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CheapoAir Problems

I am sorry to report that CheapoAir has been very poor at responding to our need to get help for getting a refund from SAS for our cancelled flight. SAS cancelled the flight but says we must go through our travel agent in order to get our refund. That agent, CheapoAir, has no way to contact them by email, and to contact them by phone I must wait on hold for over an hour every time. They also told me to contact via web chat which brings no results, just stock answers from some robot on the other side.

This is unfortunate because they were somewhat helpful last year when we had to cancel the flight because my husband had a heart attack and we had no flight insurance. They rebooked us but it cost us a lot more money.

It has been 2 months now and we are owed $3,000. I cannot recommend using CheapoAir.

Posted by
6248 posts

Technically, their Terms and Conditions say "60-90 days", so they are within that timeframe. I know it seems like a long time, but that's the contract you agreed to when you bought the ticket. I would wait another month before considering this a major issue.

Read the section titled "Cancel and Refund" - it will address all your concerns
https://www.cheapoair.com/travel/generaltermsandconditions/
"Once the refund has been approved by the supplier it may take additional time for this to appear on your credit card statement. Generally, all suppliers will charge a penalty for refund. This entire process may take 60-90 days from receipt of your request to receiving credit on your statement. Apart from the airlines and other suppliers refund penalties, CheapOair will charge a post-ticketing services fee, as applicable. All refund fees are charged on per-passenger, per-ticket basis. These fees will only be assessed if a refund has been authorized by the supplier or a waiver has been received and when the airline/supplier rules permit such refunds. If such refund is not processed by the supplier, we will refund you our post-ticketing service fees applicable to your agent assisted refund request , but not our booking fees for the original travel reservation or booking."

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks, Agnes. It would have been good customer service if someone at Cheapo took the time to re-explain that. Who reads terms and conditions fully? Understands them? Remembers them? Apparently you do but you seem exceptional to me :-). I know that T&C favor the corporations completely, but this was an "extraordinary circumstance." Gives me pause about future flight.

Thanks again.

Posted by
2359 posts

CheapoAir has a long standing and well deserved reputation for horrible operations and customer service. Get ready to call every day, write numerous letters. My experience was having been charged triple for 3 RT tickets to Europe maxing out my Amex card. Getting them to reverse that took many weeks, unending conversations with the most unhelpful people I’ve ever spoken to. Read the reviews on the Internet (especially the BBB where all the consumer reviews are 1 star) and join the crowd. Oh, and they operate under several names including Fareportal. Don’t be surprised if you get shunted to one of those. No way to defend this terrible company!

Posted by
6248 posts

You don't have to read or memorize them, but you just need to look them up to see what kind of leverage you have and what to expect so you can manage expectations and not waste your time. It took me just a few seconds to do that, and I know next to nothing about CheapoAir except their constant advertisements. I don't think it's surprising that some budget middlemen don't have robust customer service, they probably cut costs as much as they can to boost profits (similar to some budget airlines like Vueling). I have booked with Expedia, Hotels.com, Booking.com, and Hotwire.com in the past many times and taken the risk - I wonder how their customer service would be if faced with a major issue. Fortunately, I haven't had one yet. If I can't get money back, I would try to ask for a credit toward a future service at least.

Good luck, stay cool, I would personally save my energy until it has been 90 days unless you have the time and patience to bug them constantly. Try to determine how pilot strikes are covered under the EU rules - I don't know the answer myself.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks, Agnes and Alan. I appreciate your advice and input.

I am posting here mainly because my husband said he heard of CheapoAir from Rick Steves and thought they were "recommended." When things are going fine, the low prices are nice on your pocketbook. When things go wrong, you are on your own.

Posted by
2063 posts

When things are going fine, the low prices are nice on your
pocketbook. When things go wrong, you are on your own.

Yup! Good lesson learned. And the reason why I am willing to pay more to book directly with a reliable carrier. For me, no middle men and no airlines that are a hiccup away from ceasing operations.

Posted by
11440 posts

On the tripadvisor air travel forums there are literally hundreds of bad posts about cheapO air - a thread with hundreds and hundreds of posts !

Good luck and stay tenacious

Posted by
3436 posts

Unfortunately, the name kinda gives away what to expect. I agree with others that as long as everything goes perfectly fine, using them to get a lower price ticket can have benefits, but these days with all the things that can and do go wrong with air travel, or travel in general, it pays to be cautious and maybe pay a few dollars more to get better service.

If you need more help, go to elliott . org and check them out. Mr Elliott is a consumer advocate and has good luck solving problems like you are having. And they don't charge anything to help you. Good luck.

Posted by
2359 posts

And do not wait to seek your refund! ! Begin the paper trail now. They have your money, why give them the float? The terms and conditions say “may take 60-90 days” not “ will”. If you wind up in litigation you want to show you made frequent repeated efforts to get your money. Do not give these thieves the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by
5934 posts

This is why we always book directly with the airlines.

Posted by
6511 posts

This is why we always book directly with the airlines.
I don’t know about this case but it is surprising to me how often Google Flights fares canNOT be booked with any airline, just Cheapo, Priceline or similar, even “contact travel agent.” So OP may have had no choice.

If I found a fare that I could not buy from the airline, I would treat that as a RED FLAG.

Posted by
3112 posts

Considering this company's purported long standing reputation for poor service, I was surprised when a search turned up a current Travel Tips article written by Rick in which he mentions CheapoAir and even provides a link.

Posted by
6511 posts

What I found surprising is the BBB rating of 'A+', even with a history of almost a complaint every day for a 3 year period. ( 900+ total)

Posted by
5552 posts

Ignore BBB "ratings". It's a long story but CNN explains how the BBB rates "members":
https://money.cnn.com/2015/09/30/news/better-business-bureau/index.html

Through its investigation, CNNMoney found a sampling of more than 100
businesses that had ratings of A- or higher despite having serious
actions taken against them by government regulators in the past year.
Some have been ruled flat-out scams and were shut down, but still kept
their high BBB grade. Some have already been required to pay
multimillion dollar penalties. And others have recently been rocked by
big government lawsuits.

Here's how this massive ratings machine works: The BBB rates companies
ranging from small town plumbers to Wall Street banks. Nearly 400,000
of these businesses are paying members -- which the BBB relies on for
the majority of its revenue. In 2013, the organization's revenue
totaled nearly $200 million among all of its bureaus, according to tax
forms analyzed by CNNMoney.

While many people view the BBB as a consumer watchdog or even a
government agency, the BBB itself says this is a misconception.
Instead, it views itself as a mediator between frustrated consumers
and the companies they do business with, receiving nearly 1 million
complaints each year from consumers hoping to achieve resolutions like
refunds and repairs.

Like the Special Counsel's report, you need to read the whole CNN Money report on the BBB.

Posted by
4145 posts

Considering this company's purported long standing reputation for poor
service, I was surprised when a search turned up a current Travel Tips
article written by Rick in which he mentions CheapoAir and even
provides a link.

Well considering that this website plugs RailEurope ad naseum, is this really a surprise?

Posted by
6511 posts

Well , lest some get the wrong idea, here is a link to the RS site that addresses airfare search.

If one reads it through, you will find the ultimate recommendation is buy from the airline and use cheapoair etc., as a research means/method

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/booking-flights

Buying Tickets

While it's possible to book your flights on most search sites (they certainly hope you will, to garner their commission), I use these sites only as a first step. Once I've zeroed in on which airline has the best deal for my trip, I check the airline's own site to compare fares. You can often avoid added costs by booking direct (the commissions are charged either as higher prices or in the form of fees for booking through a third party). And airlines may offer bonuses (such as extra frequent-flier miles) to those who book direct.
Search sites occasionally beat the fares on the airline's official site, sometimes by using "mix and match" journeys to connect the legs of a single trip on multiple airlines. (However, these trips can be difficult to rebook in case of a delay or missed leg — review the schedule carefully, watching out for very tight connections or extremely long layovers.)
For maximum peace of mind, it's usually best to book directly with the airline, which can more easily address unexpected problems or deal with rescheduled flights. If you do buy tickets through a third-party site, make sure you carry their phone number with you — you'll need to speak to a person if you have a problem.

No, no affiliation with RS Inc., just dislike out of context comments.

Posted by
3456 posts

I'm coming in late on this one, but I use Cheapoair for information on a regular basis. I always buy directly from airline sites -- except when I have a multi-flight itinerary and the airlines do not sell each other's tickets. Then I have bought through Cheapo, with neither fuss nor problem. But never for seat allocations; that can be done through the individual airlines.
No agency can undersell airline prices without going broke. The only valid comparison is between exactly the same tickets, not tickets that vary on routing or transfers or departure times. The days of agencies gaining access to discounted airline tickets are pretty much gone.

Hotels are a different case. Agencies often offer lower room rates than the hotels themselves. I also have found that sometimes when an agency says a hotel is sold out for a certain date, other agencies may still offer rooms at the place. I'm not sure why but it might have something to do with standing room allocations to the agencies.

Posted by
3144 posts

I am sorry to report that CheapoAir has been very poor at responding
to our need to get help for getting a refund from SAS for our
cancelled flight. SAS cancelled the flight but says we must go through
our travel agent in order to get our refund.

You learned a terribly expensive lesson to which I hope others pay attention. NEVER buy airline tickets through a 3rd party. Always buy directly from the airline.

Posted by
2063 posts

Why would the OP dispute the charge? The company has apparently agreed to issue a refund, and it has been established that the company's policy gives it 90 days to provide the refund. Disputing the charge is a needless escalation.

Posted by
2995 posts

Dear Dejjs, so sorry to hear of your frustration with this situation. Thank you for sharing your experience for the benefit of others.

Posted by
2578 posts

So, dejjs, did you get your refund?

Posted by
11 posts

Update, late September 2019:

After repeatedly calling CheapoAir, we got some money refunded in early August, well past the 60-90 days expected. The weird thing was that the refund for one ticket was $600 less than for the other ticket. On one extremely obscure and convoluted online chat we had with one their agents it appears that they were claiming that we should be charged a cancellation fee!!! Outrageous.

We are now in the process of trying to recover the remainder of the cost from SAS. Still out well over $1,000, 5 months later. :-(