Deceptive airline tickets' fare class

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.
Status
Not open for further replies.
Nov 26, 2016
8
15
3
38
#1
On September 4, 2016, I booked two one-way Economy class airline tickets on Delta via Orbitz from SLC to JFK, for May 12-13, 2017 (red-eye flight), for my boyfriend and me to take a trip right after his graduation. A couple of weeks later, Orbitz sent an automatic notice of a change to my flight. I checked on the Delta site to see what had changed (only the flight number) and while there, thought I'd reserve two seats together for us on the flight. I was shocked to discover that our tickets had a host of restrictions on them, including not being able to reserve seats or be eligible for upgrades. I called Delta and found out I actually had a lower class of ticket called Basic Economy that is a class lower than their normal Economy. (On the Delta website, the tickets are clearly listed in four columns by fare class: First, Economy Plus, Main Cabin Economy, and Basic Economy.) I explained that I thought I'd booked regular economy class tickets and asked if there was a way to upgrade to the normal economy. Delta was kind, but said they couldn't help me because I'd booked through Orbitz.
I tried calling Orbitz and got stuck in two hours of painful customer agent conversations, which became more and more disrespectful and ended up with an agent lecturing me (a pretty frequent traveler) about how stupid and uneducated I was. At this point I established that they would not admit any mistake or assist me in any way and mercifully ended the call. My boyfriend tracked down a corporate number for Orbitz and tried calling that. He got the same response.
I've bought many tickets on Orbitz before and (I guess I'm lucky) never had a problem. For this purchase, I searched for economy-class tickets on that flight route & date. All the other ticket options were in normal economy class, and this one was mixed right in with them, with nothing (as opposed to the Delta site) to indicate it was a lower fare class. During the purchasing process, the tickets were at all times marked economy and I don't remember seeing anything to indicate a lower fare class. I always buy economy tickets, have never had this happen before, and this searching/purchasing experience appeared identical to past ones. On my Orbitz receipt, the tickets are marked "Economy/Coach" and do not list any restrictions - so, I didn't notice anything was amiss when I checked the receipt. The only indication in the process - and I only realized this after learning about the problem on the Delta site and doing research there - was that the ticket type was marked as "E" on the receipt, right next to "Economy/Coach." I am familiar with there being many different ticket types (refundable, military, etc.) but I've never known it to mark a higher or lower class of service. (But, lesson learned!)
I feel this was a deceptive sales tactic on the part of Orbitz. They marketed and sold a lower-class ticket as a higher-class one. I'd never have bought these tickets if I knew we couldn't sit next to each other on the flight, or get decent seats at all - that was one of the main reasons I bought the tickets so early. When I booked the tickets, I was happy to pay the amount necessary to get a regular economy ticket with its normal policies. And I thought all along that's what I got - but that wasn't the case at all. And because it wasn't clear on the receipt, I didn't catch it until after outside the free 24-hr cancellation window. (I'm just glad I wasn't in the dark until we showed up at the airport!)
Again I guess I'm lucky in that I haven't had any problems with Orbitz in the past, so I thought it was a good deal to book through them and rack up points for a free/discounted hotel night now and then, which I've cashed in a couple times. But now I realize it's far safer to book air tickets through the airlines, because Orbitz customer service is really horrible and is apparently trained to refuse resolution in every case, even when it appears they bear at least some of the blame for the situation.
My desired resolution is either to have the tickets upgraded to the fare class I thought I purchased (regular Main Cabin Economy) or to have a refund, because I did not receive the tickets that I thought I was buying. Is this something you can assist with?
 

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
2,001
3,416
113
#2
@Sailher,

We always recommend booking directly with the airlines and not using Online Travel Agencies since when there is an issue, they're typically not helpful, as you found out.

Since you've been stonewalled by their customer service, use our Company Contacts located at the top of the page and write the first executive a brief, polite email noting the new class isn't properly identified in their search results and asking for an upgrade to economy or a refund on the tickets.

Do not start with the CEO and do not email them all at once. Wait a week, if you get no response then move on to the next exec on the list.

I have my reservations about the new economy classes- torture class IMO - but if they're going to offer it they need to make it clear what you're buying. The delta website does this, Orbitiz doesn't from what I can tell.

Best of luck and let us know of any questions or updates.
 
R

Realitoes

Guest
#3
I actually think that Orbitz does a fairly decent job in pointing out the restrictions to these Delta basic economy tickets. Information is right there on the trip summary screen - not even hidden under a link like other sites.

In my opinion, this is just another instance of someone not taking the time to review the restrictions prior to purchasing, rather than a deceptive practice on the part of Orbitz.

I also recommend booking directly with the airline, as in most cases the difference in price is minimal. Not to mention dealing with OTA' s can be rather painful when there is a problem.

 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,179
1,963
113
#4
If you move forward with the advice that @technomage1 has given you, please edit your email down significantly from what you posted here. In all honesty, I just glanced at your post due to its length. It would be best to omit any unnecessary information (for example: no need to tell them about the graduation) as well as all emotion.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,704
12,701
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
I also would suggest that you not blame Orbitz, since Realitoes posted a screen print of your choices and it does state the restrictions right on the screen With x's at the checked bags and cancellation. It is clear and you had a choice to choose the next fare up.

Your plea should be you did not understand the screen, but they might stick to their guns. If you had noticed it within 24 hours you could have made a change but at this point you would be required to cancel and possibly lose all you've paid. So be polite and artfully beg for an exception to be made.

In the future, book directly with the airline and make sure you are aware that MANY airlines will be doing this going forward and you absolutely must take the time to read carefully all restrictions. JetBlue has it now with no free checked bags with their lowest fare and United is coming out with one that is even more restrictive with not allowing seating assignments. You now have to be very careful booking the lowest fares.
 

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
2,001
3,416
113
#6
Folks, we have no idea what Orbitiz page looked like back in September when the OP booked. Maybe it was the same, maybe it wasn't. Maybe the mobile version of the page shows things differently. I believe her when she says it wasn't apparent. If the regular economy fare runs only $40 more, and that's what she wanted, why would she book basic economy? It makes no sense for her to do so.

Remember we are here to help, not to judge if consumers are worthy of help or not. We help everyone.
 
Sep 19, 2015
2,162
3,468
113
48
#7
I think what Neil is trying to point out is that there are several classes of economy -- extememly restrictive (the basic fare), restrictive, semi restrictive and fully flexible. When one is doing the booking themselves it is important to take a few minutes and find the information. I was on the UA website looking at fares and wanted to see what the semi flexible economy fare meant in terms of changes. As the airlines add more types of economy fares passengers need to understand what they are buying.

This is a warning to all to look at the information and recheck it within 24 hours.

I do hope Orbitz will allow the OP to upgrade their fare.

There are people that are happy to save the 40 dollars in difference and travel light -- met some college students that liked these fares will waiting for a bus from ORD to Milwaukee.
 
Aug 28, 2015
3,729
2,896
113
New York
#8
So
On September 4, 2016, I booked two one-way Economy class airline tickets on Delta via Orbitz from SLC to JFK, for May 12-13, 2017 (red-eye flight), for my boyfriend and me to take a trip right after his graduation. A couple of weeks later, Orbitz sent an automatic notice of a change to my flight. I checked on the Delta site to see what had changed (only the flight number) and while there, thought I'd reserve two seats together for us on the flight. I was shocked to discover that our tickets had a host of restrictions on them, including not being able to reserve seats or be eligible for upgrades. I called Delta and found out I actually had a lower class of ticket called Basic Economy that is a class lower than their normal Economy. (On the Delta website, the tickets are clearly listed in four columns by fare class: First, Economy Plus, Main Cabin Economy, and Basic Economy.) I explained that I thought I'd booked regular economy class tickets and asked if there was a way to upgrade to the normal economy. Delta was kind, but said they couldn't help me because I'd booked through Orbitz.
I tried calling Orbitz and got stuck in two hours of painful customer agent conversations, which became more and more disrespectful and ended up with an agent lecturing me (a pretty frequent traveler) about how stupid and uneducated I was. At this point I established that they would not admit any mistake or assist me in any way and mercifully ended the call. My boyfriend tracked down a corporate number for Orbitz and tried calling that. He got the same response.
I've bought many tickets on Orbitz before and (I guess I'm lucky) never had a problem. For this purchase, I searched for economy-class tickets on that flight route & date. All the other ticket options were in normal economy class, and this one was mixed right in with them, with nothing (as opposed to the Delta site) to indicate it was a lower fare class. During the purchasing process, the tickets were at all times marked economy and I don't remember seeing anything to indicate a lower fare class. I always buy economy tickets, have never had this happen before, and this searching/purchasing experience appeared identical to past ones. On my Orbitz receipt, the tickets are marked "Economy/Coach" and do not list any restrictions - so, I didn't notice anything was amiss when I checked the receipt. The only indication in the process - and I only realized this after learning about the problem on the Delta site and doing research there - was that the ticket type was marked as "E" on the receipt, right next to "Economy/Coach." I am familiar with there being many different ticket types (refundable, military, etc.) but I've never known it to mark a higher or lower class of service. (But, lesson learned!)
I feel this was a deceptive sales tactic on the part of Orbitz. They marketed and sold a lower-class ticket as a higher-class one. I'd never have bought these tickets if I knew we couldn't sit next to each other on the flight, or get decent seats at all - that was one of the main reasons I bought the tickets so early. When I booked the tickets, I was happy to pay the amount necessary to get a regular economy ticket with its normal policies. And I thought all along that's what I got - but that wasn't the case at all. And because it wasn't clear on the receipt, I didn't catch it until after outside the free 24-hr cancellation window. (I'm just glad I wasn't in the dark until we showed up at the airport!)
Again I guess I'm lucky in that I haven't had any problems with Orbitz in the past, so I thought it was a good deal to book through them and rack up points for a free/discounted hotel night now and then, which I've cashed in a couple times. But now I realize it's far safer to book air tickets through the airlines, because Orbitz customer service is really horrible and is apparently trained to refuse resolution in every case, even when it appears they bear at least some of the blame for the situation.
My desired resolution is either to have the tickets upgraded to the fare class I thought I purchased (regular Main Cabin Economy) or to have a refund, because I did not receive the tickets that I thought I was buying. Is this something you can assist with?
so reserve seats next to each other when you are allowed to do so, probably 24 hours. What other restriction is there? If you wanted to pay more for better seats, I assume you would have when you booked? What upgrades are available on regular economy?

Also, when you book there is a button for the fare rules and restrictions. I don't think they do first class upgrades anymore unless you buy them anyway. Someone else on here will know.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,635
6,639
113
San Francisco
#9
FOR OUR READERS
If there are four classes of tix available, read the information to see which fare class you want to book. Always book directly with the airline so you have some recourse if there's a problem. Don't "assume" anything when you purchase air on the internet, know what you're buying. If you have a problem, follow our guidelines to get it straightened out. Don't spin your wheels on a telephone hold, prepare a concise, polite email; nobody will read 6 paragraphs describing a situation that could be explained in 3 sentences.
 
Aug 28, 2015
3,729
2,896
113
New York
#10
Flyertalk has a thread on this issue with screenshots from Orbitz. The consensus seems to be that @Sailher is correct, this is marginally less expensive option with a ton of restrictions but Orbitz does the best job at displaying the options. It all made my head spin.

Instead, the LW should focus on what feature would make the flight most enjoyable and direct her efforts there (checking in at 24 hours or asking someone to switch seats, writing Delta contacts re a paid upgrade, etc...)
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 25, 2016
53
65
18
65
#14
Folks, we have no idea what Orbitiz page looked like back in September when the OP booked. Maybe it was the same, maybe it wasn't. Maybe the mobile version of the page shows things differently. I believe her when she says it wasn't apparent. If the regular economy fare runs only $40 more, and that's what she wanted, why would she book basic economy? It makes no sense for her to do so.

Remember we are here to help, not to judge if consumers are worthy of help or not. We help everyone.
Not to contest the spirit of your last sentence, but people do things all the time that, in retrospect, make no sense. There is much advice published recommending that airline tickets, especially simple R/Ts on one carrier, be purchased directly from the airline because issues regarding tickets purchased from a travel agent are to be negotiated with that agent and, generally speaking, the OTAs are not cheaper for vanilla domestic tickets (IME).

It is instructive to see how much time and energy was expended after the fact, but only triggered by notification of a flight change, rather than before the purchase. What would have happened if there was no change initiated by Delta (so no catalyst)?

And, 768 words (+ "Deceptive airline..." in the title) to describe OP's issue with what Orbitz allegedly represented? Sheesh.
 

technomage1

Verified Member
Jan 5, 2015
2,001
3,416
113
#15
And with that, and the fact the OP is long gone, the thread is closed.

We are not here to argue back and forth and to proclaim anyone is not deserving of help because they didn't read the fine print or whatever. There are plenty of other forums out there if that's what anyone wants to do.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.