Hey Expedia, my flight is missing a leg!

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Something’s wrong with Joe Spooner’s airline ticket to New Zealand, and no one can help him fix it. Is he stuck with having to book a new flight?

Question: I recently bought tickets on Expedia to fly from San Francisco to Auckland via Honolulu. The flights were ticketed on Air New Zealand, and the first leg of my flight was on United Airlines.

When I tried to check in for my United flight to Honolulu, a representative told me that Expedia had canceled the first leg of my flight from San Francisco to Honolulu. The rest of the ticket was still confirmed, but I now had no way of getting to Honolulu.

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A United representative tried to fix the problem by calling Expedia, but they couldn’t restore my reservation.
Unfortunately, I had to be in New Zealand to visit the oncologist with my mother, who has recently been diagnosed with cancer.

I ended up having to purchase a one-way ticket to New Zealand and another one-way ticket back to San Francisco, which cost me a further $2,637. I’d like to get a refund for those tickets, but Expedia refuses. Can you help? — Joe Spooner, San Francisco

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your mother’s condition. Your reservation shouldn’t have been canceled, and even if it was, Expedia should have notified you of the cancellation before you arrived at the airport. Finding out that part of your ticket was invalid was no way to start a trip like this.

Once Expedia learned of your problem, it should have figured out a way to get you to New Zealand immediately without incurring any additional expenses. A review of the correspondence between you, the two airlines, and Expedia, found that no one knew how your flights were canceled and none of the parties were willing to refund your ticket.

You book airline tickets through an intermediary like an online travel agency because it promises it will advocate for you when something goes wrong. Well, something went wrong — very wrong — with your ticket, and no one advocated for you.

Would this have happened if you’d booked the flight directly with United or Air New Zealand? Maybe, maybe not. Sometimes, someone just hits the wrong button and invalidates a ticket, although it’s extremely rare.

Asking your airline and travel agency to resolve the canceled ticket was the right move, but you ran out of time and had to book a new flight. Switching to email, so that you could keep a paper trail was a brilliant move. Now you have evidence that you tried to fix this through normal channels.

As a last-ditch effort, you could have appealed to one of Expedia’s executives. I list their names and number on my website.

I contacted Expedia on your behalf and it refunded the extra $2,637 you had to spend on your new ticket.

Who was responsible for fixing Joe Spooner flight cancellation?

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109 thoughts on “Hey Expedia, my flight is missing a leg!

  1. Why did he need to buy a new one-way ticket back to SFO, I assume from AKL? I’m guessing they canceled the return since he missed the HNL->AKL, but if United knew his situation, wouldn’t they be able to preserve the return flight while he was still at the airport?

    1. It sounds to me like United treated it internally as two round trip flights; United from SFO->HNL and Air New Zealand from HNL->AKL. Maybe he was hopeful they’d get it straightened out before he had to come home. It’d stink even more if he got interrogated as to why he bought a SFO->HNL R/T when all he “really” needed was a one-way until they could get things fixed.

      1. Sounds like it was /Expedia/ who booked it as two round trip flights. The flights weren’t linked together. If they were, a cancellation of one of the legs should’ve triggered cancellation of the entire itinerary.

        Now, *why* was the United portion of the trip cancelled? Sounds like he showed up on time, and the flight was still a go. The flight itself wasn’t cancelled. Only his ticket was. Why?

        1. He doesn’t say he was connecting roundtrip in HNL. If there was no layover, just a connection this all could have happened due to a schedule change.

          1. Had he checked his reservation earlier or try OLCI 24 hours before the flight, then we will hear a different story. Or, perhaps hear nothing at all.

          2. He does not have to reconfirm.
            He just has to CHECK the status of his RES.
            I don’t think he ever did. He just went to airport and bang!

          3. If you go into your reservation, even just to look, that is reconfirming in my book. Had he even gone online to look at his reservation he might have caught this. You should NEVER not check on your reservations once ticketed. I check weekly and as we get closer, several times a week.

          4. I like to keep on topic here.
            Reconfirmation with airline is no necessary for this route.
            It is completely irrelevant.

            What is relevant is NOTIFICATION.
            Was he notified of the change or cancellation?
            Did the email go to his spam folder?

            Another relevant topic is common sense.
            Do you travel without checking the status of your booking?
            Do you OLCI 24 hours prior to departure?
            Talk about having some personal responsibility especially if you buy online.

            If you use a TA, you would probably pay at least $45 more for this ticket as a service fee. In return you expect better service. But when you use an OTA you do not pay extra service fee. DIY means do it yourself service.
            Don’t expect more. Do you own checking.

          5. I call looking at a PNR reconfirming. It is on topic. I agree, that if you are a DIY’er you have taken on responsibility to check your reservation. We charge a fee that covers this service. Expedia screwed up, the LW didn’t see that, but at least Expedia paid up.

          6. I am so surprised NZ did not reaccommodate here.
            It’s only one pax and there is a later flight.
            I am also surprised UA called Expedia. It is not UA’s ticket. It is an NZ coupon. Did UA agent expect Expedia to reissue a new ticket on the spot?
            If there was space on the flight, why not ask NZ to reinstate?
            UA and NZ are on same INTL terminal. But this is happening in domestic because this is SFO-HNL flight.
            I still believe this is poor handling by UA at SFO. They pax is infront of them, the ticket was issued with all coupons open and unused.
            Why not lift the phone and call NZ. They own the ticket.
            UA’s only question is will they get paid by NZ. So call NZ and find out.
            How hard can that be?

    2. Well first of all he is not a no-show since he supposedly showed up, right?
      Someone supposedly told him Expedia cancelled the SFO-UA-HNL flight segment on a NZ validated ticket SFO-UA-HNL-NZ-AKL/O-NZ-SFO. But why would Expedia unilaterally do that? That is too incredible, and in my opinion close to impossible. An OTA has better things to do. They will not change your PNR unless you ask them to or you change it online somehow.
      So we have 2 questions:
      #1) Why was his RES cancelled on the UA SFO-HNL flight?
      #2) Why did he buy 2 new tickets?

      I can see only 2 reasons why his UA flight was cancelled:
      (a) he cancelled it himself because he wanted to (voluntarily) re-route
      (b) United did not get the ticketing information and the TTL expired so they cancelled the res for that flight segment.
      Is this (a or b) Expedia’s fault? Go figure.

      Now let’s talk about the second and more bizarre issue – why did he buy 2 tickets?
      Who sold him these new tickets? Did Expedia sell this over the phone?
      Look at his real options:
      1 UA 73 20JUN FR SFO HNL 405P 638P
      2 NZ 9 20JUN FR HNL AKL 1015P 540A#2

      — Reaccommodate to —
      1 NZ 7 20JUN FR SFO AKL 930P 525A#2
      Since Air New Zealand (NZ) had a later flight (a direct one) then all he had to do is ask to be reaccommodated there since his ticket is valid for that route.
      Why would he need to buy 2 new tickets? Will the LW care to explain why?

      I got to believe Expedia paid hush money on this one.

  2. I would have to say that Expedia was at fault but there is no explanation as to why the one leg was cancelled and not the whole trip.

  3. I don’t think I’ll ever use Expedia, Hotels.com, et al as anything but a search engine again. They don’t actually offer prices any better than booking directly, and there’s too much potential for screwups and/or fingerpointing.

    1. Yea, I use Hotels.com to see what hotels are in the area of interest, then go to the specific hotel site to book.

    2. Well, they offer convenience… seeing all your options at a glance, then quickly booking. It can be pretty streamlined, with all your usual traveler information stored (good way to avoid typos), all your reservations in one place no matter which airline. Sure, I could achieve some of the streamlining by setting up accounts with each airline… and then running the same search on each airline site, but you can see that quickly becomes a bigger hassle.

      I would actually be pretty annoyed if the prices started being too different.

      Of course, no hassle is bigger than showing up at the airport to discover you do not have a flight. It is possible that booking through an agent (online or otherwise) can add one more point of failure… who knows if these kinds of issues are less common with directly booked flights. On the flip side, you have twice as many people to complain to, and potentially twice as many people who could try to fix your problem.

      There is value in general travel agents… having every company run it’s own “company store” does not scale well… imagine the strip mall filled with General Mills Outlet, Kellogg’s Club, Kraft Corner, and so on… isn’t it easier and more efficient to just have a grocery store. Expedia can find airlines and connections you may not have been aware of…. and it can present information about your flights in a less-biased way than an airline.

      Yeah, there’s the finger-pointing…

      I do wonder in this case though when the segment got cancelled… and if the traveler checked his reservation a couple of days before the flight. That’s what I tend to do… a couple of days before the flight, I double-check the dates and times of flights and make sure my record locator pulls up on the airline’s website. That’s the perfect time to catch such issues, giving you a day or two fix things over the phone, rather than that stressful last minute “do you want to get on the plane” decision which invariably leads to $3000 plane tickets.

    3. I would book airline tickets with Expedia anytime of the day.
      I probably know what I am talking about 🙂

      1. I wouldn’t. I want an agency that actually cares and knows how to help when I call them…if you can actually reach them by phone.

        1. Have you ever tried to issue tickets from OUTSIDE the USA?
          How about some LCCs in Asia or Oceania?
          Domestic overseas flights?
          Expedia helps me do this.

          1. Yes, for several intra Asia flights. Most I have used work with us on their website and even pay a commission, so I have no reason to use Expedia…so far.

          2. I do it for strategic reasons I cannot mention here.
            Works all the time for me 🙂
            Customers very happy.

      2. Tony thanks for the tip.
        I have been reluctant to book airfare with Expedia but I have used Expedia for hotels.

        1. Here’s the way I deal with Expedia for airline tickets.
          After you buy a ticket from Expedia you will get an immediate confirmation email. That confirmation email will tell you to not worry as everything is confirmed. However, in many occasions for INTERNATIONAL tickets, it will not yet have eticket numbers.
          It will only have the PNR #. After a while, your account in Expedia will be updated with the eticket numbers. There are 3 things I do:
          (1) Go to the GDS used by Expedia. Usually that is Amadeus, Travelport or Sabre. Then display your PNR there. Check it.
          (2) go to the airline’s site and use the Expedia provided
          confirmation #s. Check if the itinerary is good.
          (3) go to the airline’s site and print an E-ticket Receipt (ETR).
          If you cannot use the airline’s site to print an ETR, then use the GDS site to print it.
          I print mine to pdf and then keep a copy in my phone.
          The reason I do this is this has the information for your real travel document(s). People need to know the their e-ticket coupons are the important. The e-ticket coupon must match the booking (reservation) itinerary.

          Finally, always check regularly (if your flight is still a long time away) and always check in online. The reason for this is you want to know if you have a problem as early as possible so you can fix it. The last thing you want is to make a ticket agent in the airport use their brains when there is a line of a hundred customers.
          Always have your eticket number handy.
          Hope this helps.

          1. Yes, Tony – it helps a lot. I was always told to book a ticket with the airline itself, but all of the above directions make perfect sense.
            Kind of like “check and re-check.”
            Your instructions were clear and concise.
            Thanks again.

  4. Another day … another booking engine screw up… sigh…

    I wonder how much he saved with Expedia instead of booking direct with UA? The only other thing is I wonder if he told Expedia that he had to leave on that flight and gave them the option of ticketing it before he bought the one-way. Other than that, seems like the OP handled this almost in a text book fashion. Glad he got his money back.

    Great job Chris.

    1. Re: instead of booking directly with United (UA).

      If he did then he would not pass by HNL since that route is not allowed on the UA fare.
      We need to ask him why he wanted to travel via HNL when NZ7 flies nonstop SFO-AKL?
      Why add six or more hours to the already long flight? Wasn’t he supposed to be taking his mother to the doctor? Or, maybe the beaches in Hawaii were too irresistible?

      An then this “I ended up having to purchase a one-way ticket to New Zealand and
      another one-way ticket back to San Francisco, which cost me a further $2,637.”
      Why 2 one-way tickets? That would probably have been at lot more expensive that a round trip ticket (maybe even a walk-up R/T fare on NZ for this route).
      Seems to me he wanted to change his return date or routing so he did this.

      Did he call Expedia to fix this? Or, did he do anything he wanted to do?
      Where did he buy these 2 new tickets? From whom?

      As a TA I can tell you that cancelling any segment on the PNR that is already ticketed does not happen unless a customer calls and tells you to do it (or cancels the flight online himself). This is quite unbelievable. This whole thing does not look right.
      I have to believe Expedia paid hush money on this one. Sorry but I am not buying this story.

      1. Only thing I’m going to address is going via HNL. My husband and I have talked about visiting Australia or New Zealand, and have decided that we would break the trip up by going via Hawaii. One of his co-workers ended up with DVT on a nonstop flight to Sydney from the US, and my husband has been leery of long-haul flights since. Easy solution? Break up the trip into shorter segments. Just throwing that out there.

          1. I read “back to San Francisco” as following the same route as the outbound trip, but have to confess, I have absolutely no idea what the original return itinerary looked like, nor the replacement itineraries.

          2. It doesn’t read that way for the original ticket. It would be easy to figure this out by requesting the printout for the original ticket from the carrier…which now has a fee involved for the ticketing agency. I always put a retention line in the PNR for at least 6 months out so we still have access to the PNR months after the return travel.

      2. “I can tell you that cancelling any segment on the PNR that is already
        ticketed does not happen unless a customer calls and tells you to do it”

        Uh, no. 🙂

        I had a similar experience with UA (CO at the time). Flying back from Europe (BGO-COP-EWR-DEN)) the BGO-COP segment, a UA codeshare, simply disappeared from my itinerary. I booked directly with the airline, it was a full fare business ticket, I was the only one on the itinerary, and I did not at any time indicate to anyone through any method that I wanted to cancel that segment. And I was not notified through any contact method I provided that this was done.

        Luckily I noticed a few days before my flight and called UA. The phone rep said “Oh yeah, that happens all the time on this flight. It probably got cancelled.” That was a complete lie as they were still selling seats on that flight! To cut this short, I spent 3 hours on the phone until I was finally booked BGO-FRA-DEN on LH (a much better option than the original flight) at no additional cost to me (other than the wasted 3 hours on the phone). My emails to UA asking for an explaination of how this could occur were responded to with what amounted to “Hey, we got you where you were going, what are you complaining about?”

        1. Please read carefully, I said the OTA cancelling the flight segment in the PNR.

          Airlines are usually the ones doing the changing and cancellations, not the agency.
          So why is Expedia to blame?

          1. Doesn’t a travel agent receive some sort of notice when something like a flight segment gets canceled? If so, shouldn’t they then work with the customer to correct the issue? Seems like Expedia ignored the issue.

          2. As I noted in my other post the airline’s RES system can go out of sync with the GDS’s PNR.
            Expedia normally sends an email confirmation before the flight.
            In fact for me, they are the best OTA.

            Added: I would like to know more about the exchange between Expedia and the LW at the airport. I wonder why there is no mention of this. Only the exchange between the UA agent and Expedia. Since the ticket was issued by NZ, why not go to NZ counter in airport to help solve this. They are a UA partner.

          3. Seems to me the OP handled things appropriately. The United portion was what was canceled so he was dealing with United. And United was willing to work on trying to resolve it so they apparently didn’t think it was an issue for NZ. And, since there is a partnership between those two airlines, I’d have expected the United counter agent to refer the OP over to NZ if they thought that would help.

          4. Ticket was issued by NZ. Talk to NZ.
            Note: SFO-HNL-AKL is not a valid UA routing. It is a valid NZ routing. So this could be quite confusing for UA agent since their only role here is to get the pax to HNL.
            If I want to get reaccommodated, I need to talk to NZ since UA is not gonna board me. It’s their ticket.

          5. The OP shouldn’t have to second guess the airlines. United took up the problem and tried to resolve it without saying anything about the OP needing to talk to NZ–who is a partner airline of UA. Can you actually fault the OP for believing them? Sorry, but I can’t.

          6. I just reread the article. You have to ask yourself, why did UA make a call to Expedia? The only reason to do this is because Expedia made the cancelation and that would be noted in the history of the PNR. Now there could have been a schedule change and whoever cleaned up the PNR (that is what we call it when messages come across of a time change, canceled flight, rescheduled flight, etc.) may have canceled the wrong segment. It has happened to me, but fortunately I knew my error right away, called the carrier and they put it back.

          7. Perhaps the LW showed the expedia confirmation letter.
            The question you need to ask is WHY would Expedia bother to cancel only the UA flight segment and not XI all the segments.

          8. Then that is not Expedia who did it (the cancellation).

            It is the airline that changes schedules.

          9. No, as a ticketing agency, they have to clean up a PNR and possibly X’ed the segment that should have been HK’ed.

          10. You mean UA cancelled a flight segment without reaccommodation?
            What kind of crap is that? Didn’t NZ see it? They get a copy too.

          11. No. We get a new segment that we must HK and possibly Expedia XK’ed it by mistake. However, what happened on the return? Why did he have to pay to get home?

          12. No you don’t. Even if you don’t HK it, it is confirmed in the airline’s RES.
            For example I get this if the AL reaccommodates
            Even if I don’t HK, the pax is still confirmed.

            Cancelling without Reaccommodation – wow severe FAIL somewhere down the line.

          13. Yes Tony, you can accidentally XK a segment. I have done it. We have to clean up PNR’s or get fined. Why else would Expedia have to pay the LW? They screwed up.

          14. No, they just don’t want the bad publicity here, IMO.

            Never got fined for not not HKing.
            I might get fined if I do not remove the excess segments before departure.
            This is NOT the same problem.
            And this has NOTHING TO DO with the story.

          15. It does in that they might have made the mistake in cleaning up the PNR. We have to HK everything.

          16. How the heck do you commit a mistake?
            For me I go to queue and enter EWR to each PNR. Done.
            No reason to touch any flight segment.

            This is DIY booking. What do you expect?

          17. Come on Tony, it can happen and it has happened to me. We do things in a rush. Fortunately the carrier immediately reinstated the segment.

          18. You mean you cancelled a flight segment on a TICKETED PNR and did not fix it?
            Never happened to me. We make the customer write us to agree to change before we change anything in the TICKETED PNR.
            If the airline makes a change, I simply show the pax what the airline did.
            If the pax acknowledges the change, I EWR.
            If the pax objects and wants to do something else, then we talk about it first.
            But I will never make a change on my own. That PNR can stay in the Queue as long as it has to.

          19. He is holding a NZ ticket. He bought the ticket from NZ via Expedia.
            If there is anyone who can fix this, it is NZ.

          20. You can keep repeating yourself all day, Tony, but it won’t change the fact that I expect partner airlines to give accurate information. If it was totally wrong for him to approach United about it then why did they try to help him? And why didn’t they tell him to take it up with NZ?

            You seem intent on finding something wrong with what the OP did but for the world of me I don’t understand why. The agents handle issues like this every single day. They would have sent him over to NZ if that was a necessity.

          21. What accurate information can UA give him?
            What if he was a NO-REC?
            UA was only responsible for one flight segment originally and that seemed to have disappeared.
            UA should ask NZ what to do since it is their ticket.
            That’s what I would do. I would trace the e-ticket coupons that were originally issued and validated by NZ.
            Then I would ask for NZ to have UA reinstate me on the flight.
            If they can’t do that, I will ask NZ to reaccommodate me since they have a later flight.
            Do you have any better ideas, Joe? If so tell us.

          22. Because I’m sure the NZ counter was in a totally different terminal due to their being international, and his intended departing UA flight being domestic.

          23. Yes they are in different terminals (international vs domestic). But if the agent can call Expedia, they can surely call NZ, too.
            The SOP is see if there is a ticket coupon that can be used first.
            That did not seem to happen here.

          24. 99% of the time, we get notification. A canceled segment comes across with a canceled status code and any cancelation, by the agency or by the carrier is in history is noted so you can tell which one deleted the canceled segment from the PNR.

          25. Not sure how late in the game UA cancelled the flight segment.
            If it was close to the depart date then maybe Expedia did not have time to notify. I always try to send OSI of cellphone and email to carriers. They can contact the pax directly, easier.

          26. When you are one in thousands of PNR’s with a OTA, you shouldn’t expect a last minute notification. You aren’t booking with an OTA for service, just price.

        2. I need to make sure I post something understandable to humans. So I will post another answer.

          When an AGENCY (OTA or TA) makes a PNR (booking) on their GDS, the GDS company sends that PNR to the respective airlines (those in the itinerary) and the respective airlines create their own bookings in their internal RES systems. The GDS’s PNR number is linked to the airline’s RES Record Locator (RLOC). In the beginning the PNR and RES are in sync (at least you would think so).

          As time passes, the airlines can make changes to their flight schedules.
          When they do so, they update their own RES system to reflect the changes. However, they do not necessarily send the GDS the changes. Many times the RES and PNR can go out of sync.

          So here’s what can happen AFTER you buy a ticket from an agency.
          The agency made NO changes but the airline did. They, the agency, did not know about it or failed to see it (the changes).

          This was most likely what happened to the LW’s UA flight segment on his NZ ticket. Expedia (IMO) never made the change unilaterally. They have no incentive or reason to unless the LW told them to do it.
          But UA may have reason to cancel the flight or his booking.
          UA can change the flight schedule and his RES gets cancelled.
          UA might have not received ticketing information from the GDS or NZ and cancels his RES.

          My point is do not blame the OTA or agency for all problems.
          So of the problems are not caused by the OTA.

          A smart traveler will always check his reservation before he goes to the airport. I check mine several times (each week is possible).

      3. Just throwing this out there. And I no longer have my flight tool to search fares. But would SFO-HNL on UA R/T and HNL-AKL on NZ R/T as two separate bookings be cheaper than the SFO-AKL R/T on NZ? I’ve seen Expedia try to build multiple bookings that aren’t interlined in order to show lower prices. If that was the case, and the OP then bough SFO-AKL direct, he woudl have been a no show for the HNL-AKL portion and thus his return was canceled as well, even if UA preserved the HNL-SFO return. Perhaps the original UA R/T never got ticketed. Ive had a lot of problems with reservation getting ticketed since the merger. It will show my reservation and everything, and then I find out at check in its not ticketed. Since I book with UA directly, they have always been able to fix it.

        1. This is an allowable route for Air New Zealand.
          But this is NOT a route on UA ticket or fare (discounted)

          1. I just went to Expedia. If I enter SFO-AKL, it doesn’t let me book via HNL at all. And it’s quite expensive, even with 3 stops. If I then “Choose my own routing” and enter SFO-HNL-AKL-HNL-SFO, it gives me the OP’s itinerary, and it is $300 less than the cheapest option just searching for SFO-AKL. Very interesting. I am not sure if its booking as two R/T when I do it that way or not.

          2. It is definitely valid on NZ
            1 UA 73T 01DEC MO SFOHNL SS1 410P 744P/O $ E
            2 NZ 9S 01DEC MO HNLAKL SS1 1010P 625A#2/X $ E
            3 NZ 14W 31DEC WE AKLSFO SS1 330P 645A/O $ E


            ADT01 728.00 789.40 1517.40
            *TTL 728.00 789.40 1517.40

            *AS BOOKED
            FBC ADT SLX3*WLX3

      4. OH of course the guy screwed up! These online companies & airlines NEVER screw up on their own. Blame it on the poor traveller. Expedia & others never
        make mistakes. Yeah sure, same as hotels, car rentals & airlines don’t try to cheat you by hidden damages, “special” surcharges & the like.
        The guy was probably in panic mode when he got the news of the cancellation & was worried about his mother & you smugly suggest it’s all his fault.
        Your attitude seems in line with what’s wrong with the travel industry today. And I have been flying, renting cars, & staying in hotel/resorts for over 50 years. Of course these days I check, & double check reservations to wherever I’m going & take out travel & health insurance. In last 3 months, trip to India for 3 weeks, & road trip to Beautiful B. C. Interior by car. No problems

        1. Well, he did not read Chris’ book or else he would have done something(s) a lot easier. If you don’t read the book, then you are not the world’s smartest traveler. So you screwed up.

          1. I never read the book & consider myself a ” Smart Traveler”
            Once again your arrogance shows in a previous post “trying to post
            to humans”. Maybe you are the problem. I’m certain at your very high level position, TA, you have never erred.
            All it takes to have a good trip is check who you are dealing with, take photos ( before & after) of car rentals. Triple check air reservations up to day of flight. Check various baggage & other charges & restrictions & find out in advance about the resort or other Hotel fees. Because as we all know, according to you, these companies are infallible, & never err.

          2. I have erred many times and it cost me 🙂
            But I learned from my mistakes.
            I still make mistakes. But hopefully not the same ones.
            Just this hour I made one mistake.
            I could not route a pax from MCI to SE Asia via LAX on a fare I was looking at. Because I was lazy or too busy in this blog, I sent the PNR to the consolidator instead of re-reading the route restrictions.
            Stupid me. Thank goodness I got a polite comment from the pricing desk.
            It was my error. So I will fix it. Simple.

          3. Thank you for your admission. Travel today is extremely difficult with all companies trying to squeeze out a profit.
            I’m certain it cannot be easy for anyone in your position with the myriad flights, restrictions, etc. At the same time have a little sympathy for the traveller. Good Luck! from an old retired guy

          4. Oh look! UA on Dec. 13 gave a $1000 voucher to woman who gave up her seat. They then would not honour it until the Canadian Media giant the CBC got involved. Horrors – they finally admitted they erred.
            TonyABC & I know better – it was the woman’s fault really. Right

          5. I’ll take CASH only. Cathay Pacific offered me $2,000 in Benjamins at JFK and I refused to take it. That’s $2k plus reroute JFK-LHR-HKG instead of JFK-HKG on the same day. I’m not stupid and I do not trust airline vouchers. My trip is worth more than that, sorry.

  5. Sounds like it was booked as two different tickets which led to the two one-way tickets. Expedia appears to be at fault here. I have little doubt that if the fault lay with UA, that Expedia would be quick to point that out as well as provide proof of it. The lack of support from the OTA tells me they are at fault and were unwilling to admit or solve the problem. Glad he got his money refunded.

    1. Exactly! Especially when Air New Zealand flies out of SFO’s international terminal nonstop to AKL. And NZ9068 is UA73 for SFO-HNL 🙂
      Something is very wrong in this story.

  6. It’s worth repeating: never, under any circumstances, make this kind of booking with an online third party. Go directly through the carriers you will be using, or through a flesh-and-blood TA.

  7. Yet another reason why I no longer use Expedia. While most of their transactions go smoothly, problems like this seem to come up a lot, and they never setup up and help. The last time I used them, I booked a hotel room near LGA and when I arrived, they hotel didn’t have a reservation and was sold out, as was everything near by. Expedia refused to do anything for me stating it was the hotels problem, and the hotel said Expedia said it was the hotels problem. Now I only use real agents that I know personally and know they will help me, or book directly with the service provider.

    1. Re: Now I only use real agents that I know personally and know they will help me
      For most people this means paying extra for the service.
      When you DIY, you do not pay for this extra service. You do it yourself.
      If you screw up, it is your problem.
      I bet you don’t go to Elliott to fix it because you can also fix it yourself.

      1. I use a real agent for the complicated stuff, like international bookings, bookings with stop overs, trips with tours, etc. For simple stuff I do it myself, but I have sworn off all travel vending machines. In my experience they can’t only lead to problems and buck passing. If I screw up, it is my problem. But by dealing with the vendors directly, I almost never have a problem.

        1. I have to do international journeys from almost everywhere a pax can think of. Many times I have to chose a foreign OTA’s site. Expedia is the best compared to any OTA. Orbitz and Priceline are next. The rest forget it.

  8. After seeing a couple turned away from BA because their OTA didn’t have live inventory and didn’t inform that they they didn’t have tickets, I gave up on OTAs. I made the decision that any potential savings wasn’t worth the drama of a screw up.

    I’ve had situations where I’ve arrived and the reservation was lost, the charged price and the reservation were different, etc. Booking directly with the travel provider made my life infinitely easier. No finger pointing.

    1. Well for Air New Zealand website SFO-HNL-AKL is not an option.
      What to do if LW wants to pass via Hawaii ? Buy from an OTA 🙂

  9. Did the passenger made sure he booked the leg???? … I am a travel agent and on my daily bases i hear pax with these problems… And it turns out that they did not book the complete trip…. It is extremely rare that a flight got cancelled and was not reebooked… Long story short….. Always use a travel agent

    1. Expedia wouldn’t have paid him the money if they hadn’t caused the problem. My guess is that they cancelled the segment by mistake during a schedule change. But then, why did he have to buy a new ticket to get home, too. Something weird over all.

      1. I have been thinking about this money issue.
        I think that Expedia and NZ has a good relationship since I always find NZ options on Expedia that I cannot find with the other OTAs.
        Expedia probably already figured out the error was not theirs but either with the GDS or with NZ itself.
        That said, I think Expedia will get to refund the old unused ticket from NZ. Maybe the LW bought the 2 new tickets from Expedia 🙂
        So, the net loss to them will be much smaller.

        1. Ah, Team Oracle. They took our parking lot that we have used when attending Giants games….grrr! I have watched them race on the bay, very interesting boats. I am not sure this is why they gave back the money, but we won’t ever know.

  10. I don’t understand why he needed to buy two one ways, if only the one portion was invalid??? Why not just replace THAT segment, and use the balance of the ticket if it was still valid???

    1. That’s why I was leaning toward one of the theories expressed early on, that there were 2 sets of roundtrip tickets, one from SFO to HNL and back, and another from HNL to ACK and back. That’s how my husband and I would (and are planning to) do it (someday). But Tony and emanon256 both have sets of screenshots that contraindicate that, at least price-wise.

      So under that working theory, wouldn’t that mean that if the outbound trip wasn’t taken, then the inbound trip would get cancelled, due to a presumed no-show on the way out?

      Only reason I ask, and care, is if I do the 2 roundtrips thing I’m thinking about. I want to know the pitfalls in that approach. Thanks, ladies! (And Tony, if he chimes in.)

      1. But he said they assured him only that one SEGMENT was cancelled, but the rest of the ticket was valid. Something here doesn’t track. (Have had to cancel outbounds due to problems, and ALWAYS have the airlines ensure the return in still intact)

      2. The more I read the more confused I get. The only thing that makes sense is if he had 2 different tickets–a round trip to SFOHNL and one HNLAKL. Too much is missing from the letter. The only thing that makes sense is that when Expedia agreed to refund the OP the additional money he was out was that EXP was tacitly agreeing the problem was their fault.

        1. It could have been on a totally different flight, and as others said perhaps he was worried that the return flight would be cancelled if he didn’t take the Honolulu-Auckland segment. The United flight or other flights might have been full.

          There are other ways to get to Auckland. Air New Zealand 7 flies nonstop from San Francisco. They also have routings through LAX (including codeshares with United).

        2. Think of the LW’s situation. He was gonna take his mom to the oncologist. Having been in the same boat, I can tell you that you can’t possibly know when you will really return. So you want some flexibility.
          If he bought a roundtrip ticket and changed the return date, the penalty is $200 plus the difference in fare.

          From the USA to AKL, NZ oneway fares are half of roundtrip. So there is no price penalty to buy oneway. This is what I think he did.
          For the return, NZ change fee for tickets from New Zealand only has a change fee of $43 (50 NZD). So he bought an advance purchase oneway AKL-SFO and chanced it.

          When you don’t know when you can return, it is wise to buy 2 (unlinked) oneway tickets if you can find good oneway fares.

      3. You book 2 R/Ts only if:
        (a) you understand the risks and are willing to live with it
        (b) the cost savings are substantial (worth it)
        (c) there is no other way to get from A to B in one ticket.

        For the SFO-AKL route, how would you chop the route cheaper?
        Air New Zealand is cheap enough, IMO.
        BTW $2,637 is a lot of money for this route!

        But in this site, as long as the OTA pays up, who cares what the facts are?

    2. Me thinks he wanted to change the date(s) and/or routing.
      Charging 2 oneway tickets to Expedia is IMMORAL.
      I don’t think he ever gave Expedia or the airline a chance to fix the problem.

    3. Linda, here’s what I think happened.
      Joe buys an Air New Zealand (NZ) ticket from Expedia.
      Expedia’s GDS issues tickets validated by NZ 086.
      One of the flight segments (the first one) is interlined on UA. It is a domestic flight SFO-HNL.
      UA confirms the flight segment SFO-HNL.
      But for some reason they do not receive the TKNE for it.
      Days pass and the TTL deadline is reached.
      UA cancels the flight segment.
      Fast forward to departure date.
      Joe tries to check in.
      He is a NO-REC on UA’s DCS.
      What should UA’s agent do?
      The most she will see in their RES is a cancelled segment because there was no TKNE.

      Here’s what I think the UA agent should have done.
      Find out the e-ticket number. Its 086, call NZ.
      Ask NZ if they have the e-ticket coupon that is OPEN for use for the said flight.
      Check seat inventory if Joe can be flown.
      Ask NZ to revalidate and push the ticket over.
      Check in Joe and give Joe boarding pass.
      Have a nice day.

  11. I book infrequently through Expedia, but the one time I had a problem they fixed it on the phone immediately. After the Snowed-in Christmas at Heathrow trying to get to Paris when I could not get answers from Air France, I decided to book all future intra-euro flights through Expedia, because they probably could have helped me. Bottom line on this post: I agree with most of you, not reconfirming everything YOURSELF is beyond naïve. So glad Chris could get his money back.

    1. Don’t hold our breath on them answering the phone when you REALLY need them. I can’t tell you how many calls we got on 9/11 and when the volcano erupted causing flight cancellations in Europe, along with other times of emergency when ‘their’ clients couldn’t get anyone to pickup their call and assist. Sad!

  12. There is nothing about this discussion that makes sense. I have never seen in 40 years in travel, seen the original leg only cancelled without the remainder of the ticket. I have seen all of the reservation cancelled in error or not show up at all, (no-Rec), but never this situation. I would love to have seen the online reservation history to see who did what or when. That is possible to do by the ticketing online agency, which is why I guess that they so readily refunded the $$$.
    For the DIY’s, every single ticket that I issue has an individual confirmation for each airline on my reservation (PNR). I doubt that this could have happened from a brick and mortar agency. In addition we have a back-up copy of the reservation from each airline issued within a week of departure to prove that everthing is in order. Heck, the paper and ink for the DIY’s cost more than the service charge from most agents. Yea agents, I agree that if you do it yourself, then learn how to do it correctly.

    1. If you have been traveling for the last 40 years then you know the situation would be entirely different if the pax had paper tickets. You have physical proof that you are supposed to be on that flight.

      Well unfortunately people today are so dependent on the computer and cannot think clearly. If you can gain access to the e-ticket coupons and they are open and available for use, then all you need is to have the issuing airline push it over.
      It will be the same situation as if you see a paper coupon. And if you still have space, then board the pax.
      All the United agent had to do was make sure they will get paid by NZ – hence the ability to lift the coupon.

      The involvement of the agent (i.e. Expedia) after a ticket is issued is irrelevant. This is even more apparent when the airport has control of the tickets and booking (such as the day of departure). As long as the coupons are open for use then NZ has the money and has not delivered on anything.
      How much more simple can it get?

      1. I almost understand your point and agree with you. I do not trust one airline reservation system in the world, so we obviously try to keep people on the same airline. It cannot happen as easily today because of code share, destinations, and wide and crazy fares. That is why a client of this office, should they desire, walks out the door with a separate ticketed confirmation from each airline’s site as proof for this extemely wierd situation. Even working for Allegheny when joint fares were the vogue, and Pacer was the only res system out there, I have never seen this situation.

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