Q: We booked a trip from Houston to Raleigh through Mark Travel Group last year to visit my grandmother. Our flights on United Airlines were canceled because of Hurricane Florence.
Mark Travel Group issued flight vouchers good for one year from the date of our initial booking. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away. We thought we could use the credits for the same trip this year for a family reunion.
But neither Mark Travel Group nor United will let us use the credits. I feel as if I’m getting the runaround from both of them. I just want to rebook my tickets. Can you help me? — Todd Medlock, Fresno, Texas
A: I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. United Airlines should have quickly sent a refund to your agency, which should have returned your money, not vouchers. Why money? Because that’s what should happen when an airline cancels a flight. At least, that’s what the Department of Transportation says.
It looks as if either your tour operator or the airline talked you into accepting vouchers. The problem with vouchers is that they expire after a year, and when that happens, the airline gets to keep your money. Always, always insist on a full refund when your flight is canceled.
Further complicating your case: Apple Leisure Group acquired Mark Travel. That might be why you feel like you’re getting the runaround. Acquisitions can be messy. Maybe your credit got lost somewhere in the system.
Also, it’s possible that your credits would have expired by the time you wanted to travel. Remember, when an airline issues credit, it’s typically from the date of your original booking. If you booked the trip back in March of 2018, the clock would have started then — not in September, when you were supposed to fly.
Apple Leisure Group should have been more sensitive to your situation, given the circumstances of your request. Even if your vouchers were no longer any good, it could have at least told you that.
A brief, polite email to one of the United Airlines customer service contacts or one of the Apple Leisure Group executive contacts listed on my consumer advocacy site might have shaken something loose.
I contacted Apple Leisure Group on your behalf, and it applied the credits to your new flight to Raleigh, as you requested.