Avianca flight delay - won't reimburse tickets

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Mar 13, 2019
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#1
I had recently booked flights for my husband and I from Manta to Quito, in Ecuador. The evening prior to our flight, I received e-mail from Avianca advising that our departure flight would be delayed by three hours. As this made the remainder of our long-weekend getaway non-workable, we thought it best to cancel the flights. The flight delay notification included a statement to the effect "In order to receive personalized attention and know the options that we have in this situation, please contact us through our call center." I tried calling the call centre, but could not get through after an hour of waiting on hold, so I decided to try again the next morning. The delay notification also included the statement "In case of needing the reimbursement of your ticket, please click here" with a hyperlink to Avianca's refund request tool. On the Avianca policy website, in answer to when a passenger can request compensation, it states the following reason:
1. Delays or cancellations due to internal causes
Compliance of your flight itinerary is affected by irregularities attributable to our Airline.
I believed that a three-hour delay in our flight fit this criteria, so I submitted our requests for refunds of our tickets the evening we were notified of the delay. The following morning I finally was able to get through to the call centre, and spoke to an agent. That agent confirmed that due to the three hour delay, we were entitled to cancel and be refunded for our tickets. The agent said she could cancel the flights, but the request for refund could only be made through the online refund tool on Avianca's website. I told the agent I had already submitted our requests for refund, and to go ahead and cancel our flight reservations (this was 16 hours before the flight was scheduled to leave). I checked our reservation later that day, and the website indicated that it had in fact been cancelled. However, when I checked the online refund tool on Avianca's website a couple days later, it said my refund request was rejected, and I was entitled to $0.

I then checked the Elliott Advocacy Company Contacts page and on 8 March 2019, I wrote an e-mail directly to the primary executive contact listed on that page:
Primary Contact
Stefania Sierra Radziunas
Customer service senior elite analyst
Avenida calle 26 # 59 – 15
Bogotá, Colombia
stefania.sierra@avianca.com

To date I have received no response or even acknowledgement of my e-mail. How long should I wait before escalating my request, and do you have any other suggestions for what I can do to obtain the refund to which I believe I am entitled? Thanks!
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#2
Wow. I don't have any advice other than to keep pursuing it. It seems like a pretty open-and-shut case. You are clearly due a full refund, from what I can tell.

It sounds like you're doing the right thing in sending your email to the first person on the list. Elliott.org guidelines for self-advocacy suggest waiting a week in between each contact, then forwarding it to the next person, on up the line.

Be sure your email is concise and states just the facts, in bullet form, without any emotion or extraneous information.

FYI, I have a close friend who also just had a bad experience with Avianca. She sent her complaint to the primary contact as well, and as of yesterday it was one week and no response. So she has now forwarded it to the next person on the list:

Secondary Contact
Santiago Andrés Diago
Vice President for Customer Experience
Avenida calle 26 # 59 – 15
Bogotá, Colombia
Santiago.Diago@avianca.com

Keep going, and good luck! It would be great if you can let us know if/when they respond. My friend is hoping she gets a response too...I'll let you know if she does.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#3
For your reference chantl01 . . .
  • The compensation rules are here. In them, just below the statement you posted is a section entitled How do we compensate you? Therein it states that such compensation is in the form of:
"An EMD (Electronic Miscellaneous Document) or MPD (Multiple Purpose Document)" which is "delivered for you to redeem for services on our Avianca Holdings S.A. Airlines (Avianca, TACA International, TACA Peru, Avianca Ecuador S.A. and Lacsa)."
  • The only reference to a refund I was able to locate is in their Contract of Carriage (CoC) located here. In that document, they say:
"In the event of flight cancellation, diversion, or delays that will cause a passenger to miss connections, THE CARRIER will (at passenger’s request) cancel the remaining ticket and refund the unused portion of the ticket and unused ancillary fees in the original form of payment in accordance with this Contract of Carriage."
If my reading of these is correct, you need to have missed a connection in order to obtain a refund (per policy). Otherwise it will be an EMD or MPD.

Furthermore the CoC states: "Except as stated in this rule or as provided elsewhere in this Contract of Carriage, THE CARRIER will have no liability for making connections, failing to operate any flight according to schedule, changing the schedule for any flight, changing seat assignments or aircraft types, or revising the routings by which THE CARRIER carries the passenger from the ticketed origin to destination."

So your appeal it seems will be based on an exception to the policy.

Read this first How to Present Your Case
 
Likes: jsn55
Mar 15, 2018
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#5
Why wasn’t the delay going to work? Did you have a connection? I don’t believe a three hour delay entities you to cancel unless it affected a connection.
She stated that here:

I had recently booked flights for my husband and I from Manta to Quito, in Ecuador. The evening prior to our flight, I received e-mail from Avianca advising that our departure flight would be delayed by three hours. As this made the remainder of our long-weekend getaway non-workable, we thought it best to cancel the flights.
I thought that any schedule change of more than 2 hours initiated by the airline would entitle the passenger to a refund. That's been my personal experience - every time I've received notice of a schedule change more than 2 hours, I was given the option to cancel for a full refund. Any changes less than 2 hours and it wasn't offered.

But it sounds like that may not be the case with Avianca.

The problem here is that the agent she spoke to when she canceled her flight told her verbally that she was entitled to a refund. But without that in writing...uh oh! We all know how that usually ends. :(

I really hope they do the right thing here and make an exception, given the verbal information provided by the agent.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,688
15,306
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#6
This doesn’t say why a three hour delay would ruin an entire getaway.

Each airline also had their own definition of flight delays that are eligible for a cancellation and it wouldn’t be the first time a phone rep. gave out wrong information.

I think chant needs to continue up the executive chain. If an email is kicked back for an invalid email address, report it here:

https://www.elliott.org/add-a-company/

You must leave AT LEAST one week in between emails

Please read this thread and follow the instructions on how to write.

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/

Avianca is not good at communicating, so the OP might have to call her credit card company and ask them how to handle it.
 
Likes: VoR61
Mar 15, 2018
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#7
Avianca is not good at communicating, so the OP might have to call her credit card company and ask them how to handle it.
That's certainly been our experience so far! We're still waiting to see if we hear back from the second level person for our issue.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#8
This doesn’t say why a three hour delay would ruin an entire getaway.

Each airline also had their own definition of flight delays that are eligible for a cancellation and it wouldn’t be the first time a phone rep. gave out wrong information.

I think chant needs to continue up the executive chain. If an email is kicked back for an invalid email address, report it here:

https://www.elliott.org/add-a-company/

You must leave AT LEAST one week in between emails

Please read this thread and follow the instructions on how to write.

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/

Avianca is not good at communicating, so the OP might have to call her credit card company and ask them how to handle it.
Does it really matter why they cancelled? They were told by AVianca that they'd get a refund based on a 3-hour delay. Chianti, remember the operative words: polite, persistent, patient. This could take you months, so don't give up. I have mixed feelings about a credit card dispute, but you definitely should watch your CC deadline for filing one.
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#9
Does it really matter why they cancelled? They were told by AVianca that they'd get a refund based on a 3-hour delay. Chianti, remember the operative words: polite, persistent, patient. This could take you months, so don't give up. I have mixed feelings about a credit card dispute, but you definitely should watch your CC deadline for filing one.
My thoughts exactly. Her reasons for cancelling are immaterial to the case. That being said - I can fully understand why a 3-hour delay would impact a weekend trip. Losing that much time on a trip with such limited time already could very well make it not worth going.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,688
15,306
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
I wish every airline would specifically post their policies for instances like this. Too many leave it to chance - a black and white policy in writing would avoid speculation on if a canceled flight is eligible for cancellation. In my opinion a change of three hours should allow one to cancel their ticket but Avianca has absolutely nothing in their conditions about a time frame or about even being able to cancel for a delay like this.
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#11
Agreed Neil. But this is why more than ever travelers need to review cancellation policies prior to purchase . . .
 
Mar 13, 2019
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#13
I have just escalated this request to the next executive level, as it has been ten calendar days (6 business days) since I wrote to the first level contact and have received no reply. I have been very explicit that we made the decision to cancel our flights based on the call centre agent's assurance that we were entitled to a refund due to the 3 hour delay. I have also, however, indicated that I know call centre agents can make mistakes and if we were in fact not entitled to a refund, we would be satisfied with airline credit (EMD or MPC as found by VoR61), since we travel often on this airline.

For those wondering why the three hour delay made such a difference, it had us arriving into Quito at 00:15 hrs rather than 21:15. By the time we disembarked, departed the airport and found a taxi to take us downtown, it would be 00:45 at best. A taxi to the hotel we had booked would take us 1.5 hours. So now it's 02:15 am when we arrive at the hotel, and we had a bus pick-up at 06:00 hrs to begin our weekend tourist expedition. Not to mention that when flights out of Manta (which is a very small airport serving only two airlines) are delayed, they are often further delayed and/or cancelled outright. And the airport is an hour away from us, by taxi, because we don't have a vehicle here in South America. So the odds were against us from the time we were informed of the delay. When the call center agent told us we were entitled to cancel and get a refund for our tickets because of that delay, it seemed like an obvious decision. It would have been helpful if Avianca had a more clearly stated policy on these situations on their website. I scoured the website before contacting the call center, but could not find anything definitive.

Thanks for the input to date, it is much appreciated!
 
Likes: VoR61
Mar 13, 2019
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#14
To conclude this thread: success! I just received confirmation that after reviewing my refund request, Avianca will be refunding the full amount of our ticket prices back to our credit card. Thanks very much to everyone on the Elliott Forums for the advice and guidance toward this successful outcome.
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#17
I'm so glad to hear this! Funny, because just today I heard from my friend who had a recent problem with Avianca, and had been sending emails up the chain, getting no response from anyone. She sent it to the last name on the list, and finally today she got a response! They haven't given her an answer as to what they're going to do yet, but they did say they've opened an inquiry and will call her about it, and asked for her phone number. So maybe she'll get some satisfaction as well.

Good to know that Avianca is finally responding!