Oh no, not another flight change kerfuffle.
This one belongs to David Pickett, who really wants to get the word out about the unfairness of the one-sided airline contracts that allow them to make any changes they want, with virtually no repercussions. I’m happy to oblige.
“This summer I purchased four tickets from San Francisco to Delhi on Orbitz with China Eastern airlines,” he says. Total cost: $5,700.
He’s scheduled to leave Dec. 16. He’s just not sure about the schedule.
“My original flights had a two- to three-hour stopover in Shanghai with a total trip time of about 22 to 23 hours,” he says. “But I just received an email from Orbitz saying that China Eastern changed their flight times.”
The new schedule is awful.
Because of the change, I now have a 19-hour layover in Shanghai on the way there and an 8-hour layover on the way back. They offered me a hotel room for the night in Shanghai on the way there.
I told Orbitz that this was unacceptable for many reasons. Having those long layovers when traveling with two kids, ages 6 and 9, would make the trip a nightmare.
Also, I lose an entire day from the beginning of the trip.
Finally, I already separately purchased a flight from Mumbai to Delhi on January 2. That flight gets me to Delhi in time for my original China Eastern flight home. But it would not get me to Delhi in time for the new China Eastern flight home.
Pickett asked Orbitz to book him on a different airline with flights that are comparable to his original flights.
“Air India has a direct flight that would work,” he says.
“A refund of the $5,700 wouldn’t work because comparable tickets now cost $9,000,” he adds. “I would like Orbitz or China Eastern to pay for the difference.”
Let’s go straight to the legalese, which can be found in section 9 of China Eastern’s general conditions.
After issuance of the Tickets, CEAIR may make changes in the scheduled flight time. CEAIR will notify the Passengers of the changes in the flight schedule through the contact details provided by the Passengers.
If the Passengers cannot accept such changes in the flight schedule made by CEAIR and CEAIR fails to arrange another alternative flight which is acceptable to the Passengers, the Passengers may apply for a refund in accordance with Article 11.4 on Involuntary Refunds under these Conditions.
In other words, it’s CEAIR’s way or the highway. Either take the new flight or take the refund.
And this is where Orbitz comes in. As his online travel agent, it can — and should — advocate for an acceptable schedule. That’s what travel agents do, isn’t it?
I’ve recommended that he ask Orbitz to do its thing. Here are the executive contacts at Orbitz.
Failing that, he can take his case directly to China Eastern. And if that doesn’t work? Well, maybe we’ll need to get involved in this one.