Airline makes a costly mess of honeymoon vacation in Fiji

Question: My husband and I recently flew from Mexico City to Fiji for our honeymoon. One leg of our flight between Los Angeles and Fiji was canceled by United Airlines.

We booked tickets on a different airline for that portion of our trip.

Due to bad weather, our return flight from Fiji to Los Angeles was delayed 24 hours, and we missed our connection to Mexico City on United Airlines. As soon as I knew we would be missing our flight I called a United representative, who rebooked us for a flight the next day.

I paid a $150 change fee per ticket. I understand this charge and am fine with this transaction.

Here’s my problem: Somehow, my mother’s card was automatically charged $869 for two tickets from Los Angeles to Mexico City. I asked about how the charge got on my mother’s card in the first place, since I had used a different card for the original purchase and that I was required to pay the $150 change fee at the airport.

The response was that my mother’s card must have been presented at the ticket counter or provided over the phone. The only place it could have come from was United’s system.

Can you help me sort this out?

Robin Griffith, Mexico City

Answer: What a mess. United shouldn’t have charged your mother another $869, but after reviewing your itinerary, it shouldn’t have billed you for a $150 change fee, either.

When United canceled the Los Angeles-Fiji leg, it refunded the value of that ticket. You rebooked another ticket on your own. Had you linked your tickets through the same reservation number (a travel agent can do that) then United wouldn’t have charged a $150 change fee.

I’m not sure why United charged your mother’s credit card, or how that was even possible. I know that while you were honeymooning in Fiji, United was having some problems with its reservations system, which may explain the mystery ticket.

The key to resolving a problem like this is documentation. Keep all your receipts and boarding passes so that if there’s an erroneous charge later, you can prove you were billed incorrectly.

This is particularly important when you’re dealing with a cancellation or some deviation from your intended schedule. That’s when things can go wrong.

I contacted United on your behalf. It refunded the $869 charge to your mother’s credit card.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “Scammed.” Read more travel tips on his blog, www.elliott.org or email him at celliott@ngs.org.

&Copy; 2012 Christopher Elliott/ Tribune Media Services, Inc.

More in Life

Beer and cupcakes: Snohomish brewer, baker form unlikely duo

Pacific Northwest Cupcakes uses SnoTown’s brews to make beer-infused sweet treats.

The art and science of weathervanes

They told the direction of the wind and aided in forecasting the, well, weather.

Hundreds of ways to pamper your home and yourself

Find fancy fridges to sparkling jewelry under one roof at home and gift shows in Everett.

This is exactly how a cleaning expert organizes her space in 20 minutes

Try these realistic and attainable tricks to land yourself a cleaner home.

Snohomish brewer flavors beer with chilies from mom’s back yard

Beer of the Week: Smoked rye forms sturdy foundation for SnoTown’s well-balanced Loose Rooster.

Fall is just another blooming season

October can be a time of spectacular colors in your garden.

Woodward Canyon Winery continues to weave masterpieces

Owner Rick Small uses grapes from vines he used when he made wine in his back yard in the 1970s.

Great Plant Pick: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo,’ purple-leaf ninebark

Grow it with shrub roses and perennials, and it combines with with ornamental grasses.

Beer, wine, spirits: Snohomish County booze calendar

Dash to Diamond Knot: Flying Unicorn Racing is teaming up with Mukilteo’s… Continue reading

Most Read