My wife and I planned a visit to Central Europe and the Adriatic Coast. Our initial research indicated British Airways was a good way to go. We Googled “British Airways Reservations” and were presented with a link to a site displaying this title and a telephone number, 1-800-533-1143. We called, and the man on the other end had an East Indian accent. When we explained that we wanted to make a reservation with British Airways he told us he could help us. So we proceeded. Something didn’t feel right when he split the taxes out of the ticket and charged us separately for that. But having spent several days searching for the “best” and “cheapest” flights we were exhausted and ignored our trepidations. When all was complete he gave us a British Airways flight locator and that was that.
A couple of days later the ticket charge appeared in our credit card account. The entries showed the tickets were with American Airlines. How could that be? Had we not purchased them from British Airways? We called BA and they confirmed that, indeed, the tickets were issued on AA paper. We went back to Google, brought up the same link and there it was. The website is ‘britishairwaysreservations.org’. It has the words “British Airways” at the top left, a page title “British Airways Reservations”, and images of BA aircraft, complete with their trade mark Union Jack flags across the tails. So was this not British Airways? As you scroll down there is nothing to indicate otherwise until you get to the bottom where there appears a Disclaimer which reads “www.britishairwaysreservations.org solely act as an agent, we create a connection between travelers and suppliers of travel services.”
This phone number and website connect you with something other than you think you are being connected to. Is that a problem? It can be if you want to make any changes. And with the spread of coronavirus what traveler has not been thinking about changes? We had purchased basic economy tickets to which the agents at this number insisted on two separate calls could not be changed. But the folks at American said “no”, the tickets were ‘long haul international’ and therefore eligible to be changed upon payment of a fee. Only then, after we had gotten American policy spelled out, were we able to get the original ticket seller to agree to a change in the form of an issuance of credit good for future travel.
Thankfully the monies for flight portions of our tickets were charged through a U.S. Bank. But the taxes, charged separately and which themselves exceeded $600, were charged through a bank in New Delhi. The insult added to the injury was a foreign transaction fee levied by our bank that was additional to the taxes. And I’ll never know if those monies were actually paid for the stated purpose of collection.
So beware. This company operates behind a facade which so closely imitates the real thing that, if not actually illegal, is certainly a deliberate deception.