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expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Sydney, Australia
8 posts
expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Hi,

My wife booked a flight two months ago to Osaka via Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines (important business trip). Because there is an internal flight involved and you cannot enter Vietnam without a visa, we were going to get a visa - not too expensive. But then we received an email from Expedia that the flight was changed, with the new schedule showing that the flight is now going direct to Hanoi. Great, we thought. No need to get a visa - no internal flight.

Saturday night we are getting from Expedia via email the final itinerary, and in it - look and behold, there it is again, the internal flight inside Vietnam between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi!.

What can you do at 10pm Saturday night when the flight is Monday morning? There is no way of getting visa on arrival in Vietnam itself - and you MUST get such a visa overseas. You cannot fly into Vietnam and get it there.

A very long story short, we spend half a day Saturday on the phone with expedia reps, who could not get in touch with any Vietnam airline offices anywhere in the world. The refused to book us another flight unless we paid the difference - why should we? They said we had to get to Sydney airport earlier on Monday (3.5 hours away from our home - so my wife had to leave home 5am in the morning for that) and talk to Vietnam airlines. In other words, they refused to take the responsibility, and gave us a hell of a Sunday, with all the calls and especially, the uncertainty.

Monday morning my wife was at the airport early to learn that the change of route was not the doing of Vietnam airlines. In fact there is no direct flight from Sydney to Hanoi at all. Expedia made up the itinerary (we have the email to prove it).

My wife just got a visa in Sydney airport but that cost her (all up) $300. Again, Expedia refuse to pay for this visa, so we did.

So finally, the meat:

First, please know that Expedia is not to be trusted when things go wrong - even if it is their fault. Such a behaviour over such a small cost for them is surprising and distressing. Refusal to take responsibility for their mistakes.

Second, what can we do (besides flooding the air-travel forums) to recoup our losses and also punish them for their behaviour. If we let them get away with it, the next customer, and the next, will be treated in the same way. If many of us stand up, only then will they change their attitude.

Thanks and sorry for the long spiel.

Bangkok
Destination Expert
for Bangkok, Air Travel, Thailand
Level Contributor
14,328 posts
74 reviews
1. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Hi,

Here's by first question, which I think is a huge part of your answer...

WHO exactly made the change?

To me, IF the AIRLINE made the change, then Expedia is only reporting to you this fact and as such bears near zero liability for any consequences..

On the other hand, IF it was Expedia that made the change, then I think your case is stronger.

My gut feeling is that the odds-on bet is that it was the carrier who made the changes- but again, I think "who" is as somewhat relevant part of the puzzle..

As a base rule, the passenger always beards last and final responsibility for all "documentation" issues such as a visa.. But if you were booked on a non-visa needed route ; then changed, is want to know who/why was it changed as that, to me, would drive to a degree what responses I might pursue.

Travel Safe,

Edited: 6:58 pm, December 01, 2013
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
9,266 posts
99 reviews
2. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

That's a shame. I never know what to say in response to posts such as yours. I don't understand why people don't look at their itineraries directly on the airline's webpage. Without seeing all the documentation, it's really impossible to offer any advice.

Sydney, Australia
8 posts
3. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Thanks very much for your quick response. I spoke to Vietnam Airline in Sydney and they claim that they only made a change to time of flight (two hours earlier) and not to the route. They claim that a direct flight to Hanoi from Sydney never existed, only via Ho chi Minh. If they are correct (easy to check and I will, thanks) then its the failure of Expedia.

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
8,292 posts
83 reviews
4. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

There's not anything you can do to "punish" them and probably not to get your money back either as you are responsible to know what visas you need. All you can do is email expedia and plead your case.

Without seeing all the emails, no one here can know what transpired. If expedia told you your flight was changed, I'm not sure why you did not verify that on the airline web site. The new itinerary would have had to give you a flight number so it would have been easy for you to see if the direct flight did or did not exist by going to the airline's website or calling them.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
9,266 posts
99 reviews
5. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Timed out to edit previous post. Looking directly at Vietnam Airline's webpage, every flight I looked at (VN 722 connecting to VN 320) had routing of SYD-SGN-KIX. There was no other stop.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
9,266 posts
99 reviews
6. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Timed out again. Looking at both Expedia's page and VN's page I see the problem.

Expedia lists this flight twice; once with the HAN connection and once without. If you choose the first option, you think you have only one connection at SGN. Choose the second and it says:

FLIGHT DETAILS

Mon. Dec. 9 (Arriving Dec. 10) Sydney, N.S.W. to Osaka, Japan

Sydney (SYD) to Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)

Vietnam Airlines 772

Economy / Coach Class ( Y), Airbus A330

Depart 11:35am Arrive 4:20pm

Duration: 8h 45m

Layover: Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) 2h 15m

Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) to Hanoi (HAN)

Vietnam Airlines 772

Economy / Coach Class ( Y), Airbus A330

Depart 6:35pm Arrive 8:35pm

Duration: 2h 0m

Layover: Hanoi (HAN) 3h 55m

Hanoi (HAN) to Osaka (KIX)

Vietnam Airlines 330

Economy / Coach Class ( Y), Airbus A321

Depart 12:30am Arrive 6:40am

Duration: 4h 10m

Total trip time: 21h 5m

I am just guessing here, but I'd say this is not the fault of Expedia. It looks as if when you picked your flight, you did not look at the times correctly. The one missing the connection doesn't make any sense; you were missing many hours from the total flight time.

I am wondering if this is actually the fault of VN; lots of times when you book a direct flight (one with the same flight numbers throughout all the legs as in VN 772), the airline does not clearly list stops along the way.

Unfortunately, it is ultimately the traveler's responsibility to obtain any necessary travel documents. Good luck with this one.

Edited: 7:40 pm, December 01, 2013
Shoalhaven...
Level Contributor
1,815 posts
159 reviews
7. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Sydney - Hanoi is a direct flight (with a brief stop in HoChiMinh). it is the same flight number all the way through.

I have flown this route before on the way to beijing and no visa is needed for this 'stopover' as you are on the same flight number.

However, as a seasoned traveller I ALWAYS attain visas for intermediary points just in case of mechanical failures etc that require a forced overnight stop. Without a visa you must remain in terminal limbo land or worse.

Unfortunately, you fell victim to lack of research and prior planning of our visit overseas. It is imperrative that you search out these possibilities and at a minimum check flights on the airlines website yourself.

At the end of the day the visa issue is your responsibility and this is clearly stated in the Airline/Expedia's Terms and Conditions.

As such, not Expedias fault in this case

Sydney, Australia
8 posts
8. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Thanks everyone for your replies. I should have probably checked, but most people who fly rarely, would use the itinerary supplied to them by their agents. All of you are seasoned fliers, so you may have forgotten.

If we are informed by our agent that there has been a change to the flight and the new itinerary is wrong, then the agent gave us misleading information, in this case with negative consequences (leading us to conclude - correctly - that a Hanoi-only stopover does not require visa).

I have prepared a PDF with 4 flight schedule received from Expedia:

1, Original - through Ho Chi Minh

2, notification of change, with new time of arrival and a route of Sydney - Hanoi - Osaka

3. Confirmation of change - Sydney - Hanoi - Osaka

4. Final schedule (last minute) Sydney - Ho Chi Minh - Hanoi - Osaka

but I am not sure how to post it here. If someone can let me know, I'll do it straight away.

Thanks again

Sydney, Australia
8 posts
9. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

Just one more comment:

Most of you have focused your answers on the question of egal liability, and I thank you for explaining to me that I probably do not have a case in that respect. But this was only part of my question. Even if Expedia are covered by small letters, there is still the question of customer service. Is it a reasonable standard of customer service to allow customers to endure the stress and finally, cost, for a mistake made by Expedia?

thanks

Edited: 10:21 pm, December 01, 2013
Sunshine Coast...
Level Contributor
2,180 posts
26 reviews
10. Re: expedia failed us big time - how do we fight back

lilone the reason seasoned travellers check their itineraries is because they know from experience that stuff ups like this can and do happen. When you book through a third party like Expedia you double the chance for something to happen. That is why most people here recommend booking directly with the airlines. That way there is only one organisation to make mistakes and there is only one organisation to deal with to try and sort things out. When there are 2 companies and you have a problem then it will always be the other company's fault.

It is always the responsibility of the traveller to know about and obtain all necessary visas. Like Douglas I would never consider a transit stop in a country without having a visa. Flights get delayed, cancelled or diverted far too frequently for me to fly somewhere without a visa.

The VOA process for Vietnam is simple - all you needed to do was submit an application with an online agent and pay their fee (which was about $25 a couple of years ago when I last visited Vietnam) and then you can get the VOA issued (the visa costs $45) at your arrival airport if needed. There are numerous post about this on the Vietnam forums.

It's a shame this happened to you. I'm sure it was very frustrating, inconvenient and expensive. But ultimately you could have easily avoided these problems by being proactive and planning correctly.

The important thing is to learn from your mistakes. Next time you travel you will be aware of the need to repeatedly check your itinerary directly on the airline website. You may reconsider booking through a third party. And finally you will know that planning to transit in a country without organising a visa can be a gamble.