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Travel Troubleshooter: I Tried To Cancel My Ticket To Argentina. Can You Find My Refund?

By Christopher Elliott on

When Aerolineas Argentinas changes Christina Skinner's flight schedule by nine hours, she asks the carrier to cancel her ticket and issue a refund. Its response: silence. What should she do?

Q: I'm having a problem with a flight refund and need your help. I recently booked a round-trip flight on Aerolineas Argentinas from Miami to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The flight was supposed to depart at 5:15 p.m. I received an email from the airline two months before my departure, advising me that the flight was now going to depart at 8:05 a.m. the same day. This was not going to work for me because I was flying from my hometown of Atlanta to Miami earlier that day.

I tried calling Aerolineas Argentinas' toll-free number six times. Each time, there was no answer; the call just dropped. I went on the airline website and completed the cancellation request. I received an automated acknowledgment and a case number, but I have not heard from the airline since then.

I sent two successive emails to the airline. I have also tried communicating with it on WhatsApp, but it has not responded. I would like Aerolineas Argentinas to cancel the reservation and issue a full refund. Can you help me get my $571 back? -- Christina Skinner, Lawrenceville, Georgia

A: Aerolineas Argentinas should have sent you a refund within a week. That's not just my opinion; it's a government requirement. If you pay by credit card, the Department of Transportation gives the airline seven days; if it's by cash or check, the airline has 20 days.

Why didn't it give you a refund? Well, no airline wants to refund a ticket, so Aerolineas Argentinas is hardly alone. I've seen them hem and haw and try to push passengers to take a different flight. But this was a significant schedule change, which means that you can ask for a refund.

The other issue is that your ticket change happened during a turbulent time for Argentina. It was in the middle of an election, and Aerolineas Argentinas was almost certainly affected, since it is the state-owned flag carrier.

But I don't want to make any excuses for the airline. It should have refunded you promptly. Interestingly, this was a direct booking, so there was no online travel agency involved. You did an excellent job of keeping a paper trail between you and the airline, although it was mostly emails to the airline with no response.

 

You might have tried escalating this to one of the executives whose names I publish on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. But given all that was going on at the time, I'm not sure if they would have responded.

I contacted Aerolineas Argentinas on your behalf. A few weeks later, you sent me an update:

"I wanted to provide the happy news that Aerolineas Argentinas has responded and, as of today, has fully refunded my airfare to my American Express account," you wrote. "Thank you so much for your assistance in contacting them and spurring them into action!"

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Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at chris@elliott.org or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/.

(c) 2024 Christopher Elliott

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



 

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