Marlene Tomaszkiewicz has to buy a new airline ticket when Expedia’s booking misfires. Who’s responsible?
Question: I purchased an airline ticket on Pegasus Airlines, a Turkish discount airline, to fly from Beirut to Berlin via Istanbul. My return to Beirut was through Stuttgart, Germany.
There were no problems with my outbound flight, and I flew according to my original itinerary. The problem was with my return.
I had checked in online and prepaid for my extra baggage and an in-flight meal. The Pegasus website indicated that all fares were prepaid and I was set to travel.
Needless to say, I was surprised when I reached the check-in counter and the agent said I was not on the passenger list. Further investigation revealed there was a lock on my reservation for unknown reasons, and I was redirected to the ticketing agent.
The ticketing agent reconfirmed the lock, and I was instructed to contact Expedia, the booking agent. After being directed to a supervisor, it was unclear why there would be a problem, and Pegasus advised Expedia to contact the Pegasus HQ in Istanbul.
Expedia did so, and Pegasus HQ indicated that the lock was due to a “problem with payment.” Again, all my fares were prepaid, and I have all receipts.
Expedia was surprised when Pegasus stated that in order for me to board the aircraft, I would need to purchase a more expensive walk-up ticket. Pegasus stated there would be no guarantee that I would be reimbursed but to document all of my interactions with the airline by email.
Expedia wrote to Pegasus on my behalf. The agent indicated that although he could see that in addition to purchasing a ticket I had [also] prepaid for extra luggage and a meal, he was unable to transfer the fees to my newly purchased ticket, and I would have to pay again for extra bags. (Luckily, upon inquiry in flight, the attendant was able to locate and serve my meal.)
To make matters worse, the credit card machine was out of order, and I was forced to withdraw from the local ATM to pay for my ticket with cash. I can forward all receipts and email documentation. Needless to say, this was my first (and last) experience with Pegasus Airlines.
I am seeking full compensation for my walk-up ticket fare of $348, as well as a full explanation and apology from Pegasus. — Marlene Tomaszkiewicz, Bayada, Lebanon
Answer: Pegasus shouldn’t have canceled your return flight unless you or your travel agent asked them to. The time to pay for your ticket, and to make sure your credit card is valid, is before your flight. Not after, and definitely, definitely not in the middle of your itinerary.
If there were issues, then your online travel agency should have notified you immediately and worked with you to fix it before your flight was canceled.
And if, for some reason, you have to pay for the same ticket twice, then certainly Pegasus, or Expedia, would offer you an immediate refund.
Instead, Pegasus and Expedia played a game of ping-pong with your money. To be clear, it’s Expedia’s responsibility to make sure the credit card you gave it actually works. The airline’s job is to take the money and fly you to Berlin and back.
You might have appealed your case to someone higher up at Expedia. I list the names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer advocacy site.
Our advocacy team didn’t want you to wade through even more red tape. We contacted Expedia on your behalf. It offered you a $348 refund.