Q: I bought a ticket on Sun Country Airlines for $272 and then canceled the flight 16 hours later. I made the purchase over seven days (168 hours) before the scheduled flight, so it complied with the 24-hour cancellation policy on Suncountry.com.
But the web form said I would be charged $200 for the cancellation and the balance would be held as an electronic credit for up to one year. That's not right. The policy states that a 24-hour cancellation will not have a penalty.
A Sun Country representative told me that I complied with the terms of the 24-hour policy, so the $200 would be corrected to an electronic credit, but they would not issue a refund to my credit card.
I have since sent in a complaint on Sun Country's web form and have disputed this charge on my credit card. After seven days, I have yet to hear from either party, so I would appreciate help with this matter.
A: The 24-hour policy isn't Sun Country's rule. It's a Department of Transportation rule that Sun Country, and all other airlines, must follow.
But did Sun Country do the right thing?
The rule requires air carriers to allow you to cancel your reservation and receive a full refund on tickets purchased at least seven days before a flight's scheduled departure.
You met those criteria. But you canceled fewer than 168 hours (seven days) before the flight. So does the 24-hour rule apply — or not? Sun Country is going to interpret this rule to its advantage. You did not cancel within a seven-day window, so the airline is applying a change fee. Why? Because it can.
Airlines hate the 24-hour rule. Before the government-imposed rule, they could keep your money as soon as you pushed the "book" button. So, of course, they're going to find any loophole they can.
You could have reached out to one of the Sun Country executive contacts for a second opinion on this. I publish their names, numbers and e-mails on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.
I contacted Sun Country on your behalf. It sent you an e-mail that explains that while you booked seven days before departure, you canceled after the cutoff for your flight departure time. "The booking did not qualify for a refund without penalty," the airline wrote.
However, as a one-time exception, Sun Country authorized a full refund. It also promised to make sure the policy on its site is "made clearer in the future." That should benefit other passengers. And maybe the Department of Transportation can weigh in on this issue, too. I suspect you aren't the first person to get stuck with an unwanted ticket credit, and I know you won't be the last.