If luggage fees are wrong, who pays?

Question: I recently bought two one-way tickets from Madrid to Cancun, Mexico, through Cheaptickets.com. I found tickets that were within my budget and called the online travel agency to verify all the details, including the baggage fees.

A company representative assured me that the fees listed on the Cheaptickets website were accurate, and that I would have to pay a reasonable 60 Euros per bag. So I booked the tickets on Air Europa.

But when I arrived at the airport, I discovered the flight was not operated by Air Europa but by Iberworld Airlines — and its baggage fees were excessive, to say the least. It charged 10 Euros per kilo. We had two extra bags to check, weighing roughly 50 kilos together. I was charged 500 Euros for both bags.

I contacted Cheaptickets and told them about the misinformation, and they told me the flight was not supposed to be a codeshare flight and that I was due a refund. However, I just received an email and Cheaptickets now claims because Air Europa will not return its calls or emails, there is nothing to be done except offer me a $100 travel voucher. Can you help? — Carla Stewart, Washington

Answer: Cheaptickets should have been able to give you reliable information about baggage fees and the airline you were flying.

Codesharing, which is airline industry-speak for allowing two airlines to share aircraft, passengers and other resources, is a practice I’ve long criticized for its dishonesty. But the least you can expect when two airlines engage in a codesharing relationship is that they will honor each others’ agreements with passengers.

It appears Air Europa and Iberworld didn’t do that.

Who’s responsible? Well, I think you did your due diligence by phoning your online agency. When an Iberworld representative insisted you should pay a confiscatory 10 Euros per kilo for your checked bag, you might have put up more of a fight. Asking for a manager or calling your travel agent from the airport could have resulted in Iberworld reversing its decision on the spot, although I can’t be sure of that.

It’s a good thing you used an intermediary to book your tickets, because it can and should act as your advocate when you’re overbilled by 500 Euros. Cheaptickets’ $100 certificate is a good start, but I’m not happy with its excuse that Air Europa won’t return its calls.

So what? Cheaptickets still gave you assurances that you’d be flying on Air Europa and paying 60 Euros per bag — both of which turned out to be untrue. In other words, it didn’t sell you the product you were promised. (In fairness to Cheaptickets, codeshare agreements and luggage fees can change by the minute, so it might not have known.)

Still, your agent should assume the responsibility for your flight problems. Otherwise, why bother using an online agency? Why not just buy the ticket directly through Air Europa the next time?

I contacted Cheaptickets on your behalf. It refunded your entire luggage fee.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • finance_tony

    I’m glad this worked out because it IS right for codeshare partners to honor luggage agreements.   But what’s up with calling the agent?  A verbal assurance with no recording or details, as we see over and over on these cases, is always trouble. Why not have an email so you have some sort of written proof?

  • $16635417

    The OP claims to have verified “all the details.” Well, we are in a world of codehares so one more detail to ask…”Is this flight operated by Air Europa metal?” (A detail an experienced traveler or travel agent would have picked up on, assuming the codeshare displayed in the GDS properly.)

    She did the right thing by confirming the charges and I believe cheaptickets did the right thing as well. Air Europa came off looking bad in this one.

  • Sue Keirsbilck Tanea

    I voted no because I don’t consider Cheaptickets a travel agent. If one decides to use an online order taker because the price is cheap, they get what they pay for.

  • sirwired

     They may not be very good agents, they may not be very proficient at going the extra mile for their customers, but they are indeed Travel Agents.

  • TonyA_says

    Unless this happened ON or AFTER 24JAN 2012 and there was no DISCLOSURE clause like “Additional Baggage Fees May Apply” that appeared with the price quote, then what rules did the Travel Agency break?

    ON OR AFTER 24JAN 12, a link to the airlines baggage fees must be provided with the e-ticket receipt.

    If this was truly a codeshare, the agency MUST DISCLOSE that information on the itinerary of the passenger. Failure to do so is a violation of DOT code-share disclosure rule, 14 CFR Part 257. The DOT can fine the travel agent for the violation.

    For more information please go here:

    IMO, The Travel Agent is really in no position to provide all the ancillary and baggage fees of all airline carriers. Often the TA is just as clueless as the passenger especially with overseas LCC airlines. The best the travel agent can do is:

    (1) print out the Free Baggage Allowance (FBA) that appears on the bottom of the Pricing Information that a GDS will show.

    (2) Provide a link to the airline’s webpage that shows their baggage allowance and fees.

    I’m sorry but there is not much more a travel or booking agent can do when it comes to baggage allowance and fees. The agent is not part of the shenanigans of the airlines.

  • TonyA_says

    I believe that Cheaptickets (an Orbitz Worldwide Subsidiary) is innocent here.

    After further research I found out its own pilots claim that Air Europa has been deliberately “outsourcing” (by codesharing from) its flights to ORBEST (IP) formerly named IBERWORLD.

    Please read these articles:
    (1) http://news.kyero.com/2011/09/05/air-europa-faces-pilots-strike-action/
    (2) http://www.preferente.com/english/air-travel/air-europa-pilots-suspect-airline-is-already-sold-54698.html

    If that is true and if Air Europa (UX) does not disclose that UX63 MAD-CUN is actually a codeshare from Orbest (IP), then that will definitely be a violation (IMO) of DOT’s codeshare disclosure rules. Even if these airlines do not necessarily fly here or the flights do not involve a US airport, they are still MARKETED here.

    IMO if Air Europa fails to disclose that it is simply codesharing Orbest’s flights then it is the one that should be fined. Also it should be made to refund all baggage fees that are in excess of its own allowed free baggage allowance.
    In the meantime, I believe the DOT should order that all GDS and Flight Info companies operating inside the USA remove the suspect flights from their database and prevent the display of said flights.

    This is just disgusting behavior by an airline.

    NOTE: My GDS does not have a codeshare disclosure for UX63.

    $UX 63 MAD CUN SU 245P 1 635P 3 MM 332
    4939 10.50 10.50

    And UX Free Baggage Allowance for that route displayed in GDS is one (1) piece.

    Passengers who purchase Air Europa tickets for MAD-CUN are entitled to one piece of luggage weighing no more than 23kgs.

  • TonyA_says

     Exactly! The law does not distinguish between an Online and a
    Brick-and-mortar travel agency. They are both Travel Agencies. The
    airlines also do not distinguish the difference between them.

  • GNRMatt

    I flew Air Europa once, and a somewhat similar thing happened to me with them not returning my phone calls, letters and e-mails.  Basically I had an issue on my flight MAD-JFK with the flight attendants and broken seats.  I wanted to bring this to Air Europa’s attention.  I would’ve been happy with just an apology from them.  However, their lack of a response was completely unacceptable.  I reported this to my credit card company AMEX and filed a dispute on the charges.  They never even returned AMEX’s calls or correspondence.  In the end, AMEX gave me a full refund because of Air Europa’s lack of contacting myself and AMEX.  

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    People continue to use these opaque site and they continue to be taken advantage of in this manner.

    I don’t care how much you’re paying for the tickets, unless they’re free, either purchase through the airline or a live person.

    (At one time, travel agent fees were built into the price of each ticket.  Is this still the case?)

  • TonyA_says

    Mike, as my post below describes, there was no way to verify beforehand that passengers on UX63 MAD-CUN will actually be on an IBERWORLD flight.
    Air Europa did not even bother to disclose it on GDS flight records.
    Under US DOT rules, they can be charged with deceptive advertising or something like that. I hope they are!

    That said, I think Chris Elliott should do the right thing and proclaim the INNOCENCE of cheaptickets. They did nothing wrong. It looks like they paid simply to avoid bad publicity. This is the wrong kind of justice. The real problem IMO is Air Europa.

    ADDED: Personally, I don’t like the OTAs. But if they are innocent of what they are being charged of, I will speak out in their favor.

  • $16635417

    If a customers calls or walks into my agency, I would have gotten them the information requested, in the same manner you describe. I expect I would have also noticed it was a codeshare. If I neglected to notice or mention the codeshare, and that knowledge may have influenced their purchase decision, I would have considered it my mistake and probably reimbursed the difference in bag fees.

    If the information was just plain incorrect from the airline, I would work with them to get their money back from the airline, but not necessarily consider it my mistake.

    In this case, I would suspect the codeshare was indicated on the itinerary but not understood by the traveler and missed by the phone rep at the OTA.

  • $16635417

    I got caught up on something else and responded to another post before reading this. If this codeshare was not disclosed by the airline, then I agree with NOT refunding via cheaptickets as noted in another post of mine.

    Thanks for checking it out!

  • $16635417

    Was this opaque? Do you mean 3rd party?

    At one time there were no customer fees in tickets. The AIRLINES paid an agent to sell their tickets.

  • TonyA_says

    Even the BEST HUMAN Travel Agent would have been fooled by this one. Please read my research above.

  • $16635417

    I see from your other post that it was probably not disclosed as a codeshare. Cheaptickets should not be responsible.

  • TonyA_says

     I think the OP should do this, too. Good for you GNRMatt!

  • Rose Arnold

    Another misguided person who believes that shopping for the best price among legitimate vendors is tantamount to betting on the horses.  Ridiculous.  Cheap Tickets is a legitimate business, not the black market, and consumers have a right to receive what they paid for from them and that includes decent service.

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    I did read your posting, TonyA – I agree with you to more than a certain degree.  However, not having seen the ticket purchased, there’s also a chance the correct airline was on the ticket and both the passenger and CSR mis-read it.  (I don’t know this for sure, just speculating)

    At this point, it’s all conjecture.  I tell my son all the time, the human element has to be factored in because humans aren’t perfect.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II


    I don’t understand your logic, but I respect you greatly, so please tell me where I am going wrong. Whatever one thinks about cheapskate and the like, someone uses these services, they expect accurate information.  If the Cheapskate agent gave wrong information to the OP, then Cheapskate needs to take care of it and work out a reimbursement behind the scenes with the travel provider.

  • SoBeSparky

    A real travel agent talks about quality in addition to quantity (price in $).  In other words, a real TA person says, I do not recommend this codeshare or this airline because of irregularities.  That is the point of a real TA.  They are trained and have more experience than the passenger.

    OK, Cheaptickets is a travel agent in the business sense, but what qualitative advice does the customer get?  

    If you are not booking directly with an airline, then for international and complex itineraries, deal with a real person, preferably in your home town.  Get their 24-hour contact number.

    I am not a travel agent, nor have I ever been.  (Some here do not disclose that fact.)  Point is, pay for a service and get the service. Much cheaper than 500 Euros for bags or the hundreds of dollars of additional costs of an overnight when a missed international connection time was “legal,” but in fact unwise.  The costs of missed connections which are caused by acts of God are the responsibility of the passenger.  That can be substantial in hotel fees both en route and the missed night at the destination.

    Just what does a customer of Cheaptickets expect?  Cheap does not equate with quality.  

  • sirwired

     CheapTickets isn’t an opaque site at all; 30 seconds of research would have shown you that.

    And given the quality of airline customer service, I don’t see buying through the airline (either on the web or over the phone) to be any kind of solution.

    Also, the quality of human travel agents varies widely (just like websites)… I’m not sure you’ll be much better off purchasing from an independent agent unless you’ve found one you trust.  (I haven’t… and not for lack of trying.)

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    Okay, wow, I guess I’m SO sorry I’m a complete idiot when it comes to travel.  I don’t know how I got as far into the travel industry as I did.  Based on just HOW wrong I always am on this site, it’s amazing I’ve ever managed to complete a trip at all, no matter whether it’s in the air, driving or by train.  

    I guess I’ll just quit my job and never darken the doors of any building having to do with travel ever again.  Oh, except I’ll have to find a helmet to wear while I’m doing anything, even something as simple as checking my mail.  I wonder if I’ll mess that up, too?  My mailbox IS nearly three miles away.

  • TonyA_says

    Did you bother to go to cheapticket’s website to display the Air Europa baggage fees? Or did you just shoot your comments without researching?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Thanks for bringing some truthiness to that absurd comment.  Just because a company charges less for something, doesn’t mean that it’s not obligated to give you the product you paid for.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with price-shopping.  If a business is willing to sell a product for less than the other guys, that doesn’t relieve them of their obligation to provide the product they sold.

  • Lindabator

    But in this case, even on Air Europa’s site THEY do not disclose the codeshare – AIR EUROPA is at fault in this case (and I don’t usually defend the online agencies!)

  • Lindabator

    But if the AIRLINE doesn’t even list this as a codeshare, Cheapskate.com can’t really be called guilty in this case (and believe me, I don’t defend them too often!)

  • LeeAnneClark

    Um, Nancy, sorry but sirwired is right.  CheapTickets is not an opaque site.  I think you’re overreacting a bit.  He didn’t attack or insult you…he just pointed out the truth.  CheapTickets is a typical online agency, but it is not opaque.  Priceline and Hotwire are opaque sites, not CheapTickets.

    Being wrong about something doesn’t make you “a complete idiot”. It just makes you wrong about something. As you yourself said in a comment just above this: “humans aren’t perfect.”

  • Joel Wechsler

    My GDS (SABRE) does not indicate that UX63 is a codeshare either. Aerovias de Mexico (AM) shows a codeshare with UX but it clearly states that it is operated by Air Europa. This would create a very interesting situation if UX63 turns out to be a codeshare with Orbest. Now you woud have three carriers involved.

  • ViviWang

    But cheaptickets wasn’t innocent in attempting to reduce the amount the traveler was overcharged.  Cheaptickets provided what they believed to be correct information but they are still the ones who should have fully resolved the discrepancy as the travel agent who sold the ticket even if Air Europa wouldn’t respond to them.  Whether it is a cheaper tickets on line agency or a walk in travel agent, people should be able to rely on them to do the right thing in situations like this and obviously without the threat of bad publicity cheaptickets can’t be relied upon.  There is also the age old problem of if you accept a certificate in any amount that can only be used with the vendor that didn’t provide good service the first time, what is it really worth?  Are you really going back to them?

  • TonyA_says

    @yahoo-OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE:disqus  Sorry, I have technical difficulties on my end. My posts are not showing up. Here is my answer to your question:
    Carver, there are 2 prevailing issues here:
    (1) Code-share disclosure
    (2) Baggage fees disclosure and accuracy.

    Code-share disclosure
    Air Europa failed to disclose that UX63 was really on Orbest (IP) operated flights. That’s a violation of DOT rules.

    Baggage fees disclosure
    Cheaptickets complied with the DOT rules. Their website provides correct baggage fees and charges.

    Air Europa’s website also displays the same charges.

    Discussion: Where did the baggage fees go wrong?
    (1) Incorrect assumption on OP’s part. The ADDITIONAL Bag charges are 100 EUR/pc if paid in advance and 150 EUR/pc if paid on day of departure for LONG DISTANCE flights. MAD-CUN is a long distance flight as the chart says.The OP assumed he will only pay 60 EUR/pc. That is not correct. That rate is only for Short/Medium distance flights.From what I read the OP say, Cheaptickets website was correct. Also, from a legal POV that is what the DOT requires.
    (2) Wrong Additional Baggage Fee Charged to Customer. The OP would have been charged 150 EUR/pc by Air Europa. So the total should be 300 EUR only. But why was he charged 500 EUR? Because the operating airline Orbest (IP) charged its own rate (rather than Air Europa’s rate).That is in violation of DOT rules because the DOT adamantly insists that the MARKETING carrier’s baggage rules apply for “codeshares”.

    Air Europa (IMO) violated 2 rules of the DOT.Cheaptickets did not violate any DOT rule.Its website had the correct baggage fees and it could NOT have known beforehand that Air Europa was going to codeshare UX63 because Air Europa did not file that information for GDS companies to see.There is no evidence that Cheapticket’s agent made a mistake. It may have been the OP himself who made the error looking at the wrong part of the chart. If you have any record of the call with Cheaptickets then bring it out. Otherwise, Cheaptickets didn’t violate any DOT rule. The OP should have brought his suit against Air Europa directly; perhaps filing a complaint with the DOT first.

  • TonyA_says

    Why should a travel agent who main function is to book tickets on an airline be responsible if that airline sends the passenger off to another airline. How is this in the control of the agent?

    A travel agent is NOT Superman. They cannot walk on water. They cannot even touch the ticket after it is issued without the consent of the airline.

    If you want an HONEST discussion of the facts, then you must be willing to be honest for all transactions.

    It is POSSIBLE that customers are mistaken. And, it is possible that mistaken customers would go to a consumer advocacy site to ‘shakedown’ the vendor.

    If Air Europa wouldn’t answer, then complain to the DOT. Or dispute your credit card bill. Or take them to small claims court. There is now some evidence presented here that they are wrong.

    But to shakedown Cheaptickets is not fair. As an agent, I know the insides of revenue accounting (or ARC IAR reporting). I’m not sure if Cheaptickets can recover that money from Air Europa. I really doubt it.

  • Rose Arnold

    Wow.  Just a bit defensive aren’t we? 

  • TonyA_says

    NOT Innocent?  Do you mean guilty? Guilty of not wanting bad publicity maybe.

    You and people like you are expecting too much from an OTA. You want the OTA to guarantee something outside of its control.

    I wonder what the options of the OP were to buy an Air Europa ticket. Maybe call or buy from Air Europa directly. Hmm… but they don’t answer calls. So in reality Cheaptickets did the OP a favor.

  • TonyA_says

    Also, where in the contract with the customer is a travel agent liable for a 3rd or 4th party ADDITIONAL Baggage Fees. These are paid AFTER ticketing, during check in.

    The OP should just dispute the ADDITIONAL FEES from his credit card statement. I’ve got to believe that Cheaptickets never charged the OP for baggage so they are out of this transaction.

    Linda, this is getting more and more bizarre. Next time someone will sue us because the land tour’s restaurant stop, which the cruise company sold, charged more for drinks than the customers expected to pay.

  • bodega3

    Use any company with the word Cheap in their name and you get what you paid for!

  • bodega3

    FYI, OTA’s provide what the vendor gives them.  

  • http://ladylighttravel.wordpress.com/ LadyLight

    People seem to think that because Cheaptickets honestly didn’t know about the code share, they aren’t responsible for it.  Anyone that has done business in the US knows that concept isn’t true.  If my company is the prime contractor, we are the face and contact to our customer.  We are ultimately responsible for what the subcontractors do, even if we sometimes can’t control it.  If something goes wrong, the prime has to fix it with the customer.  If our subcontractors misbehave badly enough, we can fire them as subcontractors for later business dealings.  We can also try to recover funds from them for non-performance.  But our customer isn’t involved with that.  They shouldn’t have to be.

    I’m getting a little sick and tired of the “passing the buck” syndrome.  If you are a legitimate business, you are ultimately responsible for those you do business with.  Don’t pass your problems along to the customer, and certainly be an advocate for them if your subcontractor doesn’t perform.

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    Okay, apparently no one has anything to do but sit on this board…

    First of all, I merely posted a quick comment on the board.  Tony steps out to tell me, in a snarky way, “CheapTickets isn’t an opaque site at all; 30 seconds of research would have shown you that.” (I think it was the use of the word ‘you’ that makes it personal or did I miss that day in one of my English classes?)

    Second, people on here call ALL these sites “opaque sites” if it’s not brick and mortar or the airline’s direct site.  Why “I” am jumped on by him for this is a mystery.  I don’t have the kind of time Tony has to surf the internet for hours on end so he can be SO right, all the time.  I actually have a life outside the internet. Tony only started with the snarky comments on every single post I make since one day last week when I asked him what was up, that he was usually one of the nicest people on here (which he WAS), in response to something mean he said to another poster. (It wasn’t that I disagreed with him, just that his “tone” was a bit sharp, much like he’s now doing to me.)

    Third, I didn’t say Tony was wrong, just that I’m sick and tired of his use of definitives when he posts, as though he’s the “end all, be all” of the travel industry.  There really ARE people out there who have more than a rudimentary understanding of the travel industry; he’s truly NOT the Travel Guru he likes to think he is and I’m not planning on building an alter in his honor.

    Now, if it’s okay with the rest of you – I DO have work to do…  Thanks.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Wow. Nancy, you take this all way too seriously. I agree you need to take a break.

    As for calling “all these sites ‘opaque sites'”, I have to disagree with you here. The word “opaque” has a very specific meaning in this context: it’s a site that doesn’t reveal the actual travel provider until after you’ve made your non-refundable purchase. The only two sites I know that do that are Priceline and Hotwire (there may be others, but those are the most well-known). If people are calling sites opaque that aren’t actually opaque, they are making the same mistake you did. That doesn’t mean they’re stupid or idiots or whatever, it just means they are using the term inaccurately.

    Please don’t freak out. I’m not attacking you. Just stating basic facts.

    By the way, nobody is forcing you to post here. I hope you feel better after your break.

  • $16635417

    I asked first about the use of the word opaque. I thought perhaps I missed something in the post that would have clued you in that it was opaque. I re-read the post and then (correctly, as we now know) assumed you may have used the wrong term. Had it been opaque, I would have had a whole different take on this case. 

  • MarkKelling

    Just wondering what the OP needed to take with him on a vacation to Cancun that weighed 110 pounds?  I spent 3 months in Hawaii on a trip that included job searching and I only took 25 lbs with me.

  • ClareClare

    scuba equipment, I assume?  I am told that some elements of it are extremely heavy. 

  • y_p_w

    On most international flights from the US, the typical free bag allowance is two bags with each up to 50 lbs each.

    I spoke too soon.  Apparently that’s changed.  The first (up to 50 lbs) is now free on United, but the second is now $70.


    The maximum dimensions for a non-oversized bag is 62 linear (height + length + depth) inches.

    Other airlines still have two free checked bags up to 50 lbs, including Air China and Emirates. Singapore Airlines seems to allow up to 20 kg each for economy passengers.

  • TonyA_says

    Thanks for checking. Nothing we can do now but roll with the punches. How dare do we TAs not know (or mind read) what Air Europa is up to. The Customer is always right. Always!

  • TonyA_says


    Also note that the complaint is with ADDITIONAL BAGGAGE fees the OP paid at the counter in Madrid (I suppose).

    Cheaptiks had nothing to do with that transacation. The money didn’t even pass their hands. Cheaptiks only sold the ticket that came with one free bag. Anything else is between the OTHER vendor and the passenger. So how did Cheatiks become responsible for a TRANSACTION it never was a part of?

  • TonyA_says

    ahh. who said I was a guru? It’s all in YOUR mind.

    Also I’m not sirwired – who made that comment to you.

  • TonyA_says

    In the case Cheaptiks was a mere agent and not a prime contractor. The principal is Air Europa. They (the airline) are ones primarily responsible to the OP. 

  • TonyA_says

    Hey Carver, I have been trying to post my answer to you but for some reason it keeps getting deleted. So I am sorry if you didn’t get it.

    Anyway Cheaptiks website posts the  baggage fees of Air Europa correctly AS REQUIRED BY THE US DOT. So they complied with the law.

    The OP was overcharged by 200 euros. He should have paid 2 x 150, or 300 euros only according to Air Europa’s ADDITIONAL baggage fee chart. But according to him we had to pay 500 euros. The overcharge is the fault of Air Europa only. Maybe the other airline Orbest screwed him.

    IMO the OP read the baggage fee chart wrong. He thought he only had to pay 60 euros. But that is only for short to medium distance flights. Madrid to Cancun is long distance and each added bag costs 150 euros when paid at the airport.

    I hope this answers your questions on why I took my stance in favor of Cheaptiks.

  • ViviWang

    cheaptickets is still doing business with Air Europa, a company they know doesn’t respond to them or customers.  As long as cheaptickets continues to sell Air Europa tickets they are responsible for whatever issues created by Air Europa.

  • Sadie_Cee

    From the evidence (10 euros per kilo), one can only conclude that the OP was ripped off by Iberworld re her excess baggage charges.  We are all relieved that you were able to intercede on her behalf and that she has received a full refund.  Cheaptickets also did the right thing.

    I checked out FOUR airlines and they all state the exact amount as well as the maximum weights they accept.  Charges vary between 50 and 60 euros per 23-25 kg bag.  Why does Iberworld not disclose fully its excess baggage fees? 

    Iberworld –  http://www.orbest.com/Dynamicpage.aspx?key=Equipaje 

    Interestingly enough, Air Europa does make full disclosure regarding its excess baggage fees.  They would have charged 60 euros for a 23 kg bag.  Had the flight been operated by Air Europa, the OP would have been avoided the hassle.


  • ViviWang

    I was clear in my post that cheaptickets wasn’t innocent b/c they offered significantly less than the OP was out after relying on cheaptickets representations.  And as I posted to the first of your responses, cheaptickets is now (and probably was before this incident) fully on notice that Air Europa doesn’t respond to them or customers so continuing to sell Air Europa tickets makes them responsible. 

    I’m sure you wouldn’t continue to do business with an airline that not only code-shared without making it clear at the time of booking or an airline that didn’t respond at all to your attempts to correct a situation.  Why should cheaptickets be held to a lower standard?

  • IGoEverywhere

    A real live agent that you walk into the office would have not made that error. When the reservation is made, the code share shows up. Cheapskates that believe what they see on the computer screen deserve the problems that they end up with. I am glad that you got the $$$ back, but you were lucky!

  • ViviWang

    Exactly!  As much as people want to say cheaptickets wasn’t the prime contractor it was.  It was the seller of the product and thus is responsible for providing the product as sold.  Cheaptickets acknowledged that the baggage fees were wrong and they should have either (a) found a way to get Air Europa to refund them or (b_ refund them in full themselves.  Saying the OP should go to DOT or dispute the charge with their credit cards company is indeed passing the buck.  Cheaptickets continues to sell Air Europa tickets thus any future undisclosed fees should be covered by them as well.

  • Sadie_Cee

    I agree.  The problem arose when the OP was switched to Iberworld at the last minute.  She had been assured by Cheaptickets that she would be traveling with Air Europa.  Iberworld then imposed *exorbitant* excess baggage charges.   Cheaptickets was unable to get a response from Iberworld, so they decided to issue the refund.  I don’t believe that Cheaptickets is to blame here (hurrah for them).

  • Sadie_Cee

    Nancy, I always enjoy your posts.  In fact, I look forward to reading and learning from your expertise.  Please keep them coming.  :=)  

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Okay, apparently no one has anything to do but sit on this board…”  
    One of the great truths of the Internet is that statements like this invariably lead off long posts that obviously took tons of time to think out and compose! 

  • http://ladylighttravel.wordpress.com/ LadyLight

    ” Cheapskates that believe what they see on the computer screen deserve the problems that they end up with”

    This is a crazy thought process.  What is on the computer screen is what is advertised, and anything else is fraud.  People have every right to expect that they will be given the services as advertised, regarless if it is a discount service or a five star service.

  • TonyA_says

     The 60 euro per additional piece is for MEDIUM HAUL distance. It is 150 euro each bag (paid at the airport) for LONG DISTANCE which MAD to CUN is. You see even you had a hard time looking at the chart. You need to page down to see the correct amount. The OP probably did the same, too; and assumed it was only 60 Euro to Cancun.

  • http://ladylighttravel.wordpress.com/ LadyLight

    The principle (prime) is the person the customer does business with, not the person that necessarily performs the work.  Cheaptickets was absolutely the prime.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II


    Perhaps this will make better sense..  Suppose you sell a ticket that you represent includes ” X”.  It turns out that “X” isn’t actually included in the package. In general it would be your responsibility to remediate it.

    In this case the travel agent represented that the tickets included baggage. They didn’t. Thus the travel agent’s misrepresentation induced the OP to purchase the tickets and accordingly the travel agent collected compensation from whatever source. Thus the travel agent is on the hook for making sure that the OP is made whole.

  • TonyA_says

    Cheaptickets NEVER SOLD the EXTRA ADDITIONAL BAGGAGE TRANSPORTATION. The airline that checked the passenger in did. Please get this straight.
    If Cheaptickets sold the ADDITIONAL LUGGAGE TRANSPO it would have collected money for it from the OP. This is a dispute over how much the AIRLINE should charge SEPARATELY for ADDITIONAL BAGS. That is SEPARATE from the airline ticket itself.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    That’s a very fact specific question.  That’s true in the case of say a building contractor, not true in the case of anyone using the term broker.  We cannot generalize.

  • TonyA_says


    When the reservation is made, the code share shows up.

    Please prove this for flight UX63 MAD-CUN. Let’s see what your GDS shows you.

  • Sadie_Cee

    Methinks hearing from Chris was quite persuasive and Cheaptickets made the refund in the interests of good customer relations. 
    Also, it is my understanding that under code share regs. the PAX is governed by the rules of the carrier that actually operates the flight.  In this case, wouldn’t that be Iberworld? 

  • TonyA_says

    The ticket price NEVER included and Additional Baggage. Cheaptiks SOLD a ticket that included only ONE PIECE.

    The OP brought one additional bag each. They bought transportation for that bag directly FROM THE AIRLINE. Please look at their credit card bill. They swiped that card most possibly at the airport.

    So how is Cheaptiks responsible for something it did NOT sell.
    Finally go to Cheaptiks and buy a similar ticket. There is a disclosure HIGHLIGHTED in bold yellow.

    Baggage fees are NOT charged at booking.
    Please stop holding Cheaptiks accountable for a transaction it had nothing to do about.

  • TonyA_says

    I ask myself what would a brick and mortar travel agent would have likely done had the OP been its customer. To answer that question lets go through the searching for a fare for a hypothetical 27MAR one way ticket from Madrid MAD to Cancun CUN.

    My GDS will tell me that on 27MAR there is only one nonstop flight for MAD-CUN. It is OPERATED by Air Europa (UX). It is flight UX63. It is also sold as codeshare by AeroMexico as flight AM6800
    27MAR-TU-638P MADCUN ** **                                  
    1*S#AM6800 K3 Q0 N0 X0 T0 V0 L0 W0 MADCUN  255P 540P  332 0E
    2*S$UX  63 W6 V. O3 X1 S. R. U. L2 MADCUN  255P 540P  332 0E

    The next step is to find the lowest fare for each airline. My GDS displays the BASE fares for both AM and UX for 27MAR.

      ADD TAXES                                                   
     LN A/L  F.B.C.  EUR   OW       RT    EFF     LTK   AP MIN/MAX
      1 UX   UOWDC      170.00           1MAR12 30APR12 ##  – / – 
      2 AM   KOLUXSL    525.00  1050.00 11OCT11    –    ##  – / – 
      3 UX   WLOWDC     530.00          16FEB12    –    ##  – / – 
      4 AM   KOHUXSL    600.00  1200.00 11OCT11    –    ##  – / – 
      5 UX   KLOWDC     610.00           4OCT11    –    ##  – / – 
      6 AM   SOHUXAP    775.00  1550.00 11OCT11    –    ##  – / – 
      7 UX   BLOWDC     800.00           4OCT11    –    ##  – / – 
      8 AM   MOHUXAP    900.00  1800.00 11OCT11    –    ##  – / – 

    So for UX, the lowest fare basis with seat will be on booking class W ($530) and for AM, it will be on booking class K ($525). Note that there are no seats on booking class U ($170) for UX. Also the difference in base fare between AM and UX is only $5.

    The next step is to find out what the total ticket price would be with tax. To do that you create (sell) an itinerary and the GDS will auto-price it. So let’s do it only for the Air Europa (UX) flight, the operating carrier.

     1 UX  63W 27MAR TU MADCUN SS1   255P  540P/O $ E

     ADT01       695.00       931.00        40.66            971.66
    *TTL         695.00       931.00        40.66            971.66

    ADT MAD UX CUN Q221.12 710.28NUC931.40END ROE.746177UX
     TX 14.70JD 3.00QV 22.96UK


    Ok, so there you go. The travel agent is on his way to book you a 27MAR flight from MAD to CUN on Air Europa. But what will he charge you?

    The ticket costs $971.66 net. But the Travel Agent has a small problem, He does not have a sales commission agreement with Air Europa for this route. He is located in the USA and his commission contract is only for USA to Europe and vice versa but not for Europe to Mexico. So if he sells you the ticket for $971.66 he will likely lose money (after deducting other transactional costs). So what does he do? He needs to charge you a BOOKING FEE.

    The customer is not stupid so he searches in the internet.
    The obvious FACT appears – there is only ONE nonstop flight from MAD to CUN. Cheapticks sells it for $982.65. They added $11 as a booking fee.

    Do you think a travel agent will book this for you for a fee of $11?
    Are you kidding me? My lunch costs more than that!

    And for something this simple what imperative could there be to hire an expert and pay a $45++ booking fee? The so-called expert (or guru) would not have known that Air Europa actually “outsourced” its flights to Orbest. The guru would also have to go to the same Air Europa webpage to figure out what an ADDITIONAL checked luggage would cost the customer. The customer can do that himself.

    What additional value would the Travel Agent bring to the table compared to Cheapticket? NADA. Probably neither one of them even know the Air Europa rep. Sure they can sell the ticket because they are both IATA-ARC appointed. But that’s it.

    Perhaps the customer can simply go to Air Europa’s website.
    But maybe he did not want to pay $978.38 USD plus the 3% foreign transaction fee on his credit card so he preferred a US vendor.

    I did this to clarify some points in the Travel Agent versus OTA  versus BUY DIRECT discussion. If all you want or need is a simple one-way or roundtrip ticket and there is only one flight to pick from, then why not shop by price? There is nothing further to search since there is only one flight.

    The cheapest price in this case would have come from the OTA (i.e. Cheaptickets). If you don’t have EXTRA BAGGAGE you won’t have to deal with the OP’s issues.

    I hope we can put some dogma to rest.

  • Michael__K

    Tony, Cheaptickets sold a ticket with quoted extra baggage fees of 60 Euros per bag.

    That quote was mistaken.  You’ve clearly shown that Air Europa is ultimately to blame for the “mistake.”  It may not be Cheapticket’s “fault” but it’s clearly not the customer’s “fault” either.

    Cheaptickets sold the mis-represented product to the customer and has some obligation to remedy that.  Sounds to me like Cheaptickets has a clear-cut claim against Air Europa (and I would think they also have far more leverage than the customer to pursue Air Europa for that).

  • TonyA_says

    They are only responsible for the thing you bought from them. I don’t  believe they sell ADDITIONAL BAGGAGE.

    They are not even privy to that transaction.

    ADDED: SFTraveler, in airline ticket distribution, an IATA/ARC appointed agent can sell airline tickets of so many airlines even if they don’t know much about that airline(s).

    It’s like buying a ticket in ticketmaster or somewhere else.
    Nothing special there.

  • TonyA_says

    Depends on WHO you ask.
    The US DOT holds the MARKETING carrier responsible. The EU holds the OPERATING carrier responsible. For lost luggage issues, IATA rules say it is the carrier that TAGGED your bag that’s responsible.

  • TonyA_says

    Because Cheaptiks did not get the customers money. Some airline charged the customer EXTRA for the additional luggage.

    Remember that even if UX codeshared this flight, the flight MADE IT TO CANCUN. So the part that Cheaptiks sold WAS DELIVERED at the agreed upon price.

    The money issue is with the ADDITIONAL LUGGAGE only.

  • TonyA_says

    Do you have proof of that quote? I don’t think so.
    Unless the OP has something in writing about that ADD BAG FEE, the DOT will believe what Cheaptickets has in its website. Which in fact is correct, by the way.

  • TonyA_says

    I also want to add that after the DOT passed the new rules last year, MOST if not all agents simply refuse to answer baggage questions. Why? Because the DOT made it clear you need to include a LINK to the airline’s website that has the baggage and additional fees. (If you don’t want to do that then you need to create your own baggage database and make sure it is correct.)

    That’s what we do in our office. We send the customer to the airline’s own site, finished. No more discussion with customer. Otherwise we go crazy. 
    It’s become too complicated.
    I doubt a typical agent in Cheapticket (probably foreign call center) has the brains to figure out all this baggage fees thing. They will simply tell you where the info is in their website.

  • TonyA_says

    Have you ever seen a CONTRACT OF CARRIAGE from an agent? Never.

  • ViviWang

    TonyA – I’ve followed this board for a few years now and have agreed with you in the past and am now disagreeing with you.  Your many, many posts on this thread make your position clear but it doesn’t make it right.  I’m sorry this appears to be so vexing for you, that wasn’t my intent.  We simply disagree.  I hope you have a lovely evening and look forward to our being on the same side next time around.

  • Michael__K

    If you go to cheaptickets.com right now, it looks like the operator (and thus the baggage fees that pertain) is still mis-represented (as we would expect from what you saw on your GDS).

    Don’t forget that the customer generally doesn’t have a GDS and has no basis for judging whose “fault” this is.

    If Cheaptickets told the customer that Air Europa is to blame, how would the customer verify that?

    If Air Europa punted the customer back to Cheaptickets, how would the customer choose who to believe?

    The customer is in no position to sort through and judge the “inside-baseball” / GDS stuff.  Which is another reason why the intermediaries ought to take some ownership of these sorts of issues.

  • TonyA_says

    Then go ahead and PROVE YOUR POINT. Don’t attack me.
    Tell me how Cheaptiks is responsible for Orbest overcharge. Do you have proof that they MISQUOTED the customer. I have proof that Cheaptiks COMPLIED WITH DOT Rules. Just go to their website and check the law.

    If you can show me they MISQUOTED the OP I will agree with YOU. Peace

  • scapel

    I had a first class ticket out of Anchorage, AK last May. The lady charged me $50/baf for 3 bags. Now Delta led me to believe that 1st class had no fees for bags and one was allowed 70lb/bag for a total of three bags/person. Of course what are you to do at the airport. Well Delta refunded me the $150 and an apology, but it would seem better communications could be carried out.
    I voted with the majority this time.
    cheaptickets–the name would scare me.

  • clutzycook

    Tony, the flight was from Madrid to Cancun.  It never came close to the US.  USDOT has no jurisdiction here at all.

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    Kisses to you, Sadie! ;-x

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    Sorry to disappoint you, amigo, but it took me mere minutes.  I’m a writer – I can think on my feet.

  • bodega3

    When I sell a ticket, I provide the information given by the carrier.  I have sold non US carriers that have made unscheduled stops to pick up passengers on flights that were suppose to be nonstop.  Taca/Lacsa and Aero California to be specific. Suntrips out of SFO, which no longer operates, didn’t inform us that their nonstop charter to Cancun would stop over the border to get fuel.  I don’t usually defend an OTA, but the information you see is when you book online is what the carriers provide. 

  • bodega3

    Stuff happens.  I checked in, a day prior to my flight in PHL to get out before Irene hit, after calling the carrier to find out what I could do.  I was told to go to the airport and I would be taken care of.  However, the counter had not read the memo.  It all worked out but even they don’t know all the changes which can be daily for them. 

    When fees come into being, you are to be charged the price as of the time of your ticket purchase.  But when prices keep changing month by month, that ticket purchased 8 months prior to your travel date id often charged the current fee.  I give, on the itinerary, the fees as of the ticketing date so clients know what they should be charged.  Yet, most don’t pay attention and if they let me know, I give them the customer relations address and they get a refund.

  • TonyA_says

    Bravo! Thank you. To be honest, I could not do what Cheaptickets did. I cannot afford to give away 380 EUROS (500 minus 120) for a ticket I will make $11 only each. IMO the OP was screwed only for 200. This is the difference between the 500 he paid and the 300 EUROS  (2 bags, 150 per) he was OBLIGATED TO PAY UNDER TARIFF.

    Air Europa must be made to pay the OP HERE IN THE USA.
    They should also be penalized for not disclosing the codeshare flights. This alone may be interpreted a sign to deceive passengers.

    Hats off to Cheaptickets. They went ABOVE & BEYOND. They deserve a medal.

  • TonyA_says

    They have jurisdiction on the MARKETING of such tickets here in the USA. That is why Cheaptickets had to provide disclosure for codeshare and for baggage fees. The goal is to protect US CONSUMERS (passengers).

    Note that Cheaptickets today (for that same flight MAD-CUN) only shows the TOTAL AMOUNT of the ticket as the first price the customer sees. Why? Because the same DOT law applies.

    In fact if you are right, then Cheaptickets could have simply ignored the OP since the law (as you say) would not apply. But I assume the tickets were sold here. So they made the customer whole even if it wasn’t their fault.

  • TonyA_says

    Carver, I want to add:
    The only representation that is valid is what appears on PAPER – advertisements, your ticket-itinerary receipt, the published Tariff Rules, and the contract of carriage, and the new required web pages regarding fees, etc.

    If the dispute is a he said, she said thing with NOTHING IN WRITING, good luck winning your lawsuit.

  • TonyA_says

    Ctkts is only an AGENT of Air Europa the PRINCIPAL. Air Europa is telling the whole world (via OAG, GDS, etc) that it is OPERATING flt UX63 MAD-CUN.

    Everyone including Ctkts is taking UX word on face value. That said is Ctkts MISREPRESENTING anything?
    I don’t think so. It is UX who is misrepresenting UX63 when it uses a codeshare or outsources the flight.

    Some common sense is needed here. For as long as UX takes a pax from MAD to CUN w/o harm, what’s wrong with that? Nothing right?

    But if UX tells you (tariff or price list) that an extra bag costs 150EUR and then when you check in you get charged 250 EUR, then that is MISREPRESENTATION.

    Ctkt merely parroted the price list of UX as required by the DOT. They complied with US law. I do not believe Ctkt as a company goes out there and spreads false information. Their website is accurate about the baggage charges.

    So what is Ctkts fault when UX suddenly charges the pax more than the published tariff for extra bags?

    If Ctkts had no idea that was going on then they are not a fault. So why on earth do we hold the AGENT responsible for shenanigans of the PRINCIPAL?

    I’m not a lawyer so please explain to me why Ctkts is misrepresenting anything?

    Remember Ctkts is not the only agent selling UX. Many thousands can do that too. Are we all misrepresenting?

  • Sadie_Cee

    On the contrary, I looked for the international rates.  I do know the difference due to my regular travel between Canada and Portugal.  Most of the time I fly Air Transat but two years ago I flew SATA from Lisbon to Toronto.  I had an extra bag weighing 28 kg.  I was charged 50 euro for the bag.  I paid it gladly.  This was the fee shown on their Web site.  On a previous visit, the agent waived the excess baggage fee and I was a happy customer.  I realize I am not a travel expert, but I do manage to get by.

  • Sadie_Cee

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • TonyA_says

    Sadie, I’m referring to the link in your post for Air Europa specifically (not any other airline from Canada to Portugal,etc.). 

    Look under LONG HAUL FLIGHTS chart.
    Excess Baggage Fares 
    Per PC / 23 kg over the allowance:- Advance (3): 100€ /PC- Airport: 150€ /PC 

    The chart is very confusing.
    OP has one-way ticket. Is that Full Economy or Tourist Class? We don’t know unless we see the ticket.
    It also looks like Tourist class has 1st bag for 60 EUR and 2nd bag for 150 EUR.

    You can see how the airline probably used the 150 Euro per additional bag rate.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    As a practical matter attorneys seperate the discussion into two seperate issues.  The first is assuming that the client story is true, what rights and remedies does that convey.  That’s one discussion. 

    The second discussion is what can I prove in court.  That’s an entirely different ball of wax.

    Thus, the first question is, assuming the agent did indeed misrepresent the ticket to the OP, does that misrepresentation form part of the contract between the agent and the OP and thus binds the agent.

    The second question is, assuming that it would bind the agent, how can I prove it.

    So, its always important to distinguish questions of proof from the underlying legal matter. Trust me, just because someone doesn’t get something in writing doesn’t end the case, its just one, often relatively minor, hurdle.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    Discussions of principal and agent are very complicated. It ultimately turns on the industry standards.  For example using the common example of real estate.  When building, the general contractor is the principal, even if he/she uses subcontractors.  But a real estate agent is an agent, even though you deal directly with him/her.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    I love the fact that you are honest, ethical, and man enough to state that not every travel booking requires a travel agent.  Many people in many professions, attorneys as well, just cannot bring themselves to admit that sometimes being a layperson is sufficient to obtain a good result.

  • TonyA_says

    If you look at the Air Europa Baggage Fee Chart, the additional bag could cost EITHER 60 or 150 EUR depending on the booking code in Economy or Tourist class.

    So unless we see the ticket, I cannot tell for certain. The MAXIMUM damage here is 380 Euros (Tourist Class) and the MINIMUM 200 Euros (Economy Class)

    In other words, there was a big possibility that the alleged ORAL discussion of the chart between the OP and an agent was CORRECT and NO MISREPRESENTATION on the part of Cheaptiks ever occurred.

    That said, Air Europa is LEGALLY BOUND to its published baggage tariff. If they charged the OP 500 EUROs then they OVERCHARGED them, period.

    As I said all along the BAD guy is the AIRLINE and not the travel agent. Cheaptiks was an ANGEL in this particular case. To me, they we innocent from the get go.

    PS. I don’t think Cheaptiks can recover this money from the airline. The airline does not even bother returning calls.

  • TonyA_says

    I also might add that Travel Agencies make it clear from the get go WHO the PRINCIPAL is (which airline is the ticket coming from) and that they are only an AGENT. The AGENT is merely selling a ticket on behalf of the airline. The AGENT is merely REFERRING to the PUBLISHED TARIFF of the principal.

    After all my years working in an airline and selling travel I have never heard the use of PRIME CONTRACTOR used  to describe us UNLESS the travel company contracts with a GOVERNMENT OFFICE to be their sole provider of (all) their travel needs.

    The Travel Agent does not get into a contract with the buyer saying give me your money and I will find the various airplanes, pilots, baggage handlers, personnel, etc. to take you from place X to Y. They say I can sell you a nonstop ticket MAD-CUN from Air Europa costing X, AeroMexico costing Y and I will ticket it ON BEHALF of the respective airlines. Nothing but a simple agency-principal contract.

  • TonyA_says

    Carver, the association of travel agents OPPOSED the DOT regulation requiring them to provide a link to the airline’s baggage fees. The reason was obvious. If they send a prospective buyer to the airline’s website to get the baggage and ancillary fees, then it is SUICIDE for the travel agent since the airlines can grab their customers and sell directly to them as these people are already viewing the airline’s website.

    IMO this was the primary reason the OTA made their own webpage with the various airline baggage fees. They did not want the buyer to leave their website and go to the airline’s own website. But the COST of maintaining such a database is huge considering that it MUST be correct at ALL TIMES.

    That said, I want to point out that Travel Agent Associations do not necessarily PUT THE TRAVELER’S INTEREST ABOVE ALL. Walk in to one of those cheapo brick and mortars usually frequented by ethnic groups, let’s see if they disclose the baggage fees to you.

    I want my customers use me because I’m good, competent, transparent, fair and honest. To many, I tell them they have a choice to book directly with the airline IF THEY WISH TO DO THE WORK THEMSELVES AND FOLLOW UP ALL CHANGES THEMSELVES. This business is about building LONG relationships with repeat, happy customers WHO WILL REFER US to their friends and family. We have had customers who had been with us since 1994-95. Even their kids are our customers. We have NEVER advertised and do not entertain walk-ins (usually the worst kind of customer). Most of my clients already give me their plans for the year ahead of time. All I do is watch GDS for the opportune time to pounce and buy the tickets for them.

    And finally, in this crazy market, the AGENT should really be a BROKER simply representing BOTH SIDES of the deal. As an honest broker, I will advise and SHOP for a best deal for my clients. This is what I do today. The old concept of the travel agent is dead. You will never win against the OTAs and the airline’s websites unless you find a way to keep and get new clients who seek your differentiated service.

    Thanks for the kind words, Carver.

  • scapel

    Get a Capital One Credit card and eliminate the foreign transaction fee.
    Delta Airlines charges a $25/p booking fee when reservations made by telephone. It might be waved for medaliion member.

  • TonyA_says

    Thanks! Perfect Suggestion – Capital One. I think you make mileage points with no black out, too; correct?
    Also, since this airline is in Skyteam, can you get extra bags free if you are a super-duper elite Delta member? I don’t know the Delta/Skyteam membership perks that well. If you can get extra bags of Skyteam then the OP may have eliminated the headaches???

  • 46Shasta19

    What I would like to see is one free bag that weights  less than 50 lbs, after that I think it ok for the air line to charge.  But, getting correct information from your travel agent should be a given.