Balance reimbursed by credit card

By Arne Pedersen
This item appears on page 15 of the July 2018 issue.

Three months before a solo trip to Saudi Arabia that I was taking with Spiekermann Travel Service (Eastpoint, MI; 800/645-3233, in January-February 2018, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She would still be undergoing chemotherapy on the dates of my trip, so I canceled it.

I had purchased my flights on Emirates (New York-Dubai-Jeddah and Damman-Dubai-New York) through Spiekermann, who canceled them at my request. My air tickets, which cost $895, were in Flex class and subject to a $300 cancellation fee*, resulting in a refund of $595 for my unused tickets.

I had also paid a fee of $110 for advance seat assignments (it was a long set of flights and I wanted to have aisle seats). These were not bigger or better or roomier seats, just assigned locations. After requesting a refund of this fee, I got a letter stating that it was nonrefundable, regardless of the reason.**

The credit card I used to pay for the trip, a Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, has some trip-cancellation protection. I was surprised, but pleased, to get approval from Citi for reimbursement of the remainder of what I had paid for the flights, that is, the fees totaling $410.

Citi was easy to reach on the phone and processed the claim quickly. I had just started using this card. I’m glad I had.

The agents at Spiekermann Travel were very understanding and let me transfer almost all of my deposit to another trip that I am taking with them late in 2018. (By the way, my wife is doing very well. Her prognosis is excellent, and we expect to be able to start traveling again very soon.)

Spiekermann is a class act.

Little Silver, NJ

*Any flight-change fees and ticket-refund fees (the amounts of which depend on the fare) are shown during booking only after selecting the route.

**On Emirates’ website,, in their FAQ section and under the heading “Are seat selection fees refundable?,” it states, “Customers are not eligible for seat selection refunds if… They’ve made voluntary flight changes to their itinerary…”