Ifti Qadir’s case against the Royal San Marco & Suites Hotel and Orbitz seemed like a slam-dunk when it crossed my desk recently. He’d paid $1,307 for two rooms, for a total of three nights.
“When we arrived at the hotel, we were told they don’t have any room available for us,” he says.
Qadir contacted Orbitz, the website through which he booked the rooms, and a representative told him to book another hotel and promised him a refund within five days, he says. But the money never came.
“Finally, we were told that it is not possible, because Orbitz had already paid the hotel,” he says.
Diane Austin’s problem isn’t that unusual, which is why I’ve decided to write something about it. In April, she booked a $730 roundtrip ticket in April through Orbitz on American Airlines to fly to Puerto Vallarta.
The purpose of her visit? To volunteer in a school in Tepic, Mexico, for two weeks. In order to cover her fare, Austin’s 80-year-old father used money from her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother’s bank account. After all, it was for a good cause.
In this year’s best online travel agency category, it was yet another close vote. Travelocity and Kayak were tied until almost the last minute. But then Travelocity pulled ahead with just seconds left in the voting — almost a photo finish.
Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline round out the list, followed by Hotwire.
I didn’t distinguish between so-called “opaque” sites like Priceline and Hotwire and the “full-service” agencies. The list is a useful guide for anyone considering making a travel purchase online.