Help! The cost of my airline ticket doubled and now I can’t get a refund

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By Christopher Elliott

When the price of Lai Mun Yip’s airline tickets doubles, she goes looking for a refund from Gotogate. But who has her money?

Question

I booked four airline tickets from Gotogate for AirAsia flights from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. The site displayed a price of $400. 

After I filled in my details, there was a lag in the website and a new price of $1,002 popped up through another window in my mobile browser. 

I do not want to make this booking anymore, but it wasn’t immediately clear how to cancel. Gotogate charged my credit card $1,002. 

I checked the AirAsia site and the same ticket costs $500. That means Gotogate is marking up the tickets by 100 percent!

I called Gotogate the same day and a representative told me they could not refund my ticket. They recommended that I contact AirAsia. An AirAsia representative said I have to go through Gotogate for a refund. Can you help me? — Lai Mun Yip, Singapore

Answer

Airline ticket prices change constantly, but they should not change after you push the “book” button. So this was definitely unusual.

It’s also important to be extra vigilant when you’re booking tickets. Make sure you don’t buy your tickets unless you’re certain of the price, which, as I already mentioned, can change in the moments before you book.

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Here’s what should have happened. Between the time you clicked on the fares and the time you booked your tickets, Gotogate should have explicitly asked if you wanted to continue with your purchase. Only then should it have charged you $1,002. (Related: Here’s a refund for your airline tickets, but there’s this little fee.)

Instead, you had selected your fare and finished your purchase by filling in the passenger names when the online travel agency changed the price.

What really happened with this airline ticket

Gotogate was not marking your tickets up. It’s far more likely that the airline had run out of fares at the fare you saw and Gotogate was just updating the price. But as it turns out, there was more to your story.

Online travel agencies like Gotogate have their uses. You can run easy price comparisons through a website like Gotogate to quickly find the lowest fare. Sometimes, online agencies also can offer attractive package deals that help you save more money. But I also get a lot of customer service complaints about them. They often behave like balky vending machines, at least when it comes to service. (Related: Singapore Airlines owes me a refund. How do I get it?)

GotoGate is a European online agency owned by Etraveli AB. I list the names, numbers and emails for GotoGate’s customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief, polite email to one of the managers might have fixed this for you.

I contacted GotoGate on your behalf. A representative responded, “Due to a manual mistake, we offered the wrong price to the customer. We have now mailed and apologized and will also refund the customer’s ticket in full.”

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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