Q: I recently had tickets to fly from Tucson, Ariz., to the Galapagos, via Los Angeles and Quito, Ecuador. The Tucson-L.A. flights were one-way tickets, and the L.A.-Quito segment was connected in our reservations. However, all of the tickets had been booked through the Chase website, except the Galapagos tickets, which were purchased through Mytrip.com.
I missed the L.A.-to-Quito flight because of flight delays outside of our control, which screwed up the Galapagos flight. I canceled the flight ahead of time and attempted to reschedule for a fee of $201. I received four new e-tickets from Mytrip with information for a flight with Ecuador’s national airline, Tame. But, two days later, when I arrived for our departure flight, an airline representative told me I wasn’t “on the manifest.” It turns out my reservation had been canceled. I bought tickets with another airline for the next flight out for an additional $1,100.
I have contacted Mytrip by phone and by e-mail multiple times, requesting a refund for the rebooking fee and the new tickets, since neither service was actually provided, despite being paid for. How do I navigate the rules and obtain a refund?
A: Wow, what a mess! It looks as if you were self-booking with a discount online travel agency, Mytrip.com, to get from Tucson to the Galapagos. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you know what you’re doing.
Booking a one-way, unconnected ticket is a little risky. That’s because the airline has no way of knowing of your connection unless you tell it. So American Airlines wouldn’t have known that you needed to get to Quito, and with your first flight delayed, you’d be stranded at LAX.
If you’d worked with a competent travel agent, the tickets would have been connected in the reservations system — meaning that if one segment had a problem, the other airlines would find a way to reaccommodate you at no extra cost. As it turns out, you had to reschedule your trip and pay $1,301 more.
But who is responsible for this?
It’s possible that some of the confusion is related to your airline, which allowed you to book unconnected tickets on the same itinerary. Certainly, your online agent bears some responsibility, although only for the flights it booked. And, of course, you made your fair share of mistakes.
Technically, you were not entitled to a refund of the change fee or the new fare, since you made your own reservation. But when I asked Mytrip.com about your reservation, it tried to help. It turns out you’d disputed the change fee on your credit card. You asked your bank to lift the dispute, and the airline agreed to reverse the fee. Mytrip.com also says it checked with Tame, which refunded the original fare you paid to reach the islands.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at email@example.com.