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Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

Mystic, Connecticut
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23 posts
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Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

Have used Expedia successfully in the past with no problems but will now ONLY use their site to find and compare schedules and fares, not for booking. Never again for booking. I had booked a RT on USAir through Expedia and my return was cancelled by airline due to weather. So far so good - no one's fault, I understand that and I called Expedia to rebook, which they did for the following day on USAir. Here is the warning- Expedia sent me a confirmation ( it says schedule and itinerary " reserved and confirmed" - their exact words). Fast forward 24 hrs later and I get a message from Expedia that the "airline has cancelled my flights". Checked into it with airline and it turns out they have no record of my new booking ( the reserved and confirmed flights according to Expedia). After several hours - literally- on the phone with Expedia, it turns out that the "confirmation "was that Expedia would, when they had time later, request those flights, not that they were ticketed. Please note I am not looking for criticism of me for not understanding how Expedia works - just trying to help others who might be in the same situation. So when Expedia, 24 hrs after their initial confirmation email to me, now finally gets my reservation to the top of the queue in their ticketing department (separate from their reservation department I was told)-- because of the weather delays, by now those flights are long gone and there is no availability for two days. So Expedia ticketing department cancels my reservation. The airline was not even contacted when I made the initial rebooking with Expedia. Lesson learned - never use Expedia for the actual booking- the person that takes and " confirms" your reservation is not getting you an actual ticket. That could happen up to 24 hrs later because ticketing is a different department. In non-peak times this is typically transparent and has no impact, but during peak times or weather delays it makes a huge difference. Bottom line, if I had called the airline directly when I made the initial weather-related rebooking, my ticket would have been issued within the hour. With Expedia they forward your request in a queue to a separate department and you could lose the flight while Expedia takes several hours or ( or over a day in my case) to contact the airline. I called Expedia to discuss my concerns and was very polite to them, but all I got was 3 different people telling me it was not their fault, nothing they could do, they followed standard Expedia process, no error on their end,etc. And repeatedly putting me on long holds. USAir on the other hand was very helpful, got me on a flight (two days later than my original) and told me Expedia should have contacted the airline within one hour of re-booking in order to issue the tickets, esp during peak weather delays. From now on, I see no advantage of using Expedia for booking, I will be using the airline directly.

Sherbrooke, Canada
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1. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

I always prefer to book with airline directly. Search engines like kayak are good to find the best deal and take you to the airline website.

Edinburgh, United...
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2. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

"After several hours - literally- on the phone with Expedia, it turns out that the "confirmation "was that Expedia would, when they had time later, request those flights, not that they were ticketed."

That's how it works with 3rd party sites in general so you're warning should really be against all of them, not just Expedia.

newcastle upon tyne
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3. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

Great post/example to show why its better to book directly with the airline, just in case there are problems

Mystic, Connecticut
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4. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

I agree with you - but this post was about my experience with Expedia so I will leave it to others who have used other 3 rd party sites to comment on those. I am left with a strong impression that there is no good rationale for booking anywhere other than directly with the provider. I even asked Expedia to explain to me why I should not just book directly with the airline in the future, and they had no response. I was truly interested in what I might be missing, and expected them to at least cite something, anything, even if I didn't agree with them, but essentially they said yup I was right that in this type of situation they were at a disadvantage. For those that have never had problems with Expedia, just be aware that I never did either until this week. For me, any potential small convenience or savings by using them for booking is not ever again going to be worth the potential for hassle.

Nassau, New...
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5. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

Too bad about your experience, kudos to USAir and thanks for the warning.

UK
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6. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

+1 post 5.

UK
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7. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

Thank you for your very comprehensive post, and the words of warning. I agree with the idea of booking direct with the airlines for preference... but what do you do when booking direct will cost you twice as much as booking with Expedia? (I was looking at a Business Class trip for my other half a couple of days ago - 4000 pounds when booked with the airline, just over 2000 through Expedia. And it's not the first time we've found such a huge difference, especially with long-haul Business Class)

Back to your story... putting on my ex airline employee hat there are some things about which I'm a bit puzzled. Not doubting your story at all - but some elements, and some of the explanations/assumptions, don't really make sense.

For example - you are talking about ticketing. Ticketing shouldn't come into it at all. Reservation and ticketing are two separate processes, one is about space on the aircraft, the other one is about the financial side of things. Once your reservation is in the system there are only two ways in which it can disappear from the system (or three, if you include system failure) - (1) if someone proactively cancels it or (2) if it is on a time limit and has not been ticketed before the time limit expires.

When I was working for an airline (in the last century, and before electronic ticketing) reservations would be printed out and put in the "ticketing tray", and then someone else would pick up those print-outs and issue the tickets - and I believe this was the norm pretty much everywhere; the person at the end of the phone would just deal with putting the reservation into the system, and someone else, without the pressure of ringing phones, would pick up the paperwork afterwards.

Also, there should have been no need to issue another ticket for your new reservation, so I don't understand why the ticketing department should have come into the rebooking process at all. It should simply have been a case of someone going into your booking record, changing the reservation and printing out a copy of the new itinerary.

HOWEVER (and this is possibly where the delay occurred) if there were no longer any seats available in your original fare bucket then Expedia would have had to put in a request for a seat, which would have gone to a USAir Res Controller who would have had to approve it manually... and on a day when there are weather delays the Res Controllers will have been extremely busy with loads of requests to approve. A flesh-and-bone travel agent would probably pick up the phone to the airline in such a situation and jump the queue that way, but Expedia probably just put the requests in the system and wait for them to be approved (or otherwise) in due course, without becoming proactive.

Boston
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8. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

One question, once your flight was cancelled why didn't you call USAIR directly to reschedule?

I have booked numerous multi city flights through Expedia and over the years I have had my share of cancelled or delayed flights. Every time I have gone directly through the airline in getting booked onto other flights or rerouted to make my connections. Never, ever dealt with Expedia once the initial flights were booked. Always been able to change seats, check in online etc. in managing my reservations on the airline's website. Once you have the airline confirmation number everything then on is with the airline...

Fortunately, I have never had to change my dates.

Edited: 12:13 pm, January 04, 2014
UK
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9. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

"One question, once your flight was cancelled why didn't you call USAIR directly to reschedule?"

Some airlines won't deal with you direct if your booking was made through an agent. Don't know if this applies to USAir, it certainly applies to my usual carrier, KLM.

"If you booked through a travel agent please press 3"

"Please contact your agent. Goodbye".

Boston
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10. Re: Expedia warning- maybe this will help someone else

"If you booked through a travel agent please press 3,"Please contact your agent. Goodbye".

Sorry I don't buy it. We are not talking about having a change of plans-I have done it with USAIR and the old Continental, just did it with United and Flybe. All because of the airline's flight delays. The airlines responsibility is to get you to your destination.