Q. Last year I booked plane tickets from Prague to Los Angeles through SkyLux, an online ticket broker. After Lufthansa canceled my flight at the last minute, a SkyLux agent promised me that the company had refunded my money, but that I had to pay for a new ticket.
The money had not been refunded. I paid for two tickets. The second, it goes without saying, was more expensive than the first. I’ve been calling and emailing for nine months asking for my money back, still nothing! When I asked for a manager they gave me no one else to talk to other than the original booking agent. Can you help me get my money back?
MICHELLE ALEXANDRE, Los Angeles
A. I’m sorry SkyLux didn’t refund your ticket as promised. It’s hard to describe the chaos that followed the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines have canceled flights. Travel agencies attempted to modify ticket reservations or obtain refunds. The situation left customers confused and irritated.
Nine months is far too long to wait for a refund, of course. It appears that Lufthansa sent your refund to SkyLux. But somehow the money didn’t get to you. Then you contacted the online ticket broker and there was some confusion as to who had the money. Finally, you have decided to dispute your charges under the Fair Credit Billing Act. SkyLux fought the dispute and won.
So what is going on here? First, it seems that the online agency and your airline have crossed paths. No one knew who had your money. For the record, when an airline cancels your flight, you must be fully refunded within seven working days. Lufthansa should have sent the refund to your agent, and your agent would have forwarded the money to you.
The wheels turned slowly after the epidemic. The pressure of hundreds of thousands of refunds has stopped the cogs of the airline refund machine. Granted, some unscrupulous companies have used the pandemic as an excuse to hold onto your money, granting them an interest-free microcredit. But most businesses were simply outdated.
Your credit card dispute unfortunately didn’t help. Dispute is a last resort when all negotiations and appeals have failed. And believe it or not, SkyLux was still working on your refund request. So when he got your chargeback, he fought the chargeback and won.
Before the dispute, you may have called in a manager from SkyLux. I post the names, numbers and email addresses of SkyLux customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/skylux-travel-customer-service-contacts/.
It looks like your credit card company tried to contact SkyLux, but they didn’t always respond (except to dispute the charge). I find it strange that your credit card issuer is siding with the ticket broker anyway. This may be because you have exceeded the 60 day limit to dispute your charges. But a bank can still choose to help you in certain circumstances.
Additionally, it looks like Lufthansa charged you a $ 250 cancellation fee even though the airline canceled your flight. I would like to think that was also a pandemic error.
I contacted SkyLux, and they sent you a full refund.
Christopher Elliott is the Advocacy Manager for Elliott Advocacy, a non-profit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help Where [email protected].