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Why Do Some Airlines Take So Long to Issue Refunds?

Why Do Some Airlines Take So Long to Issue Refunds?
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Having to cancel a vacation is always a tough decision to make. Delaying a vacation because of unexpected occurrences (such as a global pandemic) is never a pleasant experience. To add to the difficulty, airline refunds sometimes take weeks or even months to appear in your bank account. Even if you purchased your trip through an OTA like Expedia, if you have yet to get a refund or credit from your airline, here is all you need to know about airline refunds and credit delays.

How do online travel agencies like Expedia and Orbitz make money?

Third-party websites like Expedia are used by travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, and car rental firms) to distribute and sell their products to millions of travelers throughout the world. For this purpose, they enter their inventory and pricing into the OTA's system. OTAs like Expedia can provide passengers a straightforward way to book their entire vacation by making their platforms available to a wide range of travel suppliers, delivering the largest selection of travel offers across flights, lodging, rental vehicles, and activities.

On Expedia, where does my money end up when I buy airline tickets?

Most online travel agents (OTAs) allow you to either purchase a single flight, hotel, or car; or a package that includes all three. A merchant or an agency model is typically used for this purpose.

If you're using a merchant model, your online travel agency will operate as your official point of contact for all of your travel-related purchases such as hotels, vacation rentals, airline tickets, vehicle rentals, and other extras. In this case, the OTA is responsible for collecting the money from customers. OTAs like Expedia's merchant model transactions are primarily tied to hotel reservations.

As an OTA, the OTA facilitates travel bookings and operates as an intermediary, transmitting reservations made by the traveler directly to the travel provider. Commissions or tickets fees are paid by travel suppliers and/or travelers to the OTA, which in turn gets them. Because the travel provider is charging the consumer, the supplier (like the airline, for example) will appear on your bank statement rather than Expedia.

In the event of an issue, would I receive a refund or credit from the OTA or the travel provider?

When it comes to booking terms and conditions, the supplier sets them, not an online travel agency (OTA). When it comes to things like return policies and fees, it's all up to the individual supplier. When there is a dispute or issue between the customer and the supplier, the OTA often employs huge customer support teams who advocate for the customer's best interests. These teams then go to work directly with the supplier to resolve the issue.

There were more than 3,000 different airline cancellation policies to deal with in the first months of the global epidemic; many of these rules required travellers to be awarded credits. By implementing a "one-click" cancellation function, Expedia was able to alleviate the stress and long hold times associated with bulk cancellations by making it easier for customers to cancel their reservations.

Refunds, credits, and other forms of payment normally appear in your account within a few days.

There are no delays in processing a customer's refund, voucher, credit etc. as soon as an OTA has approval from the airline or hotel to handle that request. Most airline partners are set up under the agency business model, which means that the supplier (the airline) is in charge of the refund procedure and the refund timeframe under this model. For a variety of reasons (including the sheer volume of requests), COVID caused significant delays in this regard, although in general, airlines handle refunds within a credit card billing cycle, although certain smaller or primarily overseas carriers may take longer. If there are no syncing issues between the airline and the OTA, the credit process normally takes roughly 12 hours.

How do online travel agents (OTAs) handle the unused flight vouchers that consumers receive?

Self-service solutions have been developed by Expedia so that customers can simply redeem their current flight credits without the need to call the customer service department. It is possible to examine and use any vouchers or credits in your account, as well as start a virtual agent chat, redeem credits, and access a customer support line all from the same page in your Expedia account.

Why was I given a credit instead of a cash refund?

Customers were able to cancel their reservations without having to call in when the pandemic cancellations were at their highest. Expedia was one of the numerous OTAs that took advantage of this convenience. Expedia's best option at the moment was to cancel and give credit or voucher for future flights. As a result of this, the company has gone back and made sure all clients who were entitled to a refund, depending on the airline or hotel's policy, have been offered a refund alternative.

Longer lockdowns in Europe and Canada are causing online travel agencies (OTAs) to extend airline credits.

The airline sets the expiration dates for airline credits. Several airlines have increased the expiration date of their credit cards to 2022, but this varies from airline to airline. Many online travel agents (OTAs) are working with their airline partners to secure the best possible settlement for their consumers.

Customer refunds: How can online travel agents help?

In recent months, OTAs like Expedia have made sure that any customers who received credit or voucher but were eligible for a refund were given the opportunity to do so; Expedia has vowed to continue to work closely with its airline partners to advocate for its customers' interests in the future

What should I do if I still haven't received my refund for the plane ticket?

Hold your breath! Travel agencies like Expedia work closely with airlines to expedite refunds, but in the end, it is up to the airline to reimburse travellers because OTAs like Expedia send payment directly to airlines the moment a ticket is purchased. In some cases, there are still outstanding refunds owing by airlines.


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