Orbitz Will Not Give Credit Due to Unexpected Adoption

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Apr 18, 2017
My husband and I planned a trip to visit friends in China this summer. We have also been trying to adopt for the last 2 years. Out of no where, we were matched with a baby 2 weeks ago! He is in the NICU and will be there until the middle of June, right around the time we were planning to leave for our trip.

We called United and one customer service representative said that it would not be a problem to receive a credit for other flights and we would not have to pay a fee. She informed my husband that it would have to be done through Orbitz. After calling Orbitz, we could get a credit for domestic flights but would have to pay a $300 change fee for each person each time we used the credit! Or, we could re-book the China flights for $300 per person. There is no guarantee that the baby will be healthy enough to travel one year from today. Also, because the adoption will not be finalized until one year after he comes home we cannot get a passport for the baby.

Is there anyway to have the cost of plane flights as a credit for extenuating circumstances?

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Dec 27, 2014
New York
Congratulations on your new baby! I am sure you must be thrilled and not too happy having to deal with this issue.

If you had booked directly with the airline you probably would have a better chance at this but because you booked through Orbitz, you have to go through Orbitz as they told you.

Also,whoever you spoke to at United gave you mis-information. There is no "free" changing of the flights - there is a $300 pp cancellation/rebooking fee for non refundable tickets - what Orbitz is telling you is true. They will give you a credit to use within 1 year from the date you BOUGHT the ticket (not a year from today) but there are always change fees from the airline. United is $300 pp. I am assuming you bought non-refundable tickets.

You can try using our company contacts and you have to write to Orbitz and request that they contact United for you and see if they will make an exception for the rebooking/cancellation fee. Start at customer service, give them a week to reply. If they don't or say no, write to the first executive shown. Wait a week and if you have to, move up through the executives weekly until you get all the way through them.

There is no guarantee that they will say yes but it doesn't hurt to ask by citing their unplanned event policy.

Here is the policy from their website:
If you are canceling more than 24 hours after you booked your flight -

In all other cases, a refund may be requested for any fare that allows refunds. Depending on the rules of the fare purchased, a cancellation fee may apply. Most fares are nonrefundable, and are not eligible for voluntary refunds. However, the value of your ticket may be eligible to be applied toward the price of a new ticket for a fee. Tickets are valid one year from the date of ticket issuance.

The refund amount you will receive depends on several variables. For example, tickets that are partially traveled will be calculated at a prorated amount based on the rules of the ticket purchased and segments flown. Fees and surcharges collected in conjunction with the ticket will only be refunded if applicable.

They also waive fees for unplanned events but a new baby isn't one of them but an illness of a child might be.

This unplanned event policy applies in the following cases:

  • Death of the traveler, traveling companion or immediate family member
  • Travelers in the reservation actively on jury duty during the dates of planned travel
  • Certain illness situations
This is what they say so the baby being ill might be a way for you to get them to waive it.
Illness situations:
Change fee refunds require a letter (on letterhead) from a licensed physician confirming that travel was not recommended due to the customer's illness. Ticket refunds require a letter (on letterhead) from a licensed physician confirming that travel was not recommended within the validity of the ticket (one year of ticket’s issued date) due to illness. If the request is due to the illness of an immediate family member, the request must contain the family member’s name and relationship to you.

You will need a letter from the childs doctor, which will be extremely helpful for making your case.

Let us know how you make out - if your requests go unanswered we will give you the next steps to take.