I was recently supposed to fly from New York to London on Norwegian Air. I became ill and saw a doctor two days before my flight and was diagnosed with a viral infection. We hoped that I would be well enough to travel as planned, but on the morning of my flight, my doctor advised that I was too ill to travel. I have a doctor's note to that effect.
I tried hard to cancel or change the flight by email but received only a response that it was not possible because it was within 24 hours of the flight.
I tried to call the U.S. number but could never get through. I received just a prerecorded message with various numbers to select. When I selected the numbers, I got sent back to the message about selecting numbers. I also tried the Norwegian phone number, but the canned responses were in Norwegian.
I recovered and was able to fly shortly thereafter. I flew from Boston to London on Norwegian and paid the fare without any credit for my previous flight.
As I was not permitted to cancel or change the flight, I would like a partial refund and or credit for another Norwegian flight to be taken within a year.
Can you help me? - Olga Boikess, Washington
A: If you'd canceled your flight before it left, you could have received a ticket credit. But once the flight pushes back, you're out of luck. And there's a reason for that: The plane is flying with an empty seat because you were a "no-show."
Still, Norwegian should have made it possible for you to notify it of your cancellation. I find it hard to believe you couldn't reach the airline to inform it of your change in plans. Airlines are typically so easy to reach when you want to make a reservation. It stands to reason that when you want to cancel a reservation, they'd be just as easy to contact, right?
How about the airline's website, I asked, and you told me the airline's online cancellation system refused to allow you to cancel because it was within 24 hours of the flight. That definitely sounds like a glitch that needs to be looked at. Add it all up and it's possible you couldn't reach Norwegian before your flight departed, and that's a problem.
Norwegian rejected your request for a ticket credit because there are "certain conditions we must adhere to" - in other words, you were a no-show. The airline didn't address any of the difficulties you had canceling the ticket. It just said "rules are rules."
You might have appealed this to an executive. I list the names, email addresses, and phone numbers for Norwegian's customer service executives on my site: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/norwegian-airlines/.
I contacted the airline on your behalf. Norwegian said it's unsure why you were unable to connect with a representative but agreed to refund the difference between the new ticket and the old one, plus the change fee.
Christopher Elliott's latest book is "How to Be the World's Smartest Traveler" (National Geographic). You can get real-time answers to any consumer question on his new forum, elliott.org/forum, or by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.