What should she do about expired flight credit on Expedia?

When Heidi Edmonds tries to use her Expedia flight credit to book a flight from New York to Dublin, Ireland, she finds her luck has run out. The vouchers are expired. But whose fault is that?

  • Sunday, August 1, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Q: I booked airline tickets on Expedia back in 2019 to fly from New York to Dublin, Ireland. We were scheduled to fly to Europe last August.

In July, I had to cancel the tickets because of COVID-19 restrictions. I read all of the fine print about using the travel credits. When I tried to rebook the flights for August, an Expedia representative said that Aer Lingus did not have flights ready for booking and confirmation yet and asked me to call back in a month.

A few weeks later, I applied for travel vouchers through Aer Lingus. The airline denied my request since I purchased tickets through Expedia. I tried to rebook last fall, and finally, in October, I spoke with an Expedia representative and selected my new flights. My Expedia account showed my new itinerary. But at the end of our conversation, the representative told me that, unfortunately, although I could book the flights, I couldn’t confirm them. Why? It was too early for Aer Lingus to confirm. Before we hung up, the Expedia representative assured me that everything would be fine as long as I called back “in a couple of months” to confirm these flights.

But last January, when I checked, it showed only half of my 2020 booking. I called customer service and spoke to a representative for 45 minutes. He tried to help me retrieve my flights and get my trip confirmed, but he told me that I had missed the cutoff for rebooking.

I am frustrated. I feel ripped off. I was careful to read all the fine print, and it seems like Expedia wanted me to lose my credits. Expedia’s error caused Aer Lingus to believe that I missed the date to rebook. Can you help me get my money back?

— Heidi Edmonds, East Setauket, New York

A: You did everything you could to use those flight vouchers. But in the upside-down world of pandemic travel, everyone was confused. And that includes Aer Lingus and your online travel agency, Expedia.

You canceled your tickets but were eligible for a ticket credit. That credit would typically expire a year from the date of your initial booking. In other words, it would expire in 2020, which wouldn’t give you enough time to use it. It looks like there was some confusion about the expiration of your credit. It’s possible that the Expedia agent to whom you spoke didn’t read the fine print carefully enough, assuming you would have time to use the credit. But you didn’t.

Had you known this was going to happen — and there was no way you could know — then you could have reminded the agent that you booked your tickets in late 2019 and confirmed the credit’s expiration date. With airlines waiving their rules during the pandemic, you couldn’t have known that the agent was misinformed. Then again, maybe Aer Lingus was sending a confusing message about your ticket expiration. As I said, the early days of the pandemic were a confusing time for travelers and airlines.

You could have reached out to managers at both companies to get some clarification. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of managers at Expedia and Aer Lingus on my consumer advocacy site, www.elliott.org.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. It refunded your airline tickets.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.

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