Most airlines will consider giving you a refund in case of unexpected hardship, such as a death in the family or major illness. However, things can get complicated if you book through a third-party travel service. For one Bay Area woman it meant weeks of frustration.
"He suddenly felt pain in his neck and leg," said Jenny Wu of Belmont.
Wu is talking about her father, Chuinchung. He seemed perfectly healthy in January when he booked a trip to London with his wife and son. Then, the pain set in.
"So we sent him to the hospital, they found a tumor on the cervical, [the] neck," said Wu.
Her father was in Boston when he was diagnosed with cancer and had to begin radiation right away. London was out of the question so Wu canceled her father's flight and asked for a refund, or at least tried.
"Expedia told me the airline took the money. The airline said Expedia has the money," said Wu.
The family had used Expedia.com to purchase tickets on Virgin Atlantic Airways. They knew the tickets were non-refundable. However, Expedia said Wu could request a refund based on extenuating circumstances, so Wu filled out the forms and sent them to Expedia. Doctors included a letter of support, but nothing happened.
"I talked to at least 20 to 25 representatives and every time I had to repeat my story," said Wu.
Weeks passed and Wu said she kept calling Expedia. The travel service kept telling her to fill out the form.
"I say we already did it. We fax it five times and they said, 'Oh, maybe your fax doesn't work,'" said Wu.
Finally, Expedia told her to call the refund department, but no one could provide a phone number for the refund department.
"So we got so frustrated, I thought I should do something else. My colleague told me there is 7 On Your Side so that's why I called you," said Wu.
We contacted Expedia.com and the company took action.
"I think after two weeks we got a response. That's amazing, that's amazing," said Wu.
Expedia said their "customer service agents worked closely with Virgin Atlantic, advocating on behalf of Ms. Wu's behalf to secure a full refund."
The family will receive the full $825.40 for her father's ticket.
"I think it's fantastic. We're happy about that," said Wu.
If you book a flight through a travel service, generally you have to request a refund through the same service -- not through the airline. That can make things complicated. The airline's ticket restrictions will apply and the carrier can approve or deny a refund. You still have this third party in the middle, but give it a shot.