Does Web Ticketing work for International Travel?
I might be generalizing an issue here, but nonetheless, here it is.
At our office (Vishwak) we have people visiting our US office for short trips every other week. Our travel desk uses our regular travel agent for booking these tickets, don’t experiment a lot as the last thing they want to have people stranded in Timpakto and calling them. Most of the time, we get good fares with BA or Lufthansa for Chennai-Seattle-Chennai, though I prefer BA due to its shortest journey time. In terms of service though, my favourite is always Asian Carriers – Jet, Singapore, Malaysian (in that order). For Domestic Sector, there is hardly any margins so ticketing agencies are not interested in the business – we do these bookings through Web sites like Cleartrip or Yatra or directly in Airline websites.
This week we got a last minute confirmation for a training programme in Microsoft Redmond, WA for one of our Senior Developers. I became adventurous yesterday and booked his tickets on Expedia.com instead of our travel desk. Though the routing was long (Chennai-Dubai-Zurich-Paris-Seattle), I went with Expedia as I got a good fare @US$1300 Round-trip. It generated confirmation for every sector and I got it verified by Emirates local office in Chennai as well. Today morning when he tried boarding he was refused as there was no Airline ticketing number. I was taken aback and on checking my email I find an email from Expedia (after 10 hours of booking) saying the below – basically that they are not able to issue a Ticket.
“We are contacting you in regards to your recent purchase on Expedia.com. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to process your request for a ticket. Please call us at (800) EXPEDIA as soon as possible so that we can work with you to make alternate arrangements – Expedia Inc.“
And on calling the number repeatedly, we were kept on hold and no person answering the call. Finally, I gave up, wrote to Expedia to cancel the ticket. I then called my travel agent and thought it was a Sunday he came to work and got a ticket in Air India for the same day @US$1650 Round-trip. So finally a happy ending to the story.
I am puzzled on why Expedia failed. Maybe they couldn’t get the fare when they did ticketing (or) Security restrictions in US/India requiring 24 hours notice (or) simply a one-off occurrence. Whatever it is I am back to my good ‘ol travel agent for my international bookings.
I have been charged to my credit card and after two days still no response back on Expedia or my money back.
Though late comment, I had a bad experience with expedia in their hotel accommodation. They booked me a hotel room and when I went to the hotel at around 10:00 pm to check in after a long and tiring day with my family, we were told the room was not booked and there were no rooms available in that hotel and nearby.
It was very tough finding a room that night and finally we got one somehow (dont remember). Though later expedia was sorry about it and gave us a coupon, it was a pain that evening.