When Shakera Bland wanted to go to Paris, she booked her plane ticket through an unknown third-party site called Hop2. She booked a nonrefundable ticket, expecting to enjoy a week in Paris, but then her plans changed and she had to cancel her trip.
Now Bland wants our assistance in canceling her ticket and getting a refund from Hop2. But can we help?
Bland’s case, sadly, is all too common but should serve as a warning to travelers. When you book a nonrefundable ticket you are doing just that — you’re booking a ticket that doesn’t entitle you to a refund. And of course, the same is true for a hotel stay or car rental.
Bland booked her flight to Paris using a third-party website about which she knew nothing.
When she posted on our forums, Bland explained how she ended up on an unknown third-party website:
“For the last few years, every time I needed to book a flight I would use Skyscanner. It hasn’t let me down,” she wrote.
Bland went on to explain:
“When I was booking my flight for Paris, I was redirected to a site called Hop2. I didn’t really think anything of it. The ticket was cheap and I’ve used Skyscanner a million times.”
That, we have to say, is a mistake. Bland was redirected from a site she knew and trusted to one she did not. Yet this did not stop her.
“I went ahead and paid for my ticket and things went relatively smoothly,” she says. “It wasn’t the same process that I usually take, but the end result gave me my itinerary and confirmation number.”
And, with that decision, Bland’s fate was sealed.
“Fast forward a few weeks and I find that I cannot [take] my flight,” Bland explains, because of a family emergency.
“I reviewed their customer relations tab and although the ticket is nonrefundable it does state, in so many words, that it is possible.”
It is not clear if Bland had reviewed the terms of the ticket before she booked. But if she had not, then that was her second mistake. The time to review the terms of your ticket is before you book, not after.
Bland tried calling the company without success, so she emailed them. Now, to be fair to Hop2, they emailed her back the next day stating that the ticket was nonrefundable, but they would see if they could get an exchange from the airline.
That didn’t work for Bland so she wrote back to Hop2. Having explained the fare rules and the fact that the ticket was nonrefundable, they offered to help, saying “but we may still try to check with the airline to see if they can offer us a waiver, but we need to know what is the reason that stops you from taking the flight.”
The Hop2 agent went on to say:
“The waiver can’t be guaranteed by our travel agency, it is subject to the airline’s decision. We may also check with the airline if your reservation can be canceled for future exchange.”
That is good of Hop2. The company didn’t just say to Bland that they couldn’t help, which they so easily could have done. She booked a nonrefundable ticket and wasn’t entitled to anything. Yet Hop2 was prepared to work with her and the airline in order to see if there was anything they could do for Bland.
Having emailed Hop2 back, it was at this point that Bland turned to our forum for help, saying that the booking terms in her view stated in so many words that a refund was possible.
Although she was under the impression that Hop2’s terms entitled her to a refund, our advocates pointed out that Hop2’s terms were clear.
Under the heading “cancellation” the terms state:
“All airline tickets are fully non-refundable after 24 hours. In certain cases, Hop2 will allow for a refund within the first 24 hours of booking for a fee of USD 50.”
If that was not clear enough, the position is made even more clear under the heading “refunds”:
“All of our tickets, hotels, and fees are NON_REFUNDABLE…”
This policy explains why Bland is not entitled to a refund even though she seems to think the terms say something else. Sadly, it is also a clear example of not reading and understanding the terms of a booking. Our advice is always, always check before you book.
In this case Hop2 was prepared to liaise with the airline to try and get a refund, but in our experience that is normally not the case with a ticket consolidator. We would therefore normally counsel against using a third-party website — especially one that you are not familiar with.
Booking directly or through a travel agent is usually better especially if you are an inexperienced traveler.
So did Hop2 manage to get Bland a refund?
Having initially posted on the forum, Bland did not return to the forum with an update, so we just don’t know. Therefore, this is filed under “Case Dismissed.”