Q: This spring, I traveled with a friend from La Paz, Mexico, to Copper Canyon, Mexico. We split the costs, but I paid for her to return on TAR Aerolineas to La Paz from Chihuahua, Mexico, while I returned to the U.S. on American Airlines.
My friend received an email that TAR was canceling that route and was offered the choice of a credit for double the amount for a different ticket on its airline or a refund and 25 percent of the purchase price, plus a voucher for 1,500 Mexican pesos toward one of its future flights.
I chose the refund and asked that it be credited to the debit card I used to purchase the flight. TAR answered that it had to be refunded to a Mexican bank account. I did not have that information with me.
When I returned home, I sent TAR all my bank information and a note that it cost me 2,999 Mexican pesos for a new reservation, plus an additional night at the hotel for my friend. I requested that the 2,999 pesos be deposited within the two weeks that the airline stated. This never happened. I emailed TAR again with all the information and again, nothing — not even a response to any of my emails. Can you help?
— Michael Fried, Marlton
A: TAR should have offered a clearer explanation of your options and responded to your request, even if to say “no.” But it looks as though something got lost in translation.
Ordinarily, when an airline cancels a route, it will offer a full refund. You’re on your own after that. TAR was generous to offer to double your flight credit or a refund plus a discount, plus a credit. That wouldn’t fly in the States.
Instead, you appear to be asking TAR to pay for a new flight and a hotel reservation. Airlines rarely compensate customers in that way, unless you have a prior written agreement — and even then, I’ve seen them try to weasel out of it.
I think you simply misunderstood the offer. Even if that was the case, TAR should have taken the time to clearly reiterate its offer instead of ignoring you. You could have reached out to TAR through its website (https://tarmexico.com/) or tried emailing the airline at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also could have appealed to someone higher up. Although I don’t publish the names of TAR’s executives on my consumer-advocacy site (it’s a regional Mexican airline and I receive few complaints about it), you could have filed a research request through my site (http://www.elliott.org/research/), and I happily would have found some names for you.
I contacted TAR on your behalf. Within a few hours, you had a promise of a ticket refund as well as the 25 percent discount. But after a week, no refund had materialized in your account, so I reached out to the airline again. This time, it sent the money, as promised.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at email@example.com.