Hey Bravofly, what happened to my United booking?

Kathleen Anderson books airline tickets through a site called Bravofly. Or so she thinks. When the flights are never confirmed, she goes looking for a refund — and we try to help.

Question: I’m being charged for services that I did not receive from Bravofly, an online travel agency that was supposed to book airline flights. I did not receive anything from them, no confirmation number and no ticketing information.

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When I tried to contact them by phone, the only number available on their website was a number in a foreign country. I tried to send them an email, and they wanted the confirmation number, which I did not have because they did not provide me with one.

I contacted United Airlines, the airline on which Bravofly allegedly booked my flight. United had no record of Bravofly booking a flight for me.

I have made several attempts to contact my bank and they keep referring me to different people in their dispute unit. I can’t review the documents that Bravofly has provided because I am locked out of my account. Can you help me get my money back? — Kathleen Anderson, Sacramento, Calif.

Answer: This one’s a real mystery. Bravofly is a Swiss company, but scroll down for this important disclaimer: “This website is not, neither does it intend to be, for persons subject to the laws or regulations of the United States and/or Canada. The information contained in this website are published in English and in dollars because that meets international standards.”

That’s a new one. If I stumbled across an obscure European site that warned it was not for me, I’d probably look somewhere else to make a reservation.

Our advocacy team checked with Bravofly about your tickets. The company said its records show it sent you an email after you made the booking. It also received and processed your request for wheelchair assistance.

“Both these communications were also sent via SMS to the telephone number provided by Ms. Anderson,” a representative noted. “Furthermore, having checked directly with United Airlines, we can confirm the ticket had been booked correctly.”

Also, Bravofly has no record of any further contact from you. “There are a number of notes against her booking stating she has disputed the transaction with her card,” a representative says.

So you had valid tickets and the company had no record of your contact. What’s more, your flight has already departed with an empty seat, so United won’t refund your fare.

This is not an easy case. Our advocacy team managed to get a straight answer from Bravofly, but we can’t push it to refund your ticket. Next time you need a ticket, I’d look a little closer to home. Book through a qualified travel agent, a brand-name online agency, or directly through an airline.

24 thoughts on “Hey Bravofly, what happened to my United booking?

  1. Lession #1: Don’t ever use Bravofly
    Lession #2: Book your travel direct or via a reputable travel reseller
    I am somewhat perplexed by this situation. This shouldn’t have been this complicated. Was her credit card charged? If so, who charged her credit card? Was it United or Bravofly? That should tell you who you pursue. If the credit card was charged by United, then she had a valid ticket. Is it possible that her name was misspelled, and without a PNR, there was no way her ticket could be located.

  2. Just wondering:

    * Could the confirmation e-mail been caught by a spam filter? Sometime my ISP flags messages as spam and sometimes my anti-virus/fishing software.
    * They also sent an SMS text (supposedly). Was that sent to a landline, perhaps?

    At least Chris and his team was able to contact this company and get an explanation. But if all you are doing is booking an airline ticket, just book directly with the airline. The risk is not worth any potential savings. (She indicated wheelchair assistance was also needed — another sign that booking with the airline is best. Or at least use a known OTA.)

  3. If United couldn’t find OP’s reservation, then what gives her the idea that she had seats that flew empty? If Bravofly charged her anything for the nonexistent booking, she should just dispute the charge for noncnsummation. This is usually an ironclad reason for disputing.

  4. Did Ms Anderson understand what “SMS” means? Does she have an “SMS” capable phone? Did she ever check her phone to see if there was any message(s) from Bravofly?
    Did she book her flight online? If so, there should have been some sort of confirmation indicating her purchase was confirmed after she pushed the “buy” “purchase” button on the web page and it was confirmed
    Next, how long did she wait before she tried following up on her purchase? If she was unable to get any information from Bravofly, I certainly would have contacted my bank whose card I used to make my purchase and put in a dispute based upon having received no confirmation, United Airlines could not confirm my ticket and I am submitting a dispute. I certainly would not have waited until after my flight departed to get the ball rolling.
    I am sorry she could not get her money back, but it appears Chris was not able to help because there was nothing that really could be done at the point in time he was contacted. But, he did get an answer for her, but I am sure it is not what she wanted to hear.

    1. Who doesn’t have an SMS capable phone? I still have a Nokia 7210, and it’s an OLD phone that doesn’t do much and it receives SMS. I also have an old STARTAC flip phone that’s 20 years old and it could send and receive SMS. Even “printed” disposable phones can send SMS, even if the keypads can’t take extensive typing before they breakdown.

    2. true – the ticket number would be on the credit card receipt – and she could have used that to contact United for a confirmation number – can even use it online to track your flight

  5. Where do people find these obscure OTA’s???? And what posesses them to use them? I don’t get it. Another issue here…what account was she locked out of, and why?

  6. In addition to all of the issues noted below, is there any information on the timing here? Did she reserve a flight one day out, one week out or three months out? And why didn’t she see the charge on her online credit card statement?

  7. First, how does the LW know that BravoFly is an OTA that’s supposed to book air travel, maybe they are a self advocacy group for flies? I don’t know I never heard of them before.

    Second, I actually wrote a comment some time ago that there would be an OTA that did just this. price everything in US dollars (Euros meet international standards as well and are part of the SDR bucket of currencies), sell to North Americans and have fine print saying your service isn’t for North Americans. Brilliant.

    Third, BravoFly’s reports smell like poo, it’s their computer system they can put whatever data they want into it, and they can deny whatever they want to. What do they care.

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