Road Scholar downgrades traveler from business to economy

While booking Maureen Kelleher on a different airline, British Airways also downgraded her. Is she entitled to a refund?

  • By Wire Service
  • Saturday, May 11, 2024 1:30am
  • Life

Q: I just completed a Road Scholar trip to Egypt, but on the trip home, British Airways canceled my flight four hours before its scheduled departure. My ticket on British Airways was in business class, but British Airways rebooked me on Egyptair in a leftover seat at the back of the plane in economy class. The ticket cost British Airways $416.

I spent $3,000 on business-class airfare. I’d like to get a refund for the fare difference. But so far, both Road Scholar and British Airways have refused. Can you help?

— Maureen Kelleher, Simsbury, Connecticut

A: Flight cancellations happen. But when they do, you should receive a refund for your downgrade from business class to economy.

British Airways’ general conditions of carriage — the legal agreement between you and the airline — addresses a change of schedule like the one you experienced. It explicitly says that you will get a refund when there is a fare difference and you use the ticket. Road Scholar’s terms and conditions don’t address an involuntary downgrade like the one you suffered.

There are also Department of Transportation rules that have to be followed. It says that you’re entitled to a refund if you’re involuntarily moved to a lower class of service. For example, if you buy a first-class ticket and get downgraded to economy class because of an aircraft change, the airline must refund the fare difference. If your flight had originated in the United States, DOT rules would have applied.

I think you have a strong case for a refund. So, what’s going on here? I reviewed the paper trail between you and Road Scholar. Since the tour operator had booked your flights, it was responsible for getting you your refund, so you went to the right place. But after four months, you weren’t getting anywhere. It was time to call my advocacy team.

I could see no reason for the delay in your refund. In fact, two other members of your party had already filed successful credit card disputes to recover their money. By the way, I don’t recommend doing that as a first step to recovering your money. It’s always better to ask the company for a refund first. You can find the executive contacts for Road Scholar on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

I contacted Road Scholar on your behalf. A representative responded to me shortly after that.

“I’m happy to report that we have resolved the situation with Maureen and are issuing her a refund,” she said. “Her previous complaints had gotten caught up in the wrong department. Thanks for the nudge to escalate so we could get her talking to the right people to resolve her issue.”

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at chris@elliott.org or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Life

Photo by Gina Shields of GM Photography
Whidbey Island to salute the fallen for Memorial Day

All are invited to honor those who have fallen at three events on Whidbey Island.

Collection of  colorful flowers and ornamental plants in pots against the wooden wall on a corner of town street,Japan
Thrillers, fillers and spillers: Show your style with striking containers

Get into the spirit of summer by breathing new life into your old pots with fresh arrangments of foliage and flowers.

Pippin the Biewer Terrier sits in the lap of her owner Kathy West on Monday, May 20, 2024, at West’s home in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Marysville’s ‘top dog,’ on 48-kibble-a-day diet, shines at Westminster

Fame hasn’t turned this Biewer Terrier’s head or nose: in her spare time she’s a lap dog, hiking buff and bunny chaser.

American Airlines changed my flight, but won’t give me a refund

The airline suggested it would offer Neil Gupta a refund, then it backtracked. Will he ever get his money back?

Soaking in the opulence of thermal baths is Budapest at its best

My readers often report that the thermal baths were their top Hungarian experience. Pro tip: Bring a towel from your hotel.

Life is hard, yes, but also fleeting. To find happiness, live for today.

As my father used to say: “We’re not getting out of here alive.” So try to appreciate each day for the gift it truly is.

Sarah McLachlan performs during WE Day in Toronto on Thursday September 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Scottish band Nazareth will rock Everett and Sarah McLachlan will open Chateau Ste. Michelle’s summer concert series.

Tony Cladusbid, co-owner of the Beaver Tales Coffee franchise, watches over the canoe racing at the Penn Cove Water Festival on Saturday. (Photo by Sam Fletcher)
More than coffee: Swinomish Native shares family history and wisdom

Tony Cladusbid is the co-owner of Beaver Tales Coffee in Coupeville. He recently changed his name to honor his heritage.

2024 Toyota Venza Limited crossover (Photo provided by Toyota)
2024 Toyota Venza Limited crossover

The car is a safe choice that’s still eco-friendly to help ease a guilty conscious.

Cast-iron sign offers 3 simple steps for safety in case a train’s a comin’

Advising people to stop, look and listen, this old sign is more instructive than newer X-shaped railroad crossing signs.

The Solterra is Subaru’s first all-electric compact SUV. (Photo provided by Subaru)
2024 Subaru Solterra is updated with no increase in pricing

Improved charging ability, added EyeSight features and a new steering wheel are among the upgrades.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.