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What the Heck Travelocity…

Very seldom do I take to my blog to rant about poor travel experiences… and trust me there’s a lot of them. From having Delta cancel tickets (the second they were reserved) to US Airways losing my seat, to having to ride in a seat covered in tomato juice with United… Yeah – I’ve had some fun trips.

But what all of those have in common is that I still got to my destination, albeit a little better for the wear. But this last trip ALMOST didn’t happen.

Now, that by itself is ok – things happen. I get it – but it is HOW the situation was treated, and even better the EXPLANATION I was given that drove me nuts.

So let’s get started.

Sept 8th

I book my flights on Travelocity, using their recommendation to take Virgin, Jet Blue, and Jet Blue on my multi-destination tour of the country. This is GREAT! I’ve used Travelocity hundreds of times without fail, and they got me a really good price. Yay Travelocity!

Sept 8th – 11:32pm

Uh oh, while I was sleeping I received the following email:

RE: 120948428200

We are contacting you in regards to your recent purchase made on Travelocity.com.

At this time the airline has not acknowledged the flight and/or fare that you originally purchased. Your reservation has not been ticketed and without confirmation from the airline, we are unable to ticket this reservation.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused; however, it is important that you contact our offices at 1-855-201-7812 and reference case number S-109265639. Our agents are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This is an unmonitored alias. Please do not respond to this e-mail. Please contact the number listed above for any further information.

Thank you for choosing Travelocity.com.

Sept 9th

I woke up, and did what I do every morning – check my email (yeah is it sad that’s usually the very first thing I do???). What is this, I have a message from Travelocity (see above) saying “at this time the airline has not acknowledged the flight.”

But that’s ok – things happen. And honestly, that wouldn’t be their fault anyways. So should I call them – well – I thought it’s been 9 hours since that email… and the previous email said they’d update the itinerary, so maybe I should check that first before calling.

So, and maybe that was unreasonable… I guess I should have just called, but I clicked on that magic link they sent me in my confirmation and to my excitement (and perhaps naivety) I see the following message in a big green box:

Your reservation is booked and confirmed. There is no need to call us to reconfirm this reservation.

Yay!!! This is VERY DIFFERENT from the earlier message:

Your ticket is not yet confirmed. We are confirming it with the airline and will update your online itinerary within 24 hours.

Reading that message I sigh a breath of relief, assuming the following:

  1. My reservation is booked and confirmed
  2. There is no ned to call

So… guess what I didn’t do… I didn’t call. Yeah, I’m an idiot.

Sept 20 – 8:00am

This is weird, I haven’t received my check-in email for my Virgin America flight. Maybe it just got caught somewhere. I’ll check back in a bit.

Sept 20 – 5:30pm

Still no email. Weird, but I can probably grab the confirmation code from the itinerary. So still no big deal. I pull up the confirmation email, click on the link, and am greeted by another big green message:

This reservation has been fully cancelled. We’re sorry your plans didn’t work out. When you’re ready to book a new trip, we’ll be happy to help.

Wait… WHAT? I am supposed to fly out in roughly 14 hours now and I don’t have ANY flights. No emails, no phone calls, nothing. In fact the ONLY reason I found out my tickets were not “confirmed” and in fact that they had cancelled EVERYTHING was because I LOOKED IT UP MYSELF after not getting a check-in email.

Sept 20 – 6:00pm

I spend the next 30 several minutes with Travelocity Ticketing, apparently the same ticketing agency for Expedia. I am told that this is all my fault, that they emailed me and called several times (they did not, I went through my missed calls and voicemails thoroughly) and then told me that they could book me the EXACT SAME FLIGHTS again – but this time for TWICE the cost.

Whatever, I HAVE to be in Chicago the next day – I’m not happy – I let them know I’m not happy – but I PAY the new fare. However, to actually get the ticket I have to ask them to book the flights roughly 16 TIMES…

Then I have to ask THEM for the confirmation numbers so that I can check in.

But what makes my day is the explanation they gave me – that Travelocity is unable to book those flights – which is why they didn’t get booked in the first place.

WAIT… HUH!? So it turns out the flights listed on their website, the VERY SAME FLIGHTS I JUST BOOKED AGAIN – they “couldn’t book” unless they did it “separately.” So rather than just booking them separately (which would have made a lot of sense) they just decided to cancel the entire thing without feeling the need to say “hey – your trip has been cancelled.”

After an hour and a half on the phone with them, I was (by customer service) given a $200 voucher for “future trips with Travelocity” – ironically right after I said, “I’m not going to be booking travel with you guys again.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m appreciative, but that’s a fraction of the difference I had to pay – and more so – if I hadn’t been proactive and had just showed up at the airport, I would have been out of luck (no good) with no chance of getting to Chicago.

To think – all which could have been avoided by a simple follow up:

Dear Mr. Stowe,
We’re sorry, but we were unable to secure tickets with the airlines requested. As such we have cancelled your trip. Please call XXX-XXX-XXXX or try booking new flights on our website.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and value your business.

The Travelocity Team

Had I received such an email I would have been like “OH – MY TRIP WAS CANCELLED” and I would have immediately rebooked it. No problems, no questions asked, and no big deal.

Or even if they had said in their original email: “Ignore our previous email saying check in 24 hours. We are canceling your order.” That would have been ok. I would have again just rebooked my trip.

To Recap

Apparently when Travelocity says your ticket is confirmed – what it really means is – NOTHING. When they say “do not call” you SHOULD PROBABLY call.

And if by chance they DO mess up – BIG TIME – you can expect that it will be all your fault and you’ll end up paying for it. Because Travelocity… that’s why.

But the good news is – I AM getting to Chicago… on the very same flights they said they couldn’t book due to lack of agreements with the airlines (which was the reason they gave me for canceling them), and then booked for me – just at twice the cost.

I guess the saying is true… “Beware trolls and garden gnomes when booking travel.”

UPDATE: 10/1/2015

I have apparently done the unthinkable. I called Travelocity trying to get a receipt. I’ve now been on the phone with them an hour and a half… because they have NO RECORD of the purchase. Well wait, after AN HOUR they found ONE of the flights, but the other ones just don’t exist.

Also, that voucher – just to add insult to injury – nowhere to be found. Just more broken promises by a company that apparently can’t even keep track of the flights they DO actually book…

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