TICKET

Beware of the half-truths airlines – and passengers – like to tell

Kunertus / Shutterstock.com
Kunertus / Shutterstock.com
It would be inaccurate to say that American Airlines lied to Kori Conley’s friend when she tried to fix her airline ticket.

She needed to get home for Christmas with her kids, but someone else was paying for her ticket and they’d bungled the reservation, confusing the origin and destination airports on her itinerary.

“My friend called immediately — we’re talking right away — to let them know the error,” says Conley. “They in turn told her there would be a $200 per ticket fee — an extra $600 to fix three tickets.”

It would also be inaccurate to say the American Airline representative who Conley’s friend talked to told her the whole truth. See, under the Transportation Department’s 24-hour rule, she could have canceled her flight and made a new reservation at no charge.
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Should airline tickets be transferrable?

Tratong/Shutterstock
Tratong/Shutterstock
As Ralph Santopietro sees it, Delta Air Lines had him over a barrel when he tried to change the dates on a flight from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to Hartford, Conn.

A ticket agent in Myrtle Beach offered to rebook Santopietro, a retired high school teacher, on the new itinerary. But his $238 ticket credit would be all but consumed by a $200 change fee, and then he’d have to pay a $538 fare difference.

How about transferring the ticket to his cousin, who would take the flight as originally planned? Nope, said the agent, citing security restrictions on ticket name changes.

“I didn’t like those choices,” he says.
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What are airline ticket credits really worth?

Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com
Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com
Bethany Tully might have been forgiven for her confusion. After canceling an upcoming flight from San Francisco to Boston under unhappy circumstances, she discovered that her ticket credit on United Airlines was worth about half what she expected — an increasingly common complaint among air travelers.

Earlier this year, Tully, a chef based in San Francisco, had booked three tickets on Hotwire.com to visit a close friend. “Tragedy struck just before the trip,” she says. “He committed suicide.”

A Hotwire representative assured the grief-stricken customer that she didn’t need to worry. “I was told that I could cancel the tickets and Hotwire would issue a full credit to be used within 12 months,” says Tully. “But I have tried numerous times to use the credits — one being for his funeral service — with no luck.”
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What is an airline credit really worth?

Yu Lan/Shutterstock
Yu Lan/Shutterstock
It happened to Louise Andrew twice last month. She made reservations on the United Airlines Web site, tried to cancel them within 24 hours for a full refund, and was told that the airline would be happy to issue a ticket credit instead.

“Both times, I was initially told that my purchase value would be applied to a future ticket,” says Andrew, an attorney from Redmond, Wash.

That didn’t make sense to her. United promises a no-questions-asked refund on most tickets as long as the request is made within a day of the reservation. And since 2011, the Department of Transportation has required airline reservations to be cancellable without penalty for at least 24 hours after the booking is made, unless the ticket is purchased one week or less before a flight’s departure date.
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My ticket credit is gone — can you help me get it back?

Razlomov/Shutterstock
Razlomov/Shutterstock

Velta Mahon’s airline ticket credit is gone and she says it’s Hotwire’s fault. Is there any hope of a refund?

Question: I need your help resolving a situation that I have with Hotwire. A little over a year ago I booked a flight from Baltimore to Orlando, but canceled because of a hurricane.

Before I canceled, I called Hotwire and told them that I was concerned about the weather and afraid to travel at that time. A representative told me to contact Allianz, the company through which I had insured my tickets.

An Allianz representative led me to believe that I might be able to receive a refund, and suggested I call Hotwire to cancel my ticket, which I did. When I requested a refund, Allianz denied me and referred me to Hotwire. Hotwire denied me and said I had a ticket credit, and referred me to the airline. The airline just referred me back to Hotwire. Continue reading…


Would you buy a “custom” airline ticket?

Tratong/Shutterstock
Tratong/Shutterstock
Should your airline be allowed to offer you a customized ticket?

That’s the intriguing and somewhat thorny question being raised by the worldwide airline industry through a little-known proposal called Resolution 787 — not to be confused with Boeing’s troubled 787 aircraft.

And it hopes that the answer is “yes.”

The airline industry, represented by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), wants to establish a new standard for selling airline seats, called the New Distribution Capability (NDC).
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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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“Apparently with Carnival, the passenger does not always come first”

carnival destinyKristen Hernandez thought she’d found a bargain on the Carnival Breeze next month. Or, to be more precise, she thought her travel agent had found one.

She booked two separate balcony cabins for her 8-night Eastern Caribbean cruise for $3,440 each.

Turns out she and her travel agent were wrong.

“After researching the Internet, we found out that Carnival Cruise Lines had slashed the prices due to the fact of the many mishaps,” she says. “Yesterday I went online on the Carnival website and found out that the balcony cabins are now selling for $2,319. That is a difference of over $1,100 per cabin.”
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No hope for an airline ticket refund – or is there?

american5Question: I’m trying to help my sister get a refund on her daughter’s non-refundable airline ticket. Her daughter went to Spain in January as an exchange student. Her return was scheduled for May 29th.

When my sister, her husband and son went to Spain to visit her, my brother-in-law was rushed to the hospital. He had been hospitalized for over a week until he was stable enough to fly back to Boston. They weren’t sure that he would survive, so my niece went home earlier than expected.

My sister could really use the refund to help pay medical bills.

I looked at American’s web page and it said there are exceptions to the non-refundable ticket. I thought this would apply to my sister’s flight. When I called American Airlines I was told that it would cost $250 to exchange the ticket, but the ticket was only worth $87. The ticket was virtually worthless.
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Pay another $166 or your baby stays in Costa Rica

Igor Stepovik/Shutterstock
Igor Stepovik/Shutterstock

When Daniel Weisleder tried to board his return flight from San Jose, Costa Rica, to Houston with his wife and 10-month-old son recently, a United Airlines ticket agent delivered some bad news: He’d have to pay another $166 to fly home with the baby.

“Someone made a mistake,” the agent said.

That might be an understatement. Weisleder, who directs an educational consulting firm in Pittsburgh and is an elite-level United customer, reluctantly forked over the extra $166 to fly home. But he couldn’t understand the late charge.

“When I booked the reservation, I notified United that I would be traveling with an infant on my lap,” he says. “I was charged $991 for the tickets. We checked-in in Houston without a problem, but when we were coming back, we were told that our baby had to pay an additional ticket.”
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Two letters on my ticket cost $300 — are you serious?

SeanPavonePhoto / Shutterstock.com
SeanPavonePhoto / Shutterstock.com
Question: I recently booked two tickets through an online travel agency for my husband and I to fly to the Philippines. When I got his ticket, I noticed that “Jr” was missing from his name. I went back to the site and discovered that there was no “space” provided where I can put a “Jr”.

I called the agency and a representative told me it was “not a big deal” and that I should not worry about it. They suggested I call Delta Air Lines, the airline I was flying on, to give them a “heads-up.”

This weekend, I called Delta and asked them about the name issue. Delta told me that the name on the ticket should match the one on the passport. Delta said that my husband may not have a problem checking in with the airline but that he may have some problems with security, immigration, and even entry and exit to the country we are visiting.
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Here’s why you should always take a picture of your car after you get a parking ticket

Jkirsh/Shutterstock
Jkirsh/Shutterstock
I don’t know what to do about Clare Goyette’s case with the Philadelphia Parking Authority. I’m about to move her case into the “unsolved” file, but thought I would ask you before I did. Maybe I’ve overlooked something.

Goyette rented a car from Dollar on a recent visit to Philadelphia and parked the car along the 1900 block of Sansom Street.

“A city parking official assisted me with the parking kiosk and walked to my car with me and remarked that the receipt is to be displayed on the curb side of the car,” she says.
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How fair are ticket change fees?

windowFrom time to time, every consumer advocate tilts at a few windmills, and when Sheryl North contacted me about her US Airways flight, it was my turn.

North was scheduled to fly from Los Angeles to Kona, Hawaii, late last year. She was using a voucher to pay for the flight.

“Something arose unexpectedly and I was forced to cancel,” she told me. “I am now trying to use the voucher to rebook the same itinerary.”

US Airways doesn’t just want to charge her $150 to change the itinerary, which surprised her. “I didn’t realize the change fee would apply to use of a voucher,” she says.
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