Q: My partner and I would like to kindly request your help in obtaining a refund from LIAT airline for missing our connecting flight from Trinidad to Toronto due to a two-hour delay of our first leg from St. Vincent.

After our late arrival in Trinidad, we were sent to a hotel, with the promise that we would be placed on the next available flight on any airline the next day. When we returned to the airport the next day, a LIAT representative told us we would be rebooked on an Air Canada flight leaving Trinidad one week later.

We could not afford to extend our vacation by another week. We had to purchase seats on an American Airlines flight in order to complete our travel to Toronto.

Before leaving Trinidad, we contacted a LIAT supervisor at the airport. He informed us that it was company policy to give us a refund for the flight that we missed. He documented our situation on an itinerary he printed at the terminal and signed it as proof.

We submitted a refund request to the airline’s customer-relations department. A representative promised us a reply in “a few weeks.” But a few weeks later, we had no response. The only official feedback we have received from LIAT is an e-mail acknowledgment of our refund request. Can you help us get the refund we’ve been promised?

A: Trying to get from St. Vincent back to Toronto was a real odyssey for you and your partner. LIAT made things worse by first promising you a refund and then dragging its feet.

Why the delay? I contacted Air Canada and found that it had issued your ticket, but it used LIAT for part of the journey. Air Canada deferred to LIAT for the refund, since a LIAT representative had promised you the money. It’s a little complicated.

This kind of finger-pointing is common in the airline industry. If you don’t mind a small diversion from our flight plan, allow me to say this: Airlines love to act as one when it’s convenient for them (the technical term is “code-sharing”), but when it’s inconvenient, they pretend they’ve never heard of each other.

You kept a great paper trail of correspondence between you, LIAT and Air Canada. That’s so important when you’re trying to resolve a case like this. I also love the fact that you noted the name of the LIAT supervisor who offered a refund and got that promise in writing. Should I be worried about my job?

You could have reached out to the executive customer-service contacts at LIAT (elliott.org/company-contacts/liat-airlines) or Air Canada (elliott.org/company-contacts/air-canada).

After a little back-and-forth, Air Canada finally refunded the ticket.

 

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Read more tips on his blog, elliott.org, or e-mail him at chris@elliott.org.