Friday, October 21, 2011

How to get a refund from the airlines after their major screw up

How to get a refund from the airlines after their major screw up?
It is about the following three companies: Delta Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and Orbitz My itinerary is: SAN->PVG, PVG->DTW, DTW->SAN (San Diego to Shanghai, to Detroit, then back to San Diego) Including all transit flights, the complete itinerary is: SAN->LAX->PVG->JFK->DTW->MSP->SAN, involving the following flights: DL 4712, MU 586, MU 587, DL 1435, DL 1055, DL 1787. My original departure date is Dec 16, SAN->PVG, and the return date is Dec 28, PVG->DTW, the third leg DTW->SAN is on Jan 2nd, 2011. The entire itinerary is purchased in a single transaction as one complete itinerary. Problem encountered: Summary: DL 4712 canceled due to mechanical issues, Delta was unable to make alternative arrangements to take me to China, and the entire travel had to be cancelled. I then requested a refund as there was no fault on my part as a passenger, but all three companies refused my request, suggesting that I contact the other two. Some details: DL 4712 SAN->LAX was cancelled due to mechanical issues; therefore I missed the connecting MU 586 flight from LAX to Shanghai. Delta proposed two remedies but was unable to follow through. They first proposed putting me on the MU 586 flight for the next day (Dec 17), but they could not make this agreement as China Eastern demands a 1500 US dollar fee, which Delta refused to pay. The second proposal was to reroute me on an all-Delta itinerary. Delta agent Ed in Salk Lake City worked out an itinerary for me where my China bound flights are all operated by Delta and verbally assured me that I would “definitely be able to go”. So I drove all the way to the airport again. At the airport, however, Delta agent Juanita could not issue my boarding pass despite all efforts. They cited the reason that China Eastern would not release the control of the ticket to Delta. I have been in contact with all three parties since the initial cancellation. Eventually, on Dec 18th, after two days of delays it became apparent that this trip had died because China Eastern Los Angeles office requests an authorization from their Shanghai headquarters to waive the 1500 dollar fee which the Shanghai office has declined to give. I then requested a refund since I am not at fault. However, my request could not be honored as Delta does not hold the ticket. China Eastern holds the ticket but told me that I must request the refund from Orbitz. Orbitz told me that China Eastern has the money and there was nothing they could do. Credit card statement shows that the fund is indeed drawn by China Eastern. Unfortunately, the Chinese credit card company does not have a mechanism for disputing charges, unlike American credit cards. The entire process has been very very stressful. In the spirit of keeping this short, I am not including all the correspondence details. However, I must emphasize that the way I was treated by each company caused enormous mental stress, and conflicting information from not only among the three, but also sometimes a single company, has caused me great time and financial losses. This is a significant part of my complaint. Finally, as a no-fault passenger, I was forced by the airlines to be the middle person for the three. “Sorry there’s nothing we could do” was the single most frequent answer. “I understand we are at fault, but we just can’t do anything for you, you need to contact China Eastern yourself”-Allen Knox, Cincinnati. I just feel so hopeless and powerless in dealing with these powerful corporations. When I asked Delta to at least pay for the ticket loss since they are at fault, as China Eastern has refused to refund (because they say they are not at fault), the reply by Delta agent Tangi and manager Allen is equally concise yet stern: "That's not gonna happen". Is there any consumer protection law that can possibly protect me in this case?
Air Travel - 2 Answers
Random Answers, Critics, Comments, Opinions :
1 :
Since this problem started with Delta, they should be liable. The airline should have put you on the next available flight or put you on a competitor's flight such as American Eagle to get you to LAX. I would have though Delta if they could not get you on China Eastern, would at least put you on their flight to Tokyo and then onto Shanghai. Keep fighting with Delta and escalate it up to a higher supervisor and do not give up as it is the airline's fault due to mechancial failure.
2 :
I do understand your frustration. This seems like a very stressful situation. After your first flight from SAN to LAX, Delta should have been able to make alternative arrangements so you could get to Shanghai. In this case, they didn't. Usually, if you have a connecting flight, airlines put you on another airline so that you won't miss your flight. If they refused to do that, you could have driven the short 2-3 drive from San Diego to Los Angeles. Secondly, I think it is best that you remove Orbitz from your correspondence. They having no involvement in this situation. They were just the booking company. They are under no obligation to refund your ticket--Delta and China Eastern are. What I would do is complain to the FAA, and the Better Business Bureau. With the BBB, you can demand a full refund from the airlines. Don't file your complaint against Orbitz. If you need more assistance, please do not hesitate to email me.

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