That’s not the ticket credit you promised me

After a canceled flight, a merged airline and crossed wires with Expedia, Anoop Ramaswamy is the proud owner of a worthless airline ticket. Now what?

Question: I booked a roundtrip ticket from Buffalo, NY, to Chennai, India, on Continental Airlines, just before it merged with United Airlines. I used Expedia to make the reservation. I completed the one-way trip but due to a family medical issue, I had to cancel the return. I called Expedia and requested a cancellation.

Expedia issued a cancellation, saying it would be in the form of an airline credit that would last a year. I called Expedia a few months later to use my voucher, but was told they couldn’t book the flight because of the merger with United. They asked me to call United directly.

I called United and they informed me that fare rule mentions that I can only book the same return flight and nothing else.

I called Expedia back and it admitted the representative who helped me cancel the ticket made a mistake by not informing me of the fare rules. Expedia offered to a $400 credit, but the ticket credit I had was worth $1,150.

A representative told me that’s all that she could do. I did accept it, but I detest the fact that they are making me pay for their mistake. Is there any way I can elevate the issue? — Anoop Ramaswamy, Buffalo, NY

Answer: Expedia should have told you about the fare rules when you called to cancel, of course. But in fairness to the online travel agency, the representative might have been confused about the fare rules or worse, the rules were somehow changed after the United merger, which was consummated last year.

But Expedia doesn’t dispute your claim that that it gave you the wrong information by phone.

The problem here, other than confusing fare rules, is too much time being spent on the phone. I know it’s convenient, but when you call an online travel agency, you’re needlessly complicating the issue. Remember, the only party that has any record of your conversation is the company. There’s no way to prove you spoke with someone, unless you’re recording the call, and I wouldn’t want you to run afoul of your state’s wiretapping laws.

Had Expedia sent you the fare rules, and had you reviewed them before you tried to make your next reservation, then this might have been avoided.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf. A representative corroborated your version of this story, but added that the agency did try to advocate on your behalf with United Airlines, asking it to apply the credit to a different flight. The airline refused. As a sidenote, I think these fare restrictions are ridiculous, and perhaps the best way to avoid getting ensnared by them is to avoid booking one in the first place. But I know few travelers who bother to read the fare rules — they just see the price and book.

Expedia issued a refund for the remaining value of your flight credit.

Who's responsible for this mess?

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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 Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Richard

    If this had taken place in Europe, under European consumer protecrion laws, the responsibility for this mess would have been the travel agent, Expedia. If Expedia was unhappy with the airlines reponses it would have been up to them, not their customer to challenge the airlines.

    In the US, under the US screw the consumer protection laws, it would probably be up to god (Mercury since he is the god responsible for traveling). Unfortunately Chris did not provide that as a choice.

  • Bettina

    The Travel Agent is who the traveller contracted the ticket with. That they in turn contracted with the airline for a comission is not the travellers fault.

    Thus the Travel Agent, in this case, Expedia is responsible for not informing the traveller of the fare rules and thankfully, they fully refunded the amount.

    On the other hand, I tend to check both expedia, opodo, etc. prior to taking a flight and checking what the fares are.

    Most of the time, I then book directly with the airline for exactly the same price and I do check the fare rules. However, since I regularly book travel for my boss and other employees, I do know how important fare rules are and always check them.

    But not everyone has that experience and expecting them to know they need to check, especially when they book through a travel agent who has the duty to inform them, is a bit much.

  • sdir

    When the LW originally canceled, was the airline credit with Continental (or United) or was the credit through Expedia? Because the terms & conditions of the contract of sale were between the customer and Expedia. If Expedia promised cancellation terms of X, they needed to support those terms, regardless of whatever changes happened at United. Expedia sells the ticket for a commission, they need to take responsibility for what they sell to the customer. Too bad Chris had to get involved for them to own up to an error they already admitted to.

  • sirwired

    While Expedia should not have promised him something they could not deliver, the initial result would have been the same if he had booked directly with United and/or called United directly to cancel. The fact that he called Expedia first to cancel doesn’t change the fare rules.

    The rule kind of makes sense when tickets are priced with lower fares for round trips; that said, you’d think punitive change fees would fix that problem. It’s nonsensical that they want it both ways.

  • BillCCC

    Expedia should come up with the credit. As mentioned, too much time on the phone.

  • EdB

    If the OP had been told the correct information to begin with, what would the difference be? She still had to cancel because of the family emergency and would have a ticket credit that was basically worthless. For me, the fact that Expedia gave her incorrect information then, is irrelevant. I feel all that Expedia is liable for is to provide the same credit as the airline would have if the correct information was given. Sounds like another whiner who bought a restricted ticket and when the restrictions didn’t fit her needs, gets outside help to get the business to give something they really aren’t entitled to.

  • EdB

    “Because the terms & conditions of the contract of sale were between the customer and Expedia.”

    But that reasoning is counter to other discussions we have had when the airline agrees to a refund, but the TA’s rules don’t allow for a one and keeps the money. See for a discussion on this very topic.0

  • Raven_Altosk

    Expedia didn’t do it’s job and should pay. The customer should not be dealing with UA–that’s the “agent’s” job. Or, y’know, the online company masquerading as an agent. Either way.

  • TonyA_says

    Why do (cheap) people always expect perfection from others and not themselves?
    Read, the (outsourced agent, [deleted by moderation team]) regardless what they say, cannot change the terms of the contract of carriage, the fare rules or tariff. Besides the OP would have cancelled the return segment even if she lost every penny of its residual value – unless the family emergency was phony to begin with. Next case please.

  • TonyA_says

    My remaining ticket’s worth $1150. Really? ROFL
    And why is Expedia offering $400? An agency bargaining for the airline?
    This may have been bulk fares.

  • Jim

    Chris I’m usually with you but not on this one…the customer purchased a round-trip ticket, cancelled the return flight and later wants to take a flight to different cities than originally purchased. Sure they gave him incorrect information but his comment; “but I detest the fact that they are making me pay for their mistake.” is incorrect…he is making them pay for their mistake by demanding a credit for his unused flight. I’m not saying I agree with airline fare rules but I know that if I purchase a RT BOS to LAX ticket and I cancel the return I have one year to rebook the return, (minus the change fee).

  • TonyA_says

    I wonder what the responsibilty of the flyer was? Cancel a return segment and you are really at the mercy of the airline :)

  • Grant Ritchie

    There’s an undropped shoe here. The OP appears to be back in Buffalo. Why didn’t she use her credit to fly home? She had a year. Dollars to donuts she found a cheaper fare or some other less expensive way to get home, then tried to have it both ways with Expedia. I hate it when people do slimy things like this. Expedia… you shouldn’t have knuckled under on this one.

  • John Baker

    Sorry this story has too many holes in it for me…

    So if the story is to be taken at face value ….
    1. The OP somehow made it back to the US without using the credit on the return. How’d that happen? You would think that you would use the credit to get home … Unless you weren’t telling the whole truth…
    2. Everyone made a mistake except for the OP. It is possible that the Expedia agent told the OP the correct thing and the OP just misheard it.
    3. No the fare restrictions aren’t ridiculous. The OP accepted a round trip ticket (not two one-ways) and received a lower price for doing so. The OP used the front half of the ticket. Why shouldn’t he be held to using the second half for its contractual purpose. Now if you want to argue a different airport in India… I’m there with you. Most airlines would consider that a round trip.

    Going back to my best Gregory House impression .. “Everyone Lies.” Most people here are arguing that that it was Expedia and UA were (are) lying. Based on the totality of the circumstance, I think its equally likely that the OP found a different / cheaper way back, thought he found a hole in UA’s rules, played an Elliott pity card, tried to exploit it and got caught.

    Its nice that Expedia did the right thing but I’m not sure base on the information presented that the OP deserved it.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Okay, have to explain to me why you’re ROFL. Haven’t had my morning caffeine yet and I don’t have a clue as to what airfares are from Buffalo to Chennai.

  • Cam

    It’s Expedia’s problem. They gave out wrong and incomplete information.

  • SoBeSparky

    As Christoper mentions, it is the customer’s responsibility to review rules before purchase. The government (consumer protection and the courts) cannot protect a consumer who refuses to review the readily available facts before the purchase. Life does bring personal responsibility. Frankly, I am tired of people intervening in situations where the consumer had every opportunity to do their own research before purchase. For product evaluations in general, sources are available from the seller and from independent sources such as Consumer Reports (paid subscription) and Amazon reviews. This mess clearly begins with the consumer.

    The reality is, because of a medical emergency, the consumer was at the mercy of whatever rules were in effect. The cancellation was going to take place no matter what Expedia would say about how the rules would be applied. The consumer was going to have to eat some costs, cancellation fees for example, or perhaps the entire flight, as it turns out, unless the consumer needs a one-way ticket to India.

    While Expedia made an error, the critical error was that the consumer was not aware of the rules. This is not like reading the Contract of Carriage. Because of government regulation, the rules are fairly readable (except for all capital letters) and noticeably available on line before purchase. Nothing was hidden by Continental or Expedia. Usually the rules on cancellations and refunds are printable on the web site so you can read them “at leisure” without staring into the LCD screen.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    In theory I would agree with you but if you have an Expedia agent on the line and they were the ones who sold you the ticket, most people would likely cancel (and possibly go check up on the rules later). But then again, I’m sure the rules are different for every carrier. In this case, I think it’s on Expedia for giving him bad info.(True that it may not have changed whether he decided to cancel or not…)

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    If I were the OP, I would’ve been extremely leery about the over-the-phone promise that I’d get the remaining value in credit that can be applied to ANY flight. What’s to stop people from buying r/t when they really only need o/w and then cancelling and using the credit for something else?

    OP was lucky to get a refund. Expedia should’ve just given him Expedia credit if anything for this case. In the end, he made out better than anyone in his situation could’ve.

  • EdB

    “2. Everyone made a mistake except for the OP. It is possible that the Orbitz agent told the OP the correct thing and the OP just misheard it.”

    Guess that even includes you since it was with Expedia, not Orbitz. :D

  • John Baker

    You got me … Changed it. and I will never claim to being perfect.

  • EdB

    You missed an Orbitz in the last paragraph. (just teasing you about this. We all make misteaks.)

  • Daddydo

    I feel that you are oh so correct! Tickets have rules and the passenger must abide by them. It is the passenger is responsible follow those rules. I guarantee that the rules were on the original confirmation. But
    if you complain enough, no matter who’s error it is, you get what you want. I
    have paid for my errors, but never on this type of claim. Totally ridiculous! NO SOUP FOR YOU!

  • TonyA_says

    Here James go read the portion about AFTER DEPARTURE changes on typical United non-ref fares to India (this might be different than old Continental). If you can understand the gibberish then congrats are in order:

  • TonyA_says

    Because the only way you can tell the residual value of the ticket is to have read the rules first and then the linear (fare construction). Someone’s lying here IMO.

  • Cheri Head

    When will people learn to stop using Expedia?!?!?!

  • TonyA_says

    When they stop texting while driving.

  • TonyA_says

    Let people remain stupid then. Why buy a $2.2k anything without reading the rules?

  • TonyA_says

    Thank goodness you noticed it. This one stinks to high heavens.
    In theory the only practical use of the remaining ticket coupons is to come home to the USA.
    Now she got CASH (or Expedia money) for it. Scummy.

  • Michael__K

    Assuming she found a cheaper route home and opted to use the credit on a different itinerary a few months (not a year) later, WTH is “slimy” about that?

    The question is: what if anything was disclosed about the fare rules and restrictions? Expedia — much to it’s credit (and it surprises me to say that) — admits that the fare rules were not disclosed. If she had every expectation that the credit could be used on any future flight for a year, then I don’t see what your objection is.

  • Michael__K

    Who is arguing that Expedia is lying? Expedia admits that they didn’t disclose the fare rules. Sounds to me like they were very honest in this case. The objection is that they were slow to take responsibility for that.

    If the restrictions on the credit were properly disclosed, then very likely the OP would have used the credit on the intended route.

  • TonyA_says

    Nobody gives a sh*t about fare rules or read them until, all of a sudden, they complain they were NOT given the fare rules. What a bunch of nonsense. We have tons of customers who regularly change their return flight from Asia by simply calling the airline. Not one needs to call us even if we have a remote center in Asia that they can call. This case is so bogus IMO.

  • TonyA_says

    FYI, AFTER departure the remaining value of the coupons for a NON-REF ticket is only relevant (assuming the pax is still alive) when you are re-issuing a new ticket so that the pax can COMPLETE the remaining journey. Prior to that point, the value has no relevance because it will NOT be refunded back to money. In other words, unless the pax is already making a CHANGE to a new ticket, no agent will compute the value of the remaining coupons. The reason is you compare the cost of the new ticket minus the old ticket first (absolute value not less than zero) then ADD the change fee to get your add collect/ fee.

    The only way the OP could have known the value of her remaining coupons was she gave the agent a NEW return date and the agent gave her how much the new ticket costs and how money she had to add to the old ticket. From there she extrapolated the value of her old remaining ticket.

    For this reason, I don’t believe the OP. Goodbye.

  • BJCook

    I’ve just finished reading all of the comments. How come not one of the 132 votes cast for United commented on why United should be responsible?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    My read was that the original round-trip ticket cost $2300 and since only half got used, half the value, $1150, was left. Admittedly, this is a very simplistic calculation and doesn’t at all address fare construction, rules and all that.

    Fares these days are much, much cheaper (Kayak gave me $1342 or thereabouts for some arbitrary dates I picked in the future.) I thought maybe that’s what you were laughing about, since Mr. Ramaswamy seemed to have gotten back to Buffalo without using that other half of his ticket.

  • $16635417

    When I checked OTAs in the past, fare rules were available to read, usually a link on the page prior to purchase. I agree they are tough to read, but that would seem to counter the argument that they weren’t available to to customer.

  • TonyA_says

    Jeanne it does not work that way.
    Read my response to Michael_K (the one starting with FYI.)

    If you buy a NON-REF (discounted) RT ticket and only use the outbound leg, the remaining value of the return leg’s coupon is not necessarily a half of the total ticket. Generally it depends on the conditions below:

    (1) You have not yet started your journey. (Not the case of the OP)
    (2) You already have started your journey, (The case of the OP)
    (3) You can no longer complete the journey. (You died)
    (4) You let the remaining coupon expire. (Sorry)

    Let’s just discuss #2.
    This happens when you simply want to change your RETURN date without any route changes.
    First you must cancel the flights prior departure (or you will be a noshow).
    Then, later, you must give the airline or the agent the NEW date you want to return.
    They will price the new return date ticket and then charge you the difference from your old ticket (no less than zero) PLUS the change fee.
    This is what they mean when they say your unused ticket coupons retain value.

    I have NEVER heard of an agent compute the value of unused coupons in another way unless they were to be refunded back to the original form of payment or for a e-cert (very rare). But the OP was never entitled to a refund so no one should have computed the value of her unused coupons (especially after the first coupon was already lifted).

    There was no reason to compute anything NOT UNLESS the OP was telling the agent to price a new return ticket already. A inconvenient truth not mentioned in the article but one that every airline or travel agent knows.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    OK, TonyA, I’m stupid but also blissfully ignorant on the matter.

    Here’s the deal: If I read the fare rules for a low fare and they were “If you can’t make your flight then it’s lost. Go pound sand”, I’d probably still buy it anyway. Most airlines are going to be like that although I would expect European carriers are more generous because since their consumer protections are higher, then their default Rules of Carriage are probably also higher. But overall, unless a price or experience is significantly different from one airline to another, I book with the lowest. I’ll book Jetblue over Spirit on the same route for obvious reasons even if the far is significantly different. I don’t want the hassle of booking with Spirit.

    I’m sure this is obvious on this forum, but if you need to cancel a trip due to family emergency then that’s a good justification for travel insurance.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    The only reason I know that it doesn’t work that way is because I am a regular reader of this site. I was just positing a reason why the *OP* thought the value was $1150.

    A few other people pointed out that the OP made it back to Buffalo without using that ticket, however modified. That makes the nasty, suspicious part of me believe other posters who thought that the OP didn’t use the return ticket because he found a cheaper way to get back. Well, what he THOUGHT was a cheaper way to get back! :)

  • TonyA_says

    She would not have read it anyway :)

  • TonyA_says

    She was cancelling a RETURN flight from India.
    All she needs to do is RESCHEDULE a new return flight with CO/UA.
    Now how freaking difficult is that to do?

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Why oh why do people insist on booking an airline ticket with a 3rd party rather than the airline itself?

  • RetiredNavyphotog

    Is it true that when a passenger has cancelled a return segment (because a round trip ticket was cheaper) that they are blackballed by that airline?

  • TonyA_says

    I’m not gonna comment about how she got home since that is irrelevant.
    I do find your reasoning plausible – she simply halved the cost of the ticket in her mind.
    BUT Expedia NEVER told her that IMO.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I believe you!

    BTW, isn’t Anoop a boy’s name? I will defer to your greater experience with different cultures.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    I agree Tony. As others have said, her story sounds suspicious. How did she get home? She would have needed to book a one way ticket and I’m sure those don’t go for cheap from India. I imagine this happened: She cancelled and got her credit and then… prices for one way fares from India on United/Continental were high making her voucher worthless. She found a better deal with some other airline and took that. But she still had the voucher and though to maybe use it for advance registration local travel, etc.

  • MarkKelling

    Apparently it was more difficult than it should have been due to the merger overlap that cause hundreds of UA passengers difficulties even catching a flight they were scheduled to be on, much less trying to reschedule from a CO ticket to a new UA ticket. Of course the OP apparently wanted to also change the endpoints of the trip as well, throwing another wrench into the works.

  • TonyA_says

    Read this line: I called United and they informed me that fare rule mentions that I can only book the same return flight and nothing else.

    Well precisely the point. What was the OP trying to do? Use the return ticket coupons on ANOTHER JOURNEY?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Looks like it, from my first read, and even my second read (post-caffeine).

    You sound a little stressed out today. Sending you virtual chocolate or a virtual margarita. Whatever you don’t take, I will! ;-)

  • TonyA_says

    If she was trying to resched last March 3, then sure.
    But EVERYONE was inconvenience not just her.
    We (agents) had to work our butts off that week.
    And, yes we stopped issuing CO ticket earlier because we are afraid of what could happen.
    Everyone was forewarned that there was gonna be trouble.
    A little patience was necessary.
    Cannot understand why the OP is so special.

  • MarkKelling

    No where does the OP state a return trip was made after cancelling the original one. The OP may have stayed in India for several months to handle the family emergency.

    But I agree that booking a one way flight (anywhere not just from India) is a lot more expensive than booking the same flight as part of a round trip. I have never understood why or how, for example, can UA fly me from DEN to LHR and back for $1000 but charge me $1500 to just make half the trip?

  • TonyA_says

    Again I need to repeat – WHY was there any calculation of residual value of the unused coupons? That is only done for REFUNDS, am I wrong?

    I don’t recall exactly what happened to CO reissues on/after 3MAR.
    Where they issued refunds, certs, MCOs ???

  • $16635417

    No doubt!

    One of Chris’s comments was: “Had Expedia sent you the fare rules, and had you reviewed them before you tried to make your next reservation, then this might have been avoided.”

    Just pointing out that they were likely available, in all their legalese mumbo jumbo! :)

  • MarkKelling

    Yep, I was lucky enough to not have to fly during the couple weeks around that date and it was hell for everyone. I was watching on the news the lines at IAH where it was taking 3 – 5 HOURS to check a bag and get a boarding pass – and UA was not holding flights!

    I don’t consider the OP being special. A voucher was issued, Expedia could not / would not accept it even with it being within the stated expiration window and UA refused to work with the client. Of course not seeing the actual voucher, I have no way of knowing if any of the restrictions UA claims to be on this were actually stated in even a semi-readable form. Also, the OP is not complaining that the voucher did not cover the complete cost of the new trip, not complaining there were fees deducted, or anything other than wanting the full value of the voucher to be applied to a new flight. I would be upset as well if this happened to me and would probably try to get help to at least understand why I was not being allowed to use the voucher.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    “No where does the OP state a return trip was made after cancelling the
    original one. The OP may have stayed in India for several months to
    handle the family emergency.”

    I read the original article and it’s written from Buffalo. Unless she took a boat, she had to have taken a flight with someone.

  • MarkKelling

    Never having used any OTA, I don’t know how they work in this situation. Also, I’m making assumptions based on the limited detail provided by Chris. Maybe the OP asked for an change to have the ticket treated like an open ended return (or whatever it is called in the travel industry) but Expedia treated the request as a refund.

    I have friends who are still waiting for refunds for cancelled former CO flights that occurred the weekend of the merger fiasco and during the week after. UA keeps stating it wasn’t their problem because they were not UA ticketed flights.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes I was stressed out already early in the morning. Thanks for the virtual chocolate.

    Anyway I noticed the OP said “continental”. So I goggled “Continental Reissue after 3MAR”. Well guess what, my post in another forum came up on the top of the list! It was even higher than flyertalk threads.

    Now I remember this was MARCH 03, 2012. Not 2013.

    I will make a new post that might shed a different light to this fiasco :)

  • Michael__K

    If she was told the correct information to begin with then maybe she would have used the credit on her return trip route.

  • MarkKelling

    The original flight was from Buffalo. Not seeing that the request to Chris necessarily came from Buffalo, but I guess it could have after the OP used the $400 credit Expedia offered to get back there. And I guess since the OP was told by UA the voucher was only good for rebooking the original flight I have to agree that the OP was definitely not trying to fly back from Chennai.

  • Michael__K

    I’m confused by your comment because I’ve had a cancelled/unused return ticket myself — in fact it was on Continental in 2009. I was told the exact residual value of my ticket and I was able to apply it to a new trip (with a change fee of course). Only differences I can think of is that it was domestic and I didn’t use Expedia.

  • MarkKelling

    I know if you book a flight with connections and you get off the plane at the connecting airport, which is where you really wanted to stop anyway and it was less costly to book the continuing flight, and don’t complete your journey that will happen.

  • TonyA_says

    Timeout! When did this happen? CO-UA integration was 03 March 2012. It’s already August 2013 about 18 months post migration.

    If the OP held CO (005 stock) tickets they would have been issued prior to March 2012.

    If the OP (was in India) cancelled her return flight RIGHT AFTER 03MAR 2012, then it needed to be reissued in UA (016 stock) since CO stopped issuing tickets on 03MAR12. (Note: the OP could have cancelled earlier and did not choose to reschedule until after 03MAR12.)

    A system-wide waiver code was given by United to all agencies to help reissue on UA stock.
    But if the OP was uncertain of her return dates.the waiver code would not help at that time this there was nothing to reissue.

    CO Non-Refundable tickets remained Non-Refundable. There should have been no talk of the remaining value of the CO ticket since United was willing to accept them and reissue tickets for the same flights on UA stock.

    Expedia may have been incompetent in exchanging / re-issuing her a ticket OR she could have misunderstood that new requirements on or after 03MAR12. However, unless the OP died or something, this non-refundable ticket remained non-refundable and Expedia is under no obligation to refund them.

  • TonyA_says

    I am not clear about such voucher. Was that an Expedia voucher?
    Probably not a UA voucher.

  • TonyA_says

    That probably because you were flying DOMESTIC and each leg was priced based on oneway fares. See Fare Construction.
    But for INTERNATIONAL, most ticket are priced on Round Trip (through) fares. If you only flew one way of the RT ticket, your ticket MUST be repriced for one way on the FBCode you used. Chances are the oneway will be more expensive than your RT ticket. Hence ZERO or negative remaining value UNLESS you reissue another ticket based on RT.

  • TonyA_says

    Throwaway ticketing (it is called).

  • TonyA_says

    I don’t think UA wants to refund anything :)
    If I recall correctly (and no one really wants to remember this fiasco) it was a nightmare. I remember many agent sad stories about being on the phone for several hours (maybe half a day) waiting for their UA agency contact to fix flights/tickets or get a waiver. Lucky for us (we are close to LGA/JFK) we don’t care too much for UA; and we told our NJ (EWR) customers to get the heck out of dodge because we cannot help them when the this thing explodes. Nobody came out of this unscathed. It was just a question of degree of burn.

  • TonyA_says

    Because the airline’s website sucks. Who knows if the OP needed some kind of interlined flights? You don’t see many of those in airline websites.

  • sirwired

    Such a rule is certainly par for the course with bulk fares… I didn’t know Expedia even issued those fares.

  • Owassonian

    What we are forgetting is that when OP requested a cancellation of the return segment, Expedia issued a cancellation in form of airline credit. The amount of airline credit at that time would have been determined by Expedia, not OP. This amount of the credit is critical and missing in the entire story. If that credit was for $1150, then OP should have been able to use that amount within a year from the purchase of the original ticket, minus the applicable fees. The OP would not know what the amount was till Expedia issued the credit. It was Expedia’s right and responsibility to verify if they were issuing credit for the right reasons and to right person. If Expedia in their judgement decided to issue credit, it shouldn’t show OP in any bad light, regarding the family emergency. Expedia would have been within its rights to refuse any credit had the ticket been non-refundable. Then the discussion would have gone to buying travel insurance.

    If Expedia initially issued a credit for a certain amount and then backtracked and issued a lesser amount, Expedia should follow up on its initial credit, especially when they corroborate the story as given by the OP. Raising any doubts, intentional or otherwise, regarding the character of the OP would not be correct.

    Hypothetical idea about what would have happened had OP been directly dealing with the airline is immaterial since it’s not the reality. Expedia has a choice to not be in the travel agency business. Every airline traveler has a choice to go to the airlines directly (which I exercise often). Both of these parties dealt with each other by their own choice.

    How OP got back to the US is immaterial as once the cancellation was processed, there is no reservation nor ticket for OP to be bound by on the return journey. Anyone would take the least expensive option in the given circumstances. It may not be very frugal but there is no ethical or otherwise binding on anyone using the credit voucher before cash while purchasing tickets. If using credit voucher wasn’t the most economical way, the OP had all the right to choose the mode and means of transportation that suited better to the purpose.

    I don’t believe calling anyone names (cheap) on this blog and alluding to their ethnicity (‘*****, too’, now deleted thanks to moderators) based upon speculations is right either, irrespective of the person’s profession or experience in that regard.

  • TonyA_says

    Can you show me proof that at the time she cancelled, Expedia offered her $1150 in form of airline credit. I think that is pure nonsense.

  • Owassonian

    The proof is in the statement in the story posted by Chris, ‘I contacted Expedia on your behalf. A representative corroborated your version of this story,….’.

    The OP does say ‘Expedia offered to a $400 credit, but the ticket credit I had was worth $1,150.’ and Expedia does not dispute it.

    If this were incorrect, Expedia could just say ‘no we didn’t issue a credit worth $1150’ and that would be the end of it since it would go into ‘he said she said’. Since Expedia didn’t invoke that, if there is any ‘nonsense’, as you say, in it would be on Expedia’s part.

    For what it’s worth, my post says that the origin of this amount is missing in the story.

    By the way, the OP’s name is masculine.

  • TonyA_says

    I disagree with you. The OP never stated that (the value of the unused portion of her ticket) when she cancelled the return trip. The idea of money as in credit only came about after Expedia could NOT REBOOK HER. And if you read carefully, United seems to be saying she wanted to use her return ticket MAA-BUF for some other different route. Well, good luck if the airline allows that.

    Frankly, after reading your whole post 3x, what you are saying does not make any sense to me either (just like the OP). Sorry I don’t buy it.

  • TonyA_says

    Also in my opinion Expedia simply paid shut up money to stop getting negative publicity. That is not right either. What are the fare rules there for?

  • TonyA_says

    Hey Owassonian did you forget to read these parts of the article:

    OP: I called United and they informed me that fare rule mentions that I can only book the same return flight and nothing else.

    CE: I contacted Expedia on your behalf. A representative corroborated your version of this story, but added that the agency did try to advocate on your behalf with United Airlines, asking it to apply the credit to a different flight. The airline refused.

    Not sure you understand CO/UA fare rules. But they certainly are well within their rights to limit the change to the same return routing.

    The OP snookered CE to get what she or he wants – money to buy another ticket for another trip. Too bad for Expedia. Maybe they have deep pockets.

  • wiseword

    The Expedia “representative might have been confused . . .? So that gets Expedia off the hook because the poor soul “was confused”? And the cat ate my homework.

  • TonyA_says

    Michael, I also want to add something very important. If the OP wanted to complete re-route (meaning to use her unused coupons) for a totally different flight and destination, then we need to go back and take a look if the fare rules allowed that. IMO it didn’t. That’s why Expedia got tired of her and she called the airline directly. Well she got the same answer from United. You can’t use the coupons for another route/flight.
    But because of her persistence, she got lucky and got the ear of a consumer advocate.

  • Owassonian

    Frankly, we all have our opinions and they may be different. My opinion about your narratives here is very similar to what you expressed about mine. What you keep speculating just doesn’t seem correct.

    When Expedia issues an airline credit, it can’t be of an undisclosed amount. Airline credit has a specific amount or limit on it. That value would be decided by Expedia. I don’t see this to be very hard to follow.

    It all depends upon how Expedia issued the credit and if it explained the fare rules to OP during the first cancellation. From their own admission, they didn’t. Fare rules apply to Expedia’s transactions too, not just OP. If Expedia went ahead without confirming the fare rules as a travel agent, and issued a credit, it should follow up on its promise. Expedia should have explained the limitations to OP that the credit could not be used elsewhere. If credit issued by Expedia wasn’t worth the specified value, or if it wasn’t worth at all since airlines merged, Expedia should have the responsibility to make it right.

    Expedia would have been well within its rights to adhere to the airline’s rules had it issued a credit for only that particular route within a specified time frame at the very first interaction.

    From what Chris has written, Expedia had issued $1150 ticket credit and he verified it. Beyond that, one can cast doubt upon practically anything and say it doesn’t make sense. I will leave it at that.

  • Michael__K

    I don’t think the OP disputes that the fare rules could not be used for another route/flight. Her complaint is about the disclosure:

    I called Expedia back and it admitted the representative who helped me cancel the ticket made a mistake by not informing me of the fare rules.

    And FYI, she didn’t get the “same answer” from United. Expedia punted because of the merger:

    I called Expedia a few months later to use my voucher, but was told they couldn’t book the flight because of the merger with United. They asked me to call United directly.

  • TonyA_says

    What you do not seem to understand is Expedia seems to be a victim here (as much as I do not want to defend them).

    IMO, the OP wanted to voluntarily re-route AFTER DEPARTURE.
    Most fare rules do not allow that.
    So the OP found a way to trick the system by using an advocate, IMO.

    You see most of us have to live by the Fare Rules.
    But those who come here and whine are sometimes exempted.
    Luckily some of us truly understand how airline ticket works.
    And while it might be inelegant and look unfair, most of us live by the rules.
    Those rules were agreed to when the OP bought a ticket.
    All the rest of the conversation between the OP and Expedia are hearsay and cannot change the airline rules.

  • Owassonian

    Keeping the discussion about the topic and not each other personally, the agent (Expedia) failed to provide correct information to OP at the initial cancellation and it admitted to it. It was United who explained the fare rules to OP at a later date.

    If OP had known that the credit was only usable for a particular flight route, there was a possibility the credit would have been used for the return flight. I strongly doubt anyone would intentionally keep an airline credit unused, knowing that they can not use it anywhere else, and pay for another ticket elsewhere, albeit less costly.

    If Expedia promised a credit that was not limited to a specific route, it was only advocating for itself to keep its promise to the OP, while dealing with United.

  • TonyA_says

    These look like 2 different events.
    (1) The cancellation of booking (flights) – because the OP did not want to return home. Easy just cancel flights. Residual Value irrelevant is it is a non-refundable ticket.

    (2) Voluntary re-routing – the OP wanted to use the VALUE of the unused coupons for another flight (not permitted by fare rules).

    Even if you call an outsourced agent in Asia who does not know anything, that does NOT change the Terms and Conditions of the ticket. The OP cannot still use the remaining coupon to go anywhere. The OP can only change the date and time of return.

    The OP did not even have to call Expedia just to get a different return date, United could do that for the OP easier. But as you can see that was not the real intention of the OP. Plans changed and s/he wanted to go somewhere else on that ticket.

    The merger issue is a red herring. This is really all about fare rules.

  • TonyA_says

    So what? Expedia cannot change the fare rules of the airline. They are online for everyone to read. That is if you care to read them.
    I believe so much of this is plain hearsay and Expedia just wanted to stop it from getting nastier. But isn’t there a saying 2 wrongs don’t make (a) right.

  • Michael__K

    The terms and conditions don’t change, absolutely true. But if her OTA *misled* her about the terms, and she may have used the ticket within the terms otherwise, then she has a legitimate complaint with her OTA (IMO).

    You say United could have changed her return date easier than Expedia, but the opposite was probably true around the time of the merger.

    If this case was a she said/they said and Expedia denied that it made any disclosure mistakes, then most everyone here would be siding with Expedia and bashing the OP. The fact that Expedia admits it made a mistake — and even offered a $400 credit on it’s own without any intervention from Chris — is pretty convincing evidence to me that Expedia really made a mistake in its protocols. And kudos to them for admitting it.

  • TonyA_says

    I still can’t figure out what’s wrong with the calls?

    Call #1: I called Expedia and requested a cancellation.
    Expedia issued a cancellation, saying it would be in the form of an airline credit that would last a year.

    Call #2: I called Expedia a few months later to use my voucher, but was told they couldn’t book the flight because of the merger with United. They asked me to call United directly.

    Call #3: I called United and they informed me that fare rule mentions that I can only book the same return flight and nothing else.

    Fact #1: Your ticket holds its value for a year after issue. So nothing drastically wrong with Call #1.

    Note she mentions a voucher or credit but cannot tell us the amount. Bad sign that this is BS.

    Fact #2: After 03MAR12 CO did not issue tickets anymore. Therefore UA had to reissue the tickets. What the OP did not tell us is she wanted to re-route. The rules did not allow that. So the agent tells her to call airline directly. Nothing wrong with that. So Call #2 is normal.

    Fact #3: United does not allow voluntary re-route after departure except date changes. Call #3 is normal.

    So where is the error? Why should the agent tell you anything about voluntary re-routing during call #1 when all you asked for was to cancel the flights because you have a family emergency?The OP did not tell the agent during call #1 she wanted to use the ticket for another destination. During the typical cancellation call, the agent simply tells the pax to call back when she has definite dates to return so a ticket can be issued.

    Call #4: I called Expedia back and it admitted the representative who helped me cancel the ticket made a mistake by not informing me of the fare rules. Expedia offered to a $400 credit.

    IMO Pretty stupid of Expedia to admit they made a mistake that they never did. Did the OP even ask the agent in call #1 what the re-route rules where. I doubt it. If she did she would have told us.

    Finally CE says Expedia issued a refund for the remaining value of your flight credit. OK what is the remaining value of her flight credit.
    Who computed it, How? Why?
    Very hazy. This really sounds like Expedia just wanted to get out of the problem.

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    it would be a lot easier if all tickets were non-refundable & non-creditable.
    Take out travel insurance & stop whinging.
    By the way, stupid European rules with compensation just lead to higher fares.
    Everyone wants Ryanair type fares, but everyone whinges when someone needs to be changed.
    Airlines are a business not a charity.
    If they have an empty seat (who cares what your reason is) that waste can never ever be regained.

  • Michael__K

    You’ve accused the OP of not telling us she wanted to re-route when she makes it completely clear she wanted a different route (“I called United and they informed me that fare rule mentions that I can only book the same return flight and nothing else.“)

    You’ve asserted out of thin air that “the OP did not tell the agent during call #1 she wanted to use the ticket for another destination.” Pure speculation. (If it was me, I would probably have verified whether the ticket could be used towards any Continental flight and I would have asked for whatever I was told to be notated, or preferably, emailed to me, to leave a trail).

    You’ve asserted out of thin air that even though Expedia admitted making a mistake, and offered the OP $400 from it’s own pockets, and admitted the mistake again to Chris, that it really didn’t make a mistake.

    If you insert and change whatever details suit you, you can reach whatever conclusion suits you.

  • TonyA_says

    Yes I challenge the OP to come here and prove me wrong.
    And that is because I do not completely believe the OP.
    Too many holes in her story.
    And you know what came out from thin air – the $1150 figure.
    Where the heck did that come from?.

    In my experience people who cancel because of an emergency will cancel NO MATTER if they lose the full residual value of the ticket. I don’t believe this was even a consideration if there was truly a medical emergency.
    Note NO MENTION of any change or cancellation fee at all in the article.
    Looks BS to me. A complete misunderstanding of the penalty provision of the ticket or SELECTIVE MEMORY.

  • bodega3

    Sound to me like the voucher was an apology from Expedia, so it is an inhouse voucher.

  • Michael__K

    What remaining amount did Expedia refund? You seriously think they pulled a random number out of thin air? Who said she wouldn’t have cancelled regardless of the residual value? What do change fees have to do with her complaint? Either she paid changed fees or they were waived. Doesn’t change the topic of her complaint either way.

    You can always make stuff up — and even go so far as to assume that Expedia is lying to Chris to spite itself and protect the OP — to draw whatever conclusion tickles your fancy.

  • bodega3

    The OP is very misinformed on this:

    Expedia offered to a $400 credit, but the ticket credit I had was worth $1,150

    Yes, she had credit to use within one year of time of original ticket issue for the exact same routing the original return was for. She seems to be confusing the use of an unused fare that was canceled prior to the original outbound flight to one that need to be canceled once a trip has commenced. Two very different situations that is addressed in the fare rules, which I am unclear to why she didn’t have them. Since I don’t book online or by phone with OTA, what do they sent to you either by mail or by email regarding your airline ticket? There must be reference to the rules somewhere.
    I know how riveting fare rules can be and they can be pages long, but it is the traveler’s responsibility to read them.

  • bodega3

    No, you are misreading the OP’s comment. The only credit she had was with the carrier, not with Expedia. Expedia issued an in house voucher, which isn’t the same as a ticket credit. If I issued a ticket for a client and they cancel their flight, that portion of their ticket remains open with the carrier, not with me. I might be able access that ticket number but that money isn’t in our account, it is with the carrier.

  • bodega3

    Expedia can’t issue a credit on a nonrefundable ticket that has been traveled on. That is in the hands of the carrier, so the $1150 was held by the carrier. Expedia MUST adhere to the airline’s rules. Expedia can’t just make up rules to suit them when is comes to issuing airline tickets.

  • bodega3

    This has nothing to do with a commission, so not sure why this was even mentioned.
    While I get the comment about inexperienced travelers, this is a good example of why they shouldn’t be handling their own reservations with an OTA. International fare rules are very different than domestic fare rules and as such, knowing what you can and can’t do is the purchasers responsibility. You rarely had these problems when travelers had two options ;purchase directly from the carrier or use an IATA ticketing agent. Online purchases have really been a headache for many.

  • bodega3

    Last time I checked, US carriers required rebooking at the time of cancellation of your return flights, plus a change fee. I just did this for several clients and they also had change fees by the airline. Expedia screwed up big time on this!

  • sense

    Not everyone is SAVVY like you dude….! Have empathy….not hatred

  • TonyA_says

    Grow a brain, dude. This is a scam.

  • TonyA_says

    That 1150 figure is a scam. Look at the UA fares from BUF to MAA and then price a RT ticket around 2200. Then price the same fare basis only OW.
    Note that if you only travel the first leg of the journey using the same booking codes, there is negative residual value because international oneway fares are extremely expensive. The OP pulled the 1150 out of thin air and suckered an advocate and plenty of people along the way. Ordinary and honest people won’t do this.
    This is one of the worst artIcles, I have read here.

  • TonyA_says

    Do you even understand or read fare rules and tariffs?

  • Michael__K

    Does Expedia understand how to read fare rules and tariffs?

  • bodega3

    Why would UA be responsible? The OP cancelled, not the carrier. The OTA provided the incorrect information, not the carrier. The carrier provided the OP with the rules of the fare for the ticket. I don’t see anything that UA would be found responsible for.

  • bodega3

    You can’t change the routing, which it appears that the OP was trying to do with what was assumed to be reusable credit. That isn’t how it works and what the OP found out when he/she called the carrier. I don’t book with any OTA, but I can’t believe that rules of the fare for the ticket purchased are not provided by email, fax or by snail mail.

  • bodega3

    The OP doesn’t mention how the initial ticket was purchased, by phone or online. If online, then the OP has to take responsibility for understanding what is being purchased BEFORE paying for it. Most people don’t bother to read the rules or even read them even if they are printed out and handed to them. They don’t care until they need to made an adjustment to the original reservation.
    As for checking all your sources online, it is important to point out to you that you are given all the information regarding flights and fare, just what those online companies wish to show you. They are not regulated. Since you are acting as a booking agent for your company, you need to know this.

  • BJCook

    Exactly! Yet the poll still says 47% believe it is UAs mess.

  • Michael__K

    Expedia admitted messing up the disclosure.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    It’s sad that a flyer has to approach a situation like this knowing the carrier would rather keep his money than assist with the problem. I don’t know how airline people can look at themselves in the mirror every morning as they continue to gouge their customers. I’m a big fan of paying for the services that you use, that’s what passengers said they wanted. But the policy should not include abuse. On the other hand, I don’t think the airlines care at all if they keep you as a customer, so extracting every cent possible to add to their bottom line makes sense for them. The new deal for America: don’t worry if it’s the right thing to do, just do whatever works for YOU.

  • EdB


  • Grant Ritchie

    Thanks, Ed.

  • nd

    We would read the rules if 1. we could find them before we book and 2. if they were understandable.