Will the Travelocity-Expedia deal be good for travelers?

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 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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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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A Travelocity typo triggers ethics crisis

oceanThe total price for a three-night Bahamas cruise package came to $2,058 on Travelocity. But that was before John Zimmerman applied a $1,000 rebate offered for a mid-level cabin through the online agency.

Then the rate was too good to be true – literally.

Shortly after booking the cruise, Travelocity unexpectedly reduced the $1,000 rebate offer to $100 and then eliminated it entirely. Appeals to the company were met with silence, so Zimmerman asked me to help.
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Hey Travelocity, where the $#*!@ is my money?

Tenaya Newkirk wants her money back from Travelocity. But instead of offering her a quick refund, it’s giving her excuses.

Here’s the backstory: In December, she booked a flight from Denver to Fort Lauderdale on United Airlines. Then United canceled the flight and she asked for refund.

“United agreed to issue a refund through Travelocity,” she explains. “Travelocity also agreed to this, and sent me an email to that effect. Travelocity verbally promised a six- to eight-week timeline for the refund.”

But nine weeks later, no money. She started making calls. Continue reading…

‘Am I in some kind of bureaucratic travel hell?’

Question: Last year, I booked a flight from Washington to Bozeman, Montana on US Airways, through Travelocity. About a month later, US Airways changed my flight schedule, leaving too little time for my connection in Denver.

Travelocity worked with the airline to make the change so that I could take a later flight to alleviate this problem and there was to be no charge. But when my credit card statement arrived there was an additional charge of $1,534 for this same flight.

I have contacted Travelocity numerous times through calling and e-mails and I am still being told it is US Airways holding it up. I have contacted US Airways and am getting nowhere. I have contacted my credit card company and was told that if I said I did not authorize the charge my flight would be canceled.

Am I in some sort of bureaucratic travel hell? What can I do to get this refund? — Peggy Kite, Charlottesville, Va.

Answer: You shouldn’t have been charged extra to fix your flight. Instead, Travelocity should have worked with US Airways to ensure you were taken care of.
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The Travel Troubleshooter: Maybe the price guarantee isn’t all-inclusive?

Question: I am writing to complain about poor service I received in connection with Travelocity’s price guarantee. We recently returned from an 11-night trip to Cancun, Mexico. Our package, which included airfare and accommodations at the Valentin Imperial Maya all-inclusive resort, cost $4,615.

About a week before we left, I found the exact same package on Travelocity for $1,170 less. I filled out a form on its site and followed up several times by email. I sent screenshots as proof. Each time they responded they claimed to have not received the proof. Finally, I posted the proof to a website to be sure they could see it.

Last night, I called Travelocity and was told they would get back to me in a few hours by phone. They did not. I have always been happy with Travelocity’s service — until now. Why is this such a problem? Travelocity has a guarantee. Is it asking too much for them to honor it? — Steven Estrella, Fort Washington, Pa.

Answer: You qualified for Travelocity’s price guarantee, which promises a $50 coupon and up to $500 back if you find a “qualifying” lower rate up until the day before you check in. Travelocity should have processed your claim — or at least responded to it — promptly.
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Oh no! They lost my ticket refund

Question: I recently lost a paper airline ticket to Spain that I booked through Travelocity. I was told to fill out a lost ticket refund application through Iberia Airlines, which I did. Both Travelocity and Iberia assured me that I would receive a refund for the second ticket I had to buy, minus a $100 fee.

Since my return, I have contacted Iberia numerous times to get the status of my refund, but they said they were not able to help me directly. I asked Travelocity to contact Iberia, which they did. I also provided Travelocity with background information and sent them the original paper tickets (which were subsequently found).

Travelocity contacted Iberia to request a refund on my behalf, but I have not heard anything since then. It’s been four months. I requested that Travelocity follow up, but they told me to contact Iberia directly. When I contact Iberia directly, they tell me they will only speak to my travel agent. What should I do? — Karen Smith, Stamford, Conn.

Answer: Did you say you had a paper ticket? I thought those were obsolete. Travelocity and Iberia should have issued an electronic ticket. (In fairness, this case was brought to my attention a few months ago, but still — paper tickets were supposed to go the way of the dodo in 2008.)
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