Before you spend any extra money on a refundable ticket with Avianca, consider if Avianca refundable tickets are actually refundable. That might sound strange and convoluted, so I’ll share my multi-month journey with Avianca customer service after purchasing a refundable ticket, which I assumed (incorrectly) would be fairly straightforward.
Avianca came out of bankruptcy restructuring in late 2021. It’s definitely going through some issues. You can read about the experience of flying with Avianca in this post: “How is flying Avianca right now?“
How do you get a refundable ticket with Avianca?
I was unsure about some of my travel dates so I paid a little extra to get a refundable business class ticket when booking a flight from Bogota to Medellin. I purchased an L class ticket, which Avianca’s website said was refundable.
My ticket indicated that it was an L ticket. And my receipt said that refunds and changes were permitted.
So when my travel plans changed, I figured it would be simple to get a refund…
With all of this documentation mentioning refunds, it might seem like refunds are possible with Avianca, but interacting with airlines is a helpful way to test your mental fitness and perceptions of reality.
How do you apply for a ticket refund with Avianca?
Even with a refundable ticket, you have to go to a special webpage and apply for a refund. You can’t call customer service. I tried. They told me I had to submit a request and just wait for a month or so.
There is not even a way to cancel the ticket. So as the original date of travel approached, even though I’d submitted a request for refund, I was still receiving automated notifications about my flight.
If you want to try to get a refund from Avianca for a refundable ticket, here is the website: Avianca Refunds
So did I get a refund from Avianca? After more than a month, I hadn’t heard anything. I went back to the refund page, logged in with a filing number I originally received, and… it was listed as REJECT with a refunded amount of ZERO.
What do you do when Avianca rejects your refund application?
This was not totally unexpected. Did you read the post on flying with Avianca right now? But I have learned something over the years: airline customer service on social media is much more effective than airline customer service over the phone. So I tweeted that Avianca refused to refund my refundable ticket. And…
I was suddenly entitled to a refund, sorta. The customer service rep on Twitter said that I was only entitled to a credit. So if you’re shopping for Avianca tickets, understand that “refund” means a credit, in the form of what they call a “UATP card”.
But when I went to activate this UATP card, the Avianca website wouldn’t let me. The site kept giving me an error. That was on April 17th. Over the next couple of days, they asked me a couple of times for details on the error I was receiving. I shared the screenshot a couple of times. And then nothing. I had no UATP card and the customer service rep ghosted. I last shared about the error on April 21st. I’d applied for the refund on March 7th.
I figured it was just done. I’d only continued pursuing this so I could share with other people that might be in a similar situation. And then, on May 10th, I got an email from Avianca saying I now had a UATP card I could access. I have to use it before December 2022, so in addition to not being a refund, the credit isn’t even good for a year.
Now, I hadn’t received the money in my Avianca account automatically. I still had to go through an activation process, and, expectedly, the link they sent me to instructions on how to activate the card…
was a broken link 😀
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