Orbitz Refunded Airline Tickets When My Dad Died

Samantha had to change her travel plans when her father passed away. Instead of taking a family vacation as planned in November, she had to pay double for tickets to visit immediately and attend the funeral. Knowing she would no longer be able to afford the November vacation, she asked Orbitz to refund the tickets and the company came through.

She writes:

It was middle of the night when I received the sad news, and after calling Orbitz to see about changing my tickets to no avail, I bought a separate ticket on their website so I could fly out the next morning. I then called Orbitz back to request for a refund of my original tickets, and was connected to one of their reps, [redacted], who were most empathetic to my request for a cancellation without penalty. She gave me detail instructions to call back with documentation after the funeral trip, and she even assured me that Orbitz would not be charging me for the cancellation fee due to a family death.

When I returned home after the funeral, I immediately faxed my documentation to Orbitz, so that Orbitz could send them to the airline to ask for a refund on my behalf, since the airline would not deal with me directly as my ticket was purchased through Orbitz. After many follow-up phone calls over several weeks with different Orbitz reps and a little frustration due to the airline rep’s unwillingness to help or provide any information, I finally got a satisfactory answer.

The airline gave Orbitz the waiver code so that Orbitz could give us a full refund, which we should be seeing on our credit card statement within 2 weeks, and we did, yesterday. This time, it was Orbitz rep, [redacted] who took ownership of our incident in the most diligent and professional way, and contacted the airline on our behalf.

All in all, in spite the ordeal, I would like to commend on the great customer service we have received from Orbitz in our time of sadness.

If you’ve ever had to alter travel plans due to a death, let us know how understanding — or otherwise — airlines and travel agents were with your needs.


Edit Your Comment

  1. digital0verdose says:


    +1 internet cookie to Orbitz.

  2. benbell says:

    That is really good of Orbitz. More airlines would tell you to take a hike and that you should have purchased travel insurance.

  3. El_Fez says:

    Not surprising that the airline was the one to drag it’s feet. Good for you for going to bat, orbiz!

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    You mean a company did what is generally considered part of its obligation to do? So sad that this is newsworthy.

    • outoftheblew says:

      If someone purchased a non-refundable ticket (most tickets purchased online through sites like Orbitz are non-refundable), then it would not be generally considered part of its obligation to refund the ticket. That’s why I bought travel insurance for the last trip I took … if something unexpected came up, I wanted to be able to walk away from the trip and get my money back.

      So Orbitz did, in fact, go above and beyond to provide this refund to the OP.

  5. c!tizen says:

    That’s a bummer about your Dad, sorry to hear it.

    +1 for Orbitz

  6. hmburgers says:

    I have had nothing but positive personal experiences with Orbitz…

  7. hatemonger says:

    I’ve known a lot of people who have had bad experiences with Orbitz. Maybe the company is improving itself…

  8. Donathius says:

    This isn’t a death-related anecdote (although it almost was). I went to Disneyland with a few friends about 6 years ago, and while I was on Soarin’ Over California my cell phone rang and I saw my mom’s number on it. I knew my dad was having gall bladder surgery that day so I answered even though I was on a ride (I know, I’m a jerk). She was calling to inform me that he’d had a heart attack as he was recovering from the anesthetic. He was in cardiac ICU, but he was stable. I called Southwest to arrange a flight from Orange County to Oakland, and explained why I needed a flight on such short notice. The rep discounted the ticket to the “Get Away” fare price (which is usually the cheapest), and placed me in the pre-board group so I could get off the plane quickly when we landed (this was before they switched to the numbered groups they use now). I was very appreciative of the empathy shown by the rep and that just solidified my fanboyish tendencies towards Southwest.

  9. danmac says:

    Personally, I’ve always had positive experiences with Orbitz…for this reason, I will always book through them instead of Expedia, which tried to dick us over the one time we used them.

  10. ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

    Stay classy Orbitz. No really, stay classy.

  11. milkcake says:

    Hmm… maybe i’ll switch from Expedia to Orbitz…

  12. Ahardy55 says:

    I had purchased a for my brother from to come visit me in NYC over Christmas a few years ago. The day the flight was supposed to leave, we found out our sister in MIssouri had died. I called the airline, and they immediately agreed to give me a full refund, I just had to provide a copy of the obit and death certificate. I got the full refund without even the slightest hassle at all. I don’t remember which airline, probably United or American.

  13. Buckus says:

    At least she didn’t purchase $300 worth of skin care products from a mall kiosk…she never would’ve seen her money after that..

  14. syzygy says:

    So you can get a refund from Orbitz after all, even if it’s not because of a screw-up on their end. It just takes some pretty morbid circumstances. Good on ya, Orbitz, though I’m still not touching you with a 10 foot pole.

  15. kapluni says:

    i had an awful experience with travelocity and american airlines. i was supposed travel with my wife on Thursday to go see my grandmother who had been ill (i got a last minute tickets/car package). on monday my mother told me that i need to come ASAP and that the doctors did not give her much time.

    after talking to travelocity for hours to no avail, i purchased a one-way ticket for tuesday night, with my wife still coming and thursday, and us leaving together on our original flight. (sadly i arrived several hours after my grandmother passed away.)

    travelocity never returned my calls, and it was only on thursday that my wife found out that my return ticket would not be honored because i did not take the original thursday flight. after several hours on the phone with both american airlines and travelocity telling me the other was responsible, i ended up going to the airport and paying a $150 change fee to keep my original flight.

    i can’t convey how rude and unhelpful the american agents were in particular. i specifically requested to speak to a manager that had the ability to make changes, and he was just horrible to me (keep in mind, i am talking to him at 1am the night before my grandmother’s funeral, all things he was aware of).

    in any case, it sounds like orbitz is the company to use. american and travelocity are dead to me.

  16. ajlei says:

    I will say that when my dad died, Alaska (whom I normally love) could give me a no better deal than a $500 ticket. One way.

    After calling several airlines for bereavement fares, I ended up just going to priceline and getting some round trip tickets for about $300.

    • ajlei says:

      Er, I forgot to include that I also called Delta, United, and Southwest and they all quoted me no less than $300 one way.

  17. perkonkrusts says:

    For the second year in a row, a month after I booked a flight for my MIL from Europe to SC, Travelocity told me the flight was no longer available. After speaking with two different but equally condescending reps, I cancelled altogether and asked for my money back.
    I went to Orbitz and got a better price anyway, so far so good with Orbitz. Never, ever again with Travelocity.

  18. bluzgtr says:

    Hmmm. A death in the family? That’s what it takes to get your money back from Orbitz?

    In March of 2010, I bought two plane tickets and hotel reservations through Orbitz to visit our granddaughter. The tickets were bought two months ahead of time, but because our son was involved in divorce proceedings with the child’s mother, I bought some kind of special insurance that was supposed to give extra coverage for cancellations. Additionally, there were several wordings on the Orbitz site that indicated purchases could be refunded. I think there were only three different places where there were terms and conditions drop-downs. I read the first two thoroughly, scanned the third. My mistake. Two days later the child’s mother decided we couldn’t see her after all, and we had to cancel the trip. Apparently, this was not considered a valid reason by Orbitz or its insurance company. I went through several customer service reps, none of whom could do more than say “It’s against policy to give a refund.” None of them could tell me where on the website it said this. Finally, a supervisor referred me to a paragraph deep in the third drop-down, and there it was. Thanks, Orbitz, I can really afford to lose $1800. At least I was able to get the money back for the insurance, because it was within the three days that the buyer has cancellation privileges. I think they only paid off if one of the people traveling died at midnight in a harvest moon.

    I guess my mileage varied.