Orbitz switched her Aruba vacation — but not her hotel in Tahiti

When Jennifer Waters changes her vacation location, her online agency drops the ball. How can you get Orbitz to fix a botched reservation change?

  • By Wire Service
  • Sunday, January 9, 2022 1:30am
  • Life

By Christopher Elliott

Q: We had a vacation to Tahiti booked through Orbitz. My husband recently called Orbitz to see how much it would cost to change the vacation to Aruba. Orbitz rebooked our tickets without permission.

But they didn’t completely switch the vacations. Now we have flights to Aruba, but our hotel remains in Tahiti. I have tried numerous times to get this corrected, with absolutely no help. I’ve done this through phone calls, emails, Facebook Messenger and the Orbitz website chat.

The Orbitz error has cost me several hundred dollars because of change fees and penalties. Our original flight was refundable with a $250 change fee per person. Can you help us?

— Jennifer Waters, Salem, Massachusetts

A: Orbitz never should have changed your original reservation. I don’t know why it did. I think unless we went back to the call, we wouldn’t know who said what.

That’s one reason I always recommend that you use the website to make any changes to your reservation with an online agency. Orbitz, like most major online agencies, keeps a record of every click and keystroke. Also, you would have received an immediate email verifying the change to your itinerary.

Whatever happened here — and after a full investigation, that’s still not entirely clear — a lot of things went wrong.

According to your account, you were on the phone with an Orbitz representative discussing flight options. You wanted to change your ticket because you were concerned that you might not get to Tahiti because of COVID-19 testing requirements. Then the call either got cut off, or the agent hung up — you’re not sure which.

A web chat or an email could have provided a paper trail. But it looks like you tried to call Orbitz after the dropped call, so there was no paper trail. Any record of the conversations would be in call center recordings that Orbitz won’t let you listen to. You don’t know definitively what you said or what the agent said.

In a perfect world, you would be able to record every phone call with Orbitz and have access to the transcript. But recording a phone conversation is a hassle, and call center employees are often instructed to hang up when you tell them you’re recording the call. I guess only they can record.

Your vacation was part of a package, which means that you booked all of the components together, so it’s even more confusing to me that Orbitz could have changed your flight but not the hotel. Yep, this one’s a head scratcher.

You could have reached out to an executive at Orbitz to find out how to fix this. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the customer service managers at Orbitz (Expedia) on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia-customer-service-contacts/.

It turns out Orbitz had already offered you a credit for the price difference between the Tahiti vacation package and the one in Aruba. I contacted Orbitz, and it reviewed your case. “A refund of $1,185 was processed back to the customer’s card due to the miscommunication that occurred,” a spokeswoman told me. That resolution worked for you.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.

Talk to us

More in Life

Andrew Vait, left to right, Annie Jantzer and Linzy Collins of The Little Lies rehearses Monday evening in Everett, Washington on May 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The Music at the Marina series concludes today with The Little Lies, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band.

Josh Haazard Stands inside his workspace, the HaazLab, where he creates a variety of cosplay props and other creative gadgets, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, at his home in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
This contraption crafter turns junk into sci-fi weaponry

Joshamee “The Chief” Haazard is a costume prop maker in Monroe. He transforms trash into treasure.

For your kids’ sake, stress less about their grades this school year

Don’t make a big deal over grades. Instead, encourage out-of-classroom activities and remember, learning is supposed to be fun.

At the prehistoric fortress of Dun Aengus, the dramatic west cliffs of Ireland meet the turbulent sea as Europe comes to an abrupt end. (Rick Steves' Europe)
Enjoy the simple life on Ireland’s starkly beautiful Aran Islands

Three limestone islands make up the Aran Islands: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.

American Queen changes COVID protocols; can I get a refund?

fter American Queen changes its COVID protocols, Patricia Voorhees Furlong and her husband want to skip their river cruise. Is that allowed? Or, will they lose out on $7,858?

Erika Weinert, an Everett-based mother, editor and now author, sits at her home workspace and holds her first published book, “Cursing with Style” on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
What the @#$%! Everett mom publishes a dictionary of curse words

Erika M. Weinert, 42, a copy editor who does business as The Werd Nerd, wrote “Cursing with Style.”

The 2022 Lexus GX has a 301-horsepower V8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission, and full time all-wheel drive. (Lexus)
Updated 2022 Lexus GX 460 expands list of standard features

Navigation and a 10.3-inch multimedia system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included.

Bruce Johnson has an exhibit on the history of clowns at the Lynnwood Library in Lynnwood, Washington on August 11, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Clown historian takes the funny business very seriously

Bruce Johnson, a.k.a “Charlie the Juggling Clown,” wants to pass his craft down to future generations.

Ella Larson, left, and Simon Fuentes sort through blueberries at Hazel Blue Acres on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Fruits, flowers and bees aplenty in Arlington farm fete

First-ever event highlights local growers’ bounty and contributions to local community

A bald eagle flys over Howarth Park back to it’s perch on Friday, April 22, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Learn how to photograph birds in three-part workshop

Participants will learn to make appealing, sharp bird photos even if they are new to photography.

The Snohomish County PUD recently installed two electric vehicle fast chargers adjacent to public parking stalls on the north side of the Electric Building.
PUD installs fast chargers for electric vehicle drivers

Funding for the t62.5-kilowatt chargers came in part from fines paid by Volkswagen over its 2015 diesel engine scandal.

Airbnb host cancels, and now he has to pay $1,300 more

When Curtis Rahman’s Airbnb host cancels his reservation a day before his arrival, he tries to find a substitute apartment. But the new property is smaller and costs more. Is a $200 credit enough to make up for the trouble?