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Help with an inadvertant double booking on Alitalia

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by Pio Venafro, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. Pio Venafro

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    Hello Chis...


    I have been reading the Travel Trouble Shooter segment in the Philadelphia Inquirer for years but never thought I would have to write in for help. My wife and I finally decided to book a lifelong trip to Rome, Italy. In our excitement, we both unknowingly booked air fare through online agencies on Alitalia. My wife used Cheapair.com (booking # XXXXXXXXXX) and I used Justfly.com (booking # XXXXXXXXX). As soon as we realized the double booking, I knew the involvement of two agencies would complicate the matter exponentially.


    As soon as we recognized our error, my wife and I reached out to the agencies and Alitalia to see if we can get one of the two bookings refunded or, if they would at least cancel one fair with some relief like an applied penalty. Unfortunately it was just beyond the 24 hour cancellation period. There are 4 adult travelers (we decided to treat our children) with the cost approaching nearly $2000 for each booking. As you can imagine, each party suggested we had to work with the others for any possible relief. For an entire day we were passed back and forth between the agencies and Alitalia.


    Alitalia was able to see both bookings on their systems; same family of 4 departing JFK (NY) on May 25 and returning from Rome on June 4 (Note the flights are not exactly the same. The departing flight numbers from JFK are 609 and 611). And although Alitalia said it's up to the agencies to decide on a refund, the airline is the only party who can see and verify our unfortunate error of the double booking on their systems. After two attempts pleading my case with Alitalia agents to no avail, I asked to speak to a supervisor or manager. I was denied the opportunity both times.


    Of course I'm frustrated with myself...but I felt no consumer empathy as I pleaded for some. It seems the business parties involved in this transaction are totally contempt with the profit they will recognize due to an over enthusiastic couples mistake.


    I hope you will consider this on our behalf. Any support or advice will be greatly appreciated. Please don't hesitate to notify me for any more details you may need. Your commitment to the consumer is what many large companies need today.


    Thanks for all you do!!!

    Pio & Susan Venafro

    Pio Venafro

    Note- this was exited by a moderator to remove writers phone number and email address.
     
    #1
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2018
  2. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Unfortunately, once you miss that 24 hour window, you are subject to cancellation penalties and the fact you booked through a 3rd party AND on Alitalia is even worse. (They are operating under bankruptcy protection). None of the three are customer friendly.


    Normally the process is to cancel the reservation and ask for a credit for a future flight less cancellation penalties. They might give you a credit to use within a year of the flight being booked.

    What you can do with no guarantee of getting anything is choose which booking to keep and writing to the agency you used and begging for a refund. We have company contacts on top of our page. Start with Customer Service, give them a week to reply and if the answer is no, move to the first executive. Repeat weekly going up the chain.

    Realize they are going to be subject to Alitalia and weather Alitalia would waive and refund. Since you have another res. you never know what Alitalia will do.

    Good luck and let us know what happens.
     
    #2
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  3. Christina H

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    I think Neil has given the only advice possible. It is complicated because of the third parties -- Alitalia does not control the reservation, the other agents do. And justfly has been in the news and on many travel forums and not in a positive way.
     
    #3
  4. George M

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    What an unfortunate situation. I can see how it could happen because my wife and I have come very close to doing the same thing.

    If I were you, I would start an emailing campaign with both JustFly and Cheapoair using the "artful begging" method that Neil suggests but unless one of these online booking agencies quickly relents and refunds your money, do not cancel either reservation until you get close to your travel date. There's always a chance that one of these flights will be canceled or the time significantly changed by the airline itself, in which case you may be entitled to a full refund. You really have nothing to lose by emailing and being patient. Just be sure to keep checking the times and status for both of your flights.

    The worst that could happen would be that you pay the cancellation fees, get a voucher that's good for a year (from the date of your original purchase) and go back to Rome for the price of the cancellation fees to see all the things you missed and all the friends you made on your first trip.
     
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  5. Christina H

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    George M has very good advice regarding waiting if a refund is not given. Alitalia's bankruptcy may force the cancellation or major schedule change of the flights. Right now Lufthansa and Easyjet have made credible bids for the assets -- I would have to go to some of the Italian business newspapers to get an idea of the timing of the bankruptcy -- as to how long the process will take for the bids.
     
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  6. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    The only issue with emailing both of them is that if a miracle happens and they both says they’d refund you- you won’t have ANY reservation.
     
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  7. Christina H

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    That may be a blessing, then they can rebook directly with an airline, as it is still several months away.
     
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  8. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    But I bet the pricing won’t be the same- it usually goes up as the fly date gets closer.
     
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  9. Christina H

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    Very true, but it would be better to have a reservation directly with the airline, one can spend a lot in cell phone trying to get in touch with the OTA in case there is a problem. I would hope that it would be still be less than the extra $2000 they are out now. There are still flights available in the $500 to $600 range per person for those dates.
     
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  10. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Christina you know I agree 100% about booking direct. We have seen thousands of issues here that weren’t helped by booking through a third party. Why folks think these third party suppliers save money is beyond me. When you make a mistake it REALLY cost a pretty penny.

    If this had been done directly, the airline might have canceled the duplicate booking themselves.
     
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  11. jsn55

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    I am so very sorry that you booked through an online booking agency., especially these two. My colleagues have given you lots of good advice. I would pick one of the OBAs to start a campaign to cancel and obtain a credit towards future flights. As we all agree, it's a very long shot but we've seen miracles here many times.
     
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  12. Pio Venafro

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    Thank you all for your input and knowledge. If nothing else, I'm glad I found this community of caring and concerned consumers and advocates looking out for each other.
     
    #12
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  13. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Pio we hate to see people lose money.

    You have nothing to lose to try to appeal to one of the companys you booked with. The worst that can happen is they say no but you never know- we’ve seen things we never thought would be approved- approved.

    We have company contacts on top of our page and I believe we have the contacts for both companies. It doesn’t hurt to try.
     
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  14. Christina H

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    Pio Venafro please do as Neil suggested. If you want input feel free to post a draft of your correspondence here for suggestions. It is worth a try as the money is significant.
     
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  15. George M

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    I thought of that but the chances of both OBAs simultaneously agreeing to issue refunds is infinitesimal. If it did happen, our OP could choose which one to accept and which to leave in place.
     
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  16. jsn55

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    I think the issue is that the OBA(s) would just cancel and refund and not say a word, so Pio wouldn't know until the money turned up on his CC statement. That's what happened with Expedia and an incorrectly-booked hotel a few years ago; they didn't even have the courtesy to email me to say they had cancelled the res.
     
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  17. Pio Venafro

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    Hello. A quick update. Cheapair.com went to bat for me directly with Alitalia. Alitalia agreed to refund certain taxes associated with the fare which would amount to approximately $300.

    Apparently we have the right for these specific taxes to be refunded but I guess you have to fight for everything...even what is due. Is anyone aware or maybe better able to explain this policy? Thanks!!!

    PS: I did not accept the refund yet. Cheapair and I agree it is better to wait and see if Alitalia's current economic status will have an impact on my situation. I have a sales supervisors contact information and he is going to remain a line of support for me.
     
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  18. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    #18
  19. John Galbraith

    John Galbraith Research Director
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    Just an FYI in case the question comes up. If you are flying from the U.K the Air Passenger Duty, is refundable. This is because it is not payable by the Airline until and unless you fly. So if you miss your flight then you get the money back. Of course airlines charge a fee for refunding it so you could end up with little back.
     
    #19
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018 at 5:43 AM
  20. jsn55

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    "Of course airlines charge a fee for refunding it so you could end up with with little back."

    One of the best lines EVER, John! A great little joke that only frequent travellers will 'get'.
    .
     
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