Even Physicists Are Not Smart Enough to Avoid Getting Screwed By Orbitz

We’re not saying the rest of you are dumb, but when physicists from CalTech can’t manage to make travel arrangements without getting stuck with hundreds of dollars in “change fees,” there might be a problem with the website. And by problem we might mean “scam.” And by scam, we might mean, “policies designed to increase fees by being deliberately confusing and overly restrictive.” In this case, Sean, a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, was trying to book a new ticket with money from a credit on a previously canceled ticket, which is much harder than identifying the unified field theory.

From “Orbitz is the Workshop of Satan “:

    “So I called again, and explained the problem. In particular, I explained that I had asked to take that flight all the way back to LAX, and their agent had obviously not typed that in, which was their mistake. They pointed out that the agent verified the itinerary with me before booking it, which I’m ready to believe is true. It was my mistake not to catch that the flight he had me on didn’t continue to LA, although an easy mistake to make — that’s what happens when you pay attention primarily to the flight numbers and departure times.

    Can they fix things by putting me on the flight that I had asked for, the leg going from Dulles to LAX? Sure they can — for the fare difference, plus another $200 change fee, for a total of $300 extra. Even though they had screwed up? Yes. Could that $300 come out of the $600 of free money I was already giving them? No. How many minutes of frustrating phone conversation would it take to uncover these pleasant truths? About 45.”

Said physicist is asking for help discovering new ways to book fairly complicated travel arrangements. We use Farecast.com. —MEGHANN MARCO(Thanks, Patti!)

Orbitz is the Workshop of Satan [Cosmic Variance]