Expedia.com Complaint - Risks of Booking Air Tickets with Expedia
Last month I booked tickets for me and my wife on Expedia for air travel later this week as follows: Continental First Class (refundable) EWR-DEN/ Frontier Coach (non-refundable) DEN-LAS / Continental First Class (refundable) LAS-EWR for later this week. My wife injured her back so I called Expedia today to cancel the reservation. They told me that I would have a credit of $3,063.78 on Frontier Airlines, since they are the “validating carrier” (carrier who issued the tickets) and that my refundable first class tickets had become non-refundable.
I would have assumed that Continental would have issued my tickets since they were the originating carrier and made up the majority of the cost and the travel – and since I live on the East Coast, a Frontier credit doesn’t really do me any good. A supervisor stated that the choice of validating carrier is “up to the airlines” and not something that Expedia had anything to do with. She said that there was no way to know ahead of time (before tickets were issued) which carrier would be the one who issues the ticket. And that hidden in their rules and regulations it states that when you book through Expedia, the entire itinerary is subject to the most restrictive ticket’s restrictions, so since my coach Frontier tickets were non-refundable, so was the whole itinerary.
I then called Expedia Corporate HQ and they gave me the number of the Corporate (as opposed to outsourced) Customer Service Department (800 615 1053). I ended up speaking with a friendly rep who explained that Expedia chooses the validating carrier based on the carrier’s commission structure and that Frontier’s commissions to travel agents are higher than Continental’s, so that’s why Frontier issued the tickets. So apparently Expedia not only knows who the validating carrier will be but chooses the validating carrier. When I pointed out that they should inform consumers that this was going on when booking their itineraries, the rep agreed and made vague promises to explore the issue, but couldn’t (wouldn’t) give me a refund or provide any other satisfactory solution. One footnote: Expedia said I could book travel through Frontier on Continental or another airline that has an electronic ticketing agreement with Frontier but the itinerary would have to have a Frontier leg.
Consumers should consider this when booking with Expedia. I don’t know if the other online travel sites do the same thing, but be careful.