Why You Should Never Book Through Expedia

Think Twice Before Booking Through Expedia (or Another Third-Party Vendor)

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Warning, guys, this one’s a doozy. But it’s been brewing for some time—more than a year, in fact. And while I try my hardest to keep this a positive space, sometimes you’ve just got to tell the truth in hopes that history doesn’t repeat itself (i.e. none of you make the same mistake I’ve done). Cliffsnotes version: Booking through Expedia or another third-party OTA is something you should never do. Why exactly? Well, I’ll tell you.

As you may recall, my family and I went on an epic European vacation through the Balkans last fall. The trip began in Budapest, wound its way down the Danube and ended in Bulgaria. From there, we’d fly to Istanbul for the final week.

Throughout all of 2016, the ISIS situation in Turkey continued to escalate, one bombing after another made us a bit wary but the majority of them occurred far from Istanbul, where we’d be visiting. Until, of course, the Istanbul airport itself got bombed at the end of June. This paired with my dad’s stroke and his inability to communicate left us all feeling uneasy enough for me to attempt to reroute us—with no help from Expedia.

There was no way to cancel our flights, they told us. They had no control, they said. It was, ultimately, the airline’s decision. And if you’re thinking “good luck trying to contact Turkish Airlines,” you’re exactly right—they’re about as helpful as Expedia.

So I guess we were going to Turkey; there was no way around it.

Then when our trip was less than one month out, Turkey fell into a military coup—which later failed, but here’s the kicker: For three full days of uncertainty, anyone who had booked trips to the airport, for the most part, could get refunded in full for their trip.

That is, unless, you booked with Expedia.

At the time, I reached out to the company by both Twitter and phone to go ahead and cancel all our flights; my thought was that if I could just get those funds back or a credit to rebook even, I’d simply purchase tickets on another airline (certainly not Turkish) that transported us to another European hub like Vienna or Budapest. We didn’t have to go to Istanbul after all; our cruise left from Hungary and ended in Bulgaria. We simply had thought a few days in Turkey on the back-end would be a nice way to tie up our family vacation.

At the time I was going through all of this in mid-July, too, the Turkish president had declared a state of emergency that was in effect through October. Our trip was planned for mid-August. This was the state department and FAA warning issued at the time:

Why You Should Never Fly Expedia

Sounds ominous, right? Because I know someone who works at Expedia and was getting no results with the phone, being left on hold for hours at a time, I immediately got in touch with her hoping she’d help. She put me in touch with Nick Curry, GCO at Expedia, who wrote me this on July 16, the day after the coup attempt, in response to my explanation of the events that had unfolded:

Looks like the coup is over for now. There are no cancellations to report but please let me know closer to your trip if you have any questions. Thanks!

To which I responded:

Hi Nick,

It may be over—for now—but more than 160 people died last night, and this is the third such incident in a month alone. Would you feel comfortable taking your family there? I sure don’t—particularly as my 64-year-old father just had a massive stroke months ago.

We still want to go on our Europe vacation as planned, as it’s been booked for a year now, but want to avoid Turkey entirely. I was hoping to change our flights to another Star Alliance member that has us bypassing Istanbul but every time I call Expedia, I’m told they can’t help. Is this something you could assist us with?

Appreciate your help,


His response:


I just caught up on my email and saw a note from the US State Department about travel being restricted. Apologies for the spam but there wasn’t a policy last night. Let me have my team call out and see what we can do. I imagine there are lots in your situation, so this may take a few days to resolve, but let me start the process ASAP.

Things were looking up! I suddenly felt like I had an ally. Until I didn’t. Three more days passed without a response from Nick. Then he had his team call to tell me the coup was over so I was, in a sense, screwed. Oh, but had it not taken them so long to respond, I could have easily canceled over the weekend through our credit card company when the state department warning was still in effect, as so many friends also traveling to Turkey had done successfully. Dozens of phone calls with Expedia followed, and I continued to ask to speak to that person’s supervisor, but it got me nowhere.

For those of you who think travel writers get preferential treatment, let this be a case study. We don’t!

Meanwhile, I was working the Twitter connection as I’ve learned, at least in the case of the airlines, it’s often the only way to talk to a real-live customer service representative, someone who is not at a call center in India.

There are two ways this scenario could have played out: 1) They could have just canceled my flights and refunded me in full or 2) they could have let me amend my flights and use the $8,500 we had spent in airfare toward another booking. But oh no, Expedia wouldn’t allow such a thing; I’d have to go to the airline instead.



So go to the airline I did. Only, I still couldn’t ever actually get through to anyone on the line, and they sent out a stock response to anyone who reached out via Twitter saying that you could cancel within that period but that was it. Not too helpful in my case. And while, yes, the airport bombing happened 47 days prior and the failed coup 31 days before our departure, this happened the morning we would have arrived: 14 dead and more than 220 wounded. I think we made the smart choice here, even if it cost us cold, hard cash.

Needless to say, I lost more than 60 hours of my life on the phone trying to sort this ordeal, and I’ve never wanted to quit a trip so bad as I did this one.

Meanwhile, I located a contact for a PR girl from Turkish Air’s U.S. agency (at the time) Golin, and she tried her hardest to help and was kind as could be. But ultimately she can’t dictate how a government-owned airline runs. In the end, I was referred to a supervisor, Selkan Ukel, who was supposed to be able to help me, only after five attempts at reaching him, this was the only response I got:

Dear Ms. Luna,
We acknowladge [sic] receipt of your e mail. We understand your situation and looking in to this matter. The period for refund/rebooking without penalty covers for flights between July 15-July 20. We are extremely busy trying to send our passengers to thier [sic] final destinations who had to stay here for 3 days. But I will share your situation with our headquarters and get back to you as soon possible.
Warn regards,
Selkan UNEL
Frustrating, yes, and why I understand the airline was under a lot of heat, I expected more given that collectively my group had handed over $8,500 to Turkish Airlines. Also, that “get back to you as soon as possible?” Good thing I wasn’t waiting by my computer as nine months have now passed.
But then there was the insurance I’d purchased: With Dad still recovering from a major ischemic stroke, I had gone against my gut and bought Expedia’s trip protection, the kind they try to force upon you whenever you purchase a flight, only to find out when it was too late that such a plan does not cover “acts of declared or undeclared war.”

So, what happened in the end?

Rather than pay a $135 rebooking fee x 23 tickets—the number of separate Turkish Air bookings we made through Expedia, or 7 round-trip transatlantic tickets + 16 one-way legs within Europe—to use the credit within the remaining five-month window, we canceled outright and ate the entire cost of each ticket, booking new international flights to/from Vienna and Budapest just two weeks before our departure date. Cheap? No. Worth it to avoid a terrorist attack in Istanbul? Without a doubt.

So what is a traveler to do in times of political strife?

I honestly don’t know, other than to do as we did and absorb the hit, realizing that, in the long run, your life is more important than $8,500. I will say that before you do anything else, try contacting your credit card company first; oftentimes, there’s a certain level of insurance attached to trips that you might not even know about. There were eight of us travelers and the only ticket we didn’t book through Expedia was SVV’s RT ticket from Atlanta to Istanbul; we booked it via Chase Sapphire Reward points instead. So guess who issued us a $965.16 refund check for the canceled flight? Chase’s Broadspire insurance company. (Yay, Chase!)

Guess who did not issue us a penny back? The Citicard and AmEx Gold we used to book the remaining seven round-trip international flights on Expedia (plus another two legs to Budapest and from Bucharest for a total of eight travelers).

According to one of my travel industry friends, it’s important to get the right kind of travel insurance—and also read the fine print.

“The key with the ‘cancel at any time’ insurance is you pretty much have to buy it within like 24 or 48 hours of booking your trip,” she told me. “As I discovered when prepping for a trip to Africa, almost no regular travel insurance policies cover political unrest/coups/etc. I think from Allianz, that said in the fine print you could cancel for absolutely any reason. Burkina had just had a coup so I wanted to make sure I was covered in case there were more riots/protests.”

I’m no expert on travel insurance, but many travel agent friends recommend Travel Guard or Allianz, two companies I’ll also be looking into on future trips.

But hey, at least I got a media hit on Fox News out of the whole ordeal. My grandfather would have been proud!

Nearly a year later, I still feel dirty about this whole scenario, as if I’ve been scammed, like as a travel industry professional I should have known better. Let’s just consider it a lesson learned the hard way. And to rub salt into the wound, not only were we out more than $8,500, but we had made all our bookings through Expedia, including rental cars, and were charged double on both car bookings in Romania, which wound up being a little shack about a mile from the airport and gave us no documentation of the fees we incurred.

Given they just owed us $200 back, you’d think this was something that Expedia could easily remedy, right, particularly in light of the big blow we’d just been delivered? Wrong! This is the company that specializes in adding insult to injury (just call them the United of OTAs). After seven months, I finally got a rep on the phone; after more than 60 minutes on hold while she investigated, at the end of the call, she promised me a $100 voucher for my trouble and a resolution within 48 hours. You may not be surprised to hear that the voucher never materialized and no one got back to me. So, 13 days later, I took to Twitter again, only to get yet another rude response:

Why You Should Never Fly Expedia

Note: It would have never occurred to me to ask for a voucher, and I was a bit surprised (and pleased); this kind gesture came from a “customer service” rep over the phone who proffered it because of the inconvenience. But the patronizing response from Expedia’s Twitter team sure was awesome!

I gave them myriad chances to fix it, and no matter how many times I’ve given the rundown to a rep, I have to start over. Is it really worth pursuing further for a measly $200?


So guys, take my family’s painful hit for your own travels, and don’t book through Expedia. In fact, don’t book through an OTA (online travel agent), period. Go straight to the source, the airline in this case, as had always been my policy in the past.

My usual plan of attack? Monitor airfare through Scott’s Cheap Flights, Google Flights, The Flight Deal, whatever service you like, then book directly through the airline (or rental car)(or hotel). Every single time. Or! I can refer you to an actual, live travel agent who will help you 1,000 times better than an OTA would. I know a number of good ones and am always happy to pass along the contact info.

And as for if I’ll ever make it to Turkey? That’s debatable. Sadly, this financial blow was enough to sour the whole country for me—apologies to any Turkish readers I might have; it’s not you, it’s your airline—and with all the ISIS activity continuing to occur in the eastern part of the country, it might be a long while before I feel safe traveling there.

Have you ever gone through such a kerfuffle with a travel company like Expedia who robbed you blind? How did you resolve it?

Why You Should Never Fly Expedia (or Book Through an OTA)

  • April 26, 2017

    For a travel writer you seem to have little to no understanding of how airlines and companies like Expedia work. Of course they are not going to refund $8,500 to you that they never received. they are simply a booking portal and 99 percent of that money went directly to the airline. If you did not want to spend 3 days in IST all you had to do was add connecting flights from the airport to anywhere else in EU which would not have cost much. There was no danger inside the airport as the terrorist attack was actually on the outside of the airport. The safest time to be in any city is after something like that happens as security is at a peak anyway. There have been terrorist attacks in Paris, New York, London and lots of other major cities but no one ever freaks out about visiting those cities. I have been reading posts with you complaining about this situation for more then a year know decided to unfollow you at this point. Next time try read up on the rules of any ticket you book with expedia or the airline directly because 95 percent of them are not refundable for something like this regardless of who you book them through. If you supposed to be a travel expert try learn about about how things actually work. And for the record TK is one of the worlds best airlines.

  • April 26, 2017

    Jesus Mary and Joseph what a nightmare. Sorry you had to go through this but thanks for writing this up so we can all learn from your experience!

    • April 27, 2017

      Thanks, Ris! Hoping it’s helpful to those who were wavering on using a third-party vendor or OTA. The big difference as someone noted on my Facebook page is that the customer simply doesn’t have an advocate in this situation as they would a travel agent, for example. The airline certainly doesn’t want to help out since you didn’t go through them and booked through a booking agent instead, and Expedia tries to pawn off any blame on the airline. It’s infuriating!

      • September 3, 2019
        Tall Mo

        I had a similar experience the Summer of 2016 but Expedia saved my travel plans. I also had tickets for the same time as the Coup Attempt with Turkish Air via Istanbul but they were roundtrip tickets to West Africa for a month to Pickup my daughter from my ex-wife, an RN, who was living and working in former French West Africa.
        I usually use Expedia for both domestic and International flights but I had booked through Turkish Air direct this time and my outgoing flight was canceled 2 days before and TA refunded half the round trip ticket leaving me with no way to get to West Africa.
        I was able to purchase a last-minute ticket via Royal Moroccan Air at a cheap price 24 hours before my departure through Expedia and was able to continue my travel plans without incident.
        30 days later we flew back through Istanbul without problems and since we had a long layover in Istanbul, Turkish Air put us up in a hotel room for the night for free.
        It ended up being a wonderful and uneventful trip both going and returning thanks to Expedia and Turkish Air.

        • September 3, 2019

          I’m jealous! We spent six months trying to get reimbursed and nothing. They could not have been less interested in helping us. Glad you didn’t lose exorbitant amounts of money as we did!

    • June 4, 2023
      Leroy Williams

      Looking for a flight ftom Milwaukee, Wisconsin . To Augusta, Ha.

  • April 27, 2017
    Angie Keiser

    What a nightmare!!! I swore off Expedia about ten years ago after a bad experience trying to get a flight changed. We were in Las Vegas for a conference and decided to head back a day early due to bad weather coming in. I called the airline and they told me I needed to make the change through Expedia since that’s who I booked with. We checked flights and there were plenty of seats available, yet Expedia refused to make a change (I was happy to pay change fees, btw). They just flat out refused. We actually drove to the airport and one of the airline agents just shook her head about the situation. And then she booked us on the earlier flight 🙂 I use Expedia sometimes for research, but I refuse to give them my money.

    • April 30, 2017

      I used to think it was just the airlines in general, but I’ve never had this much trouble changing a flight when I went directly through the airlines so…

  • April 27, 2017
    Nicole DiBella

    Just had to comment that Chase Sapphire’s customer service and insurance is AMAZING. We were on the second day of our 2 week honeymoon in the Maldives (2 days of pouring rain and sinus infections I might add) when we got a call that my husband’s aunt was dying and we needed to fly home. Of course our hotels refused to give us any money back and we thought we would also just have to eat the costs. Chase was outstanding and we were able to use the insurance to get almost all of our money back (except the flights, which we did use, and the 2 nights in the hotel). Cannot recommend them enough!

    • April 27, 2017

      I so agree, Nicole! We didn’t even spend money with them for that ticket, it was booked with points, and they STILL cut us a cash check for the corresponding dollar value. I’ve always loved my Chase Sapphire card, but doubly so after that experience. Can you believe that AmEx, though, would’t budge? They’re supposed to be known for client care. Two of the other tickets I booked (for my parents’ friends) were done via AmEx and they couldn’t have been less helpful.

      • April 27, 2017
        Nicole DiBella

        Same, we booked the majority of our hotel stay using points (like 250K because we got that 100K bonus and paid for most of the wedding using the card to get all those points) and they cut us a huge check (which we turned right around and used to book another trip through Chase, so it works out for them as well). After all that, I will be loyal to Chase forever. Amex could stand to learn from them. Thanks for living and learning for all of us!

  • April 27, 2017

    Oh man, Kristin! I’m so sorry for all that ordeal you had to go through. This is my BIGGEST nightmare when I’m organizing overseas group trip. In fact, we are looking to do one in October (to Poland, Czech, and Hungary, for 6 people) and I’ll be SURE to book directly with the airline or with a live agent. I toyed around with the idea of booking through Expedia but NOPE, not after I read this. Thanks for sharing, as always.

    • April 27, 2017

      Yes! I have a couple awesome agents I can recommend if you need one. Carol, who owns Group Trek Travel in Nashville, is awesome.

  • April 27, 2017

    What an ordeal to go through! I never trusted booking third party for any type of travel. I’ve always known if something goes wrong, I’m not guaranteed anything.

    • April 29, 2017

      Yeah, and there’s no one at Expedia (or any of the other vendors, for that matter) who will go to bat for you either, Krystal. They’ve already got their money, so what do they care? Customer service is dead.

  • April 27, 2017

    Commenter #1 is a douche bag. Commenter #3 is an idiot.
    I have never used an OTA (although I did apply for jobs at 2 different ones) and always book direct, but if I ever had the notion to do so, I definitely wouldn’t now!

    • April 27, 2017

      Update, you removed #3, just for the record, it’s not Angie!

      • April 27, 2017

        Ha! I’m not sure who comment #3 was or why he/she removed it, but now I’m intrigued. And I wonder how much #1 was paid by Expedia, hmmm…

  • April 27, 2017

    Funny you would write this: I booked a hotel in New York City for next weekend, for a writer’s conference, and there is a chance I can’t go. I used Expedia. Expedia says it has a no-fee cancellation policy. OK, cool. Only problem is, the hotel where I booked my stay through Expedia DOES NOT. Once you book through Expedia, your funds are GONE. So there is no way I am getting my money back if I can’t make my trip to New York. Granted, it’s only $260 for one-night–not $8,500–but it still stings. Lesson learned.

    • April 29, 2017

      Ugh ugh ugh. I’m sorry you had to find this out the hard way, Leah! =(

  • April 28, 2017

    Ugh, what a nightmare. I used to book through Expedia a lot but after realizing that if I needed to change anything on my booking I would have to go straight to the source anyways (airline, hotel, etc), I stopped using them. In my experience, you also don’t save any significant amount of money by going through them. I hope you had a good vacation nonetheless and hopefully Turkey will be safe enough in the future for a trip there!

    • April 30, 2017

      Yeah, it really does make your life harder if you have to make any changes as you then have to go through double the trouble to do that. Me too! I’d still love to go to Turkey, even though I’ll have to find another airline to get me there 😉

  • April 28, 2017

    My mother was going to book her last international flight on a third party site, could have actually been Expedia, but I told her not to do it. The third party and airline like to play “pass the buck” and the consumer is caught in the middle.

    So sorry to hear this happened to you, and hopefully your experience will dissuade others from using Expedia and flying on Turkish Airlines.

    P.S. The first commenter is the one who has little to no understanding about travel in general. “No danger at the airport.”? I was actually supposed to be flying on Turkish Airlines through Istanbul for a press trip last August. Given the fact that the travel time exceeded 45 hours (with no hotel stay during this time) and they gave me a 5 hour layover in Istanbul just after the coup attempt, and put me on TA, I passed. Sometimes, common sense evades people.

    • April 30, 2017

      “Pass the buck” is the perfect way to describe it. I know the airline technically has to make the changes, but if you can’t get through them (or access your booking through their website), how on Earth are you supposed to do that??

  • April 28, 2017

    My sister visited a dear friend in Turkey some years ago. That friend has since left and is doing her best to get her family out. It is Such a sad situation.
    Thank you for this post. I honestly had no idea something like this would happen with Expedia and would have assumed they’d do their best to help you. Their messages are super condescending and downright maddening in that some of them seem to suggest you’re being overly cautious not wanting to fly your family into a scene of civil unrest! Good grief! Thanks for the information.

    • April 30, 2017

      Thanks, Meg! It does surprise me how many people (even in this thread) are all, “but it’s safer to go somewhere immediately after an attack.” Clearly, they have not been watching the news and seen all the attacks that have happened there in the past year. It’s heartbreaking, and I feel for the people like your sister’s friend who must go through torture worrying about the safety of their loved ones.

  • April 29, 2017

    Great post as wall as courage for the reality of travel market. I appreciate you for the honesty and the truth.

    • April 30, 2017

      Thanks, Shannon. I appreciate you taking the time to read!

  • April 29, 2017

    I am so sorry you went through this! So frustrating and terrible to lose that much money. Ugh. I went through a similar thing with Expedia just a few months ago where they refused to fix a ticket they messed up and ended up losing days of my trip and money… it was horrible! Ironically the flight was through Istanbul too! So glad you wrote your story so others won’t buy through them.

    • April 30, 2017

      It’s crazy how many people like you, Meghan, and others who have emailed me since posting this have had similar situations. And yet, it keeps happening, and Expedia never owns up to their mistakes. I had a former Expedia social media manager email me and say that when she manned their accounts, she was constantly getting complaints like mine. Maddening!

  • April 29, 2017

    Ugh, that sounds like a total nightmare; you poor thing. Like you said though sometimes you have to weigh up the risks and take the hit rather than put yourself in any danger! xx

  • April 29, 2017

    Urgh – this was frustrating just to read never mind live through. I’m so sorry you had to go through this nightmare – it speaks badly for both Expedia and Turkish Airlines. Terrible customer service!!! Thanks for sharing.

    • April 30, 2017

      Thanks, Emily! I don’t understand why it’s so common for major companies like this to have such bad customer service. It shouldn’t be that hard, should it?

  • April 29, 2017

    Wow. You would think with all the effort they put into advertising they would put the same into decent customer services when there is a crisis in places people are travelling too. I have had similar troubles with Expedia but nowhere on this scale.

    • April 30, 2017

      Right?? I think they need to reallocate some of that marketing money to employee training!

  • April 29, 2017

    Reading all this made me happy I stopped myself before booking our flight on Turkish Airlines with an OTA and booking them directly on the airlines website. I am so sorry you have had to deal with them. I have heard horror stories from expedia and have avoided using them, and will continue to do so.

    • May 4, 2017

      They’re so awful! I’m glad you decided against it, too, Sara. Though how was your Turkish Airline experience? They’re just as much at fault here as Expedia as they also refused to get back to me regarding my options for cancellation, ugh.

  • April 29, 2017

    Yep Expedia sucks. We went through a similar situation last year with a ticket to Colombia. Spent hours on the phone with them. Never got refunded for a mistake they made.

    • May 4, 2017

      How do they get away with that??? I can’t believe they robbed you of your money, Melissa. ugh.

  • April 29, 2017

    I have always booked directly with the airlines/hotels/car rental after a minor issue many years ago using a 3rd party booking agency. I learned quickly I had zero customer service options. I am sorry this happened to you! On a side note, we have used Allianz for trip insurance and travel medical. We had a medical claim last November; claim submittal and reimbursement was easy and stress-free. I haven’t had to use for trip cancellation or interruption (as of yet), but have been very happy with the service.

    • May 4, 2017

      That’s great to hear, Allison! I read your post and am definitely weighing options for our next international trip.

  • April 29, 2017

    That sounds like an overall awful experience! I work at the front desk of a hotel and just had someone calling about a reservation from hotels.com that didn’t go through when we were booked up. After a few bad experiences last year, I always book directly now!

    • May 4, 2017

      I hear that OTAs are awful to the hotels, too, so they just sound like a bad alternative all around!

  • April 29, 2017

    What a pain! Never heard of the Chase Sapphire, is it a credit card company? I also avoid OTAs when booking flights.

    • April 30, 2017

      Yes, Karin, Chase Sapphire Rewards is one of the best credit cards for travelers—we switched all our accounts over from airline-specific ones years ago and fund most of our for-fun travels on Chase points since they work for almost all airlines and many hotels (so you’re not limited). If you travel a lot, I’d recommend looking into it!

  • April 29, 2017

    That does sound really bad and really expensive! As someone who uses OTAs quite a lot for various sort of mispriced, error etc flights, I would not go as far as to say not to use any of them, as this way I could have never gone on a $300 return trip from Europe to Palau or $150 Europe to India. But the insurance is the key here for me, I always make sure to get one, and I have read all the small print. In my case it is one from a bank, but not included in the credit card, but purchased separately.

    • April 30, 2017

      Understood, Alina! I guess I should have clarified that should someone use an OTA, it’s doubly hard to get flights changed when needed. I’m so used to flying Southwest where flight changes are easy-peasy that I forgot how unwavering airlines like Turkish can be. Do you have an OTA you swear by? Not that I’m going to use them again, but I am curious =)

  • April 29, 2017

    OMG I’m so sorry you had to deal with this! I remember either tweeting or FBing with you a little about this last year when you were first trying to get it all straightened out, and I can’t believe what a nightmare it turned into. In general, I’m not a fan of booking directly with anyone other than the airline, and this really confirms it. Ugh.

    • April 30, 2017

      I mean, it wouldn’t have necessarily been better in this instance had I booked directly through the airline given I couldn’t ever actually reach anyone at Turkish, but it was more the treatment on both ends (TK and Expedia) that left me so annoyed. I think we can all agree the airlines need to have a system of checks and balances because they get away with murder!

  • April 29, 2017

    What a nightmare!! The whole time I was reading, I kept muttering “what the f*ck” over and over lol. I have never and will never book through a third party. So sorry you had to experience this 🙁

    • April 30, 2017

      Thanks, Bri! Happy to have it behind me, and hoping others can learn from my (and Expedia’s) mistakes.

  • April 29, 2017

    Yikes!! This post is really helpful. I never thought Expedia would be like that! I’ve never had issues before but I’m going to be so much more careful now.
    -Felisa from http://www.bucketlistbelles.com

    • April 30, 2017

      Just make sure you read the fine print, Felisa, and you’ll be fine. I know better now in the future (though I’ll never be booking via an OTA again after this!).

  • April 29, 2017

    OTAs are notorious and price gauging everyone. They charge airlines and hotels a large sums of money for a listing and then for every sale on their site, they also take a commission. They make a lot of money. I only use OTAs for research and book directly every single time

    • April 30, 2017

      You’re smart, Alaine! And I’ll be smart in the future =)

  • April 29, 2017

    what a nightmare to deal with on what was to be a lovely family holiday. it’s so simple for them do do actual “customer service” and they choose not to. drives me crazy

    I’m a travel agent and folks scoff at the airline ticket fees charged but they get 24/7 monitoring of the trip which is worth the cost IMO. for my vacations (that aren’t point to point easy) I use a travel agent (one in US and one in London) to deal with travel issues (of which I’ve had a few crazy ones). I managed business travel for years and banned employees from using OTA – they had to use our corporate agents. of course when they called with problems it was because they violated policy and wanted me to fix their OTA nightmares.

    sorry your family experienced this ordeal, I hope the trip otherwise was chaos free

    • April 30, 2017

      The trip itself was great! Glad we left all the stress on the front end (and back end when I continued to fight for those flight credits, to no avail). My biggest annoyance, Suzanne, is that no company seems to have a concept of customer service anymore, as you mentioned. Really, how hard is it for them to do their job?!

  • April 29, 2017

    That is awful! It’s unfortunate y’all had to skip Turkey. I went there back in 2011 for a few weeks and loved it. Such a beautiful country with rich history and incredible food. But much better to be safe… I swore off Expedia a few years ago because they really refused to change the name on a ticket when I was booking travel for several colleagues to a conference. Big fan of monitoring pricing on google flights!

    • April 30, 2017

      LOVE Google Flights. And am obsessed with all the places I could potentially go thanks to Scott’s Cheap Flights! I will still go to Turkey eventually I’m sure (I’ve been to the coastal part while in Greece, but that’s it).

  • April 29, 2017

    I think you were in a situation when (for completely understandable reasons), you decided to cancel the trip. Unfortunately, I was in the airport on my way to NYC the day they bombed it. I contacted directly United airlines, though I had booked via an OTA, and themselves changed the flight for the next day. When we learned that the airport were to remain closed for longer and we cancelled our trip, they told us that we would receive the full paid price, and that was it. It is true that the OTA was the one who had to tramit the refund request with United, but in our case it all worked out pretty fine…

    • April 30, 2017

      I’m glad for you, Jenn! That’s great that they were able to help you out. I was more frustrated that I couldn’t reach the airline and Expedia wouldn’t help facilitate that than anything. I get that ultimately the airline is culpable, but it’s also frustrating when you can’t get through to anyone at either company.

  • April 29, 2017

    Well you know you’ve made it big time when a man comes in to do some explaining to ya!!

    So sorry that you and your family went through this. Going to share it all around the social medias in the hope that no one else has this issue. Ever.

    • April 30, 2017

      Thanks so much, Jean! I appreciate all the support of the Interwebs here =)

  • April 29, 2017

    This is pretty ridiculous but a good reminder about third party. Something sorta similar happened to me in 03 w orbitz. I always book through the airline!

    • April 30, 2017

      I always did before and I always will in the future now after this =)

  • April 29, 2017

    Sorry to hear about your experience. It sounds like a nightmare.

    I use Expedia for every or almost every flight I take. Sometimes even booking accommodations and car rentals. I never had a problem with them. Customer service was great.

    Because I book so often they told me I have a special customer service number with them which I can use in a moment like yours/this. I never used it….hehe. Didn’t have to.

    There was a time in Costa Rica when a car rental company tried to overcharget us ×5 times the amount of the car rental fee besides of what we already paid through Expedia.
    Of course I cancelled.

    When I called them to complain and cancel that was the only time they told me it had to be done 72 hours before the start date.

    I reasoned with the CSA that I booked the rental 12 hours ago and that his logic is good but doesn’t apply in my case. And so he cancelled without a penalty for me. Happy end.

    So, if I understand correctly, buying the *protection* for flights and trips from Expedia when you book a flight doesn’t cover the political instability?

    Why didn’t it work for you?

    • April 29, 2017

      You’re correct, Julia. Apparently trip protection is more for medical emergencies and doesn’t cover “acts of declared or undeclared war.” That was news to me, and it sounds like you have to have a pretty specific insurance that would include that. Regardless, I’m sure there’s a way we could have used my dad’s stroke to recoup some of the expenses, but at the end of the day, I was tired of fighting Expedia, you know?

  • April 29, 2017

    I’m so sorry this happened to you! What a frustrating and upsetting situation 🙁
    I’ve booked hotels with Expedia many times and never had any issues. But after reading this, I will never consider booking flights with them!
    Thanks for your honest review, I’m sure you’ve saved tons of people the same inconvenient experience 🙂

    • April 30, 2017

      Yeah, to be honest, I’ve never had trouble with hotel bookings. It’s mainly just flights and rental cars. Though so many friends who work for hotels tell me how awful the OTAs are to the hotel chains (particularly the little guys) so it makes me just want to go direct regardless as the majority of hotels will price match what you find via an Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, etc.

  • April 30, 2017

    Had you bought travel insurance?

    • April 30, 2017


      • April 30, 2017

        And what did they have to say? I’m not talking about the Expedia trip protection, as you’ve already discussed it.

        • April 30, 2017

          That’s all we had this trip. I was more concerned about my dad having another stroke as he was just six months out from his first the day we left, so I made sure we had the proper medical coverage in place. On past trips, I’ve had TravelGuard and MedJetAssist plans, though from what agents have told me in the wake of this incident, the majority of plans wouldn’t have covered civil unrest either (which is crazy to me). Our Chase card does often cover such insurance claims, as it did in this case on the one ticket we purchased through them (AmEx, however, did not). Do you have any catch-all plans you recommend? I’ll definitely be looking into investing in a good one in the future after all this and am soliciting suggestions. I’ve read so many articles on sites about travel insurance and have not reached a consensus as to which one would make the most sense for international travel.

  • April 30, 2017

    I usually book directly with the airline or hotel but recently Amex began offering 5X membership miles for reservations made through their travel agency. When I checked into my first Amex-made reservation hotel stay last week, the front desk clerk said “oh, your reservation is through Orbitz”. What? I guess that’s it for me with the Amex travel agency! My plans change too frequently to deal with 3rd (4th) parties.

    • April 30, 2017

      You know, I saw that with one of my credit cards, too, Katherine. They’re using either Orbitz or Travelocity to make bookings. Still, I think the credit card companies usually have a lot better customer service than the airlines or OTAs do so you’re a little safer there. (At least in my case, Chase has always stepped in to help.)

  • April 30, 2017

    The biggest surprise for me in all of this is that Expedia’s trip protection didn’t cover acts of war or terrorism. I fully admit to NEVER reading the fine print so that would have been a big surprise for me!

    One question — did you know about the three day credit card cancellation window when it happened or did you not know about it until later? I’m wondering how the credit cards would even let their customers know about something like that.

    • April 30, 2017

      Yeah, I clearly didn’t read the fine print either, but at the same time, I wasn’t necessarily anticipating multiple bombings in the month we were traveling so much as I was my dad having a repeat stroke as is common with stroke victims.

      During the three-day period when FAA had halted flights, the state department had warnings against Turkey and the country was in a military coup, the credit card companies were refunding any clients who had travel currently booked there. I called to make sure I’d get a refund from all our bookings (they confirmed I would) but held off canceling as it seemed from my correspondence with Nick that they were going to help me make alterations to my itinerary. Big mistake. HUGE. I should have just canceled outright when AmEx and Citi would have refunded us and then made a new booking (my big thing at the time was that I would have had to pay double on all the existing flights we’d had for six months given an increase in prices so close to departure), but instead I held out hope that Expedia would be able to contact the airline on my behalf (since I never got through to a live human on the Turkish Airlines’ line) and let me alter my flight path to go through different cities. Lesson learned! In the future, I’ll just outright cancel when I have the opportunity to do so without penalty and figure out new arrangements from there.

  • May 1, 2017

    I think it’s especially important to not use a third party travel agency when flying international. If it’s domestic I think booking with these type of agencies is okay, but there are definitely pros and cons. For example, the last flight I booked with Expedia did offer the absolute lowest domestic rate I could find, but the actual booking process wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked. I was also unaware of the fact I couldn’t choose my seat on the provided airline before the day of the flight. As far as budget traveling goes, Expedia worked just fine, but I see why international travel could cause some difficulty. Being able to change flight details after having booked would also be nice. Thanks for sharing your experience and sorry to hear about not making it to Turkey!

    • May 1, 2017

      You’re right, Josh. It seems the bulk of my issues with OTAs in the past have stemmed from international travel. Still, I’m going to play it safe and use a real travel agent or book direct from now on 😉

  • May 2, 2017

    Goodness me. It must have been awful and so, so stressful Kristin. I’m so sorry.

    I’ve had a quick read through some of the comments and I’m amazed at the lack of understanding but sadly, hardly surprised.

    I’m flown with Turkish Airlines before, and have been to Istanbul, but right now, Turkey isn’t safe for vacation travel at all. I live in Germany, and Berlin has a large Turkish expat community. The politics is very complicated and not going away any time soon. As such, you were right to cancel.

    Have I been through such a kerfuffle with a travel company? If you travel as much as we do, it’s bound to happen.

    My flight was 1.5 hours late going from Berlin to Barcelona 2 years ago. I was actually going to Costa Brava for the TBEX conference and ended up arriving at midnight so I missed my pre-booked and pre-paid taxi-service! The result? I had to sleep at a bar in the airport! On the way back, the airline was 10.5 hours late! I had client appointments which all had to be cancelled. The result? 15 hours at the airport, 2 food vouchers and nothing more ‘cos they were a budget airline. Lesson learnt. No flying with budget airlines except for EasyJet, who are brilliant!

    As a result, when we went to Spain & Portugal in 2016, we booked directly with Brussels Airlines. During our time in Portugal, the airport was destroyed via a bomb. It was a difficult time and all the phones were down. I contacted them via Twitter, as we couldn’t get back to Berlin unless we went to Switzerland, France, the UK, or doubled back to Spain, and paid over €1,000 each! Brussels Airlines were great and re-booked us with Lufthansa via Frankfurt instead.

    Last year, I went to the Philippines and booked with Turkish Airlines. The day after, an airport bomb went off! I tried to cancel the flight but they wouldn’t refund my money. Like yourself, I cancelled it anyway, and booked with SWISS. I lost €800.00.

    Will I be going to Turkey or flying with Turkish Airlines anytime soon? No.

    It wasn’t a good year for us in Europe, but it is what it is, and meanwhile all we can do is get good insurance, book directly with the airline, and hope for the best.

    • May 5, 2017

      Personally, I find it ludicrous that people can be so flippant about traveling to a country in the midst of extreme civil unrest, but to each his/her own. The day we would have arrived in Turkey, there was a huge attack, so I don’t regret that decision at all.

      And ugh, I feel ya with the tough year in Europe. I know you guys in Germany are really feeling it with the country accepting so many refugees. (Good on Merkel for that, by the way.)

  • May 3, 2017

    Oh man, I feel for you! We had to cancel El Al flights due to a *war* and couldn’t get them to just send documentation of the cancellation fees so that I could submit a travel insurance claim. My husband called and emailed at least a dozen times.

    (My original reply got so long that I decided it should just become a blog post, so thank you for the writing prompt!)

    • May 4, 2017

      Ugh! What is wrong with these international airlines? How do they get away with it??

      And please link me to your post when it’s live!

  • May 5, 2017

    Sorry you and your family had to go through this but thank-you so much for sharing your experience!

  • May 7, 2017

    No. I’ve never booked through Expedia and now certainly never will. What a mess! Maybe there’s some logic to booking tickets separately rather than all in one transaction for a big group. We always travel as 4, but sometimes we book 2 lots of 2 as it helps us with baggage charges. Maybe that way a big group wouldn’t all be reliant on one successful refund. But nothing like this has ever happened to us. Well, we were flying the day after the Nepal earthquake, but the airport was closed so the refund was no problem. Also we’ve never laid down such a big wodge of cash in one go, a large amount like that is worth looking at good insurance for. Anyway, sorry this happened to you and they suck.

  • September 19, 2017

    What a pain in the you know what!! I myself have recently had a terrible experience with Priceline that I was going to write about. Long story short, they refused to refund my money even though the hotel we were staying at had a ROACH crawl from under my daughter’s pillow and smelled strongly of weed. I ended up checking out a few hours after check in and RECORDED my complaint to the hotel. The woman in the recording acknowledged they knew about this problem, and yet Priceline did not want to give me my money back. They said I never reported my problem to the hotel… :/ After back and forth, I finally got my money back. Whatever happened to customer service?!

    • September 19, 2017

      Kay, that’s awful! I’m so sorry you experienced that but SO GLAD you got your money back. We never received a penny from Expedia =/

  • October 16, 2017

    The internet is my favourite.

  • July 31, 2018

    This is “exactly” why I started our digital travel agency. Travelers shouldn’t be forced to know the ins-and outs of the travel industry. We automatically suggest a “cancel anytime” policy and it covers you, well for everything. But more importantly, you should not have had to do the 60 hours of work. That is our job, to cancel your flights, to prep the insurance paperwork and battle it out with the airline. In fact, with us you would have already been informed the second the attack happened (I was actually in Turkey at the time on vacation myself and my own travel agency team had a ticket for me to leave the country in less than 2 hours – talk about eating your own dog food LOL) And yes, travel agencies like us at TripConcierge.co charge a fee, but guess what? It’s covered by the insurance. 😉 And yes, booking your next $25 flight on Spirit might not be worth locating a travel agent, but when you start spending big dollars, the help, advice and support you get is worth it.

  • October 26, 2018

    Expedia is the devil of the travel industry. They have taken over the industry and have a monopoly in many aspects of the industry. They screw you every chance they get. Here’s a limited list of what companies they own:

    Expedia.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, CheapTickets, Hotwire, eBookers, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Venere.com, TripAdvisor.com — plus TripAdvisor subsidiaries CruiseCritic.com, BookingBuddy.com, SmarterTravel.com, SeatGuru.com, AirfareWatchdog.com and IndependentTraveler.com.

  • December 22, 2018

    Hi there,
    I know I’m late to posting but I am so sorry for your ordeal, but you and your family stayed safe and that’s the most important thing. Thank you for sharing it. I’ve had two bad experiences with hotels.com. The worst was where the hotel I originally booked and paid for a on hotels.com was overbooked and so hotels.com moved my reservation to another similar hotel instead…the morning I was gonna arrive! I was attending a concert and the original horrl was right by the concert hall whereas the new one was over a mile away. :-/ I was so annoyed but the new hotel was fine and the concert was perfect. But after that incident, I never would book anywhere but with the airlines, hotels, or car rental places directly. Even if it’s a little pricier than getting these “bundle prices” the peace of mind is worth it.

  • January 9, 2019

    Thanks for posting this. I’m glad your family is safe.

    Unfortunately, I’m not sure your article relates to all the people who travel around the United States. Expedia doesn’t issue refunds. Got it. Many airlines don’t, either. BOTH, or many, do, though, if you pay for extra insurance, etc.

    I’m trying to figure out how Expedia did wrong (besides promising you something such as a voucher and never delivering).

    Still, I’m going to try out the several sites you listed in an attempt to get good rates, for flights, cars, and hotels.

    Thanks again!
    Walt D in LV

  • January 10, 2019

    100% agree. Do not use Expedia. I bought a ticket through them. The airline overbooked the flight and I was left hanging. Had to buy a very expensive ticket at another airline’s counter.
    The airline refused to take ownership and so did Expedia.
    I did receive a collection notice from Expedia for the full cost of the ticket because I disputed the charge with the credit card company. Stay clear, a bad company!

  • February 9, 2019

    Bought tickets for myself and a friend, made a mistake with her name. They have a policy that doesn’t allow name changes and need a legal document to prove the misspelled name is in fact the same person as the person on the travel document. Basically made it extremely difficult/impossible to correct and forced me to buy another ticket for her. To be honest the policy of no name change is quite a sly tactic anyways, taking advantage of misfortunate situations where a person has last minute changes and can have another use the ticket they rightfully paid for. This combined with their unreasonable requests when trying to make a correction to typo is basically like they are using your mistake as an excuse to steal the fare for the service they won’t provide. The feeling is basically like signing a contract that has unfair conditions and then being told you should have read the fine print.

    Moreover, the customer service was unclear and some of the things they said are basically stalling. At the end, not helpful at all.

  • June 3, 2019

    We have flown to Europe twice this year on tickets purchased through Expedia (or one of the sites they own). The reason we used an Expedia property to buy the tickets: the tickets were bulk fares that were vastly lower in price than any published fares we had ever seen on these routes (now, for one of them the airline did later come out with a fare that was relatively close to what we paid and if I had know that would happen–and of course I never could have known it would happen–it would have been worth it to pay the relatively small amount of additional fare because then my status would have gotten us upgraded to the section of coach with more legroom; the bulk fare, by contrast, isn’t eligible for any upgrades). My point here is that, while there is no doubt that for published fares you should go straight to the airlines, if you get the right deal on an unpublished bulk fare, Expedia and its ilk can make a lot of sense.

  • September 10, 2019

    Hi Kristin! I know this post is years ago but literally am going through the same issue with Expedia re: Hong Kong political unrest. Our flight isn’t until October however we didn’t know how long the situation will last so we didn’t want to risk it. Our airline gladly refunded back our money without charges, however when I got in touch with Hotels.com they gave me the hardest time. I disputed this with my credit card company providing the reason of the political instability and that our airline have cancelled our flight. The CC reimbursed our money but 2 months after fast forward to now, Expedia sends an email about the dispute that I made and want me to contact them. I’m not sure how to go about this but I feel that they will be aggressive about getting their money back. Never again will book with Expedia.

  • November 6, 2019

    I think you’re probably right that third-party sites are a bad way to go if your itinerary has you visiting multiple countries because of the potential for turmoil. In those instances, it’s probably best to book each item separately so you can deal directly with the vendors.

    But for domestic trips, Expedia is a great way to go. I just booked a vacation to the Grand Canyon (from St. Louis). I had looked into various hotels at various prices. I had looked at car rental companies and flights. It would have been a real hassle to find the best deals in such a way that all of the dates lined up. (We don’t want to fly in on a Tuesday and not have a hotel room until Thursday, for example.)

    Expedia allowed us to book a solid trip without much hassle or expense. And there’s very little risk of turmoil that would cause our plans to change, although we did opt for the cancel-for-any-reason trip insurance.

  • July 2, 2020

    That is so shit. I am having similar situation right now and I will never use Expedia nor any other travel agencies. Never again.

  • September 24, 2020
    Pedro Kolari

    I have booked through Expedia repeatedly and with no problems. Except now. I had purchased a set of flights from South America to Europe and throughout Europe. They were all canceled and the short trips refunded except two two-way transoceanic business class flights booked with Air Europa. Air Europa verbally said they would refund but in writing only said refunds had to be obtained from Expedia. Expedia just continues to allege “difficulties” from many outstanding problems. Such “difficulties” seem to affect only large amounts of money. I can understand that Air Europa may be cash strapped and Expedia is not liable beyond the processing, but Air Europa and Expedia continue to sell tickets while not meeting their previous obligations (to refund according to EU rules). Expedia should sit with Air Europa and work out a consistent reply to a large group of customers. Instead, both organizations seem to rely on people giving up. I am willing to assume losses from the pandemia but see no reason to tolerate this underhanded and cynical modus operandi.

  • December 8, 2020

    Even I really had a bitter experience of booking through Expedia last year. Now, I am pretty sure they have lost a customer for life and I would also advice caution to others before booking through Expedia or other third party websites.

  • October 11, 2021

    Expedia is a piece of shit (POS) company!! Without a doubt, they will screw you over.

  • December 15, 2021

    I had to earn my happy endings with Expedia. I had two cases. There won’t be a third, because I am unwilling to book air, hotel, or rental cars with them again.

    The first case was a trip to Copenhagen in August 2021. I was going to catch a cruise ship. The cruise line canceled my trip. I tried to collect on the travel insurance I bought via them (AIG Travel Guard. Don’t use them either. The short version is you can’t collect on it unless you die, in which case you don’t need the money). They forced me to cancel the flight, which gave me credits. Then they denied my claim. I appealed it on the basis that Denmark wasn’t allowing tourists in. Still denied. The happy ending came from Air Canada, who revised their policies and issued refunds. Lesson learned; don’t buy flight insurance.

    I made the mistake of booking REFUNDABLE tickets from Panama City to my home. Again, the trip was canceled. So I tried to get a refund. Expedia refused, because despite clicking all the boxes for REFUNDABLE tickets, they decided to sell me NON-REFUNDABLE tickets. Their customer service pretty much said “it sucks to be you”. But I had learned a lesson. See, if the airline changes their flight times over a certain amount, you get the option of either accepting the change or rejecting it. So, rather than cancel the flight, I left it intact and waited. I finally got my opportunity when a flight time change of over an hour was made. I rejected the change, and waited for my refund.

    Didn’t happen. Instead of giving me the cash refund I was entitled to, they gave me credits with the airline.

    I got nowhere with their agents (when I was able to reach one), so I filed a case with the Better Business Bureau. I presented my evidence, and after Expedia stalled for time, they finally agreed I was in the right and offered a refund.

    I waited for it. Didn’t happen.

    I filed a follow up case with the BBB accusing Expedia of acting in bad faith. I had waited months for them to deliver on their promise, and they broke it. Once again, Expedia stalled for time. However, I think they ran out of it, because they finally issued the refund I was entitled to. They just kept my money for months, lying to me, the BBB, and hoping I’d go away so they could pocket the money.

    I’ve booked all subsequent air trips and hotels direct. Expedia is useful for research, but I’m avoiding them like the plague.

  • February 7, 2022
    Simone Clarke

    You have shared some amazing tips about Turkish airlines Expedia if you are going to travel. Really! So, next time I will be more careful while choosing the best platforms to book my trip.

  • May 19, 2022

    I really wish I had read this before I booked the trip I’m leaving for in 3 weeks.

    We’re due to fly from Japan to Scotland for a month. Everything booked through Expedia including flights, hotels and car. We’ve had 2 flight changes due to Ukraine and COVID already. The most recent one led to me being on the phone for at least 12 hours trying to find a fix. Now that’s fixed but we have an overnight layover mid journey so we’re eating the cost of another hotel and the cost of canceling one on the other end. On top of that I’m honestly not sure what’s happening with my car rental…I can cancel it for a full refund and rebook but that looks like it’ll cost about an extra $3000 at this point.

    Honestly I’m so tried of dealing with expedia. Their customer service people are actually very nice and try to help but the policies they have to follow make it impossible.

  • June 17, 2022

    It was very instructive to read your post. Sorry for your pains, I just learnt I cannot cancel a two-week hotel booking made thru Expedia, even if for the last 10 days of those 14. It is ridiculous and so abusive. Robber barons of online booking, that’s what they are!

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