It takes Joanna Pierce hours to fix a duplicate reservation with Travelocity, but she’s still left with a $75 cancellation fee. Who should have to pay it?
Q: Earlier this year, I booked a round-trip flight on American Airlines from Minneapolis to Shannon, Ireland, for May using Travelocity.com.
The next day, Travelocity sent me a message that American Airlines had increased the price. I accepted the increase, wanting to keep the schedule I had.
All was well until I received my credit card bill, on which I discovered that Travelocity had charged me for both the original reservation that it had modified the next day as well as the final one.
I spent the better part of a working day on the phone with Travelocity’s customer-service department, talking to several people, including a supervisor. I was put on hold for lengthy periods. Finally, the supervisor informed me that Travelocity would refund the amount of the first reservation minus $75, which the airline required for a “canceled” trip. I called American and was informed that the error was with Travelocity. I want my $75 back. Can you help? – Joanna Pierce, Aitkin, Minn.
A: Once you book your airline ticket, the price shouldn’t go up or down. A deal’s a deal, as they say.
Something appears to have gone terribly wrong between you, your online travel agency and the airline. It is a great mystery. If you scroll down to the end of this story, you’ll see that even Travelocity agrees. No one knows what happened.
But here’s one thing we all can agree on: You didn’t make two reservations, and you shouldn’t have to eat the $75 cancellation fee.
It’s not clear what the cancellation fee is for or who charged it. Does it cost an airline $75 to cancel a ticket? Did the airline or travel agent somehow incur $75 in expenses by refunding one of your erroneously booked tickets? I don’t think so. It’s a junk fee. Travel companies charge these fees because they can and because you have no choice but to pay. American insists it wouldn’t have charged you the fee, yet you had a bill.
You could have appealed this to a Travelocity executive (Travelocity is owned by Expedia, and I list the contacts on my advocacy site: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia. You also could have contacted one of American’s executives: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/american.
Travelocity was wrong to make you spend hours resolving this double-booking. Common sense should tell the company that this was a mistake. Neither American nor Travelocity did anything to deserve the money. The fee is morally wrong.
My advocacy team contacted Travelocity on your behalf. The company acknowledged that this was a duplicate booking “that sort of confused things a bit.”
“While we don’t know for sure the root cause yet, we are going to refund the customer her $75,” a representative said.
Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.