OTA Booking Airline Cancelled Half of Flight - Next Steps?

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Jun 21, 2020
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I booked a round-trip to Italy from the United States with my spouse on July 3, returning on July 15, through Travelocity/Expedia.

SWISS airline cancelled our outbound flight to Italy due to low availability with no options to rebook. From Travelocity: Based on your airline’s policy for cancellations, you will receive either a refund or flight credit, so keep an eye out for another email with all the details.

Based on steps I am reading from this website, I will attempt to confirm directly with SWISS that the airline has cancelled the flight and I am entitled to a refund on that portion of my flight, so I can use proper wording from DOT guidance to get our refund issued by Travelocity.

Where I need some help is on handling the return flight. We now have a currently non-cancelled flight back to the United States from Italy on July 15, but absolutely no way to fly there (not that we would with COVID concerns).

Do I wait until closer to the return flight to see if the airline cancels the flight and repeat this process? What happens if the airline does not cancel the flight? My guess is we would be eating half of the flight cost or squabble about vouchers for a later date?

Thank you all in advance for your help.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Were your tickets round trip/on one PNR? It sounds like you purchased two sets of tickets: one to get to Italy and one to get home. If that is the case, you will need to wait to see if the airline cancels the return flight otherwise you are out of luck. If you bought round trip tickets then your return is automatically cancelled and you should be receiving a refund for the full cost of the tickets.

If you have to cancel the return flight because it is a separate ticket then you are due a credit for future use but most likely will need to be used one year from the date of purchase.

Unfortunately, you need to work directly with Expedia as they are your "agent" which I use loosely as you will find they are poor in advocating for their customers!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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Agree with Patina, dealing with an online service instead of the airline requires a great deal of fortitude ... their customer service is nearly non-existent. I'm assuming you booked two one-way tix and you'll need to monitor that return flight carefully. For the refund on the outbound, the wheels grind very slowly, you may see a refund in 90 days or so. Good luck, and please keep us posted.
 
Jun 21, 2020
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First, thank you for the wonderful and timely response Patina.

Were your tickets round trip/on one PNR?
I’m new to this, so not sure what PNR means, but our destination and departure airport from Italy were from two different airports, but on the same itinerary.

Based on your guidance, I think I will need to wait until closer to the return flight and hope they cancel the return flights.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
First, thank you for the wonderful and timely response Patina.



I’m new to this, so not sure what PNR means, but our destination and departure airport from Italy were from two different airports, but on the same itinerary.

Based on your guidance, I think I will need to wait until closer to the return flight and hope they cancel the return flights.
Do you have the same confirmation number for all flights?
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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PNR = passenger name record. It basically means your flights are all linked so that if one is delayed or cancelled, the airline knows this.

For instance, if you had a flight connecting through a city and your first flight is delayed, the airline will re-book you if you miss your connection. If the flights aren’t linked then the airline doesn’t recognize the other flight.
 
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Jul 13, 2016
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The reason Neil asked if the flights had the same PNR number is important. Sometimes, OTAs sell two one way tickets as instead of a round trip ticket. If the outgoing flight and the return flight are linked in a true round trip, when the outbound flight is canceled, the airline automatically cancels the return flight. But if you have 2 one way tickets, the flights are not linked and the airline will not cancel the return flight.
 
Jun 21, 2020
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PNR = passenger name record. It basically means your flights are all linked so that if one is delayed or cancelled, the airline knows this.

For instance, if you had a flight connecting through a city and your first flight is delayed, the airline will re-book you if you miss your connection. If the flights aren’t linked then the airline doesn’t recognize the other flight.
The reason Neil asked if the flights had the same PNR number is important. Sometimes, OTAs sell two one way tickets as instead of a round trip ticket. If the outgoing flight and the return flight are linked in a true round trip, when the outbound flight is canceled, the airline automatically cancels the return flight. But if you have 2 one way tickets, the flights are not linked and the airline will not cancel the return flight.
In our Travelocity Flight Overview, we have one Travelocity Itinerary number and one SWISS Air six-digit confirmation number.
  1. Departure: BOS > ZRH > VCE (entire flight cancelled, not showing under confirmation number on SWISS Air)
  2. Return: MXP > ZRH > BOS (flight still active in SWISS Air under same confirmation number)
My hunch is that that MXP > ZRH leg of the return flight will not be cancelled since it appears to be a local commuter flight and will likely have enough passengers to fly.

If I understand you correctly, @Globetrottingal, I should expect that Travelocity should cancel our return flight since the entire flight is confirmed under one SWISS booking number. OTA could be hoping as much as we are that all portions of the return flight get cancelled and they have an easier time working with SWISS for a refund.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
This is odd. Are you sure both confirmation numbers for both Swiss Air flights are the same? If so, you need to ask Expedia why the second flight wasn’t automatically canceled.

Do not cancel the second flight- you might face cancellation penalties. The airline has to cancel it for you to receive a refund.
 
Jun 21, 2020
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Thank you @Neil Maley. I will see if I can find the original email confirmations to validate your question. I may have had two separate numbers, however, upon cancellation of the departing flight it may have been removed from Travelocity’s itinerary page along with the flight info. I will check with the spousal unit!
 
Jun 21, 2020
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Are you sure both confirmation numbers for both Swiss Air flights are the same? If so, you need to ask Expedia why the second flight wasn’t automatically canceled.
I can confirm that our original Travelocity confirmation email from February has one and only one unique SWISS Air confirmation number for the entire trip.

Any tips for discussing the non-cancellation of the second flight with Expedia? Thanks again @Neil Maley.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,405
23,376
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I can confirm that our original Travelocity confirmation email from February has one and only one unique SWISS Air confirmation number for the entire trip.

Any tips for discussing the non-cancellation of the second flight with Expedia? Thanks again @Neil Maley.
If it was all in one ticket PNR (use that language when you contact them) ask then why the return flight wasn’t canceled as well as the outgoing.
 
Jun 21, 2020
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I wanted to thank everyone on this thread for assisting me in getting a full refund on our flight expenses!

The support call went two levels deep as I was transferred to a supervisor who could see more details about my reservation and had the authority to do adjustments. First level support picked up within two minutes, but it took about 45 minutes of waiting to reach the supervisor.

I was asked by first-level support if I wanted to rebook/cancel my flight. Mentioning PNR and being explicitly clear that I wanted Travelocity to provide me with options and a path to refund my flights instead of personally responding with a decision of my own worked for me. Not sure if the second part mattered, but I did not want to be on a recorded call and liable for what I said.

Before hanging up with the supervisor I had an email from Travelocity in my inbox that stating we would be getting a full refund with the exact amount listed and ETA to refund.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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Very happy with your success! You've put into words something I've always done but not really realized it. "Figure out what's going on before you call". Review the details, look up the alternatives and have your options rated best to worst. Customer Service phone agents are hammered by clueless callers who may or may not understand what their options are. They haven't given a thought to what they actually want. Day in and day out, I'm sure the agents sometimes think it will never end. You come along knowing what you want, what's available ... and knowing the lingo. Well done!
 
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Jun 21, 2020
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Very happy with your success! You've put into words something I've always done but not really realized it. "Figure out what's going on before you call". Review the details, look up the alternatives and have your options rated best to worst. Customer Service phone agents are hammered by clueless callers who may or may not understand what their options are. They haven't given a thought to what they actually want. Day in and day out, I'm sure the agents sometimes think it will never end. You come along knowing what you want, what's available ... and knowing the lingo. Well done!
I am an IT project manager by profession, @jsn55, but something happens to my brain when I am away from work where it does not function accordingly. I spend plenty of hours researching, but if a contractor or service professional comes to our home, I get caught up in their pace and work is starting before I realize what is going on.

By stroke of genius (pure luck) I was searching the personal finance forum on Reddit and Elliot Advocacy was mentioned as a place to go for help. Before that, I only loosely knew about DOT (in the USA) guidance for COVID-19 travel and canceling/disputing charges through the bank/credit card companies. I am very glad I educated myself because you can be legally liable for non-payment if you break an agreement with an OTA.

You are absolutely correct that it is the job of countless people to sit on the phone and deal with potentially negative interactions all day with folks who don't know their options or how to ask for what they want. In my two days on this thread I was educated on my position and options (PNR) and able to use that terminology to, probably, fast-track through first-call support and speak with a supervisor. I also somehow managed to keep my head and not verbally commit to a decision such as, "I want to rebook," or, "I want to cancel my flight," but instead let Travelocity provide that option to me by using polite but confident language.

I passed this knowledge onto our friends who were in the same position as us and it worked for them as well. I can't thank everyone enough!