It’s wonderfully easy to book a flight using travel mega-sites like Expedia, but even easier for the buck to be passed and companies to refuse to communicate when things go wrong. That’s what happened to Sara when she had to cancel and rebook a flight reservation originally made on Virgin America via Expedia.
I booked a Virgin America flight through Expedia in April 2011. I had to cancel it and change flights, and as a result, Expedia gave me $309 in credit for a future flight with Virgin.
At 8 a.m. today my mom started the process to get me a flight (the April flight was on her credit card).
It is now 11:10 p.m. and I just got a flight scheduled. I have spoken to three Virgin American reps plus a supervisor and five Expedia reps. I have been given a total of six flight codes that I needed to give to the OTHER company. I have used about 200 minutes on my cell phone, most of them on hold by Expedia. ALL reps have told me “There is nothing I can do. Please call the other company and have them fix it. They are the ones who can.”
Virgin says Expedia has to handle the transaction because the April flight was purchased through Expedia.
Expedia says Virgin is “blocking Expedia’s control of the databases” and so Expedia can’t complete my reservation. Only Expedia has been able to see my $309 credit. Virgin says there is no evidence of credit on their end.
The kicker: I finally spoke with a Virgin supervisor and he said he can override the block (hurray!) as long as he had an e-ticket number for the flight. So I call back Expedia, who tells me that since the reservation is only 90 percent complete because Virgin “blocked” it, there IS no e-ticket number yet.
So I was stuck in a flight reservation limbo, 90 percent of the way toward a flight. I have cried while on the phone with one Virgin America rep and probably ruined the day of an Expedia rep who, apparently, is working on his birthday.
Finally, a representative at Expedia magically made it work. I spoke to a supervisor and asked why it worked this time and not the five other times I had called in. He explained the exact same things every other rep from Virgin and Expedia said about how it wasn’t THEIR fault… it was the OTHER COMPANY’S fault. But didn’t make it clear just why the computer suddenly decided to reserve my flight, 15 hours after the first phone call.
How can site like Expedia that uses airlines have no way of communicating WITH the airline if something is wrong? It should not have been me being the middle man between 12 different reps and supervisors. They should have been able to communicate to each other. Only one Virgin rep offered to make a conference call between me, Expedia and Virgin, but wasn’t able to make a call.
Ultimately, the Expedia supervisor offered me a $25 voucher. It took me 15 hours to get $309 taken off my flight… no way in hell would I do that again to get 25 measly bucks taken off a flight.
I am going to use other flight aggregator sites or go through direct flights from now on. Never Expedia.
For the record, all customer service reps were very kind. Especially the one who had to listen to me cry.
Potential trouble with cancellations, refunds, and buck-passing is just one of the many reasons not to book your travel through the large aggregators.
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