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Do Not Book on Expedia

My friends and I all had flights to South America booked via Expedia. The flights got cancelled, but they refused to issue a refund even though the airlines said they were willing. This is happening all over the country.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wcvb.com/amp/article/airline-customers-entitled-to-refunds-being-refused-by-expedia/32619861

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/04/03/travel/coronavirus-refund-travel-ota.amp.html

Posted by
2413 posts

Welcome to the Forums. But had you ever checked here, you would have found that for years the standard advice has been to book tickets directly with the airline issuing, and this is exactly the reason why. If there is ever ANY issue (from minor schedule change to re-route to cancelation fo flight), there is no recalcitrant middleman with their own agenda and profit margins (and do you really think Expedia is not making a profit on selling you the ticket) to go through, as since the airline sold the ticket to Expedia and not you, you are Expedia's problem -and not theirs.

Posted by
8 posts

Larry- Thanks for the comment and will do in the future, but that doesn't negate the fact that Expedia is in clear violation of laws set forth by the DOT.

Posted by
2700 posts

I have booked hotels through Expedia but never flights. Expedia normally refunds airfares after receiving their refund from the airline. If you’ve been reading posts on this forum, you’ll have learned that airlines are Lightning fast to take your money but agonizingly slow to give it back. According to the Expedia website -

For flights, most refunds are issued within 8 weeks. Some refunds could take a bit longer, depending on the airline.

How to track your refund
Have a refund coming? We’ve made it easy for you to track when it’ll arrive. All you need to do is go to Trip Help and select your itinerary from the drop-down menu. Voila! You can see where your money is.

I don’t know how long you’ve been waiting for your refund and I hope this helps.

Posted by
2958 posts

I would say in violation of guidance set forth by the DOT. If you haven't seen the most recent DOT enforcement notice of May 12 (in Q&A form), read it and try again with Expedia, referencing the DOT enforcement notice. Just make sure your flight meets the criteria for refund.

https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/2020-05/Refunds-%20Second%20Enforcement%20Notice%20FINAL%20%28May%2012%202020%29.pdf

edit: Corrected date of the enforcement notice from May 5 to May 12.

Posted by
2958 posts

Just out of curiosity...

Airline?
Route?

Posted by
2462 posts

Nick - I ask this without rancor, but what possessed you to book with them in the first place? Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, there were scores of negative online reviews about the perils of using Expedia. The one and only time I used a third party booking service (can't remember which one), the hotel had no record of our reservation on our arrival. Fortunately, the hotel staff found us a better and cheaper room! That was enough for me.

Posted by
10941 posts

The DOT rules pertain to airlines and not some third party booking agents

Exedia is different from other booking agents. You did not buy an airline ticket from an airline via Expedia. You bought an airline ticket from Expedia. Expedia buys the ticket from the airline and then sells it to you. Expedia will get a refund from the airline. How you get it is up to Expedia.

Posted by
8 posts

Thanks for again for all the comments...great advice. I usually do book directly with the airline; however, this time the airline's website did not have English as an option, and I was having a hard time navigating the site. The flight was to Medellin, Colombia departing from Miami on June 14th.

Philip- Thank you. Unfortunately, I spoke with the highest levels of management at Expedia, and they still rejected the claim.

Dave- Yes, I tried that, but they were still unwilling. I even sent them a link to the very site you referenced.

TDW- Yes, they did laugh at me, haha. DOT laws supersede any of Expedia's terms of use, and the law is crystal clear; any flight originating from the United States that is cancelled is entitled to a refund.

Estimated Prophet- The language barrier. The airline's website was only in Spanish.

Posted by
8413 posts

the airline's website did not have English as an option,

What airline serves the US and does not have an English language website?

Posted by
1759 posts

Along with Nick I learned the hard way about booking through a third party.

I check Expedia and so forth and then call the airline or hotel and book directly.

Having said that I had dozens of successful outcomes with Expedia, but then...

Posted by
1179 posts

Oh this sounds like LAN.

They modified one of my flights and refused to reschedule. They kept emailing me in Spanish (although this was a US based booking). They wouldn’t return phone calls.

It took me writing to Elliott.org to get them to respond.

Posted by
29 posts

Ok, in defense of Expedia.... they handled an airline strike perfectly for us.

A few years ago, leaving Venice on flights booked through Expedia, we arrived at the airport only to discover the flight board filled with CANCELLED for all flights. There was a pilot strike on. Lines to all the individual airline companies were very long. My phone then pinged a notice from Expedia. They had already rebooked our flight! We only had to store our luggage and head back to the city for another blissful day of touring before our rescheduled flight that evening, and had no long lines or phone calls to make, and no fees.

I always try to book refundable flights, so I don't need flight insurance.

Posted by
2958 posts

Nick—

Did Expedia give you a reason why they were not giving a refund?

I think the DOT only accepts complaints regarding airlines, but since their Enforcement Notice included info on OTAs, I think I would try calling DOT to see if they have anything to offer you or can point you to another agency that may be of help. The worst they can do is say „no.“

From the DOT complaint page:

You may contact DOT by phone at 202-366-2220.

Posted by
2916 posts

No reason to blame the victim here. All of us are wise in hindsight.

The most reasonable comment here. I never book flights via a third party, but many people must or they wouldn't still be in business.

Posted by
8 posts

Dave- Thanks for the info. When I contacted Expedia, they said it was "non refundable." However, after that I called the airline, and they said it was refundable. In fact the airline just refunded me for another ticket I booked with them directly in August. Expedia appears to be either misinformed or outright lying.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you all for your help! I've been using this forum for years to get advice on traveling, and it's never failed.

Posted by
2958 posts

I never book flights via a third party, but many people must or they
wouldn't still be in business.

OTAs are marketed extremely well and work great... until they don’t. Without COVID-19, Nick probably would have been very pleased with his experience.

Posted by
381 posts

I never book flights via a third party, but many people must or they wouldn't still be in business.

A few years back, I booked a couple of flights through Expedia because they allowed me to book one-way flights for a fraction of the cost of booking a one-way flight or open-jaw itinerary on the major airlines. I was also able to go on one airline and come back on another. It's not always a stupid rookie move.

It seems that airlines have loosened up on one-way flights in the last couple of years, so perhaps this is no longer such a factor..

Posted by
3885 posts

I’ve never had an issue with 3rd party booking for hotels. I booked one flight a few years ago, and it was a headache. Our return flight (that we paid a little extra for to fly through a specific airport) was changed yet when we got to the airport, the original flight was still showing up. Bottom line, we were never told why the flight was changed yet it still flew, and we didn’t get the additional money back. I’ll never again book a flight through a 3rd party site. Sorry you’re having such a hard time getting your money back.

Posted by
89 posts

I’ll go against the general train of thought here. I think it’s the airline, not Expedia. You did not say the name of the airline. I have on more than one occasion have problems with Argentinian airlines. They tell me one thing on the phone and then do something different. If your flights were with a foreign airline the rules will be different.
I have used Expedia and not had a problem, although they are frustrating to connect with a live person.
The DOT rules on refunds apply to US airlines only (I think).

I wanted to add that posters often recommend the Elliott advocacy website. I have written twice to them on EU rule 261/2004 only to be told sorry can’t help you. Both times my claims have been successful when I used an advocacy group based in London instead.

Posted by
8413 posts

1-Just out of curiosity...Airline?
2- You don't say which airline or the type of tickets you brought
3-What airline serves the US and does not have an English language website?
4- You did not say the name of the airline.
5- You said that the website was in Spanish so you used Expedia. Please tell us which airline you used.

There is a curious crowd here

What airline is it?

Posted by
109 posts

We took a river cruise and booked everything including airfare through Expedia. No problems with the trip but 1 month later (yes 1 month) , Expedia called us and said they wanted an extra $2000. When we checked in with Luftansa, the gate agent asked if we wanted to upgrade to 1st class for $900 each. We said yes and vacation continued. Expedia told us we couldn't change anything or there was an extra charge. Expedia threatened and we laughed, they didn't give any more money. Our next river cruise (a year later) had to go through Expedia but we booked our own fare. We noticed in the T&C for Expedia, "Any change for any reason will incur extra charges".

For those wondering, we used a virtual credit card through CitiCards for our purchase. I'm sure Expedia tried to charge the credit card and found there was no money left on the card and then called us.

Posted by
2958 posts

Wendy G --

The May 12 US Dept of Transportation enforcement letter makes reference to "Passengers who purchase a non-refundable ticket on a flights to, within, or from the United States" and mentions both US and "foreign" air carriers, implying that US Dept of Transportation policy applies to any flight that touches the US, regardless of carrier (as long as the plane carries 30 or more passengers [from the April enforcement letter]).

Posted by
2958 posts

tdw (and Frank II) --

The wording from the May 12 enforcement notification:

3. What rights do passengers have if they purchased their airline ticket from an online travel agency?
Ticket agents are required to
make “proper” refunds when service cannot be performed as contracted
on a flight to, within, or from the United States. The Department
interprets the requirement for ticket agents to provide “proper”
refunds to include providing refunds in any instance when the
following conditions are met: (i) an airline cancels or significantly
changes a flight, (ii) an airline acknowledges that a consumer is
entitled to a refund, and (iii) passenger funds are possessed by a
ticket agent. In enforcing the requirement for ticket agents to make
“proper” refunds, the Aviation Enforcement Office will focus on the
totality of the circumstances.

Posted by
2958 posts

joe32f --

We travelers are a curious bunch!

...like I've often wondered if 32F is your favorite seat on a plane.

Posted by
2958 posts

Nick--

The last sentence of the quote from the May 12 enforcement letter 2 posts above implies that the Dept of Transportation has some sort of mechanism for enforcement with respect to OTAs. I would definitely call DOT (since there is no form/short cut on their complaint web page related to this).

Posted by
1759 posts

Forgive me but I just researched hotels in Philadelphia through hotel.com, saw a good deal, and then went to book directly with the hotel.

Wrong answer. It ended up cheaper booking with hotels.com. Same room, less expensive.

So don't "assume," as grandpa used to say, when you assume you make an ass out of u and me. Haha! He was a WWII vet so give him a pass.

Posted by
2413 posts

As has been noted on RS over the eons, there is a difference between booking hotel rooms and booking airline tickets. Also keep in mind that lodging will be cheaper directly with most smaller places in Europe because they are n to paying the advertising fee and commission to hotel.com et al.

Posted by
2180 posts

Also keep in mind that lodging will be cheaper directly with most
smaller places in Europe because they are n to paying the advertising
fee and commission to hotel.com et al.

Have to disagree. It pays to shop. I'll usually search using Expedia because it's a handy search tool and then I'll check directly with the hotel. Last year at this time in Nice, France I found a hotel on Expedia for $303/night and the same room through the website was $468.

Posted by
20797 posts

Expedia bulk-buys some rooms, I believe, so you will occasionally get deals there. Have to be careful about the cancellation policy, though.

There are at least this many ways to book a hotel room, aside from package deals for combinations like air+hotel:

  1. On the hotel's website (or by emailing if there is no way to reserve on the website).
  2. By calling the hotel.
  3. By inquiring in person at the hotel (such as when you want to extend your stay)
  4. On a third-person website like booking.com (which doesn't bulk-by as far as I know) or expedia.com

I have often compared rates from #1, #3 and #4 (only with booking.com). There is no consistency as to which strategy yields the best price. I'd say most of the time #1 and #4 are virtually identical. It is certainly true that you may be offered different categories of rooms and/or different breakfast arrangements via different portals, so it's worth checking the hotel's website as well as at least one third-part site.

Posted by
2413 posts

Since I am not looking at rooms priced at several hundred dollars a night, I will stick with my comment that you will always do better booking smaller places directly. Even if the same price, at least they get the money - not some corporate conglomerate.

Posted by
2958 posts

So, Nick... any updates?

Posted by
1643 posts

I believe it is always best to book directly with airlines and hotels.

Still, there are many travelers who use third-party sites and do pretty well.