This is your final warning: don’t buy airline vouchers online

Thinking of buying a cheap airline ticket voucher online? Oh no you don’t.

The latest MarkMonitor Brandjacking Index confirms what readers of this blog already know. The fraudulent sale of ticket vouchers online is a growing problem.

There is a brisk online trade in airline ticket vouchers, averaging more than 160 listings daily with deep discounts of more than 80% under their face value. Interestingly, this trade flourishes despite the fact that most airlines have a policy that these vouchers are non-transferable.

To test its theory, MarkMonitor bought several vouchers. “To no surprise, the voucher numbers could not be validated by the airline when we tried to use them to pay for a flight,” it concluded.

That’s not all. Apparently, we haven’t seen the worst of it.

With the recent airline industry bankruptcies we may expect to see an increased incidence of online fraud related to refunds, credits and vouchers.

Unfortunately, people are still falling for this scam. Just last week, I heard from another traveler who had bought several hundred dollars worth of vouchers and wanted to know if they would be usable. (They might be, but it wouldn’t preclude the airline from coming after you once the flight was over to collect the fare.)

Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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