“This was not typical of the way schedule changes are routinely handled here”

expediaWhat if you got an email like this?

We are contacting you in regards to your recent purchase made on Expedia.com.

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At this time the airline has not acknowledged the flight and/or fare that you originally purchased. Your reservation has not been ticketed and without confirmation from the airline, we are unable to ticket this reservation.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused; however, it is important that you contact our offices.

Christina Mather got one just a few days before her trip to China. Then things went from bad to worse.

When I called the number given to me in this email and refer to the case #, the service reps say there is no problem at all, yet the airlines will not assign seat numbers because they say we are not ticketed — even though the itineraries online and the reps say we are ticketed.

I have spent countless hours/days trying to reach a more experienced supervisor to help to no avail and have been rudely yelled at by the customer service reps that refuse to get a supervisor.

Please help fix the ticketing issue as this trip is supposed to occur next Monday.

Ticketing problems like this aren’t unusual, but when they happen, you expect your online travel agent to help you fix it. In this case, Expedia wasn’t doing its part. So I contacted it.

Here’s what it said:

It appears that the issue arose when the airline enacted multiple schedule changes for this itinerary. Under typical circumstances, the airline will offer alternate flights or a refund in the event the schedule change is unacceptable.

In this case, there was an error on the part of an Expedia agent in not reissuing the new tickets properly. Ultimately, Expedia canceled the original bookings and rebooked the customers, charging only what Ms. Mather originally paid and covering the additional cost increase.

The customer agreed to this resolution and all new flights were confirmed with the customer October 1st.

Well, that’s a relief. But could the customer have done anything differently? I noted that she copied all the right people and remained polite at all times. Was she missing anything? I asked.

It appears there was nothing the customer could have done to avoid this, as it occurred because of an airline schedule change.

While booking your ticket far in advance, as Ms. Mather did, can mean a lower price on airfare, it does afford the airline a greater length of time to make schedule changes. However, I would not advise against booking far in advance, as typically the airline is able to offer acceptable alternatives in the event of a schedule change.

Another Expedia colleague, who was copied on our exchange, added her two cents.

Just to jump in, it looks like Ms. Mather booked about 6 months in advance, which would be quite typical and advisable for an international trip of this nature.

Expedia customers can rest assured that they would be contacted proactively by Expedia any time a schedule change occurs related to an itinerary they booked with us. In this case, Ms. Mather did the right thing to get in touch with Expedia upon receiving the original email in this string. She was also right to seek confirmation that she and her travel companions were ticketed properly, and we regret that the tickets were not properly reissued when she contacted us upon receiving the original schedule change notification.

This was not typical of the way schedule changes are routinely handled here, and the situation will be used in the continual education of our agents.

I think this is one of those times when, despite a traveler’s best efforts, a resolution through normal channels was impossible.

(Photo: Jonathan Caves/Flickr Creative Commons)