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TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER

Air Canada voucher for $528 has been missing for three months

Where is Herb Sharpe’s $528 flight voucher from Air Canada? The airline hasn’t sent it yet.

Q. I canceled an Air Canada flight more than three months ago. The airline agreed to issue a travel voucher, but it hasn’t sent one yet.

I’ve contacted Air Canada through its website at least twice. I’ve sent three e-mail requests for assistance to Air Canada executives, following the advice on your website. None of the executives responded in any way.

I have not yet written the executive vice president or CEO, but they are the next as I move up the list. However, I’m reluctant to escalate it to that level without checking with you first.

Air Canada has never denied that a travel voucher should be issued. The airline has claimed both on the phone and by e-mail that processing of the voucher is “in progress.”

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Can you help me get my $528 voucher, please?

HERB SHARPE, Victoria, Canada

A. It shouldn’t take Air Canada more than three months to issue your voucher.

How do I know that? Well, your voucher was one of several flight cancellations, and you received all but one within a few days. Something got lost along the way.

So, what do you do when an airline overlooks something? You followed the procedure to the letter. You e-mailed the airline, you called, and then you appealed to a manager. Air Canada promised to get back to you with your $528 voucher. But, it didn’t.

You documented everything in writing, which should have made it easy for Air Canada to find your missing voucher claim. It’s not clear why the airline was taking so long. You note that the original voucher was incorrectly listed as $548, and the difference may have confused the refund system. That’s possible.

The only thing you can do is continue up the chain to Air Canada’s executive vice president and the CEO. I list their names and numbers on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/air-canada/.

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Had you stayed on that path, I’m sure someone would have noticed the missing voucher and fixed this eventually. Air Canada may be slow, but I’m sure it doesn’t steal from its customers.

Your case raises another important question: How patient is too patient? I think you should always give an airline one to two weeks to issue a voucher or a refund.

After that, it’s OK to start sending polite e-mails asking about the status of your money. Three months is way too long.

I contacted Air Canada on your behalf. A representative quickly responded to me and said the airline would trace the missing voucher. That took another month. You finally received your voucher and an apology from Air Canada.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.