Update: What’s Going On With Our Refund From Avianca?

image: Aero-Shots

Over Spring Break, the Michael W Travels family was supposed to head to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands but COVID-19 had other plans.

We were supposed to fly from New York to Guayaquil, Ecuador on JetBlue. That flight was canceled and we received a refund of our miles and taxes paid. Soon after, Avianca canceled our flight from Guayaquil to the Galapagos.

The charge to our Capital One card hadn’t yet been paid and we hoped it would just be a simple refund of some sort. It didn’t make sense that we’d have to pay for a service an airline didn’t provide.

Based on e-mails we received from Avianca, they said we could reschedule our flight for the future. This isn’t like rescheduling a flight for an hour or a day later, who knows when travel will be back to normal again!

We tried reaching out to the airline to request a refund but had no luck. We also failed in filling out an online refund. For more details, check out my post REFUND Us: Avianca Cancels Flight, Says We Can Rebook Until 3/21.

The following week, I posted a follow-up regarding where we stand with getting a refund from Avianca.

We reached out to the credit card company which was of little help. They contacted Avianca and the airline sent them documentation of the flight booking we had made. There was no disputing that we booked the flight, our dispute is regarding why we should pay for a flight they canceled!

A month later the charge reappeared on our credit card. We contacted Capital One and they were able to email us a unique link to a site to upload our statement and documents  of proof. The charge has not been paid and we are waiting for another response from Capital One.

We also filed a DOT complaint. We’ve since received a response from a legal analyst from Avianca. We were told to either reschedule our flight in the future or put in for a refund online. Initially, I responded to the e-mail with some questions but never got another response!

This led me to reach out to the DOT representative who was dealing with my case. I got a response within a day that my complaint would be sent to Avianca again.

In the meantime, I was finally able to apply for a refund on Avianca.com. Besides getting a confirmation, I’ve heard nothing about this since.

Less than a week ago, I got a response from a different Avianca legal analyst. I was told, “We have received your complaint; we are analyzing your case here in Ecuador,  and will answer you back as soon as possible.”

Final Thoughts:

While all of this has transpired, Avianca has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I’m not thinking that an opportunity to get a flight credit or rebook looks like a great option.

Regardless, I am now waiting on three things.

  1. What will Capital One rule on our dispute? Will they actually look at the evidence we provided or accept the fact that we did book a flight?
  2. Will Avianca respond to a refund request or will we be left to wait?
  3. When will I hear back from our second DOT complaint from Avianca? How long will this case analysis being done in Ecuador take to complete?

If you’re having similar issues with a canceled Avianca flight, let us know where you’re at in terms of trying to get a refund.

71 thoughts on “Update: What’s Going On With Our Refund From Avianca?

  1. Was in similar situation, contacted Avianca via email asked full refund of miles and money. Points were refunded promptly, finally got money back to cc 2 month later.

  2. Capital one sucks in this. They should have had your back since the very beginning. I am shocked.

  3. Had a flexible ticket canceled in the beginning of February (not COVID related). Received a confirmation that I would receive the full amount within 30 days. Now it’s more than 100 days later and still no refund. Avianca says ‘things are taking a bit longer because of the crisis’, so let’s wait and see. Might try a chargeback via AmEx eventually…

  4. After my DOT complaint Avianca agreed to refund my money. That was in mid April. Now we’ve been through multiple emails with me, their legal person, and DOT where they claim they have started the refund, completed the refund but I haven’t checked my card statement, or my refund is soon to be completed. Usually all in the same day. Sometimes in the same email. As you’d guess still no money. I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  5. Same here in terms of contacting through email (support@lifemiles.com)
    Had miles and taxes refund within about a week.

  6. Alex- Not bad considering…

    Benji- I guess we’ll see what happens and if they actually look at the docs I sent in.

    Valentijn- Good luck! It seems like Avianca is screwing as many people as possible over.

    Emilie- Ouch. Was your charge already paid for?

    Corey- It seems like miles bookings haven’t been as much of an issue as paid tickets.

  7. I am so incredibly disappointed and frustrated. You may remember that I previously posted about trying to get $3400 back from Avianca when they changed our itinerary and then ultimately canceled our flights to Ecuador and back. After I filed my online refund request with them, I heard exactly nothing back. It’s now been 57 days (yes, I’m counting), and my status still shows as “RECEIVED”. I haven’t heard one peep from Avianca since applying for the refund. I filed a dispute with Citi Visa (Costco card) on April 1, and they gave me provisional credit. Now Avianca has disputed the refund and Citi Visa is reinstating the charge. Yesterday, I received an email from Citi telling me I have 10 days to file a protest if I want to have the case re-reviewed. I haven’t filed a DOT complaint yet, but I will definitely do so now. I was feeling pretty complacent, because I thought the credit card companies were supposed to protect us from exactly this sort of thing. My mistake.

    1. Same is my case …. it appears logged in Avianca’s refund system but not a word …. nor any updates.

  8. Rachel- I was also surprised that the credit card companies haven’t been more understanding. After the charge showed up again for us, we escalated the claim with documentation as I mentioned above.

    BTW- Our flight wasn’t originating in the US so our situation is a bit more complicated.

  9. We are in the exact same position with Avianca. We booked 7 tickets from Los Angeles to Costa Rica for spring break. I have filed for refund, I made complaints to Avianca and the DOT. The DOT tried to tell me that I cancelled my own flight which I emailed to correct as Avianca cancelled all US flights in April, so I never cancelled anything. Avianca emailed me:

    “In our Customer Service department, we have received the comments you sent us through our website, regarding your refund request XXXXXX.
    Allow us to inform you, due to the global situation presented by the COVID-19 outbreak and the high volume of requests, we do not have an estimated time for the refund of your money, we invite you to leave your ticket open to serve as part of payment for future services with the airline.”

    We also booked on Capital One and have not had any success in getting the money back through the credit card.

  10. Lisa- I am surprised that the DOT isn’t being a bit more helpful. Did the DOT forward your complaint to the airline or not do so due to the confusion? I hope that this works out for you.

  11. I was to fly with Avianca to Ecuador in early March 2020. Part of my ticket (the return) was first class and should have been refundable. I applied for a refund and haven’t heard a word from them at all! It’s AUGUST now. I don’t want to argue with them by phone but I can’t find a way to email them…

  12. I had had to cancel a ticket from San Jose, CR to San Francisco, CA due to COVID 19. Requested the refund online and received a confirmation number but now 2 months later the status is still listed as received. I also requested a refund from AA as the return trip was thru them and received it about 2 weeks later. I can’t believe how AVIANCA is being allowed to do this to it’s costumers. If any one has success let us know.

  13. I am in the same issue as you. Capital one charged me 3 grand back on my CC without notice and they sent me a letter in the email stating that Avianca said no… So my CC company seriously gave up and accepted no as an answer I am pissed. So I sent Capital One a 32-page packet with all the laws and policy according to the DOT which has yet to contact me back. This is just all so frustrating and this airline is a complete joke.

  14. Hello – I am so sorry to hear you are all going through this too. I requested a refund back in February (I had to cancel due to illness) and it was approved. My status says “received” and they technically have approved the refund, but there is no estimate on when the refund will arrive. It’s been over 7 months now.. I have never been so frustrated by an airline experience.

    1. I came to this article looking to see how long things take. They canceled a flight for my in laws to go back to Paraguay in March, and every time we tried to find out what was going on, we would get the runaround (Use whatsapp, whatsapp says go on line, online says call or use whatsapp – can I just talk to someone?!). So it’s been almost 3 months, nothing compared to your 7. Has anything changed for you since September?

  15. My experience was a bit different since I never actually paid the credit card bill for the flight. I have more recent posts on my refund. Good luck everyone. Avianca was a real pain to deal with.

  16. I believe Avianca is intentionally depriving clients of funds they are not legally entitled to for their benefit. I too paid Avianca for a service that was not rendered, they canceled my flight twice, and continue to withhold my funds months later. These tickets were fully refundable. When I asked Capital One to reverse the charges, Avianca disputed the reversal. It’s amazing that they have time to dispute a reversal, but can’t find time to issue a refund after months. I have been in touch with Co-founder of Avianca, Luz Marina Diaz Aristizabal on LinkedIn, she’s useless. I am going to contact the Judge (Allan L Gropper) who is handling Avianca’s bankruptcy. An investigation and audit should be launched in order to determine if Avianca is violating consumer rights while hiding behind the veil of bankruptcy protection.

    1. Rick, dif capital one give you back the funds? Then charged you again after avianca said no. They did this to me and I don’t know what else to do I feel like capital one isn’t fighting or helping me at all. They just accepted a no answer from them and then charged me again. I don’t know what to do anymore I’ve done so much and I don’t get any contact or feedback.

      1. Capital One did the same exact thing to me. Initially they credited the account, asked for more information and then reversed the credit. It’s amazing that Avianca has time to dispute a reversal, but they can’t manage to process a refund.
        The founder-general manager of Avianca, Luz Marina Diaz Aristizabal, replied this morning saying “this is out of her scope and that I have followed all of the correct channels to obtain a refund.” How is processing a refund out of the scope of the general manger? I see that Avianca has an F rating with the BBB, so I don’t think that is a useful avenue. I’ve filed a complaint with the DOT, but I am considering reaching out to the judge who is handling Avianca’s bankruptcy, Judge Allan Gropper (allangropper@gmail.com). These trade practices are in direct violation of federal laws. If I don’t have a resolution in the near future I will file a civil suit in small claims. It’ll cost them more to defend the decade then to pay. I don’t think they’ll even hire someone to represent them. I’ll probably end up obtaining a default judgement. In Florida the limit for small claims is $8000.

  17. Hi all,

    I am also going through the same thing. I requested a refund only two months ago and it is still showing up as “Received” online. They did send me the following email a month later stating the following: ”
    We know you applied for a refund for your xxxxx ticket and we would like you to have the experience of flying with Avianca. Enjoy comfort, earn miles, customize your flight and many more benefits for you. That’s why we want to offer you to exchange your ticket for an Avianca voucher so you can travel whenever you want. ”

    The new deadline is Dec 2021 to request for a refund. I am wondering if I should just give in for the voucher and hope we can travel next year! Thoughts?

    1. I personally wouldn’t because you never know if they will have the flights you originally had. I just feel like they have no money so eventually they will stop flying all together… I wish you the best of luck and this is horrible for all of us 🙁

  18. I bought my tickets back in January and the flight was cancelled by he pandemic. I requested my refund and I haven’t gotten anything from them, it has been more than 6 months and I keep calling/chatting/emailing them, but nothing. They keep saying they would prioritize my case and a day later I receive a message saying the waiitng list is long and they are working on it. I have sent many complaints to DOT, but they don’t help either. I also tried my bank, but the say they can’t take the money back from them. Is there sth else I should do? I am really desperate to get my money back.

  19. I requested my refund and I haven’t gotten anything from them, it has been more than 6 months and I keep calling/chatting/emailing them, but nothing. They keep saying they would prioritize my case and a day later I receive a message saying the waiitng list is long and they are working on it. I have sent many complaints to DOT, but they don’t help either. I also tried my bank, but the say they can’t take the money back from them. Is there sth else I should do? I am really desperate to get my money back.

  20. I’m still waiting for my refunds, It has been a nightmare and now every-time I call they put me on eternal hold and always hang up on me . I’m beyond frustrated and disappointed. I need my $2200 back.

  21. I have been waiting for a refund since March. I keep calling and keep being told that “the refund has been approved, but they just don’t have a date set as to when they will credit the money back to my credit card.” I really hope they send the money back. They are operating now to different countries. It’s not fair that they are withholding our money. We had booked other flights for July with a different airline and we got that money back in less than a week, so I dont understand why Avianca is taking so long!

  22. Update: I emailed the Judge handling Avianca’s bankruptcy (Judge Allan Gropper, New York City, New York), CCing Avianca, to pose the following question: How can an airline seek relief from a Federal Court while defying Federal Law?

    Federal law requires airlines to refund a passenger’s fare in full in the event of a cancellation. The statute goes on to say that the money must be refunded within 20 days if the fare was paid via debit/credit card. How can a large corporation seek financial relief while unlawfully harming its clients? And during a pandemic?

    Avianca’s Regional Manager replied to let me know that he would have someone get in touch with me immediately. Shortly after that, I received an email informing me that a refund was being issued for both tickets. Next, I receive Avianca’s email telling me that Capital One won’t accept a refund on the card. What? Are you kidding me? I contacted Capital One, and they explained to me that this doesn’t happen. They don’t reject refunds or deposits.

    Avianca’s Regional Manager, Mario Jimenez (mario.jimenez@avianca.com), emailed, saying that they needed my Passport and a copy of my bank statement to verify that I paid for the tickets before issuing the refund. My name was on the credit card when I paid for the tickets, or it would have been declined. I sent a copy of my bank statement’s cover letter and the page that shows the Avianca transaction in the ledger.

    Now I receive an email this morning saying they need the full bank statement. That is going to be a no, full stop. I will not send an unredacted copy of my bank statement to an airline that is in bankruptcy somewhere in South America. They certainly don’t need it, and it is yet another example of their gross incompetence. I’m at the point now, where I want the opportunity to describe the unlawful abuse I have endured to a Judge. I don’t even care about the refund. Unfortunately, Avianca would probably just attached the judgment I receive to their bankruptcy. So, I’ll persist.

    Also, Luz Marina Diaz Aristizabal is a managing member of Avianca. She is on LinkedIn. She removed Avianca from her bio after I contacted her and began to hold her accountable for the unfair and deceptive trade acts unlawfully employed by Avianca.

  23. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe there are so many of us having the same issues with Avianca. I booked flights back in June for travel in November (had I seen any of this I definitely would not have). They have cancelled and changed my flights numerous times since then, literally everything has changed — flight numbers, departure time, then departure day, 24+ hours later; return time, added in an 11+ hour layover, etc. I have tried calling the 800# numerous times and just get disconnect. I got ahold of a rep once, who wouldn’t do anything to help. I asked for a manager, but “they weren’t available”. I was supposed to get a call back within 24 hours; 5 days later, still nothing. I’ve tried their online chat and their WhatsApp chat, can’t get anyone to respond to help. I can’t even find an option online to request a credit or refund or anything. This is INSANE!!!

  24. Sorry to see that there are a lot of us with the same problem.
    I hope everyone gets what we deserve.
    My issue just happened, they canceled my 235pm flight from JFK to BOG and put me on a 640am flight that now has a 9 1/2 hour layover in Bogota to Sao Paulo. I spoke to Avianca and they say I have to accept the new flight.,,which i know is not true.
    2 tickets for a total of $3700. I applied for the refund online and wrote to DOT as suggested above. Can anyone provide me with email addresses for Avianca? Seems some people are emailing them and getting responses.
    I am prepared for the long haul, and would appreciate advice going further.
    Good luck to all of us!

  25. I am in a similar position to others – filed a refund request and DOT complaint after a flight was canceled in April and have not heard anything. I booked the tickets through Chase, has anyone had any luck going through them?

  26. Read my above comment and course of action. I received my entire refund, but it took a dogged approach to get it done.
    Avianca’s Regional Manager, Mario Jimenez (mario.jimenez@avianca.com) was actually very helpful. By the time the DOT stepped in I already received the refund. Federal Law requires commercial airlines to refund the fare in a cancellation event. You do not have to accept a voucher.

    1. I have emailed that guy months ago wirh no response. The DOT did nothing for me but give me the law saying they should refund me no action was taken.

  27. Has anyone been able to get a refund? I have been waiting since March and still nothing. Capital One is 0 help and every time I call they say “oh someone will follow up soon” Its been months. I am so tired of this.. I need my 3 grand back.

  28. In 2019 I booked two tickets from NYC to Columbia on Avianca for March 2020 and canceled in January 2020. Avianca has a policy that international flights canceled result in 1`00% refund if canceled. It is November 2020 and I still have not gotten my refund. I have contacted them (with great difficulty) so many times and they finally blacklisted my email address so I cannot contact them via email any longer. The last call I made said that the refund had been authorized but due to filing bankruptcy I would have to be patient. Reading that others have received refunds and I am still waiting after 10 months makes me wonder whether I just donated $2600 to Avianca 🙁

  29. I’m still waiting for the refund to take place. I keep being told that they have approved the refund, but they don’t have a date as to when it will be credited. I’ve been waiting since March. This is so frustrating!

  30. I also had a flight canceled in March Miami – Colombia. I was also told to request a refund online. I did this in July. Had gotten no answers, until today that they say it was rejected!! Becuase supposedly I changed my mind and wanted a voucher!!!! I NEVER agreed to a voucher… now I had to file a complaint and who knows when they will answer.

  31. Hi, I am doing the same with Capital One, DOT, submitted a refund requests, etc.
    What happened with your claim with Capital One? Did they help?

  32. Wow! Amazing how many people are having the same issues as me. I gave up on avianca issuing me a refund after waiting 7 months and capital one was no help, I took the voucher in September and I’m still waiting for them to send it to me.

  33. I had submitted refund request on Avianca in May 2020. Finally today there is an update to my refund:
    Status = Authorized
    Authorized Value = COP 1
    Payment Method = ACC

    Does anyone know what all this means?

  34. I received an email December 2, saying my refund had been approved and would be sent within 30 days. Any one else receive a message like this? I have been very vocal on their Facebook page and I’m wondering if they are just trying to get me to shut up!

    1. I received the same mail at around the same time, but I have not gotten any refunds so far …. I haven’t been too vocal or anything, but I’m checking regularly whether some money arrived but it just won’t come….
      I am wondering whether this is because of their bankruptcy and if we will get any money at all….
      Do you have an update from your side ?

  35. Still have not gotten a refund for the flight to Colombia they canceled in March. I applied online and to this day, the request only says “received”. Got an email from them recently stating that my “voucher” could not be processed. I have since tried to contact them because I never EVER requested a voucher. After nearly a 3 hour hold, I was told that because I accepted a voucher it was non-refundable. I, repeat, I have NEVER accepted a voucher nor have I applied for one. I am reaching out for legal representation, though I’ve heard it’s nearly impossible to sue airlines. I’m still going to try going through small claims.

  36. Hello! I also have the same problem you guys are talking about. I bought a flight in September for my grandparents but, after being cancelled two times, I filed a refund application. I live in the US. Can someone explain me what is DOT? How can I proceed with a complaint?.

    1. Hey Sebastian,
      DOT= Department of Transportation. My best friend and I are in the same situation, and it appears the only courses of action that might help are
      1. Contacting your bank to dispute the charges
      2. Emailing mario.jimenez@avianca.com and explaining your situation
      3. Filing a complaint with the DOT. I’ve seen some people mention emailing the judge handling the bankruptcy case but I think that’s a moot point by now; these cases can take months before they’re resolved and his ruling will be either we’re all entitled to refunds or we aren’t . Time will tell.

      1. Hello Daniel, We are also attempting to get a refund from Avianca. I just sent off an email as you suggested to Mario Jimenez – wondering who is he?
        As well trying to get visa to assist.
        At this point i am feeling it is a lost cause…..
        We appreciate your suggestions.
        Mary Ellen

  37. Hello everyone,
    I appreciate you all for sharing your experience. I am having a similarly frustrating experience with Avianca.
    My flight to Colombia in March was cancelled and I submitted a refund request in summer. They canceled the request because, as some others have said, they said I accepted the voucher. I said I never asked for a voucher and they opened a new refund request case for me in winter. The status has remained ‘received’ since then.
    I appreciate you all for offering avenues to dispute this issue. I will try to email Mr. Jimenez and file a complaint with DOT. I may not try to go through the bank because it seems that no one reported here to have success in getting help from the bank?
    Its exhausting but I will be persistent about getting this refund..

  38. Avianca issued me a voucher. My voucher is worth about $2500. They have disconnected me on every call and when I do get through they won’t help me rebook my ticket. I want my money back.

  39. hi Is there a class action against Avianca? I have been so affected by this? we could get our claims together

    1. Please let me know where you are in this. I’m in the same situation and we are Owed $2,000

  40. Thanks to all who have posted helpful suggestions and contact details to this posting. We are in the same situation, awaiting a $1350 refund for cancelled flights from May 2020. We too have provided all kinds of bank details, documentation of ticket purchase, and responded to all Avianca emails the same day those are received. Avianca claims they have tried to wire the refund to our bank, but it has not gone through. (Unfortunately, our tickets were purchased through a South American travel agency, which has been of no help). I’m not giving up — this airline must be help responsible.

    1. Hello! I am also waiting on a refund from Avianca. When your post said you booked through a SA travel agency, I wondered if it was the same as mine. I used Ideal South America and they have refunded everything (less a significant penalty amount), except Avianca. My trip was last May. In October, I asked for cash instead of a voucher from the airline. I call my travel agent once a month and he says Avianca is really slow in issuing refunds. No kidding. Just wondering if you used the same travel agency. I hope you receive your refund soon. Thank you!

  41. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year and Avianca can’t refund anyone their money back. Whoever the higher ups and owners of this company are… you will end up broke! You don’t do this to people when they NEED THEIR MONEY NOT PAPER VOUCHERS!
    I booked 2 tickets to Peru for May through Expedia but flights were cancelled so like everyone else, I’ve gotten my vouchers but when I tried calling both Expedia and Avianca, there was no response and I’ve also tried to apply for refunds and I only received an email for one refund for one of my tickets. Trying to fight these people with claims is pointless. I believe I will travel for now so I don’t loose my tickets but I will NEVER fly with Avianca ever again.

  42. Similar situation. Booked a trip through Trip.com to peru last year. Avianca cancelled my flights. I requested a refund through trip.com.10 months later Trip.com tells me that Avianca gave me back vouchers instead of a full refund. Turns out that trip com requested a voucher for me even though in an email, I requested my money back. I put in for a refund with Avianca in February 2021. Still waiting for my refund. I have also reported Trip.com to DOT. I reached out to Capital One last year for a refund and they said they could not help me because more than 3 months passed since I purchased my trip. It has been a year since my trip was canceled and I still dont have my money back. I am beyond fruatrated.

  43. A warning for people who are planning to purchase a ticket from Avianca . I purchased a ticket to El Salvador, within a month in advance for $707 Canadian dollars, which I paid with my Credit card . I got the booking code, my trip information from Avianca, and so I thought I had secured my ticket. Twenty four hours before my trip I tried to do my pre- checking and every time I try a message keep showing, saying my last name was not registered in their system, so I keep calling many times, to a phone line that no one responded, so I try to reach by chatting in English as well as in Spanish, but I was not successful, so I had to wait until the day of my trip. I arrived to Avianca’s desk at the airport, just to be told that my ticket was not paid by my credit card, but I was offered to buy one right there for $1,500 plus $100 per each luggage. What I found strange is that I was not the only one with the same problem, there were so many people dealing with the same situation. I called my credit card to get answers and they told me that avianca, probably stopped the transaction but I was never notified, So now It is very clear what Avianca is doing, they send the trip information ,confirmation code, as if I had purchase a ticket, And once you are at the airport you feel obligated to buy the ticket at the price they want. Many of us didn’t buy it but many people felt for it, they didn’t understand that it was all planned by the company. At the end people paid close to $2,000 dollars for a ticket that was initially $707. So be ver careful if you are planning to buy a ticket from Avianca, they are using different strategies to take your money. Please don’t buy from them, I’m trying to save you a headache, spending your money in taxi to the airport, trying to get answers and the worse part, the disappointment and disillusion of not being able to travel.

  44. We FINALLY recorded a refund from Avianca our our May 2020 flights! I recorded 28 emails back and forth to not only their customer service general email, but to several specific people as I found their emails. After much aggravation, frustration and angst, I sent an email to everyone I had an address for, detailing each and every request Avianca made for information, and that we responded to each and every one in less than 24 hours. FINALLY, September 10, 2021, we recorded the refund transferred into our checking account. So hang in there, hopefully yours will be coming soon.

  45. They canceled our flights in MARCH 2020 and refunded one of two tickets. It been almost two years and still nothing. Has anyone else been successful in getting them on the phone? Any advice would be appreciated. This is so frustrating.

  46. I’m sorry for your frustration, we were there until about a month ago. Our flights were cancelled in May 2020, and we started in earnst working on refunds in August, when nothing seemed to be happening. I have NEVER been successful at getting someone on the phone. I would google Avianca once a month, and pick up new CEO, other higher-up staff names as I could, and include them on any emails I was exchanging with the refund department. And, I kept up the email “barrage’ on a regular every-two-week basis. The last email I sent, to anyone and everyone I could, included the dates and listing of all 46 emails and their promises. We finally received refunds in November 2021. Good Luck, keep up the fight.

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