To witness her son’s graduation from the National Guard’s Apache helicopter training program in April 2020, Janet Chen used Expedia to book what she thought was a round-trip ticket on Delta Air Lines from her home in Wake Forest, N.C., to Dothan Airport in Alabama. When the pandemic made travel dangerous, she canceled her trip and received a voucher for its full $500 value, to be used within 18 months.
In May, Ms. Chen, a 61-year-old accountant, called the online travel agency and tried to use her voucher for a trip to Seattle. And that’s where her odyssey began.
After two one-hour waits to speak to a customer service representative (and two disconnected calls), the Expedia agent she finally spoke with told her that she had booked two one-way tickets, and she could not use them to buy a new round-trip ticket. After another four-hour call the following day, she finally succeeded in using her voucher, as long as she paid an additional $200, owed, she was told, because of the new routing.
“Who has eight hours to call an online travel agent?” Ms. Chen said. “It really drains you.”
Ms. Chen is far from alone these days in experiencing frustrating delays in rebooking flights, or monthslong waits to get reimbursed for flights canceled by the airlines, and even outright refusals by travel companies to honor flight credits, many of which were granted once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that consumers not travel via air during the pandemic.
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