When Seble Mengiste reschedules a trip because of terrorism fears, she loses her reservation. Can we help her find it?
Question: We purchased three airline tickets to Italy, with layovers in Istanbul, Turkey, for $3,276. The trip was scheduled for August 2016. But due to political unrest in Istanbul around the end of July 2016 we decided to cancel the trip.
JustFly.com agreed to change our tickets and reissue another ticket for Madrid, Spain, after they charged us $709 booking change penalty. The trip to Spain is booked for travel in June 2017. We received e-tickets and booking confirmation from JustFly on August 23, 2016, via email.
In May we received an email and a voice mail message asking us to contact JustFly, as there was a change in our flight schedule. Our new flight information had a very long layover, which wasn’t going to work for our itinerary. The customer service agent recommended we cancel and rebook our flights to Spain.
The agent put us on hold for a very long time. When the agent came back she told us everything was a mistake and we did not have any reservation or any booking to Madrid.
Nobody is able to tell us what is going on and all they could say was that they are sorry and understand our frustration. My situation is time-sensitive. I have hotel bookings, airline bookings for flights we are taking within Spain.
We have no wish to do business with this company. Can you get us a refund? Seble Mengiste, Fairfax, Va.
Answer: When I read your case, I understood your frustration, along with your anger and confusion with JustFly. Its lack of response and seemingly condescending apology did nothing to allow you to modify your accommodations in Spain. While I am genuinely sympathetic, I’m not surprised.
JustFly’s website says, “Our team of travel agents is ready to assist you on the phone you can [sic] rest assured we’re with you every step of the way to make sure your vacation is flawless.”
However, JustFly.com is a vendor with which we do not have an established relationship. It rarely, if ever, responds to our emails. Customers, including you, have reported extended hold times when reaching out to JustFly’s customer service contacts, listed on our website.
In fact, your complaint is another in an ever-growing list of posts to our forums about JustFly. But your story has an interesting twist, and it provides information that could be useful to others.
When you contacted our advocates, we asked for a paper trail, as we do for every case we advocate for our readers.
Even though the majority of your communication with JustFly was by telephone, you were able to provide us with the electronic version of “the smoking gun.” You sent us the original confirmation received on Feb 03, 2016, for the tickets for your Italy trip.
That information puzzled our advocate. She contacted you and explained, “Airline tickets are only valid for one year from the date of purchase. Someone made a mistake rebooking you on dates that were invalid for your ticket. It’s also unusual that your ticket numbers are the same on both confirmations to both destinations.”
Turkish Airlines’ contract of carriage confirms this.
A ticket is valid for carriage for one year from the date of commencement of travel or if no portion of the ticket is used, from the date of issue thereof, except as otherwise provided in the ticket, these Conditions or Carrier’s Regulations.
You contacted Turkish Airlines directly and were told by the agent that you had a reservation for the upcoming trip, but for some reason JustFly had not finalized the booking. The current status of your tickets was just an unpaid reservation.
It seemed clear to us that JustFly had realized its mistake of allowing you to fly beyond February 2017. They wanted you to pay for the reservation to Spain. Our advocate informed you of this, and added, “Unfortunately, we have not had positive responses from JustFly when we attempt to mediate cases.”
Undaunted, and armed with new information, you filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. As we reported in August 2016, the BBB in Akron, Ohio, was quite familiar with JustFly. It issued a warning to be cautious about using the company. The BBB had received 37 customer complaints and 1,449 inquiries about JustFly. At that time, based on other ratings, that warning seemed somewhat premature.
That number of customer complaints to the BBB against JustFly now stands at nearly 900 according to the San Francisco office of the BBB, where JustFly is headquartered. According to their review of complaints against JustFly:
Their file indicates that this business has a pattern of complaints concerning various issues including alleged differences in the quoted price as opposed to what is actually charged, and errors by booking agents regarding date and time of travel.
Consumers also alleged that they are not receiving booking confirmations as promised, and being charged more than the quoted cancellation fee. Other concerns are failure to provide promised assistance and or support for products and services, failure to honor promised written warranties or guarantees, and failure to honor promised refunds or exchanges.
Those are the same types of complaints the BBB was receiving nearly a year ago. There’s just a lot more of them. Currently the BBB reports that JustFly “is in the process of responding to previously closed complaints.”
Your complaint to the BBB persuaded JustFly to respond. Just over a week after you filed, you received a call and email from JustFly. The representative said, “Following our conversation, please find the recap for the refund to be processed: Total amount to be refunded is $3,276. We sincerely apologize for all the inconvenience caused.”
You were satisfied with the refund of your original purchase price and plan to make reservations directly with the airline. We were satisfied to learn of your success and hope your story serves as a lesson learned for other readers.