Should this traveler be forced to pay for a ticket that wasn’t valid at check in?

When Hazel Chiang tries to check in for her flight on Malindo Air, she is denied boarding because her travel agency, eDreams, never paid for her ticket. Can our advocates obtain a refund for Chiang’s walk-up airfare?

Question: I purchased tickets on Citilink Indonesia and Malindo Air from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Bali with my Chase credit card through the travel website eDreams. There were no problems with the outbound flight on Citilink Indonesia, but when I tried to check in for the return flight on Malindo Air, I was denied boarding.

Malindo Air’s agent informed me that eDreams never remitted payment for my airfare, and my booking was neither confirmed nor ticketed (the outbound and return flights were on different airlines). At my request, Malindo Air provided an email to that effect as written proof that my reservation was unpaid for.

I contacted eDreams, which promised to investigate, but when they never updated me, I contacted JPMorgan Chase to file a chargeback against eDreams. Chase sided with eDreams, claiming that service was provided. But it wasn’t. I had to pay a walk-up price for a new ticket home.

Can you help me get a refund for the second ticket? — Hazel Chiang, Woodridge, N.J.

Answer: It isn’t clear why Chase refused you a chargeback for the Malindo Air ticket you purchased through eDreams, because when eDreams didn’t transmit your payment to the airline, it failed to provide you with “service.”

And although Malindo Air’s terms and conditions don’t contain any language that specifies that passengers with unpaid airfares will be denied boarding, every airline, including Malindo Air, requires full payment of airfares by passengers as a condition of carriage.

Related story:   Can you help me fall back in love with Disney?

That’s one of the reasons we warn readers to exercise caution when making travel bookings through online sites. You run the risk that your transaction will not be properly processed. When that happens, either the travel company won’t receive your payment or won’t properly credit your fare as paid, leaving you without a valid ticket.

Had you purchased your return ticket directly from Malindo Air, you would have stood a better chance of being able to fly on that ticket. It would have reduced the risk of what happened to you — that your flight was neither properly confirmed nor ticketed.

Our advocates reached out to eDreams on your behalf and received the following response:

The tickets appeared to be correctly issued on our system at the time of booking and the customer was charged accordingly. However, due to a technical error with the airline’s ticketing system, these flights were not issued properly.

We are very sorry for the undue stress this matter has caused Ms. Chiang and the passengers on this booking.

We are compensating the customer for the total cost of the Malindo Air flights purchased on our website, as well as any additional flight costs incurred at the airport.

Our advocates hope you receive your promised refund from eDreams soon.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for

  • finance_tony

    I’m actually more concerned about Chase’s behavior than “eDreams,” from which I might expect it.

  • The Original Joe S

    Stop using Online Travel Thieves.
    Dump Chase – they are dirtbags – my personal experience. Your credit card company should ALWAYS side with you. My credit union does that.
    Always check that the travel documents are valid before you go to the airport.

  • jim6555

    Perhaps Ms. Chang was requesting a refund of the entire round trip which caused Chase Bank to deny the refund request.. She was able to to use the outbound portion on Citilink Indonesia. It was only the return trip on Malindo Air that deserved a refund.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    Chase knocked it out of the park on this one: even with the email from the airline explaining they did not get paid, they still said service was provided.

  • finance_tony

    Sure, could be. I’ve had a few experiences when the CC company will pro-rate a credit or come back for more information after an initial denial. Just got a Chase card so I hope they live up to other banks’ basically good records when it comes to consumer protection.

  • Alan Gore

    Yet another reason to never treat a Web domain as a travel agency. If you don’t have a flash-and-blood agency in your town, book directly with the carrier.

  • Alan Gore

    Chase is usually pretty good at hand,in this kind of problem. How exactly did LW phrase her request for chargeback?

  • greg watson

    there seems to be too many ‘ technical ‘ (human?) errors these days……………a good cop out ??

  • Annie M

    Why didn’t they do it when she asked?

  • Lindabator

    If eDreams’s system showed they were issued, Chase will not honor a chargeback, as the ticket number in their system would show they did issue — this clearly sounds like a Malindo issue, which is why I am sure eDreams were allowed to issue a refund

  • Lindabator

    NOT if the system on eDreams’ side showed a valid ticket number — sounds like Molindo had an error in their system, which is why eDreams were allowed to refund

  • Lindabator

    For these strange carriers, I always go directly to them to ensure all is well

  • Lindabator

    seems like they had a valid ticket number, so no issue on their end — I will bet Molindo was the issue, and so the airline allowed the agency to refund due to that error, and that is why eDreams was able to — and why Chase did not refund initially (valid ticket number)

  • jim6555

    I’ve had Chase’s Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Card for about 10 years and have been pleased with their service including getting questionable charges reversed.

  • Daddydo

    If you are using a decent travel agency, they will provide a confirmation number, a ticket receipt, and a 13 digit ticket number. Old fashioned agencies like mine issue Airline Reporting Corporation magnetic stripped tickets (yes people still call them a real ticket) 98% of the airlines in the world still accept this as proof when a reservation does not appear in their reservation system. They cannot be issued without some form of payment. I also always see on my Chase credit card statement the ticket number that was issued for that ticket and the airline that it was issued on. 1 in 1000 would have my agency’s name on the statement, just our service fee. I would love to see the information line scanned into this discussion to try and see who the culprit really is. There is much more to this situation.

  • jsn55

    WOW! Great solution … three cheers for the Elliott advocates.

    I am extremely concerned about the Chase denial of what seems to be such a simple problem. I am wondering if the information provided was incomplete or inaccurate. I really rely on Chase for travel insurance and don’t want to find out the hard way that I’m making a mistake!

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.