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Another reminder to check your flights and 3rd party purchasing

Just thought I'd relate something that happened to a couchsurfer staying with us. She's from France and is flying home next week. She mentioned that she had booked a direct flight from Halifax to Paris. I knew that WestJet was the airline that offered direct flights, but had heard months ago that because of the Max 8 grounding, they were rerouting people via Calgary, Montreal or via other cities with other airlines. So when I asked our surfer, she confirmed it was via WJ. I did some sleuthing including trying to book flights via Halifax direct and was getting nothing (or seeing flights via other cities).

She received NO emails or updates from either WJ or the 3rd party website she used (it was a company in Spain). As far as I can tell, nothing even showed up in her spam folder. When she put her confirmation code into WJ it told her because she booked thru a 3rd party she had to go thru them. She was able to find a phone number for them and called to find out that indeed her flight had been cancelled. (This is how she relayed it to me). She was able to rebook via Montreal, and it works out OK for her because she arrives 2 hours earlier, so won't lose the train tickets she prepaid for to get from Paris to her city. But if I hadn't know about the grounding, most likely she would have showed up at the airport next week and been out of luck, or in a pickle, at least.

She's been travelling for 10 mos now and got the tickets back in March, before the plane groundings. Maybe somewhere along the way she was notified and missed it. She said she wouldn't deal with 3rd parties anymore.

So just a reminder of what a pain in the arse it can be booking via 3rd party, and a reminder to check your flights. (I will say, Air Canada was very good about sending me itinerary changes for our upcoming trip).

Posted by
10752 posts

Was the third party booking agent in Spain by any chance eDreams? They are notoriously bad at communication ( and other things).

Posted by
862 posts

Doesn't even matter if it's third party or not!
We went ( direct booked) with WJ last month to Newfoundland, and did not get any notification that our flight home had been cancelled.
They didn't even rebook us .
I had to spend over an hour on the phone that same morning we were due to go home ,rebooking three of us for the same day, to get home.
And.....I'm going Air Canada to Rome next month; and found out, by looking online just to check and re-check; that my flight had changed times.
No notification, and no emails, and I had direct booked via AC.
So: it pays to keep re-checking every week as your departure date gets closer; because, by golly , no-one else is looking out for you but yourself!
In the week pre-departure, I check almost every day to reassure myself.

Posted by
5403 posts

I didn't book through a third party and still received no notification about West Jet (it was part of a code share flight with American Airlines). Please don't blame the world's woes on third parties - it happens on code share flights too where 2 reservation systems aren't synched and the alerts don't "cascade down" (when primary flight is changed, the system should look at whether connecting flight needs to be changed as well and then issue an e-mail alert). What happened to your couch surfer seems like an unusual situation to begin with: she booked the flight early, was constantly on the road, wasn't aware of external events like the plane groundings, or checked her flight info until the last minute.

Personally, I think dealing with third parties is only marginally more difficult (and can still be a net plus), but it depends on which one. Who here doesn't use a third party for European car rentals? Code share flights just have more opportunities for alerts falling through the cracks, it happens. It's always better to check on your schedule no matter how you booked the ticket.

Maybe somewhere along the way she was notified and missed it.

Maybe that should have been in bold as well? Who knows what happened...it's all conjecture.

Posted by
236 posts

It's not just 3 rd party. We had multiple city flights with Delta from our home airport to SLC, SLC to Paris followed by home from London to SLC, then SLC to our home airport. Booked months in advance with economy comfort seats. For months beforehand every time the transatlantic flights altered by a few minutes I received email alerts. All minor, none requiring a change. Then 2 weeks before the first flight our tour company's (Tauck) air dept called and asked were we aware our flight home from SLC had been canceled and no other flights available that night. Not a single peep out of Delta. It was too late to reschedule and get decent seats back i.e. couldn't even get seats together in basic economy. We ended up keeping to most of the plan but staying overnight at a SLC airport hotel. Delta did reschedule us on flights home the following morning.

So yes, check back regularly.

Posted by
6618 posts

I think that couchsurfer is extraordinarily lucky she wound up with you as a host!

Thanks for helping her and for posting the reminder.

Posted by
1896 posts

The moral of the story is check your flights often and even more often as your departure date approaches. Neither on line travel agencies or airlines are dependable. You need to do the work yourself, unfortunately.

Posted by
50 posts

Hi, this is a tangential question that is somewhat related to your post, so I hope it's okay if I ask it here.

I have a friend coming from France to the U.S. in November via Toronto. I wondered whether he will have to go through customs twice, or whether he can change planes in Canada without going through customs before continuing on to Atlanta since I assume he won't be leaving the security zone (I've never been to Toronto, so I don't know the layout, and whether he will have to switch from an international to domestic terminal like we do here in Atlanta.)

Anybody know the answer to this?

Posted by
888 posts

With one exception, I have always booked my flights directly with the ticketing airline. I try - when possible - to select the same seats each time I book. Then I check back at random intervals. Sometimes I'll receive an email about changes, but generally I find that things have changed when I look at my seats and see that they've changed.

ALWAYS check your flights/seats, regardless of carrier or how the flight is booked.

Posted by
3483 posts

Lola - the website is called travelgenio I believe she said.

Pam - she thanked me for telling her about what was going on. If she hadn't mentioned having what she thought was a direct flight home, I'd never have known. And because I was invested in the plane groundings (my mom was supposed to fly on one back in April, and we would have next month) I was keeping abreast of all the news about it. I just remember thinking how crappy it would be for those people who thought they'd have a direct Halifax to Paris flight, only to be rerouted thru Calgary of all places. (I think maybe Montreal was added later as an alternative).

I'm a bit surprised Air Canada wasn't sending out travel notifications. We got some when we got rerouted (twice - over and back), then got another when our flight over got changed (4 hrs earlier - ugh) and then they sent me another notification of an itinerary change and I can't for the life of me see anything different from the last itin change (I saw the email and groaned - and then couldn't see any changes) - I double checked and we still have our seats. But I'll be sure to check in early Sept a few weeks before we go just in case.

Posted by
3483 posts

Lisa - this is from the Pearson website...

Canadian customs and immigration

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) screens travellers landing in Canada at Pearson Airport. If you are arriving on a US or international flight, you will need to confirm your identity with CBSA and declare any goods that you are bringing into the country.

But I don't know what will happen when they get to the USA.

Posted by
2323 posts

Who here doesn't use a third party for European car rentals?

I don’t. 4 rentals so far directly from rental websites, no issues.

FWIW: I have a United fight in 7 weeks booked on United.com which had a pretty drastic change: 5 min earlier departure and 2-1/2 hour earlier arrival. No notifications. I did add a second rental car reservation at the earlier time at another agency (at a higher price) in case the later reservation can’t be honored at the earlier time. I couldn’t change the time for a reasonable price.

Posted by
900 posts

"Who here doesn't use a third party for European car rentals?"

I don't. I rent direct from Hertz. I have a discount that the 3rd parties can not match.

Posted by
2170 posts

Are those who have not got notices fully registered on line to make that option part of their profile? I don't think it is a default function for WestJet or Air Canada. I get notices from AC when it intends to arrive 7 minutes early on flights from Ottawa to Toronto. The one time I didn't get notices from WestJet was when I incorrectly entered my email address update.
It isn't always the airline's fault.

Posted by
722 posts

Our original flight to Venice in 2017 on Aer Lingus was canceled and I received no notification. I just happened to check a couple of months before departure. The airline reps were wonderful taking care of us after that, but if I hadn't checked we could have driven to Chicago and discovered we didn't have a flight. So, yes, I'm a bit more compulsive now.

Posted by
55 posts

In June I received a text msg 6 hours before departure that my fight that was going to Italy was cancelled. That set off a series of stressful events that resulted in my bags arriving in Rome 2 days after my arrival. Wisely I had travel insurance which paid me $250 for replacement items. I will always buy travel insurance it’s worth every penny and I will schedule my flights 2 days in advance of when I want to be there which will allow for any airline nonsense.

Posted by
30226 posts

There was a story on the news today about a couple going on their honeymoon to Venice, but were denied boarding on a WestJet flight because the airline had switched to a smaller aircraft. The new rules under the so-called "Passenger Bill of Rights" that cover this type of thing don't come into effect until December. I believe this couple had also booked through a third-party website, as the airline's excuse was that they were unable to contact the passengers, and that it was up to the third party to notify them. This is one reason I always book directly with the airline.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find the story to link it on the forum.

Posted by
50 posts

@ VAP

Wow, thank you for the information! I had no idea U.S. Customs officials were conducting "pre-clearance" in these other airports, but I assume it is because these points are common layovers for inbound flights to the U.S.

Also, I wasn't sure if Toronto-Atlanta is considered international or domestic. Domestic? (Again, two completely different terminals in Atlanta, so want to go to the right one.)

Thanks again, that was a helpful answer.