Level airlines claims Ellen Boelens is a “no show” for her flight from San Francisco to Barcelona, Spain. But she was on the flight. How did this mix-up happen? And can she get her money back after paying twice for her flight?

Q: Last year, I paid $1,284 for two tickets from San Francisco to Barcelona, Spain. The day before our flight, I tried to print our boarding passes. I could not. 

We went to the airport three hours early. Even though I supplied the airline’s agent with the confirmed itinerary, they couldn’t find it. To get on our flight, we paid another $1,973. It took almost three hours to get us reticketed, and we nearly missed our flight.

Level Airlines won’t refund the $1,973 because it says we were a “no show” for the flight. How can we possibly be a no show if we were on the flight? Furthermore, we paid twice for the flight.

I called my credit card company and a representative suggested that I dispute the original purchase. I did, but my credit card sided with the airline. Can you help me get my $1,973 refund from Level airlines? — Ellen Boelens, Redwood City, California

A: Level, a discount airline run by Iberia, should have had a record of your flight. You purchased your tickets through its site and tried to confirm your reservations online a day before your departure. You also arrived at the airport early to try to sort things out. Instead, Level marked you as a “no show” and then sold you new seats at a $689 markup. That’s wrong.

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You may have found a less expensive fare on another airline, but I think it was wise to rebook on Level airlines. That way, the airline knew for certain that you paid for your tickets twice. You actually were on your originally scheduled flight, so you couldn’t have possibly been a “no show.”

Although your flight took place before the pandemic, you tried to resolve it during the pandemic — and that was the problem. Level, like every other airline in the world, was overwhelmed with refund requests. Yours was one of hundreds of thousands of them.

As I reviewed your paper trail — good job on keeping that, by the way — I saw no evidence that you were a “no show.” This was just an electronic glitch that Level pinned on you. And it seemed all too happy to let you pay for your ticket twice. That’s how airlines make their money these days. Ridiculous.

You could have appealed this double charge to one of the airline’s executive contacts. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of Level’s managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. I also publish some proven methods for negotiating a refund on my personal website.

I contacted Level on your behalf several times, but the airline would not refund your ticket. Finally, you contacted the U.S. Department of Transportation and filed a complaint. Level refunded your first flight, leaving you to pay the $689 difference. You’re still happy to have received something back from the airline.