Travel Troubleshooter: United Airlines says Norwegian Cruise Line didn’t pay for my flight for Hawaii

Q: Before the pandemic, I booked a Hawaii cruise for my daughter and myself on Norwegian Cruise Line. When I checked in for my outbound flight on United Airlines, an airline representative told me that NCL had not paid for my ticket.

I purchased a one-way ticket to make my connection. On the ship, I checked with guest relations, and they assured me that everything was correct for my return flight. But again, when I went to board my return flight, they said my ticket was not paid.

My daughter purchased my return flight ticket using her credit card. I have asked NCL for proof of payment to United Airlines on three separate occasions. A United Airlines representative said I couldn’t get a refund for my new tickets because I had used them.

Can you help me? I’d like a refund of $2,557 from either NCL or United Airlines.

A: Norwegian Cruise Line should have paid for your flights. And since this happened a few months before the pandemic started, there’s no excuse for this oversight.

Here’s what should have happened: When you let guest relations know about your flight problems, a representative should have helped you. NCL should have refunded you for the extra flight immediately, but more importantly, ensured that you had a confirmed flight back home. It did neither.

I reviewed the correspondence between you, the cruise line and your travel adviser. It painstakingly details the months you spent trying to resolve this. You went through all the channels and still came up empty-handed. Part of the reason: Shortly after your cruise, the pandemic started. It decimated not just the cruise industry but also airlines and travel agents. No one was willing to help you.

The strangest part of this case is that you had what appeared to be a paid ticket. United Airlines could not confirm that the ticket hadn’t been paid, leaving your travel adviser and NCL to hash it out. They weren’t making progress.

I recommended that you appeal your case to someone higher up at United. I list the names, numbers and e-mail addresses of key United Airlines executives on my consumer advocacy site at elliott.org/company-contacts/united-airlines.

After several e-mails to the executives, you reported that United contacted you to apologize for the confusion. The airline issued a full refund.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him at elliott.org/help or [email protected].

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