Last month, I was in the midst of booking a group trip involving both paid fares and award bookings. It was quite challenging, but what really helped was being able to put paid fares on hold via Orbitz while finalizing award bookings. Orbitz has a 24-hour cancellation policy on travel bookings. However, this policy is a bit misleading. Due to their technical issues, I was unable to cancel the ticket and mayhem ensued. If you’re considering using Orbitz to book travel that you may end up cancelling, you’ll want to read on.
I know what some of you are thinking: Why purchase via Orbitz if you can just do it directly with the airline? In my case, I found Eithad fares listed for around $2,000 on Orbitz that were selling for twice that amount on the airline’s website. The only other place Google Flights had these fares listed so cheap was through American Airlines, but clicking on the AA.com link took me to an error page. Even trying to replicate the itinerary through AA.com’s search tool turned up nothing.
I had no choice but to purchase/hold the ticket through Orbitz. I thought this would work out nicely because Orbitz offers travel credits for bookings made through the site. Also, the cancellation deadline for a flight booked around 5 PM was 11:59 PM the next day, giving me more than 24 hours to change my mind. I took a screenshot of it just in case. The following day, I found a better flight, so I tried to cancel this itinerary at 10:30 PM. I received an error message, directing me to call Orbitz customer service.
When I called the number, it ended up being Expedia’s customer service line. The agents put me on an excruciatingly long hold before transferring me around and dropping the call. I finally got through to an agent who said they couldn’t do anything for me because Orbitz’s customer service center was closed. However, he would put in a cancellation request with “corporate” and I should hear back in an hour. As expected, I didn’t hear back in an hour.
I tried to reach Orbitz via Twitter and they didn’t respond until the next morning. Apparently they also have limited customer service hours. They informed me that Orbitz offers 24-hour phone support, which is a complete lie because when I called their number, I got a message saying they were closed. Even the Expedia agent informed me Orbitz’s customer service center closed at 6 PM (PT).
What ensued was a 4-hour hold to get someone on the line who could cancel a flight past the deadline. At one point they tried to impose airline cancellation fees on me, but I wasn’t having that. It was very clear they were at fault for not allowing me to cancel my booking online before the deadline, and then not providing an alternate option to do it via phone.
After over four hours, the nightmare was over and I was issued a refund. Then I made the mistake of trying to cancel another booking – this one well before the cancellation deadline (but after Orbitz’s customers service center closed)…and it happened again! When Orbitz customer service was being a pain again, I called American Express to take care of it and they did.
The lesson I want you to take away from this is that if you book travel via Orbitz and need to cancel, do it before their customer service center closes at 6 PM (PT). Their web cancellation portal is synced up with their customer service center hours. So if you try to cancel after 6, you’ll be instructed to call the Expedia customer service line. Only, the Expedia customer service agents can’t cancel your booking even though they’re affiliated with Orbitz. So save yourself the headache and cancel not just well in advance of the 24-hour cancellation deadline, but before the Orbitz call center closes at 6 PM (PT).
Have you had a similar experience trying to cancel travel bookings on Orbitz? Please share your feedback in the comment section.
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