I missed my brother’s wedding and now I’m missing my refund

american airlines 5Question: I recently booked an American Airlines flight on CheapOAir.com from Kansas City to the Virgin Islands to attend my brother’s wedding.

We were issued electronic tickets and our itinerary was confirmed with reservation ID and a booking number. Our credit card was charged $1,643.

When we arrived at the airport on our day of departure, an American Airlines representative handed us a slip of paper that said, “Your flight has been canceled, you need to call this number.” No explanation or anything! Just a slip of paper.
American said it “regretted” any inconvenience resulting from the cancellation, and advised us to call its customer service desk. We were never given any information about the reason for the cancellation.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance. Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Since we knew we had to catch two different connecting flights that day, we rushed to call the number. After about five hours of trying to get a flight that would get us to the Virgin Islands in time for the wedding, we were left with one option: to arrive two days later than expected on the island, miss the wedding and two days of our five-day vacation.
Plus, we were going to be charged about $1,000 extra for airline tickets because American Airlines would not cover the flight that we would have to take — it was going to be with an airline with which it didn’t have a code share agreement. Also, we would have had to find a place to stay in Puerto Rico for the night, another extra expense.

None of the options were in our budget, so we decided to cancel our trip and miss the wedding.
American Airlines would only refund $1,313, which they said is the value of the tickets. That left $330 that neither American nor CheapOAir would take responsibility for.

When I called on the phone and actually got to talk to a real person, they would always refer me back to the other company. I sent e-mail messages to the customer relations department for both companies. I received one call back that was left on my answering machine from CheapOair. that said they were looking into the matter and that they would get back to me in the next six to eight weeks. I never heard back.

I feel both companies should have done more to help us, and we should have received a full refund. Can you help me get my $330 back? — Ronnee Schweizer, Kansas City

Answer: You should have received a full refund, as promised. The fact that you had booked your ticket though an online travel agency shouldn’t matter. That just adds one extra layer, with the airline refunding your agency, and then your agency sending the money back to you.

But let’s take a step back. When your outbound flight was canceled, you could have phoned CheapOAir also to check you alternate flight options. That’s why you work with an online agency, after all. CheapOAir should have advocated for you instead of pocketing part of your refund.

It’s unclear if the $330 holdback was temporary or permanent. The money may have represented a bonus paid to the online agency, perhaps a commission or something called an override. Or it could have been an unknown cancellation penalty. Whatever it was, CheapOAir was reluctant to part with it.

When an online travel agency — or any travel agency, for that matter — stalls on a refund that you deserve, you can take the case to your credit card. Disputing the charge may be the fastest way to get a full refund.

Or you could ask me. I contact CheapOAir on your behalf, and after several more months of back and forth, it finally surrendered your money.

Should a travel agency be able to keep part of a ticket refund if it covers fees and commissions?

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79 thoughts on “I missed my brother’s wedding and now I’m missing my refund

  1. The flight was cancelled. That’s not the fault of the passenger. CheapOAir shouldn’t profit from a transaction that was cancelled through no fault of the passenger.

    It would’ve been interesting if she had called CheapOAir on the day as Chris suggests. My gut feeling is there would have been no change in the outcome. CheapOAir’s website says “If a major schedule change has occurred and the new flight(s) are unacceptable, please call 800-566-2345.
    CheapOair will contact the airline on your behalf and discuss with you
    your available options. Please understand all options given are at the
    discretion of the airline.”

    It’s buried in the FAQ section, so unless it’s also included somewhere in the confirmation email then I really can’t blame her for not knowing about it.

    1. From the article, it sounds like the OP asked AA to refund his tickets while they were trying to find another way to the Virgin Islands.

      He states later how difficult it is to talk to a live person with his online travel agency.

      It is interesting how an agency can MARKUP this amount of money on a ticket and still have an airline charge the passengers credit card for the whole amount (assuming that was how the ticket was charged). Maybe there were 2 charges on the OPs credit card. One for the fare, the other for the markup of the agency. Or. maybe one charge was processed by the agency on their own credit card account.

  2. I voted no.

    I think of it like a refund to a credit card. When that happens, the credit card companies consider returning their cut as a cost of doing business if the product or service is refunded.

  3. Sounds like it was a contracted net fare and the airline only refunded the amount of their part and the remaining is what CheapAir marked up. A lot of my consolidators require all refunds to be made through them for just these reason so as not to confuse the passenger. What was the rule of the fare that applied to the OP’s ticket? Sometimes, on contracted fares, regardless of the circumstance, some companies have a fee but usually under this type of airline cancellation, a full refund is given. When you book any ticket, you really should print out a copy of the fare rules regardless of where you purchase your ticket. If you book with a company with the work Cheap in the name, you get what you would expect!

    1. They bought 2 tickets for $1,643 or $821.50 each.

      AA charges a Q surcharge of $26.50 per direction and the tax is $67.40. So the base fare is around $700.

      AA BULK (NET) Fares for MKC-STT start at about $892 net, BEFORE any markup by the agency. So this fare basis (~$700) could NOT have been a bulk fare. [Note the advantage of a bulk fare is that it can be booked in I booking class, making it better if seats are not available in the lower priced booking classes, i.e. V class.]

      Since this is most likely a PUBLISHED fare, then the most probable scenario is the agency withheld a part of the refund. [Interesting how they did that on a published fare.] This is UNCONSCIONABLE behavior from an agency since the airline was the one that cancelled the flight.

      1. I doubt this was a published fare. If it was, the carrier could then refund the entire amount or tell the passenger to contact the issuing office. I work with a well known consolidator that often issues published fare tickets as bulk, which keeps the carrier from refunding. To only give a partial refund tells me this is a contracted fare. There is a company I have worked with in the past that has had very, very low AA rates to the Caribbean and South America that are not available in the GDS.

        1. I have a (special) logon id from a consolidator with AA Bulk Fares. I used that one to get the Bulk Fares and compared them with AA’s published fares. These bulk fares are available in GDS but you must have approved access for private fares by the respective airlines. With the proper account id, I can even autoprice the bulk fares.

          1. Yes there are several ways to access bulk fares. I use to work for a tour company and we had access to many special fares. I also know about keeping the pricing from the carrier for refunding purposes. OTA’s aren’t as well versed in this as we are Tony!

          2. Re: I also know about keeping the pricing from the carrier for refunding purposes.
            I am afraid that this is what happened here.
            Also, probably there was an endorsement that required cancel/refunds to go through the agent.
            Regarding my statement about a published fare, I may need to clarify that. Many “net” fares (agreed upon by airlines and agencies) are based on published fares and simply have the tour code box populated with the correct code. This might be one of those things.
            It looks like the agency withheld about $150 per ticket – maybe the amount that is their cancellation fee 🙂
            I don’t know why people still buy from this company.

          3. Bodega, compare a sample MKC-STT fare between Cheapo and AA online for 01APR-08APR.
            Note that AA’s lowest fare is $599 (V class) and Cheapo’s $671 (VNX3C1Q1 Fare Code).
            Interesting that buying direct is cheaper.

          4. That doesn’t surprise me one bit. I am sure they are pushing their highest commission contract, which is allowed and perfectly legal.

  4. Unacceptable and unforgivable. Earning $330 on a $1313 ticket is quite unheard of in this industry even for bulk (net) fares. And not promptly fully refunding an airline cancelled flight is completely unexcusable. Elliott should give Cheapo an F rating. Stay away from these people.

    1. I gained a client from a CheapAir issue that they had due to the European summer cancellations from to the volcano a couple of years ago. I believe they didn’t do the right thing during that situation either.

      1. I’m sorry but I do not represent nor speak for my company or associates here.
        My comments here are my own [personal] opinions.
        Of course it helps that I am a [professional] Travel Consultant with access to airline and fare information.

  5. It took Chris months to finally get a refund? This on top of the back and forth and original 6-8 weeks the customer dealt with? Crap-O Air may have done the right thing eventually, but this is scammy all around.

  6. This is why I advised a friend not to deal with CheapOAir recently. They’ve simply appeared on this blog too much.

  7. It would appear that CheapO has a similar “mindset” as Travelocity, when there is a problem. I have been waiting since April 2012 for a refund on a flight (with Spirit) that they never advised me of a very unusual ONE (1) CHECKED BAG POLICY – I had four as I was moving from NYC to Lima, Peru.
    Travelocity blames Spirit & vice versa; it is “interesting” that T refunded my $30 agent booking fee; but not the cost of the flight. The bottom line – “I still haven’t received a REFUND” & I am pissed!
    Any good attorneys that want to litigate this? The ONE CHECKED BAG POLICY of Spirit is a constant problem with people coming to Lima from the US; the travel agencies don’t advise & then there is HYSTERIA at the check-in. I have advised travel agencies of this, yet they NEGLECT/REFUSE to update their sites.
    I can be reached at philipc4u59 at y (not sure you can post).

    1. I think you’ve got a case since it is an unusual policy and it is not clear on the Spirit website at all. I found it, eventually, in the FAQ section but there is no mention of it in the baggage section of the website. Who is going to read every single FAQ? If you have baggage, you’re going to the baggage portion of the website. If you don’t see any red flags there, why would you continue to search? Misleading.

      Edit: I did eventually find a link on the baggage page, but its not at all clear. The page should be redesigned.

      1. I just went to Google, put in Spirit Airlines and at the second link on the first page was for fees. I clicked on that and all the luggage fees were listed. Not hard at all to find this info.

        1. The luggage fees, true. The fact you can only take 1 bag to Lima, Peru: a bit trickier. If you’re going to restrict passengers to things outside the established norm, you need to make that crystal clear on the main baggage page, not buried in a link.

          1. I don’t think you understand the OP’s problem. It wasn’t the fees (which presumably he was willing to pay). It was the fact he could only take 1 checked bag to Peru. The page you linked to, which I found in 2 seconds as well, doesn’t say that. That’s my point. This page makes it seem like you can take up to 5 bags anywhere you want if you pay the fees, which isn’t true. You need to click the “size and weight” limit text to find this out. The page is poorly designed, as is evident by the OPs story of people showing up with multiple bags on the day of travel and being surprised at the ticket counter.

            Compare this to American Airlines, for example. They break it down by location on the main page. There’s no question there what you can and can’t take where.

          2. Spirit does their own thing and this is well known. If you fly them, then you need to be prepared to get screwed with fees. Just because you have to do more homework vs AA isn’t illegal. Annoying YES. You get what you pay for with Spirit and I have zero sympathy for anyone who books them because they are doing it solely on price.

          3. I didn’t claim it as illegal. I did claim it was misleading and poorly designed, which it is. The OP has a case in lobbying to get it changed and for CHris to take a look at it.

            Btw, I think the gold standard or discount airlines to follow is Ryanair. They are very clear throughout the process what the baggage and misc fees are. They’ll charge you $5 for a Pepsi, but they’re upfront about it.

          4. Why is it MISLEADING? Spirit never said you can check as much bags as you want to Lima even if you pay for it.
            You seem to be ASSUMING too much.

          5. From the information on the baggage screen bodega3 provided, why would I go any further searching than that? The reasonable observer would assume that if there were restrictions they would be there, like in most airlines websites.

            It’s a lot easier to look for something up you know is there.

          6. Because it says, SIZE and WEIGHT, right at the top in red letter. Come on Techno, it was very easy to get the information in the matter of seconds. You just aren’t paying attention or really care.

          7. And not RESTRICTION or INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL RULES or SPECIAL ALLOWANCES, or anything that would clue the average user that you’re talking about anything other than SIZE or WEIGHT of the bags.

            As I noted it would be super easy for the two pages to be combined or an more descriptive link to be published. Like “Traveling Internationally? Click here for important restrictions”. Heck, throw it on the booking page. It’s easy enough.

          8. You must’ve gone further in the process than I did. I didn’t login. Good job they have it there but wouldn’t have helped the OP since he used Travelocity.

            And why would I google baggage limits to Lima Peru specifically? Even if I was going there, I’d google spirit airline baggage rules, which takes me square to the squirrelly fees site with the Size and Weight link. Or I’d go to spirit sites directly which would be the same result. I know anytime I’ve traveled internationally and needed to check the baggage allowance that’s exactly what I’ve done.

            Yes, you can find the information. Eventually. Especially if you’re clued in there is an issue, which the OP was not. I tried to place myself in his shoes, going into it cold, and I can see where he was led astray.

          9. If you are going to play DIY travel agent, at least buy from the source. A search on Travelocity, a purchase attempt on Spirit’s website, problem averted.

            (Disclaimer: Not suggesting Spirit for anyone…to each his own.)

          10. I agree. I tend to use Expedia as a search engine, the buy directly from the airlines themselves. Or use Southwest.

          11. me too…if I remember to check Southwest. I’m finding they are more and more overpriced, even with the “free” bag. I also don’t tend to need to change tickets enough to justify the no change fee aspect.

          12. What ESTABLISHED NORM is that?
            As far as I know US Carriers can decide how much or how little checked baggage you can take.

          13. True. And usually its 1 to 2, depending on the carrier and what you’re willing to pay. That’s the norm I wa ps referring to. You want to go outside of that, you can, you just have to be clear about it.

        1. Yes, you’ve found it. How much digging did it take for you? I put in a travel itinerary from NYC to Lima, then clicked the “baggage” link on the flight selection screen. This brought me to the link bodega3 posted. From there, it appears as if you can take up to 5 bags internationally, and the fees are listed. It’s only by clicking on the “size and weight” link you get to the page you’ve posted, which also includes restrictions (though there is nothing on the baggage page noting that).

          Contrast that to Ryanair (another discount airline), which tells you during the booking process how much your bags are going to be (in fact it requires you to select the number of bags and tells you how much they can weigh). It won’t let you select more bags than you can take.

          1. Took me one try. It’s the third and last sentence of the baggage fees section (that they are required to publish by law).
            It is NOT as difficult as you make it appear to be.

          2. You’re a TA, right? I’m not. Airline booking sites that are DIY should be designed for people who are actually DIY travelers. I’m willing to bet if we did a study with 100 random people who were not TAs the majority would do exactly what I did. Get to the baggage fees and stop. And it is possible to design sites, even for bargain airline, that are straightforward for the DIY traveler.

            It’s easy to say, oh, everyone should use a TA, and in some instances you absolutely should, but the reality now is that for most leisure travel I as the customer am going to knock out the middleman and do it myself.

          3. Not really. All I did was google Spirit Baggage and before I could type all the letters, google auto complete filled it up to Spirit Baggage fees. Then I read. By the time I reached the third short sentence, I found the link to size and weight limits. I did not bother to search for fares first.
            You don’t need to be a TA to do what I did. Also if you read what I said about the type of aircraft used by Spirit from FLL to LIM, you will understand the real reason why they are limiting baggage. Again, you can do that analysis without being a TA.

          4. I agree that you don’t need to be a TA to use google, and understand the reason behind the restriction, though I did poke around on AAs website and they don’t do the same. It’s not something I’d automatically assume, though spirit can do whatever it wants.

            Heres the crux of the issue. Yes, you can reach the baggage fees page easily via the booking screen or google. Now, why would you click the link called size and weight to figure out if there are international baggage restrictions? You might, since maybe in your experience flights to Lima have odd restrictions. I’m not going to have that experience to fall back on. You know what to look for. I don’t (though in this case I did since theOP had a problem). Knowing that, I still glossed right over a size and weight link at first because I didn’t think it had the information I needed. It took me searching in the FAQ the first time I found the info. Only when, in pure disbelief that this wasn’t on the baggage site, did I click the size and weight link. I expected to find dimensions and weight. It also had international baggage limits.

            As I’ve noted multiple times, this is an easy fix. It would take literally less than a minute the change the link to read “IMPORTANT: For size, weight, and international travel restrictions to certain destinations click HERE”. Problem solved. But as it stands now, if you only cared about the number of bags you could carry (as the OP did) that is going to be missed.

          5. It is similar to assuming that all rental cars have spare tires.
            There is not much you can assume when you travel international.
            Not even the electrical outlets and voltage are the sames as ours.
            Finally, expecting Spirit to behave like AA is a very dangerous.
            I will fly AA but not Spirit. Don’t care how cheap they are to Lima.
            You know they fly once a week only on a small jet normally used to hop regional cities. Not a very comforting fact to fly as far as Peru.

          6. Spirit operates an Airbus 319 on the same route. Basically the same as an Airbus 320, shortened to lighten the aircraft an increase the range. Not in the same category as regional jets typically used by regional airlines, (American Eagle, Express Jet) etc. more like a 737.

            But, I DO think if your expectations of Spirit are going to match AA, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.

          7. I don’t think so. Just pointing out this is hardly a 50-70 seat regional jet, closer to a 737-700.

          8. I was not comparing it to a CRJ or Embraer. Maybe a 737-300 is a better comp.
            Sorry for using the term regional, but Europe and Asia uses a lot of these Airbuses for their short flights. Easyjet has quite a few of these A319s and managed to squeeze 156 seats in them. The standard config is 124. Spirit has 145. IMO, with that kind of payload plus international fuel reserve requirements, no wonder they cannot take more luggage.

          9. Agreed, they overload the cabin with passengers it has to come from somewhere. If it were closer to 124, probably could relax the baggage allowance somewhat.

            21 less passengers at an average of 150 is 3150 lbs…or 63 more bags at a weight of 50lbs each.

            Just making sure, the term “regional” and “small jet” bring to mind a 50 seat CRJ.

          10. I find it very interesting that the short 1.5 hour or so hops I just flew in Asia were mostly on 777s and 747s. I took one JAL Express 737-800 also.
            I understand that in the USA, airlines are now removing small 50 seat jets because they are uneconomical.
            On the A319, even a cheap Asian airline like Cebu Pacific has 32″ pitch, 134 passengers and will allow one to buy extra checked bags. Spirit has 30-31″ with 145 passengers and limits checked bags to one per pax.

          11. The 50 seaters are being phased out. Still, good luck trying to find a wide-body on a domestic, non-transcontinental route in the US. There are a few, but generally continue on somewhere. (Chicago-Washington, Washington-Europe in a 767)

            Interestingly enough, the 747 has a domestic version designed for Japan that adds extra seats. Kind of what Spirit did with the 319. 🙂

          12. Yes I keep on getting shocked about how small and old our airplanes are compared to what is ordinary in Asia. When we fly out of our nearest airport in Westchester HPN New York, we are almost guaranteed we will be on a regional jet. Chances are we must gate check any large handcarry. On the other side of the world, taking a short 500 mile journey is on a wide bodied Boeing.
            And our airports? Embarrasing is the only way to describe them. Even the very old Tokyo International Airport at Haneda is maintained much better than my sorry JFK. Worse, for the cost of a snack and coke in JFK or LGA, I can have a meal in Tokyo. I thought Japan was the most expensive country in the world? Not true. And those airport baggage carts. They were all free in Asia. The ones here is about the cost of a burger.

            I just read that the old Cebu Pacific A319s were almost leased to Allegiant. Are we becoming the garbage can of the world? Are we expecting to pay dirt cheap fares compared to our Asian frieds so we must live with junk and cramped seating? I am really beginning to w onder whether the Spirit experience is being the norm here. Are we now in the third world?
            Maybe technomage1 is correct. It is bizarre that you cannot check in more than one bag (even if you are willing to pay for it). Finally, why do much smaller people of Asia generally get at least 32″ seat pitch while much larger Americans have to put up with 30-31″. Yup, only in America.

          13. I can’t help you. Finding the information was just too easy. I don’t use Travelocity or any other OTA so I have zero sympathy for those that do. If you need help, then use a professional, but really, this information was only 6 seconds away on the internet. BTW, the rules for luggage are the ones that apply when you purchase your ticket. If the rules change after you buy your ticket, they have to honor the policy at the time of ticket issue. Yes, you should print out the rules on the date you buy your ticket. I know a lot of people have paid more that they needed to because they didn’t know this.

          14. I take every opportunity to warn folks to avoid Spirit. And, as a Fort Lauderdale resident, I would love to fly some of Spirit’s nonstop from here. But, lack of interline agreements means I will not fly Spirit.

            That said, I can’t fault Spirit in this case. When you book a flight to Lima, Spirit’s website says “Spirit limits the number of confirmed checked bags for this destination to one per customer.” I agree that they can improve their site so that information is easily found after the booking is complete. But, the one bag limit is clear during the booking procedure.
            (Of course, it’s possible that Spirit’s website has changed between the time the OP make his reservation and today.)

          15. You obviously didn’t look at the link I had provided, as there was a second page that is the same as Tony is showing you. All I did was go to Google, type the carrier, international baggage fees and it came up. Again, very easy to find. Maybe 6 seconds in all to find it.

          16. Bodega, all these problems seem to be from do-it-yourself travelers. People really need to understand that when they buy online, they are on their own. International travel can be complicated. If a travel agent knew that the LT was MOVING to Peru, the right questions would have been asked. Unfortunately, machines don’t ask questions, they just vend tickets.

          17. Please read what I wrote, I did look. The link was labeled “size and weight”. Says nothing about restrictions. It’s easy to find some thing if you know what you’re looking for. But if you’re in the middle of booking on the site, you shouldn’t have to use google to get an answer on stuff like that. That’s poor design and its 100% preventable.

            As I noted, Ryanair isn’t that way, nor is AA. If you’re going to have a DIY site, as Spirit does, you need to design accordingly. Do you think the OP will ever use Spirit again? I certainly won’t ever use it in the first place. But I’d use Ryanair again I’m a heartbeat.

    2. Philip, here’s a thought, and I’m just spitballing here – send Chris an e-mail asking for his help, rather than post on his wall. He’s got so much to do, already, he doesn’t go looking for more, but if it comes his way…

    3. Please do not confuse an online company like Travelocity to a travel agency. Spirit is a cheap carrier, which is well known with information readily found, with many complaints, on the internet. If you are a semi-retired consumer advocate, as you claim to be, you cetainly would have known to go to the airline’s website to check on the luggage restrictions, especially if you are checking that many bags. No carrier would allow that many for free.

    4. Hi Philip,
      I know you’ve been pursuing this matter for some time, and I’m not sure if I’ve suggested this before, but click the “Wiki” link at the top of this page. You’ll find contact information for a wide range of companies, including Travelocity and Spirit. Chris suggests emailing rather then calling. That way you can establish a “paper” trail. Good luck!

    5. Hi Philip,

      Spirit has a page in the website that addresses your baggage issue to Lima, Peru http://customersupport.spirit.com/entries/21361962-Are-there-any-restrictions-on-how-many-bags-I-can-bring-

      There is a valid reason why Spirit is limiting checked bags to one per passenger to Lima. Note that it flies an A319 from FLL to LIM which is about 2,643 miles. Spirit also loads its A319 with 145 seats. In my opinion, this flight is (weight) capacity constrained. So for your own and other passengers’ safety, Spirit has capped the checked baggage allowance for this “long range” flight.

      Under the law, Spirit has to disclose its optional fees. They do here for baggage fees:

      If you read the third and last sentence, it says:
      View our size and weight limits for all baggage. That link tells you that you are limited to one checked bag to Lima.

      You are asking Spirit and Travel Agencies to disclose MORE than they are required to under current law or rules. I am not sure why you are entitled to a refund for your fare if you could not check all your extra bags. I don’t think YOU were denied boarding. Sorry.

  8. I truly believe these airlines (and other companies, not just airlines…) try to make the process as difficult as possible in the hopes you’ll give up and go away, thus allowing them to keep their unearned money.

    I’m glad we have people like Chris out there to help the little guy.

  9. Who is on the hook for the $330 depends on who charged the credit card. If AA charged the credit card, they are responsible for the whole refund, full stop. They can workout the clawback from the agent on their own time. If CheapoAir charged the credit card, they should have coughed up the remaining amount without hesitation.

    In addition, we can CERTAINLY fault CheapoAir for not informing the traveler of the cancellation in advance.

  10. I almost stopped reading at CheapOAir. If the OP had not shown up I think that they can keep their commission but not in this case. He should have been refunded the entire amount immediately.
    A few more lessons for the unwary traveler. When you deal with a TA of any kind, call them if there are problems, For an important event do not deal with a third party opaque website. Call Chris when all else fails.

  11. I obsessively check flights, esp. international ones, days leading up. I wonder when the flight actually got cancelled, and if there was even a possibility of re-routing to get to the wedding on time had the OP been informed of the cancellation as early as possible. Nightmare scenario and so disappointing!

    1. Wow this is a tough one. We don’t know when AA actually cancelled the flight. But with the recent DOT rules, it would seem that they cancelled it so close to scheduled departure time.

      My advice is to always sign up for flight notifications in text messages.
      AA page is here: https://www.aa.com/travelInformation/fsnAccess.do?v_locale=en_US&v_mobileUAFlag=AA

      I also suggest to sign up for alerts with FlightAware http://flightaware.com/account/manage/alerts or with FlightStats https://www.flightstats.com/go/Login/login_input.do

      Finally, try to be a boy scout and be ready with your options *before* you go to the airport. In the OP’s case, AA uses a 2 connection routing from MKC to STT whereas DL, UA, US have 1 connection solutions. IMO it was an error to use AA for this trip.

  12. As soon as I saw “CheapOAir”, that was it. I’ve had a rash of guests complain about having purchased tickets through them. Glad the OP was able to get their money back – though based on what I’ve heard at work, I’m not surprised it took Chris this long to get it.

  13. I purchased a ticket on CheapTickets.com once. Never again! There was a schedule change they were ill equipped to fix. I once purchased a ticket on American Express travel figuring they might be better. Not so. Once again, a schedule change was not able to be corrected.
    I now only purchase airfare from an airline’s website.

    1. A *real* travel agent will see schedule changes because the airline sends messages back to their GDS queues. Problem is “idiot” employees do not read them or care to fix them AFTER they have sold you tickets. Similar problems can occur even if you buy from an airline online.
      The key is there should be someone in the process who can spot the change errors and either fix them or tell you how to fix them (the latter is because you will probably have to call the airline to get the changes you want).
      The problem is here is AUTOMATION. The online process has taken out the human. A machine is actually doing the rescheduling and is making a mistake. It takes a human to fix it. I see many of these problems daily.

      1. We use a “real” travel agent who is very good at finding what we want, even if we don’t really know. But I still check the airline website/reservations at intervals to ensure that I know about any changes. The intervals get shorter as departure day approaches. I know I have to call or e-mail or go in to get the TA to fix anything. There was a schedule change to our most recent booking for a trip which is still in the future and the TA had the word to us immediately.
        He usually beats the lowest prices I can find on the opaque on-line sites so it’s worth it to us to continue to use him.

        1. There are times, especially for interlined itineraries, were changes can be maddening. Those are the times I wish I did something else for a living 🙂 But a real travel agent knows s/he makes her/his living on repeat customer and referrals. So, s/he will do everything possible to keep the customer.

          On the other hand, an OTA is an automated “worker”. It really does not have a brain that thinks about what to do when an airline reschedules. At best it could relay to you what the airline did. But to rate the quality of the change or to anticipate and fix problems is not possible with vending machines.

          If I were you I will keep your human travel agent as he seems to be a good one. I am surprised that he can still beat online fares especially the airlines own online fares. This is hard to do for US domestic or European fares. It is still possible for Asian fares but I can see that ending at some point soon. I imagine that most travel agents who are good will become paid travel consultants since there will be no more money (commissions) selling airline tickets.

    2. That isn’t a give when you book on the airline’s website. I have 10 tickets for my family to Hawaii. One was booked on the carrier’s website and not once has the schedule changes come across and with each schedule change we have had, which has been about 4, seats assignments have been changed with some, but not with others. Don’t assume anything. Check weekly or more often.

  14. When I started reading these comments I thought cheapoair.com was a generic name the writer made up to conceal the real culprit. Well, I’ve since learned they’re a real ripoff place that I’ll never go near. I’ve used Orbitz since they started, and will continue to use them. I also always check SW, but lately their prices have been higher on most routes that interest me.

  15. “Should a travel agency be able to keep part of a ticket refund”? What a loaded question! !) Why wasn’t the client advised? We keep up will all of our package departures. 2) Why didn’t the client call the agent immediately when cancelled? I usually can find an internet communication site within 2-3 hours and another hour on hold. ASTA agents are available in moments. 3) If I am at fault, I am going to do everything in the world to make your vacation happen (this is why we carry insurance) and I have used it a couple of times. If the airline / hotel is at fault, then I deserve the commission on the work that I have done, and the work that I am about to do when I go to work on fixing the client. We have never had a client stranded more than a day that listened to our advise.

    For years, you have advocated that real live travel agents can get the job done, and more so when there is a problem. AA could have invoked rule 240, this allows the airline to reissue the ticket on any airline, based on circumstances. This rule is never used at the airport, it does exist, and we use it 10-15 times a year, but we fight to get the client re-routed. I believe they would have made the wedding at no additional cost if handled correctly.

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