Travel vouchers instead of refund

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Jan 14, 2018
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#1
I am the parent of a senior student at Wash U in St. Louis.This past semester she functioned as one of the leaders to organize a medical mission trip to Honduras together with the Global Brigades Organization. Their travel was organized by the students with United Airlines at the cost of 1230.00 per person round trip. Some of the students paid out of pocket, some used scholarship money, and some parents paid for their kids. All involved were donating time and money to "do good". When civil unrest broke out in Honduras after their November elections, the trip was cancelled by the University, no doubt over concern of the students safety. The Global Brigades felt is would be safe. Irregardless, the students had no say in the decision, the trip was cancelled and the flights also had to get were cancelled.
The leaders went to United Airlines, who issued them vouchers, rather than refund their money. These are college kids, who were going to a medical mission. They are not frequent fliers. Not only were they issued these vouchers, but charged 60.00 to ISSUE them, along with a 200.00 charge to REDEEM them. Many of them will have no opportunity to use these vouchers. Issuing a refund would be the right thing to do for these college kids.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#2
Global Brigades is one of the "voluntourism" organizations where students help for a week? Was the trip rescheduled for another time? When was the trip scheduled for?

Honduras had high crime and instability for some time--- and the subject of many travel warnings over the past decade. And it is likely that the University did not want liability.

Non refundable fares mean just that. Whether a person is traveling to volunteer, seek medical treatment, work, tourism or family, when one buys a restricted ticket it is restricted.

Did the students buy their tickets individually? Or was this a special group fee?

I would think the best thing to do would be for the student to ask the airline to have the change fee waived. The students could go some place else for their one to two week voluntourism with the credit from the airline.

There is no harm in asking for a refund -- but one has to be prepared for a no. The election was not a surprise, it was a planned event, and there were concerns about unrest months before the election. It may be easier to get the change fee waived.

The student needs to advocate for his/her self.
 
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Feb 9, 2016
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Here is my suggestion. Compose a letter asking for a cash refund. Make it a form letter. The letter needs to have a space for the travelers name and their record locator number. Explain the situation in the letter. Be brief, be concise. Tell them that you appreciate the voucher but, as you are students, a cash refund will help you more.

Have one person use the Elliott company contacts to contact customer service asking for a refund. If customer service denies, take it up the chain, one executive at a time.

Hopefully someone will give you a refund. If they do then you have the second person submit, citing that the other person received a refund. etc,etc, and so on.

next time your organize a trip like this, be sure each student immediately takes out travel insurance with cancel for any reason as a clause.

the other option you have is to organize the trip again and use the vouchers. just make sure everyone purchases travel insurance with CFAR immediately and/or let them know that you assume no responsibility if they don't.
 
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