Refused credit on Southwest for inability to cancel flight

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Jan 3, 2019
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#1
We were on a cruise in the Caribbean during the Christmas holiday and we were unable to return to the port of Tampa due to fog. We were supposed to dock at 0700 but did not dock until 1800 that evening. The captain announced that morning that we would not be docking but that free ship-to-shore calling and internet would be available. We tried for hours to contact Southwest in order to cancel our flight but could not get through. There was no cell service because we were too far away from land and the satellite internet was so overloaded that we could not get through to the website. I tried the ship-to-shore calling as well but could never get an outside line. When I explained to Southwest via an email to customer service that there was no way we could contact them to cancel, they still refused to budge on a credit. We had not refundable tickets so I did not expect a refund. I felt that given the circumstances and the impossibility of contacting them that they would be more willing to work with us but apparently not. I can try to go "up the chain" but I don't quite understand how to do that. Do I just keep sending the request over and over again and hope that someone takes pity? We had to pay over $1000 for new tickets home and forfeited $500 from the original purchase.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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#3
I mentioned it in the online survey that Holland America sent me but given the number of passengers who probably missed their flights, I don't think they would be sympathetic. We did not take the insurance with this trip and I'm sure that's what they will fall back on. They will probably claim that they have no control over "acts of God" and we are out of luck.
 

Neil Maley

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#4
That’s a shame because the insurance might have reimbursed you. Another lesson about why insurance is important.

Go to Holland and request reimbursement. It doesn’t matter how many people asked- you should do it as well.

If they don’t budge then you can use our company contacts for Southwest and see if you can get an executive to make an exception. But go to the source of the problem first.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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#5
I will do that. Holland America might offer a small cruise credit but that does not interest me right now. Thank you for your help and I will let you know what they say.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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#6
I sent a request for reimbursement on January 3 but so far . . . crickets. I have not received a response or even an acknowledgement other than the automatic reply saying that they received my email. Should I continue to wait or try Southwest again?
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#9
This is a tough one — I am not a cruise person so may give useless advice — if fog made it nearly impossible to dock at Tampa I do not see the cruise line accepting responsibility for this as it truly was out of their control.

And the satellite issue is another one — wrong position or overloaded with calls. Technology does not always work, and at least the cruise line gave access.

I would try to email SW execs and beg for a courtesy credit of the flights not flown.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#11
Hopefully your credit card has some included travel insurance. Your situation was truly a weather issue and nobody is to blame. You probably haven't heard back from the cruise line because they're dealing with hundreds, if not thousands, of requests for help. This kind of issue is yet another reason to not book flights the same day as you board or disembark a cruise. Southwest no doubt put stand-by passengers in your seats, so they're not out any revenue. I'd throw myself on their mercy if HAL does nothing.
 

Neil Maley

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#12
Hopefully your credit card has some included travel insurance. Your situation was truly a weather issue and nobody is to blame. You probably haven't heard back from the cruise line because they're dealing with hundreds, if not thousands, of requests for help. This kind of issue is yet another reason to not book flights the same day as you board or disembark a cruise. Southwest no doubt put stand-by passengers in your seats, so they're not out any revenue. I'd throw myself on their mercy if HAL does nothing.
It is impossible for most cruisers to add days before a cruise to fly in early and days after. Had travel insurance been purchased, this wouldn't have been an issue. Folks need to realize how much the right insurance policy actually covers. Unfortunately many learn the hard way after a monetary loss like this that a policy would have covered.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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#13
We are looking into a refund through the credit card company as it looks like there may be some hope. I feel like SW should have given us a credit for our forfeited ticket because there was absolutely no way we could contact them to cancel before the flight departed. I understand their no-show policy but I have to believe that there were many people in the same situation as us given the number of people on our ship along who were trying to contact them. Due to the extenuating circumstances I think they could have waived it in this instance. Hopefully the credit card people will come through. We are going to try filing a claim to see what happens. As for adding a night at the local port at the end of a cruise, we usually do that if we are out of the country. Before every cruise we go to the port city at least one day ahead of time. Thank you for the input and I will let you know what happens with the credit card company.
 
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Neil Maley

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#14
Tina, I agree with your thoughts but the airline are running a business and the rules have to apply to everyone. This is why insurance is so important. Even booking an airline ticket, the few dollars it costs to buy insurance for just a flight can pay for a hotel if your flight is canceled. I can't tell you how many times a $39 investment paid for a $125 hotel when a flight is canceled.

This is exactly how many people decide to buy travel insurance - after they lose money on something it would have covered. I'm crossing my fingers your credit card has coverage for you.

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/the-right-travel-insurance.1283/
 
Jan 3, 2019
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#15
We contacted American Express about compensation because it turned out that my husband had in fact purchased insurance on the tickets. They denied the claim too because we did not miss the flight due to the fault of the airlines. I have a feeling that even if we had purchased cruise insurance they would have told us that we weren’t covered because we did not book our tickets through the cruise line. I think we were screwed any way you look at it. And that is why I don’t bother spending the money for insurance most of the time.
 

Neil Maley

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#16
You are correct- the cruise line insurance would not cover your air if you didn’t purchase it through the cruise line.

Can you get a copy of the Amex policy and post it here? I’m wondering if we could look at it and find some kind of loophole.
 
Jan 3, 2019
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#17
I can't find the policy at the moment but here is the language they are quoting from the policy:



Under the Travel Delay policy DESCRIPTION OF BENEFITS it states: "Missed Connection, Delayed Flight Departure, Flight Cancellation or Denied Boarding: The Company will reimburse the Covered Person for reasonable and necessary Covered Expenses incurred as a result of the Missed Connection, Delayed Flight Departure, Flight Cancellation or Denied Boarding up to the applicable per day limit for a maximum of two days if: 1. the Covered Person s confirmed onward connecting Scheduled Airline flight for a Covered Trip is missed at the transfer point due to the late arrival of the Covered Person s incoming confirmed connecting Scheduled Airline flight; 2. the departure of a Covered Person s confirmed Scheduled Airline flight for a Covered Trip from any airport is delayed or cancelled; or 3. the Covered Person is denied boarding of the aircraft due to overbooking..." Following the policy language the cruise ship late arrival to Port of Tampa is not a covered reason.



They are basically saying that since the problem did not have to do with delays caused by the airline, then we are not covered. I was looking at similar Amex policies online and I noticed there is a provision about being able to cancel a trip if transport services are shut down for 24 hours or more. What about the fact that the port was shut down for more than 24 hours and nobody was going in or out?
 

Neil Maley

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#20
The insurance doesn't provide coverage for this. I would circle back to the cruise line and ask if they can help to defray some of the costs. Unfortunately, this is a freak occurrence that has you caught in between everyone.