I have a confession to make: A few months ago, I made a BIG mistake when I purchased airfare for an upcoming trip that could have cost me $1,500.
Do you want to keep from making the same mistake? Then read on.
Here’s what happened…
My younger brother recently moved to Croatia where he’ll be living for the next year or so. Since it’s been on my bucket list for some time, I was very excited about his new locale.
After chatting with him to determine the best time for me to visit him, I went online and started looking for plane tickets.
Now, if you’ve ever searched for airfare, you know how time-consuming it can be. I went online many, MANY times, set airfare alerts, and monitored the prices. It was stressful but I was determined.
After what seemed like forever, I found the unicorn I was looking for: an affordable roundtrip ticket from Washington, DC to Split, Croatia, with the lowest travel time I could find and only 1 connection each way.
I got my wallet, took out my credit card, and bought the tickets. I was SO excited!
Then, IT happened.
I got a confirmation email from a company I’d never heard of (eDreams, an online travel agency (OTA)). In my haste to purchase my plane tickets, I didn’t notice the company offering this great deal.
The email said I had 24 hours to cancel my purchase. I thought about it, then said to myself, “Oh, well. I’m just happy to have found a good deal and have my tickets purchased.” I didn’t cancel.
A month or so later, I got the 1st email from eDreams with the subject line: “Your eDreams booking has been changed.” Lufthansa, the airline I would be flying, canceled my flight from Frankfurt to Split. Crap.
Then, 5 days after that, I got another email just like it telling me that Lufthansa canceled my flight from Split to Frankfurt on the trip home. What was going on??
AND SO, THE SAGA BEGAN…
Well, 5 days came and went with no call, no email…nothing.
Not happy about the turn of events, I made call #3 to Lufthansa. I gave the customer service rep my reservation information so he could look up my flight plans and told him that eDreams told me I was no eligible for a refund. The Lufthansa rep said that the eDreams rep was incorrect and that I should absolutely get a full refund since the cancellations weren’t my fault; however, since I didn’t purchase my tickets through them, eDreams would have to refund me.
Armed with that new information, I made call #4 to eDreams and relayed the information from Lufthansa. The gist of the conversation was that I was told AGAIN I would get no refund or credit. Sorry (not sorry). So I asked to the rep if I could speak to a supervisor. His response: “Ma’am, they can’t do anything for you that I can’t” (which you and I know is total B.S.) and wouldn’t transfer me or give me the number of someone higher up. After relaying my disgust with their lack of customer service, return calls, etc., I hung up pretty mad. ?
It was obvious that I was going to get nowhere with eDreams, so I decided not to waste any more time.
My next call (call #5) was to my credit card company to file a dispute for the charges. They took my information and within 24 hours, issued a temporary refund to my credit card for the amount being disputed. Then, I waited.
After a few weeks passed, I called my credit card company to check on the status of my dispute. I was informed that eDreams had 90 days to respond to the dispute. I put a reminder in my phone for when the 90 day period would be over and then I waited some more.
I’m happy to report that after 90 long days, my dispute was finally approved and the temporary refund became permanent. Yippee!
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
When booking plane tickets, make sure you don’t just go for the cheapest tickets. Do your due diligence.
Some OTA’s like eDreams are pretty shady and give the customer little or no recourse for getting their money back. I was fortunate; others haven’t been so lucky. I shared this story in a Facebook travel group I’m active in and I heard a lot of other horror stories similar to mine…or worse.
Now, full disclosure: I have purchased airline tickets through Travelocity, Expedia, etc. in the past and had no trouble with them, but a huge number of other OTA’s have popped up over the years so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
MY ADVICE TO YOU
- Set up flight alerts on places like Google Flights (it’s free), Hopper, OTAs like Travelocity, and/or airline websites.
- If you decide to search on a site like Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, etc., be sure to check off “Refundable” and “Flexible Change Policies: No Change Fees” under the search options.
- Once you find the flight(s) that meet your criteria for price, flight time, and the number of stops, make sure you know what airline or 3rd party OTA is offering the flight(s).
- Before purchasing your ticket(s), be sure you carefully READ and UNDERSTAND the airline’s or 3rd-party OTA’s Policies and/or Terms and Conditions for flights canceled by no fault of your own, refunds, change fees, disputes, etc.
- Use travel search engines to SEARCH for your tickets, but book your tickets directly through the airline(s).
- Pay for your flights with a credit card, not a debit card. By using a credit card, you will be able to file a dispute like I did, if necessary. If you use a debit card and need to dispute the charge(s), it can be a lot more difficult.
- If you have any conversations related to your air travel, be sure to take detailed notes about your conversations including the date and time, the name of the airline or OTA, the name of the person you spoke to, and what was discussed. This information will come in handy if you DO have to file a dispute.
- If you don’t want to have to worry about any of this, enlist the help of a travel agent.
Learn from my mistakes. Don’t end up as a cautionary tale like me.
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