Reader Question: Air China Refund Hell


A LoyaltyLobby reader sent me an email about Air China refund issue that has been going on for months where the airline has not process it correctly.

Air China

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I am in a 6 month battle with Air China and while I generally feel like I am travel savvy I really have no idea what to do. I booked a flight direct with Air China for November for my girlfriend and I. For personal reasons we decided to take a different flight, despite the $200 cancellation. I went to cancel my flight online but was given a vague error message. I called and after some troubleshooting they decided to submit the cancellation internally and that I would receive an email notification. 2 weeks later I received the refund for my girlfriends ticket, but a different email for my ticket saying that I submitted the refund request incorrectly.

I emailed Air China to let them know of their error, and to resubmit the refund request but got no response. I called to explain the situation, and they again submitted the refund request. Again, I received the email weeks later saying I submitted the request incorrectly. I sent the email again, foolishly, and received no response. I called again for them to submit the refund request and I stressed that they have been doing it incorrectly. I wait a month and never receive any sort of notification.

This time I find a different email address which they gave to people on Twitter when they were having a customer service issue. I write explaining the situation, and I receive a message back that they will check on it. A week goes by and I ask if they were able to check, and I get a response that the Beijing office handles returns and it took a while to get the status. They tell that I submitted the wrong information for the refund request and that I need to resubmit it with the proper information.

I’m not sure what to think, but is this typical of Air China? I’ve never flown with them, and I definitely know to never book with them again. I am just wondering if there is anything I can do at this point? I tried to dispute the charge on my credit card, and although the purchase is too old to dispute the customer service rep submitted it anyways.

I am at a lost. Is there anything else I can do? I appreciate any advice you can give.

The reader has already opened a dispute with the credit card used to pay for the purchase that is the correct first step.

I would also open a consumer complaint with the body that regulates airlines in the country that the reader lives in. I believe that the reader is from the US. So, he could open a Consumer Complaint with the DOT’s Aviation Consumer Protection unit (access here).

They will forward the case to Air China and usually the airlines take these complaints very seriously.


Not sure why airlines sometimes struggle with processing refunds? Surely Air China has someone in the US that can process these without someone in Beijing having a look?

I have purchases several tickets on Air China but never directly. I tend to use OTAs (Expedia, Orbitz etc) that can handle the refund process if needed.

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