Is it me? Booking flights on Expedia

mtnrdredux_gwFebruary 5, 2014

I do all my own travel arrangements because my itineraries are so often complex, I don't really trust anyone with it and plus there are so many decisions to make (eg, the value for a class of service on a given route/plane, the tradeoff between flying or driving etc etc). The exception is booking thru Amex Fine Resorts to get amenities.

So I am booking a trip for the family on Expedia (flights only). For five of us, taking six flights, all in the SE US and then back to NYC, 1st class, the total cost for refundable travel will be THREE times the cost for non-refundable travel.

This gives one pause.

So I read the FAQ on Expedia and it says:

Please assume that the fare is non-refundable and any change or cancellation will result in full forfeiture of the value of the ticket with no refund or credit available.

Rules and restrictions as imposed by the airline(s) will be applicable to your fare should you need to change or cancel your flight(s).

HUH? These statements are one right after another.

This post was edited by mtnrdredux on Wed, Feb 5, 14 at 23:36

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Did you say that backwards? Nonrefundable is MORE expensive than refundable? I would have thought it would be the opposite.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 11:22PM
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Yes, of course, I said it backwards. I am going batty trying to finalize this itinerary.

But I don't understand the two sentences from Expedia.
The non refundable route is a lot cheaper that refundable, which I'm accustomed to. But even so, 5 people, 6 first class flights each, it's still a lot to be potentially subject to "FULL forfeiture"!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2014 at 11:39PM
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I take those two statements as: If the airline is going to let you change it, that's OK by Expedia. But don't blame us if the airline says no because you should assume they will say no.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:19AM
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I could see that. But it's hard not to take the first sentence literally.

I guess my concern is that, before I book it, I need to know what the terms are. Typically you pay a change fee and essentially have a credit good on that airline for 1 year in your name. That I would be fine with.

But the first line seemed to me to say, things booked on Expedia are not refundable, period. In other words, these particular fares are in a particular fare class that does not have the "normal" refundability.

I guess I could call the airlines (of course there are 4 different ones) and ask if they have any fares with such conditions sold through any party.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 12:28AM
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See if this helps, it seems to say you can do pretty much what you are looking for as long as you buy a refundable fare:

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 1:39AM
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I'm a corporate event planner and because of that I'm also a certified travel agent. I like to clarify that I'm not primarily a travel agent with expertise on rules and ticketing.

Expedia can be useful in searching routes and fares, but I recommend people not use it to book air. Once booked, you then need to contact Expedia to make changes, cancellations, etc. when it is far easier to make changes through an airline directly, especially when having to make changes en route due to weather or mechanical issues. Airlines have much greater flexibility to offer alternate flights and rebook on other carriers when they're working with passengers who've booked with them directly, moreso if the passengers have elite status.

Expedia is a travel agency. I recommend using it -- or better yet -- to search, and only book directly with the airline, using a credit card with built in travel insurance and cancellation benefits. Most cards offer these benefits.

I travel frequently and have never needed to book refundable fares because should I need to cancel, the airline simply allows me to use the unused fare toward another ticket minus a nominal change fee, usually $100-150 but sometimes free if I'm elite on that carrier. YMMV

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 6:54AM
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Said another way: booking through Expedia necessarily causes passengers to endure two layers of grief vs one.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 6:59AM
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Totally agree with jujubean. I use Expedia, Travelocity, etc to search and then I book directly with the hotel and airline. If there is some type of issue, I want to deal directly with the provider. Anyone that I know that has used Expedia and had to cancel a reservation says it's a nightmare. Plus, I've never found Expedia to have better prices. When I've checked the same flight on the airlines site, it's always the same price.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 7:13AM
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I was going to say exactly what juju said, and I am happy to see that she is a professional in the field.

Years ago, when I had to book flights for college, I used Expedia. Well ,one time my daughter was able to come home early and it was so difficult getting a hold of someone to change her flight.

I use those sites only as research, then go directly to the specific airline.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 7:16AM
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That is so helpful, guys. I really appreciate it. Too bad I wasted all that time entering the whole family including passports and bdays etcetera!

Oh well.

It's only 5 weeks away so fairly certain of our plans , but having just negotiated resolution on a non refundable hotel fiasco I'm very wary!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 8:48AM
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I look at Expedia to find which airlines to look at that fits my schedule and then go straight to the airline sites and book. Actually I've found lower fares doing that a couple of times for the same flight as I got some booking special from the airline, plus I can then deal with the airline directly which turned out to be extremely important a year ago when we ended up going on a tour of Europes airports due to weather issues before reaching our final destination.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 9:25AM
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Another who agrees with Juju. For my work expense statements, Expedia and most other on-line airfare/hotel/etc. sites are a pain in the behind. I can almost guarantee a problem with the expense statement if one of those sites is used.


    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 2:24PM
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What jujubean said. I only book thru airlines. Sometimes I call and get a live person on the phone when I'm booking for multiple family members and ask them for assistance in doing the booking while I'm on the computer. Just to make sure I'm doing it correctly to get it right. Just make sure they aren't going to charge you a fee for the phone service. I always ask because it can get tricky trying to book more than a couple of people online.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 4:24PM
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Great thread. Glad you posted this.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 5:41PM
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I got burned once on Expedia with a multiple flights ticket, I now book only through the airline websites.
I know I'm only repeating what was said above but it's so true.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 6:07PM
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Another one here who uses various travel search engines, and then book directly with the airline. I have been finding the lowest prices on Priceline lately -not the name your own section, but the part where you just look up prices.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 6:36PM
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I just use American Express. There is a small booking fee but they keep all of your records and if you run into a problem you don't want to look just across one airline.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 12:29AM
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Hi everyone,

Thanks for sharing your insight. I'd never booked thru Expedia before, I too used it just to search. But it was easier to input all the TSA info for all five of us, plus passport numbers, contact info etc etc, in one place then go under each of four airlines and type it all over again. DH and I have FF accounts at most, but the kids don't (they make it very cumbersome for kids under 13 to get FF accounts)

Still, in the end, that's what I decided to do. I resent being made a data entry clerk for the day!

Kitchy, I use Amex booking for the amenities I get under Fine Hotels and Resorts, but I don't use them for flights unless I am in transit and need services. IIRC they charge per ticket. It's $35 which isn't crazy, unless you have 5 people taking six flights each, in which case it totals $1,050 in booking fees. Even if it was worth it to me, seems sinful.

This post was edited by mtnrdredux on Fri, Feb 7, 14 at 13:48

    Bookmark   February 7, 2014 at 1:47PM
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I used expedia every time I booked a flight only, but after the last time, won't use them again. I was given nothing more than a confirmation number, and the morning of my flight, still hadn't receive an official itinerary directly from them. When I called, the 'girl' on the other end asked if I booked thru the 'right site', which was the very first expedia listing on the page. After she sent me the itinerary, I still went to the airline website to double check and make sure the flight was correct. I've never had a problem with travelocity, and have booked several multi destination trips~if anything could get messed up, that could be the time.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 2:25PM
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I booked a hotel room once with expedia and would never,book anything again with them--- or travelocity. As someone mentioned above, they are giant online travel agencies, bad ones at that because you have no relationship with anyone there. I find fares through ITA, kayak or, occasionally, skyscanner, then book directly with the airlines and hotels. You can get a the same or better deal that way without the additional incompetent bureaucracy if a conflict arises. Those services can book a multi segment flight on the same airline in two different segments (if the cost is lower) which means the airline is not responsible for getting your luggage checked all the way, or for finding you the first available flight out should you miss a connecton or a flight is cancelled. The terms of carriage between the passenger and airline are complicated enough without inserting a faceless agency between me and whatever protections those terms provide.

ITA is the program travel agencies use that enable them to find routes and connections a mere human would never find, Ten years ago ITA software was only available to people with a travel agent's booking codes, which you could "rent" on the internet for a specific search. The current google traveler version is different (not as full featured as the agent version) but the price by calendar views and flight time by bar graphs are good visual decision matrices. But you would still actually book through the airlines.

Here is a link that might be useful: ITA software

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 7:12AM
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