Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

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HHCanuck
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Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by HHCanuck » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:46 pm

How a perfect Christmas family vacation gets spoiled.

I used Expedia.co.th to book flights and hotel for my family of 5 to visit Canada last December for Christmas. The flights were China Easter Airlines and Air Canada. Everything was fine on the inbound journey to Canada except the usual flight delays that happen with every carrier.

After a great visit with family and friends we started our journey home. The first leg of the journey was the flight from Calgary to Vancouver so far all was well ( I must say it was awesome having high speed internet on the Air Canada flight).

When we arrived in Vancouver we went to China Eastern Airlines counter to get boarding passes and they said that we have a booking but there is something wrong with the code from Expedia. So I call Expedia spending nearly 2 hours with their help desk (lucky to have free wifi in the airport and Line Out). In the end the Expedia agent blames China Eastern Airlines and the airline rep blames Expedia.

So my family of 5 with young children are stuck in the airport and our flight leaves without us. The Expedia agent tells us to buy a ticket home and they will sort it out and refund the cost (not that I believed that would happen but I had no choice anyways) so that is what I did. There were no more available flights until the next day in the end I was forced to pay over $4000 US to bring my family home after spending almost 200000 Baht for tickets through Expedia.

I don't care who's fault it was I blame Expedia. I booked my flights through them if there was a problem they should have bought us tickets home then sorted the code issues with China Eastern. Clearly we had tickets that were paid for and confirmed by Expedia. It even say on their confirmation e-mail that it is not necessary to confirm flights with the airline.

Why I am sharing this story now? Well it has been over 4 months with numerous e-mails to Expedia and as expected I'm getting the normal BS delay tactics.I'm sure I will never see my money returned.

Lesson learned no more online booking agents for for flights from now I will try and book directly through the airlines even if it is less convenient and costs a bit more.

On a side note I had already booked a hotel in Buriram through Expedia before my trip to Canada for the WSBK races last March. Guess what the hotel said we had no booking it was a fight to get our room but finally the hotel conceded and gave us our room.

No more Expedia for me!

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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by migrant » Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:40 pm

Sorry to hear!!

I guess I'm old fashioned, when I book online I always call the airlines after to ensure all is smooth. My distrustful nature I suppose. Don't know if that would have helped in your situation.
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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by aragon » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:28 pm

I used Exedia.com last year to book a round trip business class flight from the Middle East to London, that was US$2.5K cheaper with Expedia than direct with Emirates. I had a glitsch during the payment process, when the website said that the payment didn't go through, but the sms from my bank, which I get with all debit and CC transactions, said that it had gone through.

I had to call Expedia in the States and spend the best part of a couple of hours going through the whole process with an agent (thank God for Skype), the upshot of which was that they maintained that the payment hadn't been processed and I had to make payment with a different card.

I contacted my bank's call center and went through the same rigmaroll with them and they finally confirmed that the payment had been authorized, hence the sms I received, but it had not been processed and paid and if the payment was not transacted in 10 days, the approval would be cancelled.

Fortunately the payment never was transacted, however it took one hell of a lot of time and effort to sort things out. Having said that, considering the cost saving I would consider doing it all again, however I normally use Expedia to check on what appears to be the best options available and then book direct with the airline using their website, as I don't normally find Expedia to be that much cheaper, though in this case they clearly were.
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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by hhfarang » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:02 pm

I know you said Emirates was different, but our last several trips between Thailand and the U.S. Delta airline's own web site has been the same or less than the several online booking agents I checked so I've booked directly through Delta with no hassle at all, easy to even chose seats during the booking process. So, always check the airline direct booking. You may be surprised.
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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by migrant » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:31 am

I've used travelocity on many occasions and their customer service has been excellent
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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by Big Boy » Tue Apr 12, 2016 9:49 am

In about 30 years of doing the UK/Thailand flight thing, I've only found booking direct with the airline cheaper 4 times i.e. Finnair, Aeroflot, British Airways (need to wash my mouth out) and Kuwait. These were one-off deals, never to be repeated, but I've found booking direct with the airline an exception rather than the rule. Definitely worth checking though.
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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by aragon » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:01 am

hhfarang wrote:I know you said Emirates was different, but our last several trips between Thailand and the U.S. Delta airline's own web site has been the same or less than the several online booking agents I checked....
Indeed I did hhf, however I did also say that I normally end up booking through the airline's own website, as like yourself I've found that the booking agents, on the whole, tend not to be significantly cheaper, if at all. This particular instance was very much the exception, rather than the rule.
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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by aragon » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:06 am

Big Boy wrote:....but I've found booking direct with the airline an exception rather than the rule. Definitely worth checking though.
Interesting how people's experiences differ, mine having been completely the opposite, however I do understand that the UK/Thailand route is quite difficult and deals are hard to come by, so that might explain part of it.
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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by wpcoe » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:47 am

Presuming you paid for the tickets, both the original ones and the replacements, via credit card, have you contacted the card issuer to put a stop payment on the transactions? In my experience, credit card companies are very helpful in this and it puts pressure on the providers to work out a solution. Or, maybe this is just a United States thing?

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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by Dannie Boy » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:56 am

A number of people have commented about their bad experiences of booking flights through an agent and then having a problem, surely enough reason to book direct with the airline to avoid such risk. I must admit that these days I rarely shop around to see if I can save a few bucks and in most instances I book direct with the airline ( Etihad if they serve my route) and get a good price - in fact they quote the following.
"The Etihad Airways Best Price Promise* is our way of guaranteeing that you won’t find a lower price on any third-party website for the same Etihad booking you have paid for on http://www.etihadairways.com. And if you do, we’ll refund you the difference."

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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by aragon » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:18 am

Dannie Boy wrote:"The Etihad Airways Best Price Promise* is our way of guaranteeing that you won’t find a lower price on any third-party website for the same Etihad booking you have paid for on http://www.etihadairways.com. And if you do, we’ll refund you the difference."
I'm flying Etihad to Perth, WA next week, I booked directly with them through their website and the cost was better than that quoted by numerous online booking agents :thumb:

Admittedly it wasn't the cheapest option out there, but then I didn't fancy the cheaper options, which involved rather less reliable airlines going via all points east :tsk:
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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by Homer » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:10 pm

At one time booking agents generally had better prices than the airlines. The airlines responded. If it's been years since you compared prices, wouldn't hurt to do so for your next tickets.

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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by STEVE G » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:14 pm

I think it depends a lot on your circumstances but I've been traveling here every couple of months for the best part of 15 years and I've never had any problems using ebookers. I have a choice of airports in Europe that I can use and to check out every permutation of route and date using all the possible airline websites would be a herculean task compared with using an online agent.

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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by Homer » Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:54 pm

STEVE G wrote: ... would be a herculean task compared with using an online agent.
I didn't think this needed explaining. Use online services to find a flight, then compare their price to purchasing directly from the airline.

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Re: Warning to those using online booking agents for flights.

Post by Ralfredo » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:45 pm

The biggest problem with using a third-party agent is that they are a third-party agent. Normally that's not something you think about, but it can be a big problem when something happens, like missed connections, delayed flights or cancelled flights.

It can be hard to get help from the airline, since you don't have an agreement with them. It can be even harder to get help from your third-party agent that may be located in a totally different time zone, maybe don't have 24/7 phone support or even worse, only online/internet support. It's not that funny to be stuck in an airport in a foreign country, unable to communicate with whom you have purchased the ticket from and with whom you have a contract.

I do recommend booking directly with the airline. I can however understand that people use third-party agents if there's a big difference in price. If the difference is small, i wouldn't consider a third-party agent.

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