Case dismissed: Was there really no room at the inn?

Ivy Photos/Shutterstock
Ivy Photos/Shutterstock
Ifti Qadir’s case against the Royal San Marco & Suites Hotel and Orbitz seemed like a slam-dunk when it crossed my desk recently. He’d paid $1,307 for two rooms, for a total of three nights.

“When we arrived at the hotel, we were told they don’t have any room available for us,” he says.

Qadir contacted Orbitz, the website through which he booked the rooms, and a representative told him to book another hotel and promised him a refund within five days, he says. But the money never came.

“Finally, we were told that it is not possible, because Orbitz had already paid the hotel,” he says.

Huh? At this point, my blood pressure has gone up by a few points. They can’t just keep Qadir’s money — can they?
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Is this airline downgrade disaster a lost cause?

Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
Christopher Parypa / Shutterstock.com
I’ve been struggling with this case for months and am about to place it in the “can’t be fixed” file. But before I do, I wanted to run it past you.

This one’s got it all: peculiar airline math, an intransigent online travel agency, a credit card dispute and, of course, a referral to a collection agency.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Meet Steve Cary, who was flying from San Francisco to Shanghai last March. He’d booked his reservation through Orbitz on a US Airways flight operated by EVA Airways.
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Do I deserve a refund after my destination turned dangerous?

Deep blue/Shutterstock
Deep blue/Shutterstock
Diane Austin’s problem isn’t that unusual, which is why I’ve decided to write something about it. In April, she booked a $730 roundtrip ticket in April through Orbitz on American Airlines to fly to Puerto Vallarta.

The purpose of her visit? To volunteer in a school in Tepic, Mexico, for two weeks. In order to cover her fare, Austin’s 80-year-old father used money from her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother’s bank account. After all, it was for a good cause.

But the trip wasn’t meant to be. When her partner arrived in Tepic a few days ahead of her, she says the area turned suddenly unsafe.
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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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They canceled the flight anyway — can I get a refund?

Here’s a problem I run into every now and then, and which I normally refer back to the airline – which usually tells the passenger “tough luck.”

But this one is a little different. It comes to me by way of Laura Lee, who had made reservations to fly from Sacramento, Calif., to New York on United Airlines for Nov. 6.
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