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24hr price guarantee - scam/loophole

I wasn't sure if this should go in the transportation or scam forum.

I recently purchased an open jaw flight to Europe for this summer. The online agency I booked through has a 24 hour low price guarantee which states "Find a cheaper flight, vacation package, rental car, cruise or activity within 24 hours of booking and we'll refund the difference, plus give you a $50 travel coupon for future travel."

About an hour and a half after booking the price of my itinerary (same flight numbers, same departure and arrivals) went down significantly through the same online agency I booked through. I filled out their application to take advantage of the guarantee. This is where I learned that the guarantee is worthless.

They will only guarantee it if you can prove it was the same "booking code". However, you are unable to see the booking code unless you complete the check out process. So in order to be credited through their 24 hour price guarantee, you actually have to book the flight. At that point you'd have multiple flights and you'd have to cancel one and pay the fee to do so.

I know that the booking code is the same, they know it's the same. I think it's just a scam.

Posted by
885 posts

Assuming you purchased this ticket in the US, it's just for airfare, and your first flight was more than 7 days hence, the 24-hour rule is a DOT regulation (see the link below from the DOT) and not something "special" provided by whatever online travel agency you used. If they refuse to refund your ticket and it's been less than 24 hours, they are in violation. Report them to the DOT.

https://www.transportation.gov/airconsumer/notice-24hour-reservation

Posted by
4 posts

They refunded the ticket but not the $28.00 booking fee. They say the booking fee is not refundable even though I canceled in the first 24 hrs. My contention was that they didn't honor their 24hr price guarantee which they advertise all over their site, so they should refund the entire thing. That's how I found out that their price guarantee is a scam. I've booked over 10 flights with Expedia in the past, 70+ hotel nights, and a couple of cruises. They lost my trust very quickly and I won't be booking with the again.

Posted by
885 posts

I'm sorry you had this experience. This seems like they're sailing pretty close to the wind in regards to the disclosure requirements mandated by DOT. One more reason to buy tickets directly from the airline.

Posted by
3200 posts

Would you willing to share the name of the travel agency? Many online agencies have multiple complaints about them if you look through some of the forums about air travel. I find that booking directly with the airlines is usually a good idea.

Posted by
4 posts

Expedia.com

I ended up booking with an airline directly a day or two later. By then my flight returning from Copenhagen went up in price, so I booked one leaving from Oslo. We just have to figure out how to get from Copenhagen to Oslo to catch our return flight to Chicago which goes through Amsterdam. The extra stop in Oslo should just add to the experience. :)

Posted by
9343 posts

Why not book directly next time with airlines, hotels, etc. You can usually get the same deals if not better ones.

As previously mentioned, the 24 hour rule is not the travel agent's but U.S. law. Had you booked directly with the airline all you would have to do is cancel the first ticket and book the second .

Use Google Flights to see the best deals then go to the airlines' websites and book them. Easy as could be.

Posted by
12245 posts

I'm with Frank: your experience is exactly why we always book directly with the airlines and not through third parties. If there's a problem, we can go directly to the source to having it sorted.

That 24-hr regulation rescued us once when The Husband accidentally booked flights for the wrong date. We were able to immediately cancel it ourselves though the Delta website and then re-book. As it turned out, the new flights ended up costing a little less than the originals! Whew...

Posted by
11613 posts

Perhaps the booking fee is not part of the ticket price and does not constitute a violation?

Posted by
187 posts

99 percent of the time, I book directly with the airline. However, I recently booked my trip to Europe with Expedia due to the cost. Someone posted on this forum about the great airfares to Europe. I checked on Delta and it would have cost a great deal more. Perhaps, they had just d/c the good deals on their site, as someone had mentioned that they booked with Delta direct for the same price. I was apprehensive about this, as my booking didn't show up immediately on Delta's site. However, it is there under "my trips". Both Expedia, and Delta e-mailed me about a slight time change for the flight, which isn't until Sept.

Posted by
3453 posts

Travel agents need to make a living. I know Expedia isn't really an "agent" but they did provide a service for you. Service fees are not included in the 24 hour rule and airlines can charge booking or service fees as well. In fact, the 24 hour refund does not apply to travel agencies at all at this point, only to the airlines. But any travel agency that would not refund tickets to their customers that the airline has refunded to them would find their customer rioting at their doors so they do it for the most part, keeping their fees.

Going forward, book directly with the airline. Cuts out the middle man and makes things like this easier and quicker.

Posted by
219 posts

I will add my two cents about the advantage of using Google Flights to find the lowest fare and then using a link from the results to book directly with the airline in question. You have the advantage of not having a "middle-man" in the transaction and, in my experience, sometimes lower fare options than found when searching only through the airline website.