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Expedia and the airline I booked a trans-Atlantic flight with, have told me I cannot get a reimbursement. Only a refund for airline credit for a future flight. I do not need this.

The grad school I was traveling to for the open house (which was canceled obviously) is not reimbursing me because I was given the option for a refund/flight credit.

I have extremely tight funds... this flight's price was highly non-trivial on my budget.

How can I handle this?

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  • This is a legal issue, not actually an academic one. You can appeal to them or get a lawyer.
    – Buffy
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 22:06
  • If it makes you feel any better, many universities do the same thing to their own employees. Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 2:43
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    I don't give legal advice, but I strongly suggest that advice to pay money to a lawyer over a matter that is worth less than what a lawyer charges is highly misguided. Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 2:55
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    Why did people vote for "out of scope?" I could understand voting for "institutional preferences." Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 2:57
  • Sorry Lopey Tail, but they probably wouldn't do this unless they ran out of money to pay for reimbursements. Could you tell us the job title of the person who told you would not be reimbursed? And the country of the graduate program? Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 2:58

2 Answers 2

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The starting point is probably to respond politely but firmly to the academic in charge of the admissions process, pointing out that you cannot eat a flight credit, and that the grad school's actions have led to a substantial and unexpected hole in your budget. Frame it as a 'moral' obligation rather than a 'legal' one. If you've had significant interactions with any of the professors as part of the applications process, you should cc them on the email.

If you do not get a satisfactory response, you might then escalate matters by emailing the Head of Department/Dean/University President's office. Again, being polite and non-antagonistic but persistent is probably your best option.

If none of this gets you anywhere, your options are probably to involve a lawyer and/or a journalist.

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  • The dean's office seems the most likely of your suggestions. Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 2:59
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    My main concern now is that, I very much intend to attend this school now. I do not know how well arguing over a $300 ticket would go. (Especially considering PhDs are still forced to pay something like $1000 in "fees" a year.)
    – Lopey Tall
    Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 11:40
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    @LopeyTall I pay $1600/yr, but I would caution that this may not be a good time to start a PhD if a $300 expense truly blows a hole in your budget. That isn't too say you aren't owed it back though. Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 19:30
  • @AzorAhai this phd is funded/tuiton-waived
    – Lopey Tall
    Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 19:45
  • @lopey Of course. They still don't pay a ton, though Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 20:38
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The underlying issue is that if the university reimbursed you, you'd essentially have made money. That's because you end up with the university's money plus the flight credit. That seems like a good deal for you, and that makes it a bad deal for the university.

In many cases, airlines give you a choice: (i) take the flight credit for a future flight; (ii) cancel the flight and get a part of the cost back, usually the ticket price minus a cancellation or rebooking fee. You want to go with (i) but that didn't work, so try to go with (ii) in which case you can demonstrate a concrete loss of money, namely what you paid up front minus what you got back in the end. That cost is what a reasonable university would reimburse you for.

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    the issue here is that the FLIGHT was canceled, not only the event for which I was traveling. I find it very odd that the airline is not providing reimbursement in this scenario.
    – Lopey Tall
    Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 11:40
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    @LopeyTall, did you ask for a refund before the airline cancelled the flight? If so, you might be out of luck. But if the airline cancelled and offered you the future flight credit, know that most credit card companies will give you a refund if you paid for something but didn't receive it through no fault of your own. Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 14:27
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    @RayButterworth really?! i will look into this! cheers
    – Lopey Tall
    Commented Apr 4, 2020 at 15:34

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