With the current state of COVID-19 in the US, it would not be surprising that Japan will not allow flight from the US to Japan in May, but only time will tell.

No insurance will cover your losses on these tickets. If the flights are canceled you will probably get a refund, but even that is not certain since airlines are now offering vouchers for future flights rather than actual refunds for canceled flights. If you cancel your flights because you choose not to fly (which is a reasonable decision) you should not expect that insurance will provide any reimbursement.

You have no grounds to dispute the fee with VISA. You contacted for a service. Disputing the charge now would be fraudulent.
 
Last edited:
Mar 17, 2015
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I think he is saying that UA has cancelled the flight from US to Japan throughout April. His flight has not been cancelled because the airlines are not cancelling May flights just yet.

I do not think you have a great argument about not knowing about COVID-19 in February. This has been pretty significant news since January. It finally snowballed in late February. I think by filing a credit card dispute, you would be committing fraud at this point, since UA has not yet cancelled the flight. What date does the Japan notice expire? You would have a better argument if Japan is saying no US travelers until at least May 8th. Then you would not be allowed in.

With the current projection of COVID-19, it is very likely that the flight will be cancelled. Especially since it is so early in May. However, as mentioned above, most airlines are only offering a future credit right now rather than an outright refund.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
I would make the minimum payment, then call Visa and request that the interest charge on your balance be waived for 60 days.

Your travel agent doesn't sound very helpful ... or did you purchase two one-way tix?
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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If I pay, then I lose any leverage with the travel agency.
That's not how credit cards work. Your credit card company paid the travel agency the money the minute they charged your card. You now owe the credit card company back the money they paid on your behalf. Refusing to pay your credit card does not withhold the money from the travel agency. Furthermore the travel agency forwarded the money onto the airline company so they don't have the money anymore.

Your ability to dispute a charge does not change whether you've paid the credit card bill or not. Though like others said, disputing it at this time would be fraud.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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Why not wait a few weeks for the likely cancellation?

And if your credit card charges you 20% interest for the month wait you need to find a new credit card.

As others have pointed out the paying the card has no bearing on the ability to dispute so there is no leverage to be gained.
 
Apr 2, 2020
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Thanks to everyone for your responses and suggestions/ideas.

I'll expect to pay the credit card amount owed. for the flights based on your responses.

For the sake of argument, lets assume the flight (it is roundtrip even though I didn't state that previously) is cancelled. Where does the $money end up then? With United? With the wholesaler who made the no-refund ticket? With my travel agent? Do they all keep a piece (commissions) and UAL pockets their fare, then cancels the flights?

So, faced with what some are calling "an Act of God," covid-19 is throwing out a whole new scenario on a scale never seen before.
Some responder said I would be committing frauds to not pay. Is it not disingenuous to be demanding money for flights that we know are not going to made in today's circumstances.
It seems prudent to not pay for something I won't receive benefit from. At best I will probably be given a choice of rebooking now, or receiving credit for flights within a certain time frame.

I will not buy no-refund tickets in the future. My mistake this time.
Your thoughts on my rant are welcomed.
 
Sep 27, 2018
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Thanks to everyone for your responses and suggestions/ideas.

I'll expect to pay the credit card amount owed. for the flights based on your responses.

For the sake of argument, lets assume the flight (it is roundtrip even though I didn't state that previously) is cancelled. Where does the $money end up then? With United? With the wholesaler who made the no-refund ticket? With my travel agent? Do they all keep a piece (commissions) and UAL pockets their fare, then cancels the flights?

So, faced with what some are calling "an Act of God," covid-19 is throwing out a whole new scenario on a scale never seen before.
Some responder said I would be committing frauds to not pay. Is it not disingenuous to be demanding money for flights that we know are not going to made in today's circumstances.
It seems prudent to not pay for something I won't receive benefit from. At best I will probably be given a choice of rebooking now, or receiving credit for flights within a certain time frame.

I will not buy no-refund tickets in the future. My mistake this time.
Your thoughts on my rant are welcomed.
Avoiding non-refundable tickets is probably not realistic, thus the strategy is to manage your trip within the boundaries of the contract. Too many people assume if you whine enough then you can get a refund on non-refundable travel plans, instead of giving careful thought when planning a trip. My guess is you will be fine, since countries are going to be very slow and careful to open borders, and thus UA will cancel the flight. Even if it is vouchers you have a big window in which to use them. Understand we are in uncharted territory, this is the biggest disruption to global travel since WWII. The key as stated elsewhere on this site, is to not panic and let the system work.
 
Apr 5, 2020
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I am in similar situation and paid for return journey commencing in Apr first week with return in May first week. I am not going to cancel myself as I know that United airline will have to cancel themselves. They are not yet cancelling for May but that is not practical as I have purchased return journey and they cant expect me to return from international journey if I never traveled there. They have started to provide 24 month credit but I will definitely going for full refund right away. Made a complaint at Department of Transport. Also, I have screenshot of United's terms from last week where it said that if you do not use credit by Dec 2020, they will finally refund. They are changing policies every day.
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
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I am in similar situation and paid for return journey commencing in Apr first week with return in May first week. I am not going to cancel myself as I know that United airline will have to cancel themselves. They are not yet cancelling for May but that is not practical as I have purchased return journey and they cant expect me to return from international journey if I never traveled there. They have started to provide 24 month credit but I will definitely going for full refund right away. Made a complaint at Department of Transport. Also, I have screenshot of United's terms from last week where it said that if you do not use credit by Dec 2020, they will finally refund. They are changing policies every day.
If you have a round trip ticket and they cancel the outbound for April, then they should refund the complete ticket. If you have two separate tickets, then you will have to wait for them to cancel each flight. Unfortunately, if your return in May is not ticketed with the outbound, and they don't cancel that flight, they probably aren't going to be required to provide a refund.
 
Apr 5, 2020
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If you have a round trip ticket and they cancel the outbound for April, then they should refund the complete ticket. If you have two separate tickets, then you will have to wait for them to cancel each flight. Unfortunately, if your return in May is not ticketed with the outbound, and they don't cancel that flight, they probably aren't going to be required to provide a refund.
I dont know how to confirm if I have two separate tickets. I never booked in that way. I asked the agent and he sent me a booking id which shows both legs of the journey ( Now it is showing only returning leg, probably due to cancellation for outbound).
 
Apr 5, 2020
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Do you have one reservation number for all the tickets?
I found out that at top it had one reservation number but underneath it says two airline reservation numbers. So probably, that is the what causing the trouble. Agent might have combined two reservations.