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Feeling properly stuffed by VA and Amex

freebo

Intern
Joined
Dec 9, 2016
Messages
91
I took a paid business class return to the UK with VA (on Etihad) in March, I would not have chosen to travel at the time but a family member had been taken terminally ill. My ticket cost $7,100 total.


The day before I was due to fly back Etihad cancelled the flight due to AUH being closed to transit. I was stranded and managed to get back home, at huge cost, on QF.

I asked VA for a refund and they then went into administration.

I then initiated a chargeback with Amex, for half the ticket cost, 6 weeks later they have denied my due to VA giving me "conditional credits", I've previously spoken to VA and they told me on the phone I wasn't eligible for these credits as I had no short term travel plans and I'd be an unsecured creditor.

I've now got the paperwork for the Amex denial, they say VA have conditionally credited me $1200 (out of $7,100) as they have subtracted $5900 "one way fee". If I'm not happy I can take it up with the Australian Financial Complaints Commission. They've enclosed a very bad photocopy of VA's T&C's which purportedly say they can refund me in credits.

I'm also trying the travel insurance route, but hitting roadblocks there too.

So I'm out $3,500, actually a lot more for the flight I had to use to get home (one way cost me $7.000).

I'm VA Plat and have had the Amex for years but of course neither of these things seem to matter.

Any ideas, has anyone had any success in a similar situation to the above?
 

jakeseven7

Established Member
Joined
Sep 9, 2005
Messages
2,239
I really feel for you and anyone that has lost money to VA's collapse.

There is a thread where people are discussing getting money out of VA / credit cards - some people have managed to get chargebacks, some haven't - I just can't remember the title! Might be good to read through....

This thread has some:
 

Harthagan

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2018
Messages
445
Not nearly as bad as your story but I have $2100 in travel bank which I don't know if will ever be of any value to me.

Tried for a chargeback but didn't get it. I did get a chargeback for another booking but who knows if virgin will claw that back. I've since closed the credit card so for all I care I'll see them in court if they want to try and get that money back.
 

Bell21

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
470
I took a paid business class return to the UK with VA (on Etihad) in March, I would not have chosen to travel at the time but a family member had been taken terminally ill. My ticket cost $7,100 total.


The day before I was due to fly back Etihad cancelled the flight due to AUH being closed to transit. I was stranded and managed to get back home, at huge cost, on QF.

I asked VA for a refund and they then went into administration.

I then initiated a chargeback with Amex, for half the ticket cost, 6 weeks later they have denied my due to VA giving me "conditional credits", I've previously spoken to VA and they told me on the phone I wasn't eligible for these credits as I had no short term travel plans and I'd be an unsecured creditor.

I've now got the paperwork for the Amex denial, they say VA have conditionally credited me $1200 (out of $7,100) as they have subtracted $5900 "one way fee". If I'm not happy I can take it up with the Australian Financial Complaints Commission. They've enclosed a very bad photocopy of VA's T&C's which purportedly say they can refund me in credits.

I'm also trying the travel insurance route, but hitting roadblocks there too.

So I'm out $3,500, actually a lot more for the flight I had to use to get home (one way cost me $7.000).

I'm VA Plat and have had the Amex for years but of course neither of these things seem to matter.

Any ideas, has anyone had any success in a similar situation to the above?
What do you mean by they have 'subtracted a one-way fee of $5900'?

Also, why are you hitting insurance roadblocks?
 

Harthagan

Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2018
Messages
445
The way virgin have handled this is appalling. They decided months before they even went into administration to screw over their customers for every $ they could.
 

freebo

Intern
Joined
Dec 9, 2016
Messages
91
What do you mean by they have 'subtracted a one-way fee of $5900'?

Also, why are you hitting insurance roadblocks?
They provided Amex with a statement saying I'd paid $7,100 return and since I made the outbound leg they were charging that at $5,900 meaning I was owed $1200 in credits, despite the fact that the return leg was cancelled by the airline, not by me.

As to insurance, I'll check the latest with my wife as she's dealing with that and update the thread later but suffice to say its not looking promising.
 

Bell21

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
470
Sorry I don't have any ideas for you - it seems rather unreasonable that you're 'just' owed $1200 and I suspect VA's actions also make it tricky for you with insurers (since potentially your insurable loss is $1200). I'm sorry to hear how you've been stuck by this mess. Is the $1200 in credit with VA currently?
 

odysseus

Established Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2009
Messages
1,222
The situation now is quite distinct as they haven't been in administration before. Unfortunately this will make redress more difficult for you. As they are currently in administration, they can't choose to give a refund to you ahead of anyone else, as it is then a preferential payment. Because of that, there's less benefit right now in pushing for other elements as they're not legally permitted to give you a refund.

I completely agree that the assessment made so far isn't fair or reasonable, but I think you'll need to wait for the situation to play out before the next step is clearer. For example, if they were to fail completely (which is hopefully not likely) you could challenge through AmerEx and FOS. But if they restart, then through Virgin's procedures again.
 

Bell21

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
470
They have re-priced the flown segments as a one way...it's something many of the airlines have been doing when arriving at the refund amount during this period. Very unfair on the customer who has then had to stump up for another full price one way.
Yep rather unfair - my guess is they can get away with it 'commercially', but it doesn't really pass the 'pub test'
 

antycbr

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2009
Messages
421
Qantas
Bronze
Virgin
Platinum
Yep rather unfair - my guess is they can get away with it 'commercially', but it doesn't really pass the 'pub test'
It's not even really a commercial consideration. Once you're in administration they have to comply with the law regarding the treatment of creditors. It sucks but it's not the first time (or probably the last time) that it will happen in this recession. Unfortunatley they really should be helping you with Travel Insurance though.
 

Bell21

Member
Joined
Jan 11, 2018
Messages
470
I didn't mean so much in an administration context, but in a broader commercial context re allocating such a high proportion of the $7100 to one of the travel legs. However, I've never (thankfully) been in that situation, so unsure of normal practice in that regard.
 

jamescara

Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2013
Messages
145
Is it really that unreasonable to claim this on travel insurance? My thinking is that travel insurance should cover the cost of the return flight as for reasons beyond your control your return flight was cancelled.
Unfortunately it's not quite that simple given the "Rona".

Depending on the policy type (leisure vs corporate) , coverage provided, and when the travel was booked, there could well be no cover at all for anything related to Covid-19.
 

Happy Dude

Established Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
1,271
Is it really that unreasonable to claim this on travel insurance? My thinking is that travel insurance should cover the cost of the return flight as for reasons beyond your control your return flight was cancelled.
It doesn't matter that the cancellation was beyond the OP's control. I've had a claim denied due to mechanical breakdown of an aircraft, also out of my control, but that reason was specifically excluded in my 1Cover policy. I expect anything related to a pandemic is excluded from the OP's policy. Mongrels. The lot of them.
 

JB expat

Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2011
Messages
296
Qantas
Platinum
It doesn't matter that the cancellation was beyond the OP's control. I've had a claim denied due to mechanical breakdown of an aircraft, also out of my control, but that reason was specifically excluded in my 1Cover policy. I expect anything related to a pandemic is excluded from the OP's policy. Mongrels. The lot of them.
So what exactly does travel insurance cover? All of us take it out (well, most), and all I hear are horror stories trying to claim when something goes wrong. It seems to me that insurance is for exactly this - specifically, for people who purchased flights (and insurance) PRIOR to declaration of a "pandemic".
 

Happy Dude

Established Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
1,271
So what exactly does travel insurance cover? All of us take it out (well, most), and all I hear are horror stories trying to claim when something goes wrong. It seems to me that insurance is for exactly this - specifically, for people who purchased flights (and insurance) PRIOR to declaration of a "pandemic".
Travel insurance covers the salaries and bonuses of travel insurance salespeople. Anyone with an advanced degree in legal documentation interpretation and application knows that.
 

Mexpirate

Junior Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2019
Messages
38
I've been lucky with Amex, refunded 1 booking via a random online agent $200 who wouldn't reply & vietjet for a similar amount, paypal sorted $648 from vietnam airways promptly. I ended up submitting a chargeback on webjet on my amex after they ignored my emails for 2 months and they emailed me within 24hours to confirm full refund minus the webjet fees.

My only outstanding VA booking was on Mastercard and dispute ongoing there so fingers crossed they are more reasonable. Surprised to see Amex backing down on chargebacks now, my understanding is they can still be expected to refund in the event of liquidation in some circumstances, with this prospect possibly on the horizon they may be trying to minimise their losses. If there isn't money in a VA account they can access then they will surely do all they can to deny chargeback requests
 
Last edited:

muppet

Established Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2010
Messages
1,013
Qantas
Platinum
I took a paid business class return to the UK with VA (on Etihad) in March, I would not have chosen to travel at the time but a family member had been taken terminally ill. My ticket cost $7,100 total.


The day before I was due to fly back Etihad cancelled the flight due to AUH being closed to transit. I was stranded and managed to get back home, at huge cost, on QF.

I asked VA for a refund and they then went into administration.

I then initiated a chargeback with Amex, for half the ticket cost, 6 weeks later they have denied my due to VA giving me "conditional credits", I've previously spoken to VA and they told me on the phone I wasn't eligible for these credits as I had no short term travel plans and I'd be an unsecured creditor.

I've now got the paperwork for the Amex denial, they say VA have conditionally credited me $1200 (out of $7,100) as they have subtracted $5900 "one way fee". If I'm not happy I can take it up with the Australian Financial Complaints Commission. They've enclosed a very bad photocopy of VA's T&C's which purportedly say they can refund me in credits.

I'm also trying the travel insurance route, but hitting roadblocks there too.

So I'm out $3,500, actually a lot more for the flight I had to use to get home (one way cost me $7.000).

I'm VA Plat and have had the Amex for years but of course neither of these things seem to matter.

Any ideas, has anyone had any success in a similar situation to the above?
I assume Etihad did not offer to get you home in some way? That you rejected?

Assuming Etihad or VA simply said you're on your own, your flight and ticket is cancelled while you were in the UK then .... call AMEX and appeal the denial, tell them your next step is to escalate to AFCA.

If it sticks, appeal to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority: Credit, finance and loan complaints | Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA)
 

Matt_01

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Mar 12, 2016
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@freebo here is another thread of the same vain Cancelling [VA fare rules COVID-19 uncertainty]

I am also an AMEX card holder and thought the chargeback process would be simple. At post 161 (page 9) on the link above I provided my latest up date and although not the same circumstances as yours after 3 months of to and fro with AMEX, multiple emails, supplying documents that did exist and trying to explain to AMEX that for other VA cancellations there was no advice from VA and formal documentation did not exist, having to reopen disputes on multiple occasions etc. and the list goes on. I was finally credited for 6 flights. I will start the process with AMEX again when VA cancels my 2 remaining flights.

Like most organisations AMEX will be looking to hold cash and avoid giving out refunds for chargebacks knowing that they will be unlikely to recover the money from VA (or any other airline). Additionally we are just a small community and AMEX agents are most likely dealing with chargebacks on a global scale for many cancelled flights. Be it right or wrong AMEX are most likely not making it easy (they didn't for me) and there will be a percentage of cardholders who just give up.

As for travel insurance I have an annual multi trip policy that covers International and Domestic and did not even bother trying to go down that path.

Good luck
 
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