“Aer Lingus tells me they issued the refund and I have to call Orbitz. I got called back from Orbitz four hours after I called,” said Ms. Woolard a retired nurse from Winston-Salem, N.C. “I had to wait another hour to speak to someone. Orbitz said they cannot access my records and that I may not get the refund until the end of 2021,” more than 18 months after the flight was canceled. “I know the airlines are struggling, but you just feel so helpless,” she said.

The holdup in the refund, according to Nisreene Atassi, a company spokeswoman, stemmed from a glitch in the Orbitz computer system which rejected the refund because it had been authorized after the one-year expiration period. (After an inquiry by The Times, Ms. Woolard has now received her refund.)

To improve its customer service, Expedia has hired an additional 500 representatives for its companies to add to its 6,000 total across 30 countries, Mr. Singh said, but it takes three months to train them before they can do the job. Likewise, American Airlines said that it is hiring “hundreds” of customer service agents to deal with the increased call volume.

Expedia expects customers to see improvements soon. Its companies can now handle 80 percent of flight cancellation requests through its websites, up from 10 percent at the start of the pandemic. And by August, it expects to be able to answer 80 percent of its customer service calls within 20 seconds or less, Ms. Atassi said.

With more customer service representatives for the airlines and online travel agencies, wait times should begin to ease. For those who still can’t get satisfaction from either, Bill McGee, Consumer Reports’ aviation adviser, recommends that passengers contest the charges with their credit card issuer. “According to the Fair Credit Billing Act, you’re entitled to a refund if you don’t get goods and services,” Mr. McGee said. “Quite a few readers have gotten satisfaction this way.”

Both Mastercard and Visa require transaction disputes to be filed within 120 days of the original payment. But the price cannot be refunded if the original ticket was a nonrefundable fare, a Visa spokesperson said.

Even with the more-generous expiration dates, vouchers will still eventually expire and the customer will forfeit the amount if the voucher is not used. If specific circumstances prevent a customer from traveling by next spring, American Airlines will work with customers on an individualized basis, said Andrea Koos, a senior manager of corporate communications at American Airlines.

Tourism in Nashville continuing recovery after COVID-19 pandemic

Cowboy hats and bachelorette sashes are back at the honky-tonks. Masked moms are meandering music museums once more. And weekenders are again willing to wait in line to witness winged works of art.

To the naked eye, Nashville’s $7 billion tourism industry is back. But the reality is more complicated for an industry that was devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are six numbers that describe the state of the industry and the road ahead.

$1.14 BILLION in hotel revenue

The Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp projects $1.14 billion in hotel revenue in Nashville in 2021. That’s 48 percent higher than the reported 2020 figure but 40 percent below the 2019 figure. Nashville set records in visitors, direct visitor spending and other tourism-related statistics every year from 2009 to 2019 before the pandemic ground that momentum to a halt.

Downtown growth and higher prices:What lies ahead for Nashville’s apartment market post-pandemic?

This content is only available to subscribers.

$1 for 6 Months. Save 98%.

Subscribe Now

Unlimited access to local news including high school sports

Access to the e-Edition, a digital version of the printed paper

Sign up for subscriber-only newsletters

Follow topics most important to you in our app

You don’t have to look far for evidence that Hawaii’s visitor industry is expanding.

The night lights are brighter in Waikiki. Traffic is backing up in popular tourist spots on the weekends. Visitors and residents are jockeying for space on Hawaii’s beaches. Reopened luaus are selling out fast.

Economic indicators and company announcements add to the conclusion that tourism is on the rebound.

Occupancy at Hawaii hotels rose to 43% in March, up from about 31% in February and 23% in January, according to data from Nashville-based STR released Wednesday. It was Hawaii’s highest statewide occupancy in the last 11 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hawaiian Airlines launched its nonstop service between Honolulu and Austin, Texas, on Wednesday — the carrier’s fourth new route announcement in less than two months.

The Polynesian Cultural Center, one of the state’s larger attractions, is launching a new sales package in anticipation of fully reopening all its island villages on April 26.

Safe Travels Hawaii, the state’s traveler entry program, which started Oct. 15, as of Tuesday had screened nearly 2.67 million travelers, including nearly 2.01 million visitors. As many as 485,021, including 396,949 visitors, came during the first 20 days of April. As of Tuesday, the seven day average of travelers screened by Safe Travels Hawaii was at 22,815.

Chris Kam, OmniTrak president and chief operating officer, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Wednesday that “Travel demand for Hawaii is picking up,” according to preliminary data from the firm’s first quarter TravelTrakAmerica survey.

The survey, which began in February and is being conducted through April, each quarter queries approximately 27,000 travelers across the U.S. who had traveled in the last year.

Kam said 14% of travelers in the latest survey said they were considering a trip to Hawaii in the next two years, up from 11% at the same time last year.

Kam said Hawaii was the fifth most popular state for travel considerations behind Florida, California, New York and Texas. At this time last year, Kam said Hawaii was the seventh most popular state, coming in behind Colorado and Nevada as well.

“People have gone a year without travel and now they are trying to make up for lost time,” Kam said. “They want the fulfillment that travel brings.”

Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines CEO and president, told the Star-Advertiser Wednesday that its been at least 15 years since Hawaiian added so many new routes in such a short time.

“It certainly hasn’t happened since I’ve been here,” he said. “We are feeling a little bit more of a bounce in our step. We know we aren’t out of the woods yet. But we are seeing more rays of sunshine than dark clouds — so we are really encouraged about how things are getting better.”

Ingram and Kam said full restoration of Hawaii tourism isn’t likely to come until the threat of COVID-19 is fully managed, and international travelers return to the state. Still, they said the U.S. travel market is performing better than expected.