‘I want my $3,000 back’: Airlines bankruptcy leaves some travelers stranded

CLERMONT, Fla. — A Clermont couple claims the voucher they received for their flight cancelled due to COVID-19 is worthless and they are now out thousands of dollars for a trip to Europe they never took.

Laurel Garcia, who works for our parent company, and her husband, Alex Garcia, planned to fly to Europe for a family wedding last September then COVID-19 forced the airline to make other plans.

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“They cancelled the flights. They told us months after we purchased the tickets that that route was going to be delayed,” Laurel Garcia said.

Norwegian Air gave the couple $3,000 in travel vouchers for the trip to England. The couple says that was frustrating, but it was only the beginning.

“Then they said we’re going to give you credits for just flights within Europe to Europe, which at that point we’re like, ‘Well, that doesn’t help. We live in the United States.’” Laurel Garcia said.

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Last November, Norwegian Air filed for bankruptcy protection then sent out emails telling customers they were no longer offering flights from the U.S. to Europe, limiting what many consumers could actually use the vouchers for.

“They got approval from courts in Ireland to stop renting the planes that they rented to fly long haul, across the ocean. They used that and maneuvered very skillfully out of their obligations,” Willis Orlando said.

Orlando is a travel expert with Scott’s Cheap Flights. He said if calling the airline or disputing it with your credit card doesn’t get you anywhere, there are other options.

“We have had members who have gone to small claims court. It’s pretty accessible. It’s a pretty high chance of success for claims as long as the money is not an enormous amount of money,” Orlando said.

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The Garcias say their credit card dispute was denied because it had been over 90 days and that they’ve been trying to get answers for seven months.

“There’s no number you can call in. In fact, you try to reply to an email, and it’s you know, you’re not replying to the right one or there’s no number,” Alex Garcia said.

Action 9 contacted Norwegian Air and a manager said they had offered the couple a cash refund for the COVID-19-cancelled flight but the couple had originally chosen the vouchers.

Laurel says that was before the airline filed bankruptcy and stopped offering flights from the U.S..

“I would like to see our money back. I want my $3,000 back. You took it. I don’t have a plane ticket. I don’t have a trip. Give me my money back,” Laurel Garcia said.

Norwegian Air has emerged from bankruptcy and is only operating as a regional carrier in Europe, but you can still file a complaint with the Department of Transportation here in the U.S..

Todd Ulrich

Todd Ulrich, WFTV.com

I am WFTV's Action 9 Reporter.