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Travelers Running Into Problems With Redeeming Airline Credits

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- At the beginning of the pandemic, many people opted not to fly and got issued airfare credits instead to use when they feel safer on planes.

There are some restrictions to those credits and some, especially those given by third-party travel websites, are not allowing them to be redeemed for just any flight as travel is starting to pick back up.

"It was a flight directly to Germany and back and then COVID hit," said one traveler.

It's a scenario many travelers can relate to.

The coronavirus pandemic caused travel plans to be canceled in 2020, but now rebooking in 2021 has also proved difficult for some, like Cathy Roldan.

"Disappointed is hardly even the word," Roldan said.

Roldan has a flight credit with Expedia for two round-trip tickets to Munich, but when she went to try to use that credit, she ran into some problems.

"And they asked me what flights I wanted, and I told them, and they told me they were no longer available for us with credit. That only certain flights were available," Roldan said.

Flights that were more expensive were available to use with the credits.

"I would have to pay $1,106 per passenger in addition to my credit," Roldan said.

Expedia tells 2 On Your Side that airlines set terms and conditions for each flight, and travel credits may not be valid for certain flights, leaving passengers to pay the difference.

Scott Keyes with Scott's Cheap Flights says travelers also have less wiggle room when they book through third-party travel websites.

"It tends to be simpler when you don't have a middleman, but there are more regulations that exist when booking directly with the airlines that the airlines have to follow," Keyes said.

Amber Paxton has a $2,200 credit with for five round-trip tickets to Miami. She found flights for June for under $300 on the airline's website, but when she tried to use her credit with the third-party website, Paxton was told that the price would be $600 per person.

Keyes says there are ways to stretch your credit.

Rule No. 1, if you have time to book, wait until flights drop in price.

"From Atlanta to Amsterdam, on Monday it was $800 on Tuesday, it was $300 on Wednesday, it was $1,300 and we are talking about the exact same flight," Keyes said.

Rule No. 2, if one customer service agent says no, call back and try another.

Finally, ask to extend the expiration date on your credit and try to book next year when more flights are available as the travel industry rebounds.

Expedia is now looking into Roldan's case. CBS2 did not hear back from Flights Mojo.


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