DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: Last August, I was supposed to fly roundtrip with my two children from Boston to San Jose on JetBlue Airways. I had booked the flights through Orbitz. I was using a ticket credit from a JetBlue flight canceled at the start of the pandemic.
When I got to the airport with my family, JetBlue had no record for these flights, even though we had confirmation numbers for the tickets.
I tried to call Orbitz. The calls disconnected twice, and we had to call back and start the conversation with someone new. Eventually, a representative told me there was nothing they could do for us at the time, and we had to wait for a call back within 24 hours. I again called Orbitz, and I discovered that the credits had never been applied. They were still sitting in my account.
I had to buy tickets for the following day from Boston to San Francisco. I also had to book a hotel to stay in that night.
An Orbitz representative asked me to send in the receipts for the flights and hotel I had to book in order to obtain a refund. Orbitz never followed up with me. After the trip, we reached back out to them, and they requested ticket numbers and receipts. I provided all the information to them, yet to this day, we have gotten no response despite our many efforts. Can you help me?
— Benjamin Eckstein, Natick, Massachusetts
ANSWER: This was a somewhat complicated case. But let me see if I can simplify it. You had a JetBlue flight at the start of the pandemic. JetBlue canceled the flight, and you received a credit from JetBlue through Orbitz, your online travel agency. Then you tried to use the credit for a flight in August. You booked that flight through Orbitz. It issued a confirmation number, which led you to believe you had the tickets. But you didn’t.
JetBlue said you didn’t have a ticket when you showed up at the airport. You had to book new flights on JetBlue and a hotel. You also paid for tickets to San Francisco on United Airlines. Orbitz asked you to submit your expenses, and when you did, it failed to respond to your refund request. And that’s what led you to me.
Usually, when an online agency sends you a confirmation number for your airline tickets, you can rest assured that you have an airline ticket. I’m not sure why Orbitz didn’t apply the JetBlue vouchers to your new tickets.
But I am sure of this: Orbitz should have fixed your problem quickly when it realized what happened. And by “fix,” I mean book you and your kids a new ticket and pay for a hotel room if necessary. Instead, it just kept you on hold for hours.
You could have contacted a customer executive at Orbitz to get this resolved. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the appropriate Orbitz manager on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.
I contacted Orbitz on your behalf. It refunded the fare and hotel stay, as promised.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.