Is this enough compensation? Wrong information leads to a missed flight

Christianna Kreiss thought she would be flying to India with her family a few weeks ago.

Instead, she spent hours in Pittsburgh trying to sort out a messy airline reservation that involved Air Canada, Lufthansa and Orbitz.

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Kreiss eventually made it to India, but lost two vacation days and had other out-of-pocket expenses. Is she owed anything?

In order to answer that question, let’s take a closer look at the Kreiss family’s itinerary. It started with an Air Canada flight from Pittsburgh to Toronto. Then they connected to a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt. From there, they flew on to Hyderabad, India.

Orbitz listed their departure time in Pittsburgh as 3:30 p.m., and the family also received an email from the online travel agency on their departure day confirming the time.

But it wasn’t right. Turns out the outbound flight had been rescheduled to 2:55 p.m., so when they tried to check in at 2 p.m. — five minutes after the cut-off time — they were denied boarding.

When we then called Orbitz at 2:30 p.m., we were initially told that the Air Canada flight should still be leaving at 3:30 p.m., and the gate agents should just check us in.

After prolonged discussions and checking on their part, they did agree, that the flight was rescheduled to leave already at 2:55 p.m. In the interim, we received an e-mail from Air Canada at 2:26 p.m., that the flight we were supposed to be on was now supposed to leave at 2:55 p.m.

This information was of course useless, as their own policy posted at their check-in counter states that check-in is required at 60 minutes prior to departure.

Kreiss’ husband started working the phones, asking Orbitz to help get the family to India. Over the next four hours, he spoke with various agents and supervisors, without success. Finally, the family boarded a cab to go home.

Five minutes after we got in the cab, a supervisor from Orbitz called us and said that they might be able to get us on a flight through Washington D.C., leaving Pittsburgh at 7:15 p.m. It was at 6 p.m. We were asked to return to the airport and wait for his call.

He never called back.

My husband called again one hour later, talking now to a different supervisor. They were unable to rebook us and told us, that we might have to pay an additional $700 per person to rebook.

Kreiss eventually decided to bypass Orbitz and contact Lufthansa directly. She learned that Orbitz was notified in May about the schedule change for the Air Canada flight.

She contacted Orbitz again, and this time received even more bad news: A supervisor told her the online agency wouldn’t rebook her flight and that it owed her nothing.

We feel that this constitutes fraud as the whole situation arose based on a wrong departure time provided to us and confirmed on the day of departure by Orbitz.

Orbitz has taken our money but is refusing to provide the service, which it had promised in return. Also, Orbitz has lied to us repeatedly through various agents, who kept telling us that they will rebook us, we should just wait for a call back, which never came.

I think the Kreiss family might have avoided all this by calling Air Canada directly to confirm their flight times and by showing up for their international flight at least two hour early. I note that they were flying with three young children — all the more reason to give themselves a little extra time.

But still, Orbitz apparently supplied an inaccurate departure time and then confirmed it. Had it not done so, this would have been a non-issue.

Problem is, in order to fix this, Orbitz will have to buy the family a new ticket. Air Canada and Lufthansa have the family as a no-show in their system, which means the $5,521 they spent is lost.

I contacted Orbitz on their behalf. A few days later, I got an email from Kreiss in India.

Orbitz did offer us a round-trip flight from Washington, with one day later return than what we had initially planned. We had about half an hour to pack and leave, and had to make a four-hour drive to Washington, but everything worked out OK and we are here now. We don’t know what caused them to change their minds.

Nice of Orbitz to fix this. But is it enough?

We had two ruined days of hard-earned vacation. There’s also the emotional distress caused to our children and family members as well as us – all of this caused because of faulty communication of flight times provided to us by Orbitz and too late communication in flight time changes given to us by Air Canada. We will certainly travel overseas again, but will not again book with Orbitz.

She raises an interesting question. When something goes wrong — really wrong — is fixing the flight enough? Or should a travel agency also offer to cover cab fare, parking and other incidentals that were incurred by the client?

(Image of Pittsburgh airport by csee man/Flickr)

134 thoughts on “Is this enough compensation? Wrong information leads to a missed flight

  1. A true travel agent recieves schedule change notifications from the airline and passes them onto the traveler. Orbitz neglected to do so. Orbitz is legally a travel agent, but does not generally do the services one would expect from a brick and mortar agency.

  2. I think mileage and parking reimbursement (via a check) for the car trip (at standard IRS-set rates) + a $200 voucher per person for the screwup would be about right.

    And while Orbitz should have notified her of the schedule change, I also agree that the family should have confirmed the flight (I do so for even routine domestic flights), and showed up two hours ahead of time due to it being international.

    I know flights to Canada “feel” domestic, since most of them are on a dinky puddle jumper, but they are just as international as a flight to Europe, and have similar requirements.

    1. According to the post they did reconfirm…with Orbitz. I would haved reconfirm with the airline directly though.

      As I posted earlier, I blame Orbitz for not acting as a travel agent should. If you bill yourself as a travel agent, act like one.
      When I used Orbitz for corporate air bookings, I would then go to the airline’s site to verify also. Had the OP done this the day before, all this could have been avoided.

      I use a particular website for hotels that offers special rates for an association I belong to. After booking on that site, I take my hotel confirmtion number and pull it up directly on the hotel chain’s site to verify that all is correct as well.

      It may be overkill, but in all my years of traveling or arranging travel…I have never had a surprise like this.

      People will do what you inspect, not what you expect. Take a few minutes to verify on your own rather than take someone’s word.

      1. Yes, but you and I both know that Orbitz’s flight confirmation system is a joke. They are simply regurgitating the information on their database and if there is an error, it gets repeated.

        I agree with you. When I use a 3rd party site, I always verify the booking directly with the vendor. Hence, few surprises. To the frequenty traveler, this is automatic.

        What bugs me about Orbitz, is that they advertise about how they have low prices and will “take care of you” that is, until something goes ashtray. The general public doesn’t understand the nuances of travel, and can be lead down the wrong path.

        But… as I’ve said twice Kreiss made 2 errors:
        1) Arriving only 90 minutes before an International flight
        2) Not directly verifying with Air Canada the flight times.

        Should they have know? I don’t know, but Orbitz did get them to India (eventually).

          1. Pizo, disagree. 

            This wasn’t a flight to Canada. The OP wasn’t ending their trip at YYZ. There was a connection to LH to FRA and beyond. Since it was booked through Orbitz as a linked itinerary, the International departure of 120 minutes applies.

            Granted, the Kreiss family may not have realized this, but that’s a separate issue

          2. I’m going by what Air Canada recommends, not what I would personally do.  Checking in 90 minutes in advance is likely what their confirmation said as well. 

          3. Without looking at the e-mail, neither you nor I know what it said. Since the e-mail came from Orbitz, not from Air Canada, I doubt it would have said anything other than in fine print : “airline schedules are subject to change, verify with the airline prior to depart”

            Air Canada recommends 90 minutes to/from Canada. This itinerary was not to/from Canada. It was to India. So, your statement is incorrect. Air Canada recommends 120 minutes. Personally I would leave more time.

          4. I disagree.  If I’m flying from Pittsburgh to Toronto on Air Canada then I’m flying to/from Canada.  After they arrived in Toronto they were on another airline to another city.  They may very well have had 2+ hours before their flight on Lufthansa to Germany. 

            But it’s all splitting hairs here.  They were not the ones at fault at all here.

        1. She made one error and that was using Orbitz.

          I might use a third party site to get an idea of schedule and price of an itinerary but then I go to the airline’s website.  I have yet to find that the airline’s site itself doesn’t match what I find on third party sites.

          1. The only reason Orbitz and others like it are any good is that they will put different carriers together.  You can’t look at Orbitz and get a flight involving several different carriers and then book that same flight with one carrier.  The flight here involved at least 2 carriers.  I took a flight to Europe last year that had one stopover each way and involved 4 carriers. 

          2. You can do this yourself too by booking each flight on each carrier separately.  Booking multi-non-codeshare carriers is always a risk, and something I would never ever do.  The fact that Orbitz makes it easy scares me.  If you book this way and misconnect due to a delay by the first carrier, the next carrier doesn’t have to do anything for you because you arrived late.  You are basically considered a no-show. Chris has had several stories about this.
            If it’s code share, you can book it through one airline, i.e. Ticketed by Air Canada, Operated by Lufthansa, etc.  However, if you, or Orbitz, book on multiple carriers, not on code share flights, and be left in a world of hurt when your frontier Flight is delayed and you miss your KLM flight.

          3. Pizo, I would like to call out a possible misconception referring to Orbitz being able to put different carriers together – while (suggesting that) airlines can’t.

            This is just not true at all. Airlines regularly sell other flights within or outside their own alliance, especially if the origin is an “INLAND” city (a city that is not an international gateway). It also happens when the airline does not have any or enough flights to the destination but its own hub can be useful to the whole trip.

            To prove my point, take a look at the allowed routing for Luthansa’s cheapest fare from Pittsburgh (PIT) to Hyderabad, India (HYD). Essentially, the passenger can fly LH/UA/CO/AC/US/AI/9W depending on the flight segment.

            So, you don’t have to go to Orbitz or any lousy OTA to get this cheap Lufthansa fare because Lufthansa itself ALLOWED so many various combinations.

            Here is a listing for Lufthansa Route #409 for PIT to HYD:

               409 FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC-CLE/CHI/WAS-LH/UA/CO/AC-BOS/  
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC-CLE/CHI/WAS-LH/UA/CO/AC-BOS/  
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC-CLE/CHI/WAS-LH/UA/CO/AC-BOS/  
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC/US-CLT-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC/US-CLT-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC/US-CLT-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/AC/CO/US-BOS-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/AC/CO/US-BOS-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/AC/CO/US-BOS-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC/US-PHL-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC/US-PHL-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   
                   FROM-TO  PIT-LH/UA/CO/AC/US-PHL-AMS/BRU/ZRH/GVA/PAR/   

          4. Ha, ha. I was trying to make a point how absurd it is to design your own route from PIT to HYD on Lufthansa. The routing rules they use for Star Alliance to Europe are this ridiculous.

        2. Orbitz does not clean up schedule changes. If you looked at the PNR, it is more than likely had the original segment and new segment were in there. Poor training in their call center leads the agent to believe that the old segment (ex. “WK” in Sabre) is valid. A further look would show a schedule change segment that needs to be acknowledged.

          This is not so much an “Orbitz database” issue, but lack of the company itself to act as a travel agent should by monitoring schedule changes and advising the customer accordingly.

          I agree that the family should have arrived sooner as well, but they technically would have been there in time without the schedule change…but right at the wire. According to Air Canada’s website a 90 minute check in is recommended with the absolute cutoff at 60 minutes.

          1. Tony quite honestly I have no idea what all of that means.  Are you trying to say that if I can buy a ticket from say Orbitiz using 2 different carriers each way that I could go to one airline (say the first airline I use) and book that same exact ticket for the same price?  That is what I am saying, you cannot do that. 

            For me personally I booked (not on Orbitz but another online only site) a ticket from the New Jersey area to Budapest.  I left out of Newark on one airline, stopped over in Amsterdam and then switched airlines and flew to Budapest.  I left Budapest on a third airline, stopped over in Paris and flew home on Delta. 

            Now I’m sure there are plently who would say that booking online and using so many carriers is just asking for trouble but I had no trouble at all, none.  And booking this way, in the timeline that I had, meant I paid a lot less.

          2. Pizo, for EUROPE, generally speaking you can book WITHIN an ALLIANCE and get their good fares. The most important thing to remember though is where the HUBS of the alliances are. For example, if I choose Skyteam (DL/AF/KL/AZ) I know I can create an itinerary as long as I pass CDG/FCO/AMS. If I choose Star Alliance (CO/US/LH, etc) I’m almost sure I need to pass FRA/MUC/BRU. Finally with OneWorlds (AA/BA/IB), I will pass through LON/MAD.
            In your example AMS/CDG is a dead ringer for Skyteam and Delta should be able to sell you that itinerary to BUD via these hubs.
            If it gets more complicated that that since you have so many stops, I would use a good brick and mortar (person) travel agent since even Orbitz and the other OTA’s machines will likely give you lousy options.

  3. I was going to say “yes” Orbitz owed her something for the mess it caused, but then I saw “emotional distress” as one of her complaints and figured she’s just a money grubbing idiot. Oh wait, and her CHILDREN had emotional distress, too…yeah, whatever.

    And who the hell doesn’t arrive for a multi-stop, international flight at least 2 hours early!??!?

    Had the OP not whined about her “emotional distress” I would suggest Orbitz offer her a few vouchers. I hate vouchers, but…in this case, what else is there to give? Well, except what the OP wants which is money for “emotional distress.”

    Still laughing about that “emotional distress.” If you can’t handle a little frustration, stay out of airports!!!

    1. This is hardly a little frustration.  I’m guessing that the OP has family in India that they saved up all year to pay for a trip.  Now they are faced with the prospect of telling the kids that they aren’t going on the trip and seeing the relatives.

      Ultimately it turned out to be just a delay, but for a while it looked like a cancellation and the loss of 5k.

      1. Yes, but it’s not “emotional distress,” either. C’mon, this sounds like one of those people on the daytime court shows saying they’re owed “emotional distress” for a contracts case.

        1. And besides, how many among us are just as willing to compensate our customers or so for “emotional distress”? I mean, if we ourselves aren’t willing to render the same, then why expect others to do so?

    2. A little frustration?  Being told that you and your family cannot fly on a very expensive trip and that your money is just gone is far from what I’d consider “a little frustration”.  I would be out of my mind if someone told me that my $5000 airline tickets were no good due to no fault of my own.

      1. Fine, but you can’t really place any sort of value on ’emotional distress’ apart from (obviously) anything that OP paid for because of this mistake.

        1. I think being reimbursed for all expenses laid out by the family as well as some vouchers would be the best option.  Would the family use them?  Maybe, maybe not, but a goodwill gesture usually helps matters.

          Sure the family got to India but they got there days late after dealing with a lot of frustration and very poor customer service.  Orbitz should be giving them something to make up for that, most companies would.

    3. You’ve never had your children crying on your shoulder because an airline f’ed up, have you?

      I have. It sucks.

      In my case, the resort was cool about it (props to Beaches) and we slid our vacation a day. But it was the airline’s fault that they didn’t have a rested crew for our flight.

      1. So people with kids deserve more compensation for “emotional distress” than people without?

        Your train…it doesn’t run through the logic station, pal!

        1. You don’t like the term “emotional distress” – we get it.  But don’t you think they owe her something for all the stress, worry and hassle (another way of putting it)? It’s real, and you would feel it too in her place! Get past the language and look at the reality; courts do make awards for more than the actual monetary loss in such cases.

  4. Not to sound cold, but checking in 90 minutes before a multi-leg International flight is really bold. Granted, Kreiss may not be experienced travelers, but even if things went right, that doesn’t leave a lot of margain for error (ie traffic, long check-in lines, etc.)

    Orbitz blew it. It shouldn’t have sent incorrect departure times on the day of departure. When your customer base consists of mostly inexperienced or infrequent travelers, the expectation is that this information should be correct and up-to-date.

    However, I do not think that the Kreiss family should receive ADDITIONAL compensation. Go ahead criticize me, but I can’t get over the fact that anyone would check in 90 minutes before an International flight without confirming directly with the carrier (Air Canada in this case). The fact that the Kreiss family pledges never to use Orbitz is suffice, and if enough people would do this, thats the best revenge on Orbitz.

  5. I don’t see in the article where they received ANY compensation.  They paid for a flight to India and that’s what they ended up with.  Orbitz should cover their out-of-pocket expenses plus give them a reasonable ($150 per person?) voucher for their trouble.

    1. How about the fact that it seems Orbitz ate the cost of the flights that these people missed? If there’s shared culpability, there’s shared cost – Orbitz’s cost is the second flight and the family’s cost is the fees and aggravation.

      1. Orbitz should eat the cost.  If Orbitz had given them correct information none of this would be an issue.  While it is prudent to check in early for an international flight, the onehour check in was still within the required time limts

  6. Before the flames come, I want to clarify something…
    If a CSR at Orbitz were smart, they would do as sirwired says, offer the Kreiss family mileage for the trip to DC and a $200 voucher per person. The clearly made the error, and I’m not criticizing the Kreiss family for acting on the so-called confirmation sent by Orbitz. Any reasonable person who doesn’t travel frequently would have taken that as a confirmation, and would not have called Air Canada. By Orbitz being proactive and offering some sort of compensation, they may not lose a customer in the future.
    Where I differ from others, is that I think Kreiss’ check-in time makes them share some responsibility. Ironically, the claim of “emotional distress” also makes me lose some sympathy points.

    1. The OPs check in time was legal had orbitz given them the correct information, so how can they be partially to blame?

      1. Legal yes, feasible maybe, smart no. 

        Do you feel comfortable scheduling a 120 minute connection time at LAX with an international to domestic transfer? Its legal, could it be done, maybe, statistically not so much.

        Or a 30 minute connection time through O’Hare? 

        1. I’ve never flown through LAX so how would I know that 2 hours isn’t enough of a connection time? 

          Most people do not scour the internet looking up information on connection times and what sort of traffic airports get.  This is not something the average person does or should be expected to do.

          1. Fine, but the point is, MCTs are that, MINIMUM. PERIOD. A competant LIVE PERSON travel agent would advise their clients of that. Perhaps the moral of the story is if you don’t travel enough to know, pay up and use a live agent.

            It takes me 20 minutes to get to the office. I have an important meeting with a client. Do I leave 20 minutes before on the morning of this important meeting? 

          2. If you are going to be a DYI’er, then you need to do your homework.  It is your responsibility to be informed. 

        2. Chris in NC

          It depends on where you are coming from.  I live near San Jose.  They used to have relatively empty flights leaving every half hour to LAX. SO back then it was feasible.  Today, no.

          But its still a read herring.  As long as the schedule was legal and the OP comported with it, the blame lies squarely with Orbitz

      2. Not only was it within the legal time (60min), but they checked in right at the recommended time (90 min) — since the first flight was a “To/From US” flight.  It doesn’t really matter that they were connecting to an international flight; the checkin times are based on what’s needed to load *that* plane.

          1. Per Air Canada’s website they suggest a 90 minute check in for flight between the US to Canada and cutoff 60 minutes before. It was within the legal check in time, based on the departure time given the OP.

        1. Perhaps the point that is being made is that this is the first leg of an international trip, and since overseas flights tend to be fewer and farther between, the more cushion you give yourself at the airport may mean the difference between making and missing the connection.  If you miss a flight from Pittsburgh to Toronto, there is more likely to be another one, whereas if you miss your flight from Toronto to Frankfurt, you may be leaving 24 hrs. later. 

  7. Orbitz has hillarious commercials, a mediocre website, and lousy customer service. If you want funny commercials, they’re pretty good; if you want a travel agency, they aren’t.

  8. While I agree with Chris, that they should have checked the schedule with the airline, and I always do this myself.  I think many non-frequent travelers don’t know to do this.
    Every time I use an agency, I also use my frequent flyer number. Whenever I have a schedule change, I find myself notified by both the airline and the agency.  Usually it’s just a generic e-mail.  As the family probably doesn’t have a frequent flyer account (Or the airline would have contacted them), it was really up to Orbitz, and Orbitz clearly didn’t until within the 90 min cut-off.  That is ridiculous, and downright wrong of Orbitz.
    I think Orbitz owes them everything they are out for cab, parking, etc. that they would not have paid for otherwise, and owes them something for their lost time.  As far as “emotional distress” I am sick of people asking for money for this.  Travel is stressful, and travel often includes problems.  When someone asks for money for emotional distress, I think it makes them look like they are sue happy and looking to make extra money.  This is a slippery slope, because who is to classify “emotional distress” and its value.  If people get paid for emotional distress because they lost two days, what’s next, emotional distress money for turbulence?  If the family is asking for money for their lost time, things they had to pay for and then couldn’t use, etc. I agree, they are owed for that and Orbitz should pay up. I also think Orbitz should offer something extra as a gesture of good will. However when they asked for money for Emotional Distress, it made them lose a lot of credibility with me.

    1. I agree 100%.

      A lot of the family’s moves are pretty bold for starting an international itinerary, especially with 3 kids, but Orbitz definitely caused them a great deal of inconvenience, and they are owed for it.

      I also agree re: the emotional distress. Anyone can have some form of “emotional distress” from a delayed/cancelled flight, etc., but rarely do we get compensated for it. And they’re in India now, so it’s not like they had to scrap their whole trip.

      1.  Its not that the flight was delayed or cancelled.   I’d be with you under thos circumstances. Its that the OP and family believed that they wouldn’t be taken a trip that the kids had undoubtedly been waiting for, but that they were out 5k as well.

        Very different scenario

  9. Orbitz should provide compensation for all expenses incurred due to their mistake (cab fares, parking costs, mileage on the car) as well as some other form of compensation for the trouble.

    While I agree that the family w as cutting it a bit close with their checkin even if the flight did leave at 3:30, Orbitz (or Air Canada for that matter) should have notified them of the new flight time.

  10. I agree with the other posters, 90 minutes for an international flight is way to tight. Years ago we had domestic flight (PIT -> MIA) on Delta booked through Orbitz. The flight was moved up by 2 hours, and I never got a notification from Orbitz. I checked the day before, and we made our flight. I vowed never to book air through Orbitz again.

    There aren’t that many Air Canada flights from Pittsburgh to Toronto. It would be have been very easy to check the first leg of their flight outside of Orbitz.

    1. Reading your comment brought to mind – what if this family had made the original Air Canada flight, only to find that, because of the time change, the second leg would be impossible to make?  Orbitz could have had this family sitting in Toronto for a day, and had a lot more trouble on their hands.  ONLINE BOOKING AGENCIES ARE NOT TRAVEL AGENCIES.

  11. Orbitz owes them some type of compensation for their troubles. Since the family never mentioned what they though was fair I will leave it to them toi determine what will make them happy. Saying they will never use Orbitz again might cause Orbitz to lower any compensation thay might make.

    Not to be picky but when I book a flight, no matter who I book it through I check the airline and the airport for information on departures. As well I usuallly arrive at least three hours early for an international flight even if between Canada and the US. If I was I was travelling to Asia through multiple countries I would probably arrive even earlier.

  12. Definitely a good reason not to buy airline tickets from an Internet Vending Machine aka Online Travel Agencies (OTA). Any brick and mortar travel agent would have seen the time change of the flight in their GDS Queues and must contact the passengers to confirm the time change. However, I’ve got a feeling that OTAs treat airline messages as garbage – maybe since they do not have or have not budgeted for the human staff needed to perform this function.

    The fact that Orbitz continued to send wrong information till the day of departure speaks volumes of its incompetence. When will people learn about the disservice they are doing to themselves by dealing with such companies? I assume the ticket would have cost the same had they bought it directly from Lufthansa online.

    In my opinion, the REAL solution here is to STOP BUYING FROM OTAs that have POOR SERVICE. What good is a refund of a cab fare or gas expense from PIT to Washington if you would ruin your vacation?

  13. I think people who shop for cheap fares at Orbitz and expect a full service travel agency are like people who shop for jewelry at Walmart and expect a Tiffany experience.

    As others have pointed out, the travelers had every opportunity to double check the times through other sources and opted to get to the airport with less than the suggested lead time. Both sides made mistakes and it sounds like Orbitz ended up eating the cost of the first flight, so the family’s “emotional distress”  and additional fees are just their cost for their lax behavior. 

    1. The fact that they got to the airport later than the recommended 2 hours in advance of their originally scheduled flight time (which was confirmed by Orbitz that morning) is irrelevant. (If they had missed their flight because security/check-in took longer than expected, and they would have made it if they’d arrived 2 hours in advance, then I would agree that it’s on them). The entire issue here is that their flight was rescheduled and Orbitz not only did not inform them about it, but in fact provided them with misinformation.

    2. How much programming would it take forOrbitz to alert the OP that the lfighthad changed.  That should still be within the responsibility of any sale agency.

      Besides, isn’t that we you buy through Orbitiz and pay the fee, so that you don’t have to do everything yourself.

      1. I don’t know. They’d have to keep track of the up-to-date flight info for every ticket they sell and maintain the contact information for the people, so it’s probably not a negligible effort. Especially when compared to the effort needed by the person actually taking the trip (i.e. checking the airline website 24 hrs. before the scheduled flight).

        And no, I’d buy through Orbitz if they had the best price and because they offer a price assurance refund. But once they sell me my reservation, keeping track of it is my responsibility. I use a real travel agent so I don’t have to worry about everything myself.

        1. I suspect that the effort really is negligible.  Of course Orbitz keeps track of every ticket it sells already. Else it couldn’t process refunds.  Plus, the tickets are booked electronically which means that Orbitz is electronically linked to the various airlines.

  14. I can tell from previous experience, that this is what “probably” happened. Air Canada notified Orbitz via the computer system that there was a time change. Assuming they did, it’s Orbitz responsibility to monitor and notify the passenger, as is required of any third party agent. It’s possible that Orbitz did e-mail the passenger, via an automated e-mail, but the passenger didn’t look at it. Online travel agencies are notorious for e-mailing dozens of pages of useless information to their customers and often the crucial information is buried within pages of advertisements and garbage. After awhile, customers often just delete the e-mails without even opening them.

  15. Something doesn’t add up in the story. If the LW went through Orbitz, than the notification for schedule change should have come through Orbitz as their travel agent, right? But the LW writes that they got there at 2pm (less than two hours for an international flight, but that’s a different issue) and was told they missed the cut off. They talk about calling Orbitz and then getting an email FROM AIR CANADA that the flight was now rescheduled. But how did Air Canada email them directly?  And if Air Canada had their contact information (and used it in this case) why weren’t they contacted directly about the schedule change? (Or maybe they were and either ignored it or missed it?)

    1. HrmCoocoo – it is possible. Usually the travel agents gets time changes (as messages from the airline to the TA’s GDS) up to the date of travel. In this case the flight departure time moved from 3:30PM to 2:25PM well before the departure date. According to the airline, they send Orbitz a message last May while the flight probably was for July. So I assume that Orbitz had the new and correct information for about 2 months before the flight.

      The airline can email the passenger if one of the following is TRUE. The airline has record of the pax email from either a frequent flyer account or if the pax opted for flight notification with the airline when she got her seat assignments (I suppose very early as soon as she bought tickets). At that time maybe the flight was still scheduled for 330P.
      The other way the airline can get her email is if it was noted in the PNR. This is rare since most TA’s are only required to enter a phone number. But if the airline sensed or needed to get in touch with the pax because of an emergency, they will call. So I assume the email sent by AC/LH was nothing but a regular flight notification since the pax opted for it.

  16. Can’t say if the OP was ignorant or stupid, but using a TA (hopefully) would have changed that.  This is one of the few times I would use one, an international flight with 2 or more carriers, because a TA would tell/remind one that check-in for an international flight is 2 hrs. prior, and would have confirmed and reconfirmed the flight times.  And if something DID go wrong, a phone call to the TA helps distribute the responsibility to a knowledgeable person.  Orbitz did NOT hold up their end of the deal, delivering good info in a timely manner, on many levels, and should offer the OP transportation costs not associated with the original plans, and a voucher of $100/pp or more, if they want to try to keep this customer.  And PS – it is almost laughable that Orbitz is referred to as an “online travel agency.”  They are an online booking agent, with the customer doing the research.  Caveat emptor.

  17. Why don’t folks, who are planning an international vacation, use REAL travel agents?  Haven’t we learned this lesson from Chris?  Yes is seems so easy to book it yourself but when something goes wrong (as it often does these days), we’ve been shown time and again, these online agencies don’t come through and really don’t care about us at all.

    1. Chris has also had articles where it shows brick and morter TAs can screw up too. 

      I never use a travel agent and haven’t had too many issues with all the flights I’ve done.  I doubt I would use a travel agent honestly, I just don’t see how they are worth the cost.  For some people maybe they are worth the cost but for me, I don’t think they are. 

      1. For “seasoned” fliers, traveling by themselves, an online booking agent may do the job.  For a family relatively unfamiliar with travel, on an international itinerary, better safe than sorry.  This gives you one REAL person to help you if anything goes wrong.

    2. Because they want to save money, but ignore the cost of doing so (which is, you’re really on your own if things go awry).

    3. The short answer is that better than 99% of the time nothing goes wrong.  I live here in Silicon Valley and most of my clients are Indians, Egyptians, Persians, and Asians.  They all book travel through the internet and they rarely have trouble.

      Chris only gets the cases when something goes wrong so that’s not a representative sample of anything.

    4. I booked directly with an airline for an international flight and one segment just disappeared from my PRN.  No email, phone call, nothing. It just wasn’t there anymore when I looked.  It had been booked and paid 6 months in advance.  If I had not bothered to check a few days before my return, I might still be camped at the foreign airport waiting for a flight with available seats.  As it was, I spent almost 3 hours on the phone with the airline trying to get the flight restored.  I guess a travel agent would have done the phone calling for me, but I don’t see what other benefit they would have been.  Also, if I had depended on a call from a TA after they received notification from the airline I would still be waiting since no notification was ever sent.  If the airline itself “loses” a piece of your reservation, who can you trust to get it right?

    1. And a TA would more than likely recommend this family arrive at the airport AT LEAST 2 hrs. prior to the flight.  It is more of a challenge to organize 5 than 1, and considering 3 of the 5 are children, it is even more important to allow more time.  I’m not a TA, nor associated with any, but this is definitely a case where the OP should have used one.

      1. Perhaps a TA would have, we’ll never know in this case.  All we do know is the family followed the airline’s guidelines in terms of check in time and wasn’t allowed on the flight because the flight time had changed, something they were not made aware of. 

      2. All we know from the article is that the OP’s reached a checkin agent 90 minutes before their confirmed departure time.  We don’t know how much earlier than that they reached the airport or how long they waited in the check in line.


        Not to spare Orbitz of it’s blame, but am I the only one who thinks that it was harsh of Air Canada not to work with the family (e.g. to reschedule them) on account of 5 minutes, given that AC initiated the schedule change and clearly the OP’s were not notified?

  18. Come on people. Today’s travel requires no faith and a lot of checking and double checking. It’s great to use the online service for the price but that is all you really will get. Get on top of the plans and stay there. Its the only way to hope to have a smooth trip!

    1. Most airline’s computer systems have a set cut-off for check-in that the agents can’t override (sometimes a supervisor can, but not always).  Most likely that’s what happened here.

  19. Let me throw out a bit of advice for people who read this forum to learn more about what to do/not to do while traveling:

    I check flights on-line on the airline’s website before I set out for the airport to see if the flight has been delayed or cancelled.  I find this to be especially important if the flight is after noon, when the delays and problems start piling up.  I find that the times posted on the airline’s “Flight Status” website are updated faster than I can get notices from the airline.

    Had the Kreiss family followed this strategy, they could have caught the flight change earlier and been more proactive in their response to this situation. 

  20. I never understand why people cut it so close. Unless there is a compelling reason, I always try to show up at least 2 hours early even for domestic flights. I also check in online the night before. All that being said, Orbitz screwed this one up big time.

  21. There are some scenarios could have been cause the refuse.
    – The flight was sold out and Air Canada had taken her seat. I often show up less than the limited check-in times and never been refused to get checked. 90 minutes to/from US is only recommended check-in time
    In Europe, I get checked 30 minutes before flight and airlines don’t make a fuss.
    – The destination is India, and Air Canada don’t want to take a chance because of security concert (because of the Air India incident is always in the mind of Canadians).

  22. I echo what others have posted: I always check flight status on the airline’s site right up until the time I leave for the airport (especially for international flights), and arrive at least 2 hours before an international flight. No exceptions. I have really had the best luck with reasonable airfares and customer service by booking flights directly from the airlines website. Lastly, if folks are new to travel, the best strategy is to read online postings, like these, and see what seasoned travelers are saying. That helped me immeasurably when I started traveling internationally.

  23. I voted “No” on the poll here for the simple reason Orbitz turned this into a Keystone Cops episode with their “no-contact” way of doing business.  However, the travelers have to bear part of the blame.  As many others have said here, they should have checked with the airline the day before.  Flights change all the time…  Only once in my life have I used an online travel site for airplane tickets and, while it was uneventful, it’s just not how I opt to do business when traveling.

    I usually fly on Delta and they are pretty good at keeping travelers posted with regard to flight changes.  Even then, I still check with the airline the day before.  And even if Air Canada allows 90 minutes before flying internationally, 2 hours is still a good rule of thumb, especially for a group of travelers.

    Given the travelers didn’t do their due diligence, I think what the travelers received from Orbitz might be enough.  However, as a gesture of goodwill, perhaps they should give them a little more…

  24. This is absolutely unbelievable–except that I believe it really happened.  If Orbitz doesn’t give them EVERYTHING, they should sue sue sue.  I’d like to meet the judge who, after hearing the plaintiff’s account and looking over their supporting documentation, wouldn’t stare at the Orbitz lawyer (assuming they showed up at court), and say something really juridically complex like, “you did WHAT?!” 
    If all lawsuits were this cut-and-dried, we taxpayers would have to subsidize caffeine-IV’s for all judges, to keep them awake all day up there on the bench.

  25. They arrived 90 min prior and that can be tight and while they did verify the departure time they verified it with Orbitz and not the actual airline.
    Maybe they are infrequent or relatively new travelers or maybe they have had worry free travel thus far and didn’t know exactly what could happen. I’d cut them a little slack and chalk some of the mistakes they made up to a learning lesson, but I still feel the original blame lies with Orbitz. They took the OP’s money and have a responsibility to make sure the info they provide is accurate.
    Some people are saying that they are whining and crying about emotional distress. I disagree. It is possible they took time off from work and often you only get a certain number of days per year. On top of lost vaca days having your expensive trip seemingly go poof right before your eyes and having to argue to get it back is inherently stressful. Maybe you didn’t like the choice of words they used, but it’s not like they are suing the company they are trying to get compensation for the time/stress they had to spend fixing it rather than being on vacation. What is your time worth to you?

  26. I am simply amazed at the number of people who check in for international flights with little or no time to spare, no room for error, traffic, weather, general disruptions, etc.  Although I feel Air Canada could have shown alittle bit of empathy and exception, the passengers ultimately are responsible to show up in a timely manner – translation – EARLY with three kids and all the baggage in tow. 
    Orbitz and all the others constantly fob off the problem on the airline(s).   They get the electronic messages of sked changes and either don’t notify the passengers or the passengers don’t look at their reservations before the day of travel or know nothing until they get to the airport.  Orbitz took their money but takes no responsiblity for lack of communication and the passengers are left swinging in the wind.   Horrible situation – lesson to be learned — if you buy something –keep on top of the situation for any unforseen problems – don’t rely on a third party vendor, strangers and airline staff to solve your problem at the 11th hour, 59th minute. 

    1. And the sooner the general public realizes that Orbitz is a ticket VENDOR (love the way you put it) and not a TRAVEL AGENT, the better off they will be.

  27. Since it seems that the family’s additional expenses were a direct result of Orbitz telling them to do this and that (such as returning to the airport to await a call that never came, or the 4 hour drive to Washington), Orbitz should definately reimburse the additional expenses.

  28. I agree that they should have done a few things differently that would have prevented this, like showing up at least 2 hours before the flight.  But that doesn’t change Orbitz’s job of informing them of the change in  the flight.  They should have gotten them on another flight immediately.  I don’t believe they should get compensation for the inconvenience or emotional distress.  But they do deserve soemthing for 2 days of a missed trip.

  29. What is wrong with everyone here? They paid for a very expensive flight through an online booking agency with a so called guarantee of customer service only to be given the wrong departure time and extremely sparse assistance when that wrong departure time made them almost burn their $5000 + in tickets. I would be tearing my hair out if I lost that kind of money due to faulty information from my ticket agency. They were there within the 90 minute check in time as per Air Canada’s regulations so as far as I’m concerned they should hold Orbitz feet to the fire for compensation for their troubles and lost vacation time. Have we become so jaded that such a glaring lack of basic service is going to be pecieved as fault lying with the customer rather than the business being the one’s that dropped the ball? I’m all for personal responsibility but this is completely the fault of Orbitz. Try almost losing $5000 through no fault of your own and see how emotionally distressed you would be!

      1. I shouldnt have said everyone but the majority are splitting fault with the passenger and Orbitz for this debacle and I think it’s 100% the fault of Orbitz.

        1. Thanks. 🙂  BTW…you’re right, Orbitz should pay up, but as often happens on Chris’ posts people state what should have happened to avoid this. Bottom line is, in this case, Orbitz screwed up. They need to admit it and compensate (cash or check) for out of pocket expenses.

          I challenge ANYONE at Orbitz to defend themselves on this one. If someone books with you…should ALL of your agents be able to provide ACCURATE details of their trip? If you have any excuse as to why they should NOT…please close up shop today. If Orbitz operated properly, the OP would have gotten a call when the schedule changed happened, probably months prior to flight. They would also have received a text if the opted for this feature as well as an email.

          That being said, for future travel, I will again suggest to the OP and anyone else to arrive WELL PRIOR to the airlines recommended check in time AND verify bookings direct with the supplier (not agent) either via phone or web. It appears that neither of these happened. (But I refuse to let Orbitz off the hook!)

        2. Lucia, you’re misreading some of our statements. 

          If Kreiss/OP had been out $5000, thats a completely different story, but that’s simply not the case. In the end, Orbitz did find a replacement flight, though it resulted in a lot of hassle, 2 lost days. So for everyone who says the Kreiss family lost their money, that’s simply NOT true. Orbitz made the mistake, and offered poor customer service in helping a stranded customer. They have some out of pocket expenses and lost 2 days of vacation. 

          Kreiss is NOT entitled to a refund of her tickets. She did take the “flights” even though it was late. So, the Kreiss 

          Should Kreiss use Orbitz again? If I had this experience, I wouldn’t

          Is she entitled to compensation? Thats the issue. As previously stated, if Orbitz were SMART, they would have offered her compensation like vouchers. Since they choose not to, I’m not sure that they are entitled to additional compensation, but they can sure consult a lawyer to see.

          Could Kreiss have done things differently? (or if anyone who is reading this do something different in the future), YES, confirm with the airline and leave a little more time than 90 minutes (especially with kids) Had Orbitz NOT sent incorrect information, leaving 90 minutes was bold. Had there been traffic, bad weather, parking lot full, long lines at check-in, she would have been screwed too. 

          What I can’t believe is that people are focusing on the minimum check-in times. What is wrong with leaving an extra hour or two? It builds in some extra time, reduces stress, and minimizes problems. Just because its a legal connect/check-in time doesn’t mean it is going to be problem free.

          1. Hi Chris – I didnt mean to imply she should be reimbursed the $5000 + for the tickets but she should have some compensation for this unnecessary trouble from Orbitz. I just tried to get across that almost losing that much money would be nerve wracking for most people as to address those people who brush aside the “emotional distress” complaint. I’m not saying that isnt a dramatic way of getting that point across by the Kriess’ (I wouldnt use that phrase personally) but I understand what she was trying to get across.

          2. Lucia, 
            I understand where you are coming from. I don’t mean to come off as being unsympathetic to Kreiss. If I were in her situation, I would be mad as heck, upset and frustrated. Maybe I’m reading too much into her statement. Going back and re-reading the article, nowhere does she ask for compensation. 

            Its just some of us have heard the “emotional distress” catch phrase used over and over. 

            BTW, Orbitz has gotten what they deserve. Even if nothing else happens, they have received bad press and have lost at least 1 customer. 

          3. 🙂 Very true about Orbitz. . .I won’t ever book with them after hearing this story. Accidents happen but it’s how a company handles them that keeps customers coming

  30. The one thing the family did…..they trusted orbitz too much.

    When you book a flight you get an airline confirmation number that should be in the airlines system.

    thus you go to the airlines site to double and triple check the flight times.

    For flight times to change there is some window where after that point the airline can not change a flight…this is usually at least a month before the flight departure date.

    One time Delta change a flight for my sister.  We were traveling together but meeting up at the hub.  The flight we were both on moved earlier which made her layover in Atlanta a whopping 17 minutes.  I was alerted by the flight change but she wasnt.  When i saw this I contacted Delta and they acknowledged the problem and moved her initial flight to Atlanta to an earlier flight.

  31. I studied abroad in Mexico for seven months, and I bought my return tickets on Orbitz (I’m Canadian).  I actually did end up missing my flight home but it was the fault of the airline, not Orbitz (they refused to let me check in, claiming my flight was a code-share on a different airline… but after their plane took off they finally acknowledged I should have been on it!).  Orbitz, on the other hand, did keep me informed of schedule changes.  I received an email months in advance of a five-minute schedule change.  They definitely got it wrong in this article, but they can occasionally get it right.

  32. Emailing schedule changes, which even that doesn’t seem to have happened by Orbitz in this case, is not the way to do it. I had a USAirways flight last month, they emailed me at 3pm the day before the flight to tell me that the schedule had changed. That email did not arrive in my inbox until 12:30am the day of my flight. For a flight leaving at 6am. Obviously, I was in bed, and did not check email before leaving for the airport. Now, my original flight was cancelled, and I was auto-rebooked on the next flight, but, the fact remains. The email was generated at 3pm on their system. Looking at headers, I could trace the steps. While it was GENERATED at 3pm, it did not leave their email servers until 12:30am, and was received by my mailserver 1 minute later. The new flight didn’t leave until 11am.. If they had PROMPTLY notified me, I wouldn’t have been at the airport 5 hours early.

    I’ll bet the same thing happened here with Lufthansa.. If they had her email address to get the email to them while they were at the airport(Probably sent many hours beforehand, but jammed up in their servers).. Why didn’t THEY send the notice when the times changed months before?

    The airline obviously COULD have sent the notification. They SAY they notified Orbitz.. But, why did they notify Orbitz and not send a notification to the customer? I lean more towards the airline being responsible.

  33. Orbitz provided a service to its clients: notifying them of flight departure times and any changes in thoses times. Given that only when it was too late to make a diffference did Orbitz get the right time, I’m not sure why Orbitz shouldn’t be entirely on the hook not only for arranging and paying for new flights but also for added compensation. If Orbitz doesn’t want this liability, they shouldn’t present themselves as a reliable source of flight times. But they did and they are.

  34. While I agree that they should have checked with the airline at least a week before their departure,  Orbitz, as their Travel Agent, has an obligation to keep their customer informed of any changes that they are given to their intinerary. This falls solely on Orbitz’s shoulders and they should take the blame 100%!

  35. 2 major things – you ALWAYS need to reconfirm the flight 24 hours in advance – that would elimnate any flight time changes catching you by surprise.  AND you need to be at the airport at LEAST 2 hours before the flight!  You have to check in and go through security, and she had a family with small children.  Definately did NOT take responsibility for her own screw ups on this.  She is LUCKY that she got there at all.

    1. This may be good advice, but it is not a hard and fast rule. In this case the OP was given a wrong departure time by Orbitz.  They were at the airport at the airline’s recommended check in time…based on the departure time given by Orbitz.

  36. I agree everything went a bit pear shaped and Orbitz was definitely in the wrong, but as you mentioned, why not get to the airport early for the peace of mind. I know business travellers might consider this ‘non-productive’ time spent at an airport a waste, but for leisure travellers, I think it’s time well spent. I do think showing up at 2 for a 3:30 flight is cutting it a little close.

  37. Who leaves for the airport without checking flight status on the airline website? Airlines change schedule all the time. It doesn’t matter how the flights were booked I always check flight status online day before departure and right before leaving for the airport. E-mail notifications are not always reliable. The e-mail could be sent by orbits when the schedule change occured and it could ended up in the junk folder. Who knows at this time? But it is not difficult at all to go to enter booking reference and last name and see updated information.

    1. I fly often and rarely check flight status before I head to the airport unless I know of bad weather where I am or where I’m heading.  Call that stupid but to get to the nearest airport for me is over an hour.  For a domestic flight I need to be there an hour early, I leave 30 mins to park.  I’d be checking the status of a flight nearly 3 hours before the flight is due to take off.  I have never personally experienced a delay or cancellation called that early.  I’m usually at the gate before I hear of delays.

      1. I
        use to not to check and just go directly to the airport with minimum time before
        the flight, but so much time was wasted when flight is delayed or cancelled
        that I try to check flight status every time I fly. If a flight is delayed I
        can spend an extra hour or two at home or in the office and not sitting at the
        airport. And now with mobile applications I just enter my flight info when I
        book it and I get notifications on flight status and gate: saves a lot of time
        and troubles. For instance, my flight was delayed and I would miss connecting
        flight, instead of going to the airport I called United and they rerouted me on
        different airline and I didn’t have to spend night in Denver.

  38. Considering all the aggravation you get, and all the money you lose, is Orbitz really worth the “savings”? When are people going to stop trying to save a nickel and use a real travel agent, or just do their own trip planning themselves? Really, how hard is it to book a round trip flight directly through an airline?

    1. How many times are there issues?  1 time out of every 10 flights?  Every 25?  50?  My guess is MOST of the time Orbitz and the like work just fine. 

      I just looked up a the same cities on Orbitz, the cheapest roundtrip fare was $1442 per person on American and Etihad airlines.  I went to American’s site and looked up the same cities.  No flights exist between those cities (because you’re switching airlines I assume). 

      Just for giggles I looked up piecemealing the flights.  The flights from Pittsburgh to the stopover alone were $1700 each and that only got you to/from Abu Dhabi, UAE, not all the way to India.   

      Maybe a travel agent could have done better than me but really, for flights alone, given that the majority of the time everything works out fine, I’d save the fee and just book online myself. 

      1. Sorry Pizo you are dead wrong on AA not having a fare and offering for PIT to HYD and back. Go to their website and also to Orbitz and query a fare for 30AUG-15SEP. Right now Orbitz will display an AA/IW (Kingfisher)/AI (Air India) flight for $1,450.49. AA’s website will display an AA/AA codeshare with Jet Airways (9W) for $1475.50 USD.

        Orbitz is selling the AA/IW/AI flight combinations on ONE TICKET PLATED (validated/sold)  BY AMERICAN AIRLINES. This is not a separately ticket flight from DELHI.

        Any travel agent who knows what they are doing can duplicate either AA’s itinerary and Orbitz’s itinerary. For example, I duplicated Orbitz’ itinerary in Worldspan and got this:
         2 AA 292V 30AUG TU ORDDEL  450P  545P#1
         3 IT 804Q 31AUG WE DELHYD  840P 1050P
         4 AI 840T 15SEP TH HYDDEL  715P  920P
         5 AA 293S 16SEP FR DELORD  1230A  520A
         6*AA4142S 16SEP FR ORDPIT  850A 1110A
        TICKET     BASE USD                TX/FEE USD       TKT TTL USD
         ADT01       895.00                    548.50           1443.50
        *TTL          895.00                    548.50           1443.50
        *AS BOOKED
           PIT M434.00NUC895.00END ROE1.00AA XT32.60US5.00XA7.50AY
           10.50IN16.90WO450.00YQ13.50XF PIT4.5ORD4.5ORD4.5
         TX 5.50YC 7.00XY 32.60US 5.00XA 7.50AY 10.50IN 16.90WO
            450.00YQ 13.50XF

        As you can see the GDS says this itinerary only costs $1443.50 but Orbitz is selling it for $1450.49. So I assume Orbitz is charging a $7 booking fee. Note, any agency with appointment from American Airlines can sell the exact itinerary of Orbitz.

        IMO, The reason why AA chose to sell the Jet Airways flights in their website is because those flights are CODESHARED by AA. So it will look like (to unwitting passengers) that AA was the one flying those planes when in reality they were not. I also suspect the revenue sharing using Jet Airways was better for AA so they would sell that first.

        Finally, the Kreiss family couldn’t care less to guess the statistics of Orbitz failures. As far as they are concerned they just want to get their own money’s worth. IMO, Orbitz hasn’t made them whole since Orbitz negligence caused them to miss a few days vacation and make them drive to Washington DC from PIT.

    2. I am pretty skilled in using my GDS (Worldspan). PIT to HYD took me 1-2 minutes to make a sample itinerary on Lufthansa’s LOWEST PRICED Booking Class with AVAILABLE SEATS.

      Here is the sample itinerary and what it would cost:
       1*AC8041V 30AUG TU PITYYZ  255P  408P
       2 LH 471V 30AUG TU YYZFRA  625P  825A#1
       3 LH 752V 31AUG WE FRAHYD  1055A 1110P
       4 LH 753V 15SEP TH HYDFRA  100A  705A
       5*LH5426V 15SEP TH FRAYYZ  1000A 1215P
       6*LH5444V 15SEP TH YYZPIT  435P  551P

      TICKET     BASE USD                TX/FEE USD       TKT TTL USD
       ADT01       974.00                    614.40           1588.40
      *TTL          974.00                    614.40           1588.40
      *AS BOOKED
         487.00NUC974.00END ROE1.00LH XT32.60US5.00XA2.50AY8.20SQ
         1.10RC18.80DE52.40RA41.30IN5.50WO430.00YQ4.50XF PIT4.5
       TX 5.50YC 7.00XY 32.60US 5.00XA 2.50AY 8.20SQ 1.10RC 18.80DE
          52.40RA 41.30IN 5.50WO 430.00YQ 4.50XF

      I would guess most travel agents would charge about $45 booking fee (since they probably don’t earn any commission). For a family party of 4 on the same itinerary, the work is essentially the same so $25 per head is acceptable. So for $100 booking fee, I think the Kreiss family could have avoided this big problem by going through a real travel agent.

      Also, I doubt if Orbitz charged any cheaper than So I don’t think the Kreiss family saved anything going to Orbitz.

      1. Most of the time, you don’t get the desired fare on the dates you want to travel, unless reserved well in advance. And if you are numerous people traveling the number of seats are rarely available. I am not a travel agent but we are family of 6 traveling together often and most of the time, my TA must call the yield manager to get the desired fare for 6, we got it always.
        The OP should use the service of a TA.

        1. I agree. I often have to book 14 family members  (11 here in NYC and 3 in LAX). I book the reservations myself using a GDS and transfer ownership of our PNRs to the “consolidators” who will give me the best deal. The buddy-buddy relationship you are referring to exits mostly for Asia. Most of the times I can put passengers on a waitlist and call to have them cleared.  I have yet to see the same flexibility for Europe. For large family travel, it’s best to use a travel agent and make a deal for any booking fees (if required).

          Many readers here need to know how a travel agent searches for low fares. They do not have a search engine like ITASoftware’s QPX. TA’s first display Fare Basis Codes (from low to high BASE fares) that are applicable to the passengers travel dates and length of stay. From there they can determine the lowest booking class code of each airline they are interested in. Then the TA looks at seat availability for the dates of travel (depart and return). They search for flights that have the available number of seats they need at the Lowest Booking Class. Once found, the sell the flight segments to create an itinerary; only after which, they can actually price the itinerary.

          So the basic difference is the TA knows what fare is the lowest and which booking class they are targeting. On the other hand most consumers simply observe flights and price. They really have no idea what is the basis of those prices. The reason why consumers find low fares online is based mainly by frequent comparisons and luck.

          1. As TA’s we see class of service where online all consumers see are flights that the online company wishes to provide and pricing.  There is NO online site that provides the most accurate information to the consumer as the GDS gives to the TA.  It is also live availability, not cached.

  39. This doesn’t address the question directly, but I’d like to point out some fallacies in some of the arguments, in hopes that folks will think things through.

    1.  The family arrived before the recommended 90-minute check-in time.  They were close, admittedly, but it seems that anyone claiming they should have allowed more of a margin don’t consider that they may have done so and been stuck in traffic.  When I used to live outside of Chicago, there were many cases where my planned extra time got used up by ridiculous traffic on the tollway (“ridiculous” meaning “far beyond what was reasonable to expect at the time of day”).  With an hour’s drive, things can happen after you check the traffic reports.

    2.  This wasn’t simply a trip on two separate airlines — it was a trip on two members of Star Alliance, so the itinerary should have been coordinated between the two airlines.  Not the same situation as flying, say, JetBlue to JFK and connecting to Aeroflot.

    (On the original question: this is 100% Orbitz’s fault and they should be responsible for all direct expenses.  I am in the camp, though, that doesn’t believe in payment for “emotional distress.”)

    1. Or you could be like me…My 2 hour window is a worst case scenario. I have made it to the airport 3 hours early sometimes

  40. I believe that Orbitz should NOT be let off the hook on this one.  They should compensate the OP for the family’s out-of-pocket expenses AND the two days of vacation time lost.

    Orbitz repeatedly and consistently advised them that the departure time was 3:30 p.m.  They arrived at the check-in counter at 2:00 p.m. which was 90 min. before departure (the minimum boarding interval required by Air Canada). 

    It is evident that Orbitz misinformed the family and as a result they were inconvenienced and made their straightforward arrangements quite  complicated.

    The experiences of other people are supposed to provide us with  opportunities to discover better ways of organizing our own arrangements.  In addition to all that we have learned here from what others recommend, I would add that I prepare and take with me a folder with printouts of all aspects of my travel arrangements.  This includes photocopies of documents, reservations for hotels and car rentals, maps of parking lots, and much more. 

    This may seem over the top to some who prefer to be more spontaneous, but this book has stood me in good stead more than once.  For instance, the Hilton in Ocala denied that we had reservations there.  I was able to show them the hard copy of my confirmation as well as copies of e-mails exchanged with their HQ when I made an amendment to the reservation.  We got our rooms.

  41. Ms. Kreiss may not realize it, but she’s already received the BEST kind of compensation… she’s learned not to deal with Orbitz. I dealt with them exactly once, got burned, and never went back. Sorry, Christianna… but welcome to the club.  🙂

  42. You screw-up, you pay, simple as that.  If it had been the OPs fault, they’d have been expected to eat their tickets.  I don’t see why Orbitz should somehow be granted a pass.

  43. The 15% that voted that Orbitz did enough, must be Orbitz employees. Why oh why don’t people stop booking throught these web sites and start booking directly with a face to face travel agent or with the airline.

    1. And… one going to India can actually go to a destination specialist (probably a sub agent of a consolidator) and get face-to-face service at a LOWER PRICE than the published fares Orbitz offers. The fact that Orbitz added $7 to the fare as a booking fee and actually did nothing to contact the passenger for a critical time change shows why it’s useless to use these kinds of vendors. Lufthansa does offer a decent commission for tickets from USA to India and that should be enough earnings to book a family without having to add a fee.

  44. IMO, Orbitz caused the whole mess by not passing along information they had months ago.

    Not everyone is an experienced traveler. I would have checked each flight with each carrier to verify times, but that’s me – not a million-miler with any one alliance, but darn close in aggregate. Enough of the hand-wringing about not using Orbitz or buying expensive travel insurance that probably wouldn’t have paid out anyway or showing up hours and hours early. If an anvil had fallen out of the sky, some regular commenters would have found a way to blame the passengers.

    Also, what experienced traveler EVER shows up 2 hours early for any flight originating in the US? They showed up just short of 90 minutes before what they thought their departure time was – totally reasonable for people traveling with children.

    Honestly, Air Canada should have tried to get them on their first leg rather than arguing. Nonetheless, this was ALL Orbitz’ fault, and they should pay for all incidental expenses, including lodging, meals and ground transportation, plus a few dollars in credits to make things right.

  45. First this is why I do not book on Orbitz when things go wrong you do not get a fast response.  Second this is why I get to the airport 2 hrs for international flights and I check with the airline the day before as to the time of the flights (they know best, they become liable then). Third  she should have for done a number of calls until they got on a flight.

  46. Why do people insist on booking travel through sites like Orbitz?!?  Use them to get fare information so that you have an idea how much a trip will cost you, but then book directly with an airline if you’re a do-it-yourself’er or through a qualified and trusted travel agent.  Especially for an itinerary such as this one.  And who shows up for an international flight 1.5 hours before, it’s pretty much a given to allow for 2 hours minimum.

  47. Hold Orbitz to the new standards required of the airlines. They should compensate travelers for bumping them off flights by their poor information.

    “Under the new rule, bumped passengers can get up to $650 if the airline can get them to their destination within a short period of time (within one to two hours of their originally scheduled arrival time for domestic flights), or up to $1,300 if they are delayed for a long time.”

    So there you go – at least $2600 for the two adults. Quit letting Orbitz claim to be a travel company, and yet not have to abide by the same rules.

  48. The mistake was to trust Orbitz. In one of my recent travels I used Orbitz (to avoid the booking fee on the airline site). The flight not only changed it departure time several times, it changed the departure DATE. I only find out about it because I was monitoring my flights on a weekly basis. I never heard anything from Orbitz about the change. Now if I would not have checked and just arrive in the airport on the wrong day -I shudder the thought.

  49. Use A REAL LIVE TRAVEL AGENT! YOU AND THE COMPUTER = “I GET WHAT I PAID FOR-0’s and 1’s” I am held responsible for the tickets that I issue. I react immediately and and at my cost. Orbitz, Expedia, etc are 0’s and 1’s to you and your computer. You saved how much for “your computer’s error”? Wow, I hope it was worth it. I know of 20 excellent travel agents in Pittsburgh, and everyone of them got a copy of this article and are laughing themselves silly.

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