C-rappy Cacophony

Thursday, October 08, 2009

British Airways and Orbitz Goof up on this one big time!!!

I have not been blogging regularly but this incident stands out to such an odd magnitude that I have been compelled to jot it down in my blog for people to read about it and be aware of British Airways and Orbitz' shenanigans. The US businesses speak high of their customer focussed attitude and going to any extent to honor their word but this incident is a blatant reminder that all those words stated above are just bullshit and the businesses, when it comes to reality don't walk the talk.

Okay, the burning issue that I am alluding too is the instance of British Airways wrongly advertising very low fares(I agree they were ridiculously low) to India in the peak December season. As I said, I do agree that it was a very low and an unseen fare for India travel - average around 600$ for a round trip.But then the ridiculous behavior of both these companies is worth of a class action suit and complain to the better business bureau.They issue the tickets,ticket numbers,seat numbers and everything and take their own sweet time of around 5 to 6 days to inform the customers that they had a glitch and cannot honor their tickets.Now the question is, what about the subsequent plans that the travelers would have done/ What about the hotel books,train ticket within India or flight tickets for subsequent travel.Who is going to compensate for those losses incurred due to Orbitz and British Airways' dumbfuckery?

This is the email that someone in my family sent to a newspaper seeking help
Hello Dennis,

I have been reading your action line column for past many years and am impressed with the help that you provide to your readers. I am hoping you can help me understand the process and if Orbitz can/should honor my reservation.

Orbitz record locator: APXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Airline record locator: United Airlines - MBXXXX
British Airways - Z5XXXX

Oct 2nd: 7:00pm: Reservation made online.

Oct 2nd 7:24 pm: Itinerary received with seats confirmed and airline record locator received.

Oct 2nd 8:30pm: called Orbitz to make sure all was fine with reservation and it was good to go. Confirmed on the phone with customer service that it was good.

Oct 3rd: 5:40am: Email received stating cannot honor the reservation.

Oct 3rd 11:40am: Spoke to Orbitz customer service. They not only refused to honor the reservation, they were extremely rude, stating that we were ignorant to be expecting tickets for such low price ( though they were clearly published). They were very condescending.

Oct 3rd 6:00pm: Friends who booked at the same time, called us to say they all got confirmed ticket at the same price.

Oct 4th: 7:10pm: Spoke to Orbitz again. Supervisor: Sarah—who admitted there was a “rate loading” error on Orbitz and they were working with British airways to fix it. Mgr Name: Edward, id: mql. He was extremely arrogant (& dramatic J), refused to help and said he will respect any procedure we want to take! He also mentioned that there was no error in Orbitz (which was contradictory to what Sarah else said on the phone)

I am attaching all the emails received from orbitz for your reference. Following are our questions:

1. Can orbitz publish seat availability, take our credit card information, confirm the booking saying “seats confirmed – with seat numbers” and then many hours later state they cannot reserve the seats any more ? We did not see any where in email that the reservation is pending confirmation. What are we missing here?

2. What happens if we change our mind later and do not want to honor the reservation? They would not refund our money then!

3. Can you talk to Orbitz to see if they would honor this reservation?

I spent so much time and energy in it. It looks to me like the store publishes a price, states the product is available, but once they realize the price is too low and people are buying, changes the price !!! It’s very stressful that orbitz just does not seem to know what is happening and are refusing to even make an effort to help resolve it.

Dennis, I am sincerely hoping you can help us understand what should a customer do in such instances and if there is any help if we are right?

According to them, there are 3500 others in the same position !! ( a bit of information orbitz offered in consolation) I am sure any help you can offer will help all of us who have had to go through this!

Thank you,

These are other places online where this issue is being spoken about



One of the comments in the forum states this


Pl file the complaint against BA and Orbitz as we can
go to Link [ftccomplaintassistant.gov] and click on FTC complaint assistant and fill out all the information...no need to give your contact information...no name require...no personal detail require...just basic questions. Its BA and Orbitz mistake that, they didnt agree to issue ticket at deal prices... and if it was the limited time offer then they should have closed the deal once they get enough reservation..they should not have promised....so legally you can file the complaint. Please report the incident as an active consumer......

So I encourage everyone affected by this issue to go to https://ftccomplaintassistant.gov/FTC_Wizard.aspx?Lang=en and lodge a complaint against orbitz.

Here is another comment giving a link to another website to file a complaint
I filed a complaint with the DOT. Here's the address again:


It only takes 2 minutes to do. It seems like the least any "hosed" pax should do.

Given that BA perpetually has AA codeshare issues before the DOT, you might think they'd care if the DOT questions them on this.

FWIW, I once got a $150 voucher from UA after complaining to the DOT, so the airlines do read and respond to this stuff.

EDIT: There seems to be somebody at the DOT collecting these complaints in real time. I got the previously-reported "we're looking into the issue" response within 1 hour. I think everybody needs to send them their complaint ASAP. It stands to reason that, the more complaints, the more likely the DOT will put pressure on BA.

I just saw an update.
This issue, including a mention of this thread, had made one of the big UK quality newspapers The Guardian in the past 15 mins, should be in the printed version tomorrow

What a mess!
Although I have not been affected personally by this, my heart goes to atleast 5 or 6 of my close friends and relatives whose dreams to go to India just lasted a few days.


Posted by rajesh |


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