DELTONA, Fla. — COVID-19 numbers may be going down but many consumers are still battling to get refunds for flights they never took.
Jackie Brown bought two tickets so her family could fly to Jamaica, but by the time the trip was supposed to happen in March of 2020, COVID-19 had changed everything.
“It’s not safe. I don’t want my family to fly,” Brown said.
She bought the tickets from the online travel agency JustFly. The company only offered travel credits, but Brown said travel is still too risky for her family’s health concerns. She paid JustFly $1,100 in fares and fees, and said trying to get a refund has been a nightmare.
“Customer service, oh my God, you will be on hold forever. One time I was on the phone, on hold, for three hours at least. That was not fun,” Brown said.
JustFly is owned by FlightHub, which is based in Canada and rated F at the Better Business Bureau with over 2,600 complaints in three years.
Earlier this year, the Competition Bureau, a Canadian law enforcement agency, found that the operator of JustFly had misled consumers, made millions from hidden fees and posted fake reviews online. The company agreed to pay $5.8 million in penalties.
“Their whole business model has been upended by the pandemic and a lot of them are doing some shady things to try to hold onto your money,” said Willis Orlando with Scott’s Cheap Flights.
Orlando said federal law directs airlines and travel agencies to issue refunds for COVID-19-canceled flights, but if consumers like Brown don’t travel because they don’t feel safe, it could be tougher to get that money back.
“Unfortunately, if a consumer chooses not to travel for their own reasons, whether it’s COVID-19 related or whatever else it is, there is no responsibility on the part of the airline and particularly the online travel agencies to give them a refund or help them,” Orlando said.
Todd Ulrich sent emails to JustFly but so far they have not responded.
Brown said she won’t be using third-party travel sites anymore, “Go directly with the airlines but I would not do it through JustFly.”
Keep in mind that airlines will be more willing to work with you through any COVID-19 related concerns than online travel agencies.
If you’re fighting to get a refund for a flight the airline canceled, file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
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