Expedia told me the baggage fee was $9. It was — $9 per kilogram.

At first glance it looked like adding an extra bag would cost just $9. For one traveler this was an expensive lesson in reading the fine print.

Question: I purchased a ticket on Expedia for my wife to fly from Shanghai to Taipei. I used Expedia because they made clear that the first checked bag would be “free” and then the second one would be $9. This was acceptable to us.

However, once my wife arrived in Shanghai she was informed that the fee was $9 per kilogram, not $9 per bag. My wife had to pay an exorbitant amount for that flight in order to bring her bags. This was false advertising by Expedia. I wouldn’t have bought this ticket on Expedia if I had known the actual cost of the baggage.

Can you help me get our money back? I would also like Expedia to pay to have my wife’s bags shipped back to Shanghai because that would be cheaper. Can you help me? — David Wachter, Linden Hill, N.Y.

Answer: In the U.S., when airlines charge a fee for luggage, it’s typically per bag. So I can understand what a shock it must have been when your wife discovered that what she thought was a fee per bag turned out to be a fee per kilogram, and a $9 additional charge turned into almost $200 in extra fees. Especially given that this was a short intra-Asia flight between Shanghai and Taipei. In fact, to avoid those fees on her return, you told us she intended to give away some of her clothing and then ship the remainder back.

Related story:   What happened to my miles, Alaska Airlines?

This is yet another lesson in how important it is to read the fine print carefully when booking online. The link you shared with us does say that Expedia was providing estimated baggage fees. A poor estimate as it turned out, but there was also an advisory to check the airline for exact fees along with the link that took you to a page on China Eastern’s website that showed the actual fees.

While that’s not really “false advertising,” you thought that Expedia should accept some responsibility. After discussions with our advocates you reached out to the company, and with a bit of arm-twisting from you, it did.

We’re pleased to hear that Expedia offered you a $400 voucher and that you’re happy with that resolution.

Dale Irvin

Dale Irvin is a semi-retired writer and editor, now living in south Florida after three years roaming around North America in an RV. You can read about those adventures at fabulousfifthwheel.com.

  • sirwired

    Yeah, calling it an “Estimate” covers things like the fee going from $8 to $9/kg, and the website not getting updated right away. $8 to $8/kg isn’t an “estimate”, it’s just plain incorrect.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I’m still trying to figure out why someone would buy a single short-haul ticket on Expedia. For what purpose? It’s NEVER cheaper – it just introduces a middle-man which means more potential for problems, and less chance of resolution due to finger-pointing.

    That being said – the right thing happened here. Which is rather surprising, given that it’s Expedia.

  • jsn55

    Only one reason, LeeAnne … millions spent on advertising. The public really believes that these online booking agencies are useful.

  • Michael__K

    They could be booking with Expedia for the Expedia rewards points (on top of the airline points) they can get on some flights. Or the price could be slightly cheaper if they buy the air ticket as part of a package (air+hotel or air+car). Not saying these are necessarily good enough reasons on balance to book with Expedia, but they are among the incentives.

  • joycexyz

    Not worth the aggravation.

  • Bill___A

    One really has to read the fine print nowadays.

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