TRAVELOCITY

Help! My baggage didn’t make the connection

Question: I am a Marine based in Nicosia, Cyprus. I have a situation, and I am looking for some guidance.

I recently bought tickets from Travelocity for my fiancee, Cara. Her return itinerary had her flying from Cyprus to Athens and then on to Munich on a Lufthansa flight operated by Aegean Airlines.

Her stopover in Athens was 50 minutes, which was not a problem. But when we checked in at Cyprus, she was only given a boarding pass to Athens and was told to pick up another boarding pass in Athens after retrieving her luggage. It didn’t make sense.

To make a long story short, I contacted Travelocity but Cara missed her connection in Athens and had to pay $250 to change her flight, and had to stay in a hotel for the night until the next day, which also wasn’t cheap.

I don’t know if this is just a mix up and we just got the short end of the stick, or if there is something we can do. Any help would be greatly appreciated. — Joshua Smith, Nicosia, Cyprus

Answer: Cara should have been able to check her baggage all the way through to Munich, no questions asked. When you phoned Travelocity, they should have given you a straight answer about why that wasn’t possible and helped you and your fiancee figure out a solution.
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“How can this possibly be legal?”

At first glance, Deanna Dawkins’ flight itinerary from Jacksonville, Fla., to London looked perfectly normal. There was only a change of plane in New York, according to Travelocity.

But neither she, nor her father, Robert, examined the schedule closely. If they had, they’d have noticed a small notation: “Airport change from New York La Guardia (LGA) to New York J F Kennedy International Airport (JFK).”

That’s right. Dawkins would have to take a cab across town.
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They stepped up to the plate and overpaid for my hotel — now what?

sf airportDale Nielsen did everything he could to confirm his Delta Air Lines flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu. He booked the trip through an online agency that offered a notification of flight schedule changes. He called his airline.

It wasn’t enough.

Nielsen’s flight got changed, leaving him and his wife to spend the night at an airport hotel. Who should — and shouldn’t — cover his expenses?
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Travelocity offers an “unprecedented” new price guarantee — should I switch online agencies?

bills2If you’re confused about the online travel agencies’ service and price guarantees, take a number. So am I.

After this morning’s announcement that Travelocity would make an “unprecedented” addition to its so-called Travelocity Price and Service Guarantee, I’m more befuddled than before. Even reading Dennis Schaal’s insightful analysis of the news, and its provocative kicker (“Orbitz, now it’s your move) leaves me scratching my head.

Service and price guarantees are seductive lures for online shoppers. But in my experience, they’re either so vaguely-worded that a successful claim is close to impossible, or they come with so much fine print that even an army of lawyers can’t take advantage of them.

Is this more of the same? How does this guarantee differ from those offered by Expedia and Orbitz? And should you consider switching to Travelocity?
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An “unfortunate lag” delays refund by half a year — how do you speed things up?

error messageMarko Grdesic contacted me in April because Travelocity owed him $4,747, but there was no sign of the money. I assumed a polite inquiry would shake it loose. Wrong.

Grdesic just got his refund. The story of how the money was taken and then returned more than six months later contains some valuable lessons for you do-it-yourselfers who book your own airline tickets. And yes — there are ways of accelerating a refund. I’ll get to that in a moment.
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Which air travelers do you dislike the most?

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The ones that smell bad, according to a new poll by Travelocity. Fellow travelers with poor hygiene were called the “most disliked” in the survey, with a total of 45 percent of respondents calling out the unwashed masses.

A close runner-up — no pun intended — were air travelers who are “coughing and sneezing” (30 percent) followed by large fliers (15 percent).

Perhaps the biggest surprise: Who wasn’t on the list.
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Travelocity’s Mahl: “In a perfect world, a guarantee like ours wouldn’t be necessary”

GinnyMahl_082609Ginny Mahl is Travelocity’s vice president of sales and customer service — the woman behind the online travel agency’s vaunted Travelocity Guarantee. I asked Mahl about getting the best customer service from a travel Web site, and how her company is doing its part.

Travelocity seems to be doing well despite a depressed travel industry. How has good customer service contributed to your company’s recent performance?

Thanks, Chris, for the vote of confidence. Our customer service team has come a long way since introducing the Travelocity Guarantee four years ago and by remaining committed to its principles, I think we’ve helped the company’s bottom line. Plus, our ongoing investment in training our agents on how to best support customers through all kinds of scenarios has paid dividends.
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A bankrupt airline ruined my honeymoon

ataQuestion: I’ve been trying to get this issue resolved with Travelocity for more than six months, with no luck. We booked our honeymoon flight to Hawaii on ATA Airlines, but 10 days before our trip we got a call saying that the airline had gone out of business.

A Travelocity representative assured us we had been rebooked on new flights and that everything was taken care of. Needless to say, on the morning of our honeymoon, we had no tickets. The airline we were supposed to have been rebooked on, Delta Air Lines, was adamant that it wasn’t giving us any tickets. And a Travelocity representative kept telling us everything would be fine and they were “working it out.”

Nothing was worked out. We had to buy another set of tickets to keep our trip.

I’ve tried calling Travelocity customer service and was promised over and over that someone is looking into it, that they will call. They don’t. They keep asking for more time and keep telling me my request is on “urgent” status. I’ve sent them more than 65 pages of documentation by mail and fax. We’re out more than $4,000 for the airline tickets and an extra night’s accommodations and transportation expenses. Enough is enough. Can you please help us? — Kim Ryan, Phoenixville, Pa.

Answer: Travelocity should have issued a prompt refund for the new airline tickets you had to buy. Actually, it shouldn’t have come to this at all. As your online travel agent, it should have ensured you were rebooked on another flight — just like it promised.
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Here’s a “recovery” every bargain hunter is gonna love

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Traffic to the three major online travel agencies — Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity — is trending upward, as bargain-hunters snap up discounted airline tickets, hotel rooms and rental cars. It helps that the agencies eliminated some of their booking fees a few months ago.

Expedia’s bounce (in blue) is the most dramatic, with traffic levels markedly higher than it was at this point a in 2008. The other two OTAs (Orbitz in yellow and Travelocity in green) are holding steady, versus last July’s levels.

You might think that rebounding traffic would translate into an upward stock price. Not necessarily.
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No ticket, but they remembered the bill

gulfQuestion: I’m writing to you on behalf of my roommate, who is serving overseas in the Navy. She recently paid $1,767 for tickets from Bahrain to Atlanta for two weeks of R&R. Her online travel agency, Travelocity, had to issue a paper ticket because the two airlines she’s flying — Gulf Air and Delta Air Lines — don’t have a ticketing agreement.

But the tickets never arrived. She contacted Travelocity, which told her to buy a new ticket and file a lost ticket application. She paid for new tickets and flew back to the States. But when she asked Delta for a refund, they turned her down because she had gotten paper tickets through Travelocity.

After a few more phone calls and emails between her, Delta and Travelocity, she realized that no one was going to refund her money. So she disputed the charges for the first ticket on her credit card — and won.
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Now that’s a classy hotel: Banff Fairmont saves ruined vacation

fairmontJim Kohlman almost lost his entire vacation on a technicality. And he would have, were it not for the help of a hotel that understands the hospitality business.

Kohlman and his wife had booked a package through Travelocity that included flights, car rental, and a week-long stay at The Fairmont Banff Springs. But things took a turn for the worse when they checked in for their flight in Sacramento.
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The best things may come in small packages, but don’t call this gnome short

gnomeTravelocity’s Roaming Gnome needs no introduction. This summer, everyone’s favorite lawn ornament is embarking on what he calls the Summer of Possibilities tour to promote the season’s travel bargains. The gnome’s social media friends vote on his next destination, and away he goes. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interview the reclusive statue.

Q: I think I get it. It takes a gnome to remind us that there’s no shortage of deals this summer. Get it? Shortage?

Roaming Gnome: Oh, I get it alright. Very funny, Chris, but don’t you know that the best things come in small packages? Let’s see you try and fit snugly into the overhead baggage compartment, shall we? And besides, my pointy red hat adds at least another couple of inches to my height.
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