EXPEDIA

My infant daughter doesn’t have a ticket – who’s responsible?

Allison Ruark’s infant daughter doesn’t have a ticket. Who’s responsible for this mess?

Question: Earlier this year, I booked tickets through Expedia.com for myself and my infant daughter to fly from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Billings, Mont., on British Airways. Our return flight was from Chicago to Johannesburg.

I purchased an infant-in-lap ticket for my daughter, and the confirmation I received from Expedia showed a fare of $283 for her ticket. A few weeks later, I got an email from Expedia alerting me to the fact that it could not ticket my daughter’s reservation.

Unfortunately, I didn’t notice this email from Expedia. I also later realized that Expedia had never charged me for the infant ticket. My Expedia profile showed that the itinerary was “booked and confirmed,” and my infant’s ticket was marked “ticketing in progress.”

I arrived at the Johannesburg airport two hours before my flight, and the British Airways agent at the check-in desk told me that she could not locate a ticket number for my daughter. She asked me to go to the ticketing desk in the terminal. I did, and for more than an hour various agents worked steadily to try to ticket my daughter.

I still do not understand exactly what the issue was, but my best understanding is that they were not able to modify the Expedia reservation, nor were they able to ticket my daughter separately from my reservation. At any rate, the flight closed while they were still trying to ticket my daughter, and I missed the flight.

The British Airways agents insisted that it was Expedia’s responsibility to rebook me, so after 2 1/2 hours at the ticket desk, I left the airport, checked into a hotel and called Expedia. After many hours on the phone, Expedia offered to refund the ticket. I had to buy another ticket, which cost nearly a thousand dollars more than the cost of my original ticket. I also incurred the costs of more than a day in a hotel, and meals.

In Expedia’s view, it fulfilled its responsibility by sending me that email notification about my daughter’s ticket, and it had no responsibility to follow up with me by phone or by posting information alerting me about the problem in my online account. In British Airways’ view, Expedia is at fault, since the airline had no idea that my infant was not ticketed prior to my attempted check-in at the airport.

In my view, they both bear blame. Expedia should not sell a fare that it can’t ticket. I also believe that Expedia had a much greater responsibility to alert me to the issue, through follow-up emails or by phone calls, or by putting information in my online account, where I would have seen it.

It seems to me that British Airways also should be able to tell, prior to check-in, when a passenger has not been ticketed, and then be able to issue an infant ticket onsite. Several agents worked on the issue for more than an hour and could not get it done.

Neither company is admitting any responsibility, and neither one has done anything to reimburse me for the extra costs incurred. Can you help? — Allison Ruark, Corvallis, Oregon

Answer: When you’re acting as your own travel agent, you have to stay on top of things. On domestic flights, infants are not required to have their own seats. But on international flights, they’re charged a percentage of the adult fare. British Airways’ infant fare is 10 percent of the adult fare, when the baby sits on an adult’s lap.

Expedia should have notified you about the failure to ticket your daughter, and simply sending you an email wasn’t enough. A phone call or a follow-up email would have helped. Its system should have been able to detect that you had tried, but failed, to buy a ticket for your baby and that you were about to fly without your daughter’s airfare. Certainly, British Airways could have had a more flexible system, too.

Ultimately, a quick check of your itinerary at least a week before your departure date would have revealed the missing ticket, and then none of this would have happened.

As I reviewed your correspondence, I think you might have benefited from using the phone, email or possibly even social media to fix your problem. An email to the right person at Expedia or British Airways (I list the executives for both on my site), or perhaps a message sent to either company’s Twitter account, might have led to a quick resolution.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. The online agency refunded most of the extra cost of spending the night in a hotel and rebooking a new ticket. Expedia also issued $400 in coupons to cover your other costs it couldn’t reimburse.

Should Expedia have reimbursed Allison Ruark?

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Expedia double-charged me — can I get a refund?

Oriontrail/Shutterstock
Oriontrail/Shutterstock
Laura Pang has two airline reservations on Expedia. But she only needs one. Now the online agency refuses to refund the second charge. Is there anything she can do to persuade it to help her?

Question: I recently booked one airline ticket through Expedia. At least that’s what I thought. I paid $310 for what I thought was one ticket, but when I was using the site, it felt a bit slow. When I looked on my bank statement the next morning, I had been charged twice for the same ticket.

I’ve called Expedia four times over the past two days, e-mailed two different representatives, and contacted them on Facebook and Twitter. But they claim the extra charge does not appear on their database and that therefore they have no obligation to refund me.

My bank says I should get in touch with the vendor, which I have. The subject heading for both charges is identical.
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Billed twice? There’s a fix for that, travelers

Mattes/Shutterstock
Mattes/Shutterstock
Glenn Rossi’s recent Avis car rental had him seeing double. Literally.

He’d prepaid for a vehicle in Vienna, Austria, through Expedia. When he picked up the car, Avis also swiped his credit card. Within a week of returning the vehicle, Rossi, a retired telecommunications consultant who lives in Kelkheim, Germany, saw two charges for 333 euros (about $460) on his MasterCard: one from Expedia and one from Avis.

He’d been billed twice for the same car.

“I sent my contract and payment records to both Expedia and Avis but still have no refund of my double payment,” he says.

Rossi’s experience is common in one respect: Small billing errors happen routinely when you’re on the road — a currency conversion error, a fee added to the final bill or a room charge that belongs to another guest. But in another sense, it isn’t. Double-billings are relatively rare. Fortunately, they’re also relatively easy to fix.
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Will the Travelocity-Expedia deal be good for travelers?

B747/Shutterstock
B747/Shutterstock
Depending on whom you talk to, Travelocity’s unexpected announcement last month that it has reached a strategic marketing agreement with longtime rival Expedia will either create a dominant new Internet travel agency, give consumers access to more hotel choices or raise prices.

All three things could happen, actually, but the conjecture surrounding the announcement reminded me of the fallout from the last big online travel deal. After Priceline’s $1.8 billion purchase of travel-search site Kayak.com in 2012, I received an e-mail from someone who identified himself as a reader named Ben Tester.

As part of that purchase, Priceline promised to run Kayak independently, which is important because Kayak purports to display unbiased prices from hundreds of online sources. But Tester charged that since the acquisition, Kayak had quietly started to list hotel results from another Priceline-owned site without including fees and taxes, making its prices look lower “and misleading consumers.”
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That’s not the ticket credit you promised me

Mtkang/Shutterstock
Mtkang/Shutterstock
After a canceled flight, a merged airline and crossed wires with Expedia, Anoop Ramaswamy is the proud owner of a worthless airline ticket. Now what?

Question: I booked a roundtrip ticket from Buffalo, NY, to Chennai, India, on Continental Airlines, just before it merged with United Airlines. I used Expedia to make the reservation. I completed the one-way trip but due to a family medical issue, I had to cancel the return. I called Expedia and requested a cancellation.

Expedia issued a cancellation, saying it would be in the form of an airline credit that would last a year. I called Expedia a few months later to use my voucher, but was told they couldn’t book the flight because of the merger with United. They asked me to call United directly.

I called United and they informed me that fare rule mentions that I can only book the same return flight and nothing else.
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Help, the names on my kids’ airline tickets are wrong — what should I do?

arrowHeather Matinde’s problem is fairly common, but when it happens to you, it can sure seem like the end of the world. She’d just paid a small fortune for airline tickets from Los Angeles to Brussels on Expedia, only to discover a serious problem with her sons’ reservation.

Each boy had each others’ middle names on their tickets, and the airline was balking at making a correction. Unfortunately, Matinde didn’t reach out to Expedia and the airline, Jet Airways, within 24 hours and — you guessed it — the airline was refusing to fix the names.
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Should I help get a refund for a “disastrous” hotel stay?

Ngarare/Shutterstock
Ngarare/Shutterstock
The Sunswept Beach Hotel, a budget hotel on Barbados’ western coast, promises visitors they will be left “wanting for nought.” But when Josh Trevers checked in for a recent stay, he was left wanting for something: a working air conditioning to take the edge off the Caribbean heat.

Trevers’ case is a difficult one because there are so many players. More than usual.

He says he asked the hotel to fix the broken AC in his room, but it didn’t.
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The 6 best online travel agencies of 2013

D Arts/Shutterstock
D Arts/Shutterstock

In this year’s best online travel agency category, it was yet another close vote. Travelocity and Kayak were tied until almost the last minute. But then Travelocity pulled ahead with just seconds left in the voting — almost a photo finish.

Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline round out the list, followed by Hotwire.

I didn’t distinguish between so-called “opaque” sites like Priceline and Hotwire and the “full-service” agencies. The list is a useful guide for anyone considering making a travel purchase online.

Here are the top online travel agencies of 2013 according to the readers of this site.
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