6 Worst Travel Agents Of 2007

According to the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Report the top 6 most complained about travel agents for 2007 are:

5. (tie) Priceline.com & Cheapoair.com
4. CheapTickets.com
3. Expedia.com
2. Travelocity.com
1. Orbitz.com

Most of Orbitz’s complaints dealt with problems ticketing and boarding… and of course, refunds.

Air Travel Consumer Report [DOT]


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  1. coryj says:

    I’m in the process of resolving a dispute with travelocity right now… they take about a full week to reply to each email and in over 1 month they still haven’t gotten my money back (for a mistake their agent made when I called).

  2. m0unds says:

    Cheapoair = awful. They have no customer service to speak of.

  3. bombledmonk says:

    Well considering that they also corner a huge part of the market share I’m guessing they would get the most complaints.

  4. trujunglist says:

    Hotwire.com = 7th I’d guess

  5. HRHKingFriday says:

    kayak.com is the best. Which isn’t saying much. But I found a fair there today for 400 bucks that was advertized at 6-800 bucks on orbitz. F them.

  6. fizzyg says:

    @bombledmonk: Agreed…this really tells us nothing unless it’s a percentage of how many people use the service vs. who complains.

  7. UpsetPanda says:

    I wonder where AAA stands. I don’t think you need to be a member to use their travel planning.

  8. ggavinmoss says:

    I have purchased many a flight through Orbitz. My only experience with their customer service was outstanding. I was able to cancel a non-refundable vacation package without paying any penalty.

    @hrhkingfriday — Kayak, great as it is, is not a travel agent.

  9. The new move: Price on Orbitz, bid 50% off on Priceline, and work your way up until accepted. Works charmlike on domestic air travel. Flights to curacao, on the other hand, not so great. Probably would work US to London or points in Europe or Asia with frequent flights.

  10. joeblevins says:

    AAA isn’t a discount broker. They are full service. The ones in the list are all discount guys.

  11. Michael Belisle says:

    Who’s left that’s not on that list? Direct from the airline?

  12. Quellman says:

    I too got a non-refundable trip cancelled without fees from Orbitz, and money deposited in my account in 5 days.

  13. MissPeacock says:

    I’ve actually had pretty good experiences with Orbitz. I even had to call their customer service line once and I got a real person within minutes who was quite helpful and polite.

  14. ARP says:

    Orbitz was originally was a joint venture of a few airlines (I forget which, but United was one of them). So, you can see where they learned their customer service.

    FYI- I use Kayak. It’s always given me the best price.

  15. topgun says:

    Does anybody take into consideration that this is the top 5 most used internet travel agents?

  16. mcjake says:

    What about the Top 5?

  17. Underpants Gnome says:

    I agree travelocity’s terrible. I had to change an airline reservation, and it took nearly an hour fifteen with the offshore call center (since they didn’t allow rebooking online).
    They also couldn’t change my reservations to another airline, I had to take another flight on a different day on the same airline. Probably ended up costing more than had I just cancelled the ticket and bought a new one.
    I do like their gnome mascot though :-)

  18. bohemian says:

    I got an entire reservation refunded from Priceline. My hubby’s mom died suddenly two days before we were going to take her on a trip to Chicago.

    I called and explained the situation and also had my ducks in a row to prove we really were in the midst of handling a funeral. I even offered to fax a copy of the death certificate and provided the online link to the funeral home listing. They put me on hold for five minutes and fully refunded the money.

    I think I am the only person in history to get a refund from Priceline.

  19. kepler11 says:

    I am unable to verify this list in the link provided. Where is the information found?

  20. adk78 says:

    I had a huge problem with Orbitz in 2006. After being bounced around to call centers all over the world and having to explain my story to three or four different CSRs (because I was not given a case #) I finally contacted Steve Sedlak, the Director of Customer Relations, directly. I found his phone number and email (ssedlak@orbitz.com) on the Better Business Bureau website. He eventually was able to obtain a refund for nearly $1,000. This was a mistake on their part because they did not forward me the cancellation policy of the hotel I had booked through them.

    I now use Orbitz only to compare airfares/rates before booking directly with the vendor.

  21. Corydon says:

    Anybody got any suggestions for where to look for good service for a decent price when booking vacation travel?

    I see a few people like kayak.com…I haven’t tried them before. After a quick look at the site, it looks like it just searches a bunch of other travel sites and may well refer you to one of the bottom five listed above.

  22. Caveat says:

    I found some good hotel deals at booking.com and some good air fare deals at onetravel.com

  23. eyesonly says:

    Uh… wtf? Is that ranking referring to the chart on p. 51 of the PDF file? Because the numbers listed there (in the “total” column) are:

    Priceline 16
    Cheapoair.com 16
    Cheap Tickets 22
    Expedia 30
    Travelocity 35
    Orbitz 45

    The “complaints” being charted here represent ONLY those formally lodged with the Dept. of Transportation–we’re not talking about the number of complaints the _companies_ received. With numbers this low, I doubt any of these statistics mean much–and that’s leaving aside the problem (already pointed out) of these being straight totals, without any kind of adjustment for the companies’ sizes.

  24. SpenceMan01 says:

    I’ve used Expedia 3 times in the last two years. Once for a full-fledged Disneyland trip (Air, Hotel, Park Tickets) and twice for simple, single-night hotel stays. No major problems on my end. In fact, I use FatWallet’s cashback clickthrough and made $20 back on the Disneyland trip. At one of the hotels I got a room type that wasn’t the same as I had booked, but they corrected it (and cursed Expedia under their breath).

    I won’t use Orbitz for personal reasons. If you want to hear a good story about a bad experience with them, check out Maddox’s Impossible Itinerary.

  25. faheyluv says:

    I’ve used Expedia in the past with no issues. However I hear no talk of Vayama.. I paid $5000 for tix to Spain over the holidays and they screwed us both ways. we ended up taking 5 flights to our final destination instead of the 3 as listed on the itinerary. They supposedly emailed us and informed us of the change but my wife and I never saw that email. When we were going through the hassle of changing our paper tix at the airport (I know paper tix. wtf right?)after we missed out connecting flight they informed me that our itinerary had been changed on the return flight as well. They had canceled one of their international flights from Spain on the day we were leaving and we would have to leave a day early and spend the night in Portugal and catch the following flight the next day. Did they give us vouchers for the hotel room. Not until I pitched a fit at the help desk. I mean, come on. We bought these tix 6 months ahead of time. Be aware, be very aware of Vayama.

  26. kepler11 says:

    @eyesonly: Good find. You are right, the complaints are only the total number submitted to the DOT. They are not normalized to the number of tickets booked by each, or anything. This is a rather weak story without those measurements.

  27. algodard says:

    Maybe I was lucky, but I had a great experience with Expedia customer service when I needed to cancel a hotel reservation in Iceland at the last minute due to a missed flight. The contact number for the hotel was out of date and the representative spent 45 minutes trying to sort it out. Although I was on hold, the agent frequently updated me with her progress. The next day the same agent phoned back to follow up and confirm that my credit card had been refunded.

  28. distractbill says:

    That’s funny because Orbitz is my #1 favorite travel agent. Thanks to multi-night coupons, I was able to save hundreds of dollars. I did get lucky, though, and my flights and travel didn’t change.

  29. Javert says:

    Huh. I did not know people used these as travel agents. I generally use them to look up the price and then go to the web site of the airlines, car rental, etc. and book directly. Usually, it says about $5 and they tend to offer rewards for booking direct on their sites. I like them all. I will admit that sometimes I use Priceline to lowball just for the sake of giving it a good effort but generally it only works for car rentals…no luck with airlines.

  30. snoop-blog says:

    i always go through travel network. its office is in my super wal-mart. cheapest deals ever, great customer service. plus i actually get to deal with someone person to person, who not only knows my name (repeat customer) but most certainly know hers.

  31. HRHKingFriday says:

    @ggavinmoss: Funny, kayak.com does most of the same things as orbitz and the rest. Sure, it can’t make up cruise packages, but for basic trips it does the job much better than any other “agent”.

  32. kimsama says:

    @spenceman01: HAHA! That story is exactly the same reason I avoid Orbitz. I’m glad someone else is making their travel decisions based on Maddox (does this mean I’m not crazy?).

  33. kellyd says:

    I used American Express Platinum Travel Service for my holiday flight home. I was blown away by the level of service. I dealt with the same agent every time there was a contact. She put me in touch with the airline (three-way conversation) in order to make arrangements for taking my pet in the cabin, and called me twice in the six weeks between booking and the trip to advise me of schedule changes made by the airline. It cost thirty-five bucks, but was well worth it.

  34. dvdchris says:

    I used cheaptickets.com once. Got to Vegas for CES and the hotel had no record of our reservation. Nice. Cheaptickets.com worked it out with the hotel while we went to lunch but that was scary until it got fixed.

  35. bdgbill says:

    I use Orbitz and Hotwire daily. Nearly all the problems blamed on these services are the fault of the airlines and hotels (especially the hotels).

    Hotels agree to participate with these services to sell pre-paid reservations, then treat the customer like crap for using them.

    Travelocity and Expedia suck hard and I would sleep in my car before I used Hotels.com again.

  36. SunanditaIshcabibble says:

    @coryj: Comment on 6 Worst Travel Agents Of 2007 Re:Travelocity.com

    I booked a cruise with Royal Carribbean thru Travelocity.com. Travelocity
    had the itinerary wrong for the cruise on their website (dates and ports of
    call reversed.) Travel Insurance linking was so imbedded it was difficult to
    access the actual insurance policy which excluded “pre-existing conditions”
    making the policy totally useless for me. They refused any refund or
    discussion of the issue. There e-mail response occurred during my cruise
    when I could not respond. They even asked me for my reservation number that
    they gave me before they could research the problem. I will never use them
    again obviously.

  37. CyrilBabbit says:

    Please add Vayama.com to the list of poor customer service, will never use
    again, not worth the hassle.

    I have an international flight that cost $2000. Buying direct from the
    airline would have cost $150 more but I made the mistake and went with

    I need to change the outward flight and can’t do so with the airline since I
    purchased from Vayama so call Vayama and they take the details and tell me I
    would get an email in 24 hours as they do not have a processor to handle the
    request at the moment due to being very busy. 24 hours to make a change I
    would have made myself instantly online for free had I booked directly with
    the airline. To make it worse you pay Vayama $100 for making this change for
    you in addition to the airline charge. The customer rep was rude and could
    care less.

  38. hindukush says:

    I have the same complaint with Vayama, bad customer service.

    I called them 3 times, it took at least 20 minutes waiting for someone to answer each time. I was very clear about the cancellation fees etc and was happy to pay if they could rebook my flight for a different departure date. I was on their website, looking at the new flight, seat availability, etc but the first agent told me they couldn’t change the ticket and said they needed one of their supervisors to email me later. This seemed odd, isn’t this their business?

    The email arrived and said sorry we can’t change the ticket. I called again the next day, this time I waited for about 45 minutes and their rep was brand new, first day at the job, sounded like Milton from Office Space. His first sentence to me was “hold on, the computer is stuck” and it went downhill from there. For the next hour I tried to help him along, he had no clue whatsoever. I really felt sorry for him. I asked to speak to someone else, he said “she has gone to lunch”. Does that mean they only have a few customer reps on duty at one time? After an hour of helping him understand how tickets work and listening to him read from the manual I finally agreed that maybe someone could email me. I mean it’s not his fault, obviously they didn’t give him any training.

    So anyway I did get an email 12 hours later, it said “yes you can change the ticket, $100 fee for vayama, $200 to the airline”. This is exactly what I had been telling Milton for an hour. But the problem with this email is they didn’t rebook another flight for me!

    So I had to call back again, this was day 3, the third call. Got a person within 20 minutes. She is completely normal, books a new flight with fees, which is all I ever wanted. However now the flight for the day I want is not available since they can only change to flights more than 4 days from departure, it is now the 25th, I wanted to leave on the 29th. The Vayama Rep books me for the 30th, which is $230 more than the flight I have been requesting for the previous 2 days. There is nothing I can do except pay this I’m afraid.

    So yes it’s my fault for changing my ticket, I understand yada yada. But just now, when I thought it was all over, I get a new confirmation via email, I happily open it and find that it’s a confirmation for my original flight booking which I just cancelled, wtf!!!!

  39. solstice777 says:

    Another terrible travel agent: TravelPapa. They are also known as MyNewTrip.com, AirfareNow.com, and RHT, possibly under other names (they claim to own and operate about 30 travel web sites).

    TravelPapa may be quick to book an airfare, but they are AWFUL if it comes to resolving issues with the airline. I booked a trip on Lufthansa through them and the airline later cancelled one of the connecting flights. I was told that any rerouting must be done via the travel agent. TravelPapa treated me in a very hostile manner and refused to reroute me. They dropped calls, refused to transfer me to a manager or do a 3-way call with the airline, sent threatening emails, etc. The issue didn’t get resolved.