If you use a third-party travel website for your bookings, you may want to rethink it. Just ask Martin Schoenberg. He often uses Expedia to book his frequent business trips to Europe rather than booking directly with the airlines, but instead of saving, it cost him more — both in terms of money and time.
Schoenberg recently found himself stranded while trying to fly from Wroclaw, Poland to Frankfurt, Germany. Expedia didn’t solve his problem right away so he was forced to dish out $605 directly — this time to the airline — to get on his flight. And Schoenberg had already been fighting with Expedia over another booking.
“It’s about 10 hours total dealing with this issue,” Schoenberg told CTV News Vancouver. “I know the hold music at Expedia very well.”
Schoenberg acknowledged that he was pleased by Expedia’s customer service. “I got a very quick response time from them,” he said. “They were very professional and helped me out with a few things and most of all getting me back to where I need to go.”
So, lesson learned. Or maybe not for Schoenberg, who will probably keep giving Expedia his business, seeing as he not only got his $605 back but also a refund of $844 for that other issue, along with a $200 travel voucher.
But it’s best to be wary when booking flights and packages with a third-party vendor, insists travel expert Marc-David Seidel. He says these incidents happen more than you realize, because customers can get lost when dealing with large online travel companies.
Seidel recommends booking directly with airlines and hotels, but if you do use a third-party site be prepared for anything — and always double- (triple-?) check the booking. Keep documents and numbers handy, like your e-ticket number, contacts for the airlines and even a backup schedule in case of cancellations.
If you want to book online, Seidel emphasizes that you can still seek deals through various websites to get the discounted fares, then just book directly with the airline. While saving money is always good, as soon as something happens (the flight time changes, something is cancelled, etc.), you’ll wish you had a direct relationship with the airline and not a middleman.
For more on this story, check out the video, above.