During the pandemic, the NBC4 I team received more travel-related complaints than ever before. But many don’t know that California has set up a fund to help travelers make up for lost money.

Tere Marquez’s first vacation without her children – in the Caribbean – went great. That is, until the airline canceled its flight home to LA.

“I started crying,” said Marquez. “I thought, ‘What do you mean, we don’t have a flight home?'”

Marquez called the airline and the online travel agent she had booked the flight with. The only way to return home was to leave a day early and combine with a 13 hour layover through Germany. It’s an option she called “crazy”. Instead, Marquez paid $ 1,900 to book a new flight home with another airline. So an attempt was made to get a refund on the new flight, but neither the airline nor the travel agent moved.

“It was tough,” said Marquez.

She didn’t know, but she could have tried to get her money back by filing a complaint with the Travel Consumer Restitution Corporation or the TCRC. It is a private company, but was founded 25 years ago by the state parliament. The idea behind this is to give consumers financial recourse if a travel agent fails to deliver or goes down on their knees.

“It’s especially good right now, this time, I think,” said Vicki Scheck from ScheckTrek Travel. “It offers consumers another layer of protection.” The TCRC is funded by all California registered travel agents such as check. You have to bring in about $ 100 a year.

The TCRC pot is pretty big – about $ 3 million. And only a fraction of it is spent each year. The TCRC told the I-Team that it receives about 57 applications annually and approves 72% of them. The average claim paid is approximately $ 3,000. The pandemic sparked more claims last year – 199. TCRC said it paid 62% of that.

Scheck has never known a traveler who filed a complaint with the TCRC.

“The travel agents I know are fantastic,” she said. “And they are totally behind their customers.” But she likes being around and encourages travelers to use it.

“Most travel agents support this,” said Scheck. “Because if there is a bad apple, it really does cast a shadow over us all. We want the people who are hurt by this to have recourse. “

The TCRC has some rules like:

  • The agent you are suing must be registered in California.
  • Claims are limited to $ 15,000 per person.
  • There is a $ 35 fee to submit a claim.

Click to submit a claim Here.