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What’s a Delta SkyMile worth?

I found it hard to believe that they did not know about the low water levels more than four days before our departure, but we were able to change our return flight. Since we had made our original flights on Delta using SkyMiles, we did the same for the flight change.
Q. My wife, Judy, and I booked a cruise on American Queen Voyages two years ago. The trip was scheduled to depart from Chattanooga, Tenn., last fall on the American Countess. Four days before our departure, we received a notice from American Queen that it had changed our final destination from Memphis to Louisville, Ky., because of low water levels in the Mississippi River.
American Queen asked us to submit documentation for the flight change costs, and I sent them on Oct. 27, 2022. Two months went by with nothing but an automated reply, so I attempted to reach someone at American Queen by telephone. But it’s impossible to contact anyone there regarding refunds by telephone. I reached out to one of the executive contacts that you publish on your site, and a few weeks later, I got a reply from a woman in sales who promised a refund. But she said that it would take approximately 60 days for it to process.
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It has now been over one year since I submitted the requested documentation, and they no longer answer my emails. Can you help me get the $930 back that American Queen promised us?
TERRANCE HARDY, Escondido, Calif.
A. American Queen should have paid you promptly for the rescheduled flight. You were more than patient with the company. You made polite inquiries by phone and email, but nothing seemed to work.
Your refund misadventure is more complicated than it appears. You had booked your tickets using your Delta SkyMiles. When you asked American Queen for a refund, you included copies of your old and new itinerary. You explained that you had to redeem another 31,000 miles each for the new trip. You asked American Queen for $930 by calculating the value of a mile at .015 cents per mile.
The problem is that no one agrees on the value of a mile. Some say a Delta SkyMile is worth 1 cent, some say 1.2 cents, and some say it may be as high as 1.5 cents. But one thing is certain: The American Queen Voyages system was set up to give cash refunds for actual money spent. The mile valuations may have confused it.
If that’s true, then someone at American Queen should have said something to you. Maybe they could have made a counteroffer on the mileage or explain the company’s policy about reimbursing passengers for their miles? A $930 reimbursement is essentially the cost of a new plane ticket, so it might have made more sense to just buy a new ticket. All of those things should have been worked out before you submitted your expenses to American Queen.
The experience you had following up on your reimbursement is not unique to American Queen. Many travel companies drag their feet when it’s time to issue refunds.
You reached out to my advocacy team. I contacted the company on your behalf, and after several inquiries, I received an email that American Queen was “currently expediting this reimbursement.” You finally received your $930 refund.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it. A few weeks after I resolved this case, American Queen Voyages ceased operations.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at or get help by contacting him at



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