16

My Nightmare Trying to Cancel an Orbitz Travel Booking

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 and 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. 

Orbitz online cancellation error

Error message that appeared when I tried to cancel a flight on Orbitz

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 a couple of times. 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 cancellation 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). Because it seems their web cancellation portal is synced up with their customer service center hours and if you try to cancel after 6, it doesn’t work and 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.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Ariana Arghandewal

16 Comments

  1. In my experience Expedia.com is much better. In most cases you can cancel online before 11.59 pm (PT) next day. Moreover, if you book your flight on Friday or Sat., you have extra time as courtesy cancellation is extended to Mon., 11.59 pm.

    • Orbitz is also supposed to let you cancel online but it won’t, after 6 PM (PT). I’ll give Expedia a try next time, since they at least have call center hours past that time.

  2. Had a similar issue cancelling a hotel at the last minute while in Italy, and thinking the online cancellation had worked, but then never receiving an email to confirm. I was charged for this entire 4 day hotel stay as a no show. Customer service would not even reply to me after the fact.

  3. I’ve had similar experiences with Expedia. Their customer service is the worst as well. You have to really push to get them to take you seriously. To get a call back, you have to become their worst nightmare.

    • That’s essentially what I became. Because clearly they hadn’t submitted my request to corporate and failed to call me back an hour later, as promised. Why can’t cs reps just do what they say they’re going to?

  4. thanks Ariana, good to know.
    Also I ran into a snag of trying to cancel a booking with in the 24 hour threshold that had a departure date within 7 days of the booking.
    “The US Department of Transportation requires airlines operating flights within or to the US to give customers a refund in the original form of payment if a cancellation is made within 24 hours of booking and the reservation is made more than seven days in advance of departure.”

    The Point Guy has some good information, here is a handy trick.
    Pay with Cash Trick

    Sometimes we need more than 24 hours to decide on a trip because of a wishy-washy travel companion or a boss who won’t approve vacation time right away. I don’t want to pay a fee to use FareLock, so I use another trick with United to get up to 48 hours to change my mind. On the payment screen, select cash as the form of payment and then select Airpot Ticket Office. After selecting to proceed, your reservation will be on hold and you will have until midnight CT the following day to pay for the ticket.
    By initially selecting pay with cash, you can have up to 48 hours to make up your mind on United tickets.
    By initially selecting pay with cash, you can have up to 48 hours to make up your mind on United tickets.

    I took the above screen shot at 2am EST on Jan 17, giving me 46 hours to make up my mind. Regardless of whether you want to pay for the ticket or cancel it, all you have to do is log in to your account before midnight the following day and either select cancel or select a credit card payment option and pay as usual.

    Read more: http://thepointsguy.com/2016/02/airline-hold-and-cancellation-policies/#ixzz4VTTTi1Zf

  5. Hi Ariana! Sorry that happened to you. Always a risk with frickin-frackin OTAs as you know 😉

    What do you mean by Amex took care of it? You initiated a dispute/chargeback I presume.

    • Yes, I initiated a dispute. They’re really great about handling this type of stuff. Luckily, I had screenshots showing my attempts to cancel before the deadline, so that definitely helped.

  6. Orbitz Customer service has always been terrible. Years ago I booked 2 business class tickets to NZ, I also purchased their offered trip insurance. They called and said that it was a mistake and would not honor. Disappointing, they reimbursed the tickets but said they couldn’t do anything about the insurance, nor even tell me where else to go. Had to go way up the chain just to get their third party insurance contact info. Never again.

  7. We just booked through them a couple hours ago, I was napping, woke up to find out we booked through them and I made her cancel. Everything was done online up to the canceling part where we couldnt figure out how to. So we called and we were on and off the phone in under 5 minutes with everything cancelled. Phone call was just now made at 7pm pst. Only writing this to say maybe things have changed since this post was made… or maybe when we dont get our money back on the card I will have something to add.

Leave a Comment