Under new buyer, jilted Vantage customers to receive 100% travel credit on future trips

Bankrupt luxury cruise company Vantage Travel Services has a new buyer.

Pacific Travel emerged as the frontrunner to take over Vantage’s assets after making a $2 million bid, according to Consumer Rescue founder Michelle Couch-Friedman. Couch-Friedman attended a hearing Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Boston.

“The new proposed purchase agreement has some vastly improved benefits for the customers who are owed refunds,” Couch-Friedman said.

The embattled Boston-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June. Vantage had been under fire for months after hundreds of consumers complained about a lack of refunds for canceled or postponed trips. The Mass. Attorney General’s Office said it received more than 1,120 consumer complaints against Vantage since January 1, 2020.

In court filings, Vantage attorneys said the company has no cash and terminated all but five of its employees June 20. The company estimates it owes between 10,000 and 25,000 creditors and has liabilities between $100 million and $500 million, according to court documents.

“As was the case throughout the travel industry, COVID-19 had a substantial impact on the Debtor’s operations,” a Vantage attorney said in a motion filed June 29.

According to Couch-Friedman, Wednesday’s hearing included significant changes for Vantage customers:

  • The $2.1 million in a customer trust will not be included in the sale, but will instead become part of Vantage’s assets--that means customers who bought trips after May 11 will not be given special treatment
  • If a Vantage customer is owed money on canceled trips, Pacific Travel will offer 100% future travel credits with some limitations
  • If a customer decides to try an ocean cruise with the new company, they may use 50% of their travel credits at a time based on a cruise’s list price and based on “availability”
  • If a former Vantage customer wants to try a river or land trip, they may use 20% of their travel credits per trip
  • Customers can’t use the credits toward airfare, excursions or onboard expenses
  • These travel credits will be valid through November 30, 2028
  • Vantage customers may share their credits with friends and family

“That means that while these credits can’t be sold, they can be transferred to people the customer knows,” Couch-Friedman said.

A bankruptcy court judge will make a final ruling on the purchase Monday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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