OneTravel Booked Us on Day the Airline Does Not Fly

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Sep 26, 2015
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#1
Elliott.org September 19, 2018

We booked our tickets from Quito, Ecuador to Budapest using OneTravel, a subsidiary of CheapOair for June 1, 2018. We have used CheapOair many times in the past without an issue. Since we live in Hungary, finding an English-speaking travel agent is almost impossible and our past experiences have been less than positive.

The first leg from Quito to Madrid was with LATAM a codeshare with Iberia. The second leg was with RyanAir. Using the reference codes, I was able to confirm we were booked on the LATAM flight, but nothing more and there was nothing suspicious about the dates to set off alarms. With the code given for RyanAir, it continually said I did not have a reservation. The code did not work for Iberia, but with the hassle over the RyanAir flight, I did not push it.

I knew that we would have to modify the RyanAir booking since we did have luggage and carry-on. I wrote numerous times to OneTravel including the contacts on Elliott.org to no avail, asking for the correct code so I could modify the reservation and also print out my boarding passes to avoid a check-in counter fee. Their response was to contact them the day before and they would do it for me. I did not find this acceptable since we would start in Cuenca, Ecuador and then fly to Quito the day of our Quito flight and it would be too stressful. I wrote several people on the contact list for OneTravel/CheapOair and then I tried RyanAir contacts.

Finally, I received a response from Reuben Bello, Vice President of Customer Service who was successful in providing me with a correct RyanAir code I could sign-in with, so this seemed resolved.

There was an extensive layover in Madrid after landing with LATAM/Iberia before connecting with RyanAir. We booked the Avant Torrejan Hotel in Madrid to get some rest before continuing.

Due to the poor reliability of TAME Airlines, we were advised by many to fly LATAM from Cuenca to Quito to make our connecting flight, though this meant a hefty layover of 12 hours. We mentally prepared ourselves for this and since we have been to Quito numerous times, we decided not to stray into the city, but plant ourselves in the airport with books and computers.

Knowing we had such a lengthy waiting period, we knew it would be useless to check monitors so far in advance for our flights. Sometime in the afternoon, I did happen to look at a monitor and noticed there were no flights leaving Quito for any destination outside of Central or South America. Thinking this was strange, I went to the LATAM counter to ask. The person there said that LATAM has no European flights on Fridays, the only day of the week they do not fly to Europe. I told her reservation shows June 1, a Friday. She said it was impossible.

I returned to my spouse and pulled out the computer. I started an online chat with CheapOair to try to resolve this. The WiFi in Quito Airport is less than desirable. The agent kept asking me to wait while they “checked something” or “transferred the case to a supervisor”. I was continually disconnected either by the agent or the WiFi connection. I continually moved around the airport in hopes of a better signal, but there was not, even at Johnny Rockets or the coffee shop, where each had their own WiFi networks. I saved a transcript of every conversation.

By early evening, around 7 or 8 pm, we decided we needed to get a hotel and try to resolve this there. We booked the Hotel Tababela which was suggested by the information desk. They came to transport us to the hotel.

Once at the hotel, I again attempted the online chat by including the previous conversation, so we would not have to start from the beginning each time. Unfortunately the Wi-Fi at the hotel was just as and reliable is that at the airport. I then remembered that Mr. Bello had given me a phone number that I could use through WhatsApp. I messaged him and told him the problem. Again. I kept a complete record of this SMS correspondence.

The main issue with getting the same flight on Saturday was that our plane arrived in Madrid hours after our RyanAir flight from Madrid to Budapest had departed. It was very difficult trying to explain this to Mr. Bello, but he finally agreed to get somebody to work on it. I told him the Internet connection at the hotel was less than optimal so he suggested that they call us at the hotel.

I gave him the hotel phone number after asking the desk clerk for it; there were no phones in the room, so I stayed at the front desk to receive his call. I never did receive a call, but he did text message me stating that they tried calling and the call went to voicemail at the hotel. I asked the desk clerk for a different number which he gave me and I then messaged it to Mr. Bello. Again Mr. Bella responded via text that his calls continually went directly to voicemail; he is not able to get through to speak to me. I explained I was standing at the front desk where the only phone is located; it has not rung once. I then asked the desk clerk who was busy in the kitchen at the time if he could possibly turn off the voicemail so that I could get the call? The clerk responded that the hotel has no voicemail system nor does it have an answering system. All calls to the hotel come directly to the single phone at the desk. I instructed Mr. Bello about this via text, but he had no response as to why he could not get through.

His suggestion was for me to get in touch with a designated team leader Ascot (Avijit Ray) Team Leader(SOD). Avijit was to find a solution for our connecting flight in Madrid, because the RyanAir flight was definitely not going to be an option. Hours later, Avijit informed me that the best option would be to be re-booked on WizzAir from Madrid to Budapest. He said that we would have to do the booking ourselves using our credit card in order to get this flight. At this point I was too mentally and physically exhausted to question why an online travel agency could not book it for us.

When I tried connecting with them again the next morning, there was no Internet at the hotel. The clerk told us it was out in the entire district and they had no idea when it would be restored.

Mr. Bello told us that they would look into getting us reimbursed for this flight, but this has never happened. I have written to Mr. Ray and Mr. Bello since then to no avail; they do not respond.

It should be noted that we did pay extra for carry-on and checked luggage for the RyanAir portion of the original itinerary, which we did anticipate, but lost out on the flight and extras. We then had to pay for a WizzAir flight as well as extra for carry-on and checked luggage, we lost a paid hotel night in Madrid and transportation costs.

We travel for 7 months a year and the end of the trip is spent in our condo in Cuenca, so we generally have luggage bringing things that need to be left at the condo.

I have a “paper trail” of online conversations with the CheapOair chat as well as the SMS messages between myself and Mr. Bello.

One note: Mr. Bello stated we received an updated notice about the flight changes. It arrived in my mail while we were in Quito, but the issue with RyanAir was the same.

I have applied the 3 Ps and now it is well beyond a point of my resolving this myself. I am looking to the advocates for assistance.

I would like reimbursement of expenses that were unnecessarily paid out.
Our missed night at the Madrid hotel
$65.37 Hotel Torrejon Madrid
The additional flight we had to book.
232.78 Euros WizzAir (Euros = $272.34)
and $20 Transportation costs to and from Quito Hotel

I know better than to request any compensation for aggravation.
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
432
546
93
St. Louis
#2
Unfortunately, it is going to be very difficult to obtain the reimbursement you are asking for.

First, when you book travel and there is a flight cancelation or schedule change the airline will notify your booking site/travel, who should then notify you of this. If they sent you an email, then they have met their obligation. When this happens the airline, unfortunately, is normally only required to do two things, re-accommodate you on their next flight with availability to your destination or provide a refund of your tickets. Basically, the airline's Conditions of Carriage and the booking sites terms of agreement will state they are not responsible for any incidental cost in these cases. In the future, it is always a good idea to check your flights yourself a couple times within a day or two of the flights so you are not surprised by any changes.

Second, Ryan Air and LATAM do not have interline agreements, so these would have been ticket separately, which means that there is no protected connection. The Ryan Air reservations have to be changed (fee paid) 2.5 hours prior to the flight, otherwise you lose the value of those tickets. Here is an article on Elliott.org about issues with purchasing separate tickets as connecting flights.

https://www.elliott.org/blog/never-book-flights-way/

You have two options at this point. One is to review your travel insurance policy (also check any benefits you have with the credit card used to purchase the tickets) to see if it has any travel delay or interruption benefits that will cover your circumstances. Second, you can write the airline and/or CheapOair to ask politely for some consideration for your experience. They may as a goodwill gesture provide a voucher or miles to use toward future travel.

We have company contacts listed via the link from the top of the page. Review the information at the bottom of the contact page on how to make your appeal.

Good Luck.
 
Jul 2, 2018
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#4
Unfortunately, it is going to be very difficult to obtain the reimbursement you are asking for.

First, when you book travel and there is a flight cancelation or schedule change the airline will notify your booking site/travel, who should then notify you of this. If they sent you an email, then they have met their obligation. When this happens the airline, unfortunately, is normally only required to do two things, re-accommodate you on their next flight with availability to your destination or provide a refund of your tickets. Basically, the airline's Conditions of Carriage and the booking sites terms of agreement will state they are not responsible for any incidental cost in these cases. In the future, it is always a good idea to check your flights yourself a couple times within a day or two of the flights so you are not surprised by any changes.

Second, Ryan Air and LATAM do not have interline agreements, so these would have been ticket separately, which means that there is no protected connection. The Ryan Air reservations have to be changed (fee paid) 2.5 hours prior to the flight, otherwise you lose the value of those tickets. Here is an article on Elliott.org about issues with purchasing separate tickets as connecting flights.

https://www.elliott.org/blog/never-book-flights-way/

You have two options at this point. One is to review your travel insurance policy (also check any benefits you have with the credit card used to purchase the tickets) to see if it has any travel delay or interruption benefits that will cover your circumstances. Second, you can write the airline and/or CheapOair to ask politely for some consideration for your experience. They may as a goodwill gesture provide a voucher or miles to use toward future travel.

We have company contacts listed via the link from the top of the page. Review the information at the bottom of the contact page on how to make your appeal.

Good Luck.

Sorry, but I don't understand why there wouldn't be compensation by OneTravel. They acted as the travel agent. They booked a flight segment that couldn't be fulfilled. Even if they weren't ticketed together, the agent has the requirement to be able to fulfill their flight. Should they not have rebooked the OP when they sent the notification that the flight outbound had changed by a day? And don't they bear some responsibility for booking this in the first place?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,767
13,213
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#5
Sorry, but I don't understand why there wouldn't be compensation by OneTravel. They acted as the travel agent. They booked a flight segment that couldn't be fulfilled. Even if they weren't ticketed together, the agent has the requirement to be able to fulfill their flight. Should they not have rebooked the OP when they sent the notification that the flight outbound had changed by a day? And don't they bear some responsibility for booking this in the first place?
The key question is whether OneTravel ever emailed the client any of this information. Many airlines offer seasonal service and later cancel flights that have already been booked (which annoys me to no end/ they know when they usually stop flying to some locations and should just not offer the flights).
 
Likes: jsn55
Jul 2, 2018
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#6
But even if they did email the information, OneTravel booked the next leg of the flight for the OP. Why would they not be obligated to alter their next flight as they would have known that there is no way they could have made it. I would understand if the OP had booked the segments separately, but they booked them together, at the same time, with the same organization.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,767
13,213
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#7
They can’t automatically change a flight without contact the client and telling them there is nothing flight on that day and do they want to either book on another airline or stay overnight to make the next days flight.

The letter writer absolutely does have an issue with OneTravel especially if they never contacted them about the changes but may end up having to take them to small claims court to obtain relief.

We have company contacts for OneTravel and the writer should use the information posted on our Company Contacts on Page about how to write and go up the executive chain.

From what was written- OneTravel totally blew this.

https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/fareportal/
 
Sep 27, 2017
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#8
Neil --

The OP stated that the reason he used CheapOAir is because he lives in Hungary where finding an English-speaking TA at a brick-and-mortar inside the country was difficult for him. Any advice for future travels for someone stuck in this type of situation?
 
Likes: jsn55
Jul 2, 2018
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#10
Book directly with the airline. You can use Cheapo to find flights- then go directly to the airline website and book.
But wouldn't that have resulted in this case in there being nothing the OP could have done about the flight on RyanAir? If the companies do not have interline agreements, booking directly would have resulted in different PRN (?) numbers.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#11
But wouldn't that have resulted in this case in there being nothing the OP could have done about the flight on RyanAir? If the companies do not have interline agreements, booking directly would have resulted in different PRN (?) numbers.
No interline means separate PNR. The issue with this is that the airline can point to the OTA and say “they are responsible for notifying the passenger” OTA point back to the airline and say did not get email from airline—

What would booking directly mean — first of all the passengers would not have had to try and call the call center in India or wherever it was — they could have dealt with the airline directly. If a schedule change Iberia has code shares with AA - perhaps they could have gotten out the same day to Madrid with a connection.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#12
Neil --

The OP stated that the reason he used CheapOAir is because he lives in Hungary where finding an English-speaking TA at a brick-and-mortar inside the country was difficult for him. Any advice for future travels for someone stuck in this type of situation?
I have often booked intereuropean flights once I am in Europe — schedule up in the air type thing . I go to aggregators and search engines and see what is available— and then book on the airline website.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,767
13,213
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#13
But wouldn't that have resulted in this case in there being nothing the OP could have done about the flight on RyanAir? If the companies do not have interline agreements, booking directly would have resulted in different PRN (?) numbers.
The writer would have had to find another connecting flight. But he or she would have known then and there that there was no flight on Ryan Air- unless it was a seasonal flight. Then they would have received an email directly from Ryan Air if the flight was canceled. But they would have know in time to find something else.
 
Sep 12, 2018
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#14
Everyone seems to be assuming that there was a schedule change, but (and maybe I have a reading comprehension issue) I don’t see that mentioned anywhere in the OP’s post. From what the LATAM staff told the OP, it doesn’t sound like they ever had Friday flights. Did the OTA book a flight that never existed? Did the carrier accept a booking for a flight that never existed? Is that even possible? Or did the schedule change and the notification never made it to the right place?
 
Aug 30, 2015
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#15
Everyone seems to be assuming that there was a schedule change, but (and maybe I have a reading comprehension issue) I don’t see that mentioned anywhere in the OP’s post. From what the LATAM staff told the OP, it doesn’t sound like they ever had Friday flights. Did the OTA book a flight that never existed? Did the carrier accept a booking for a flight that never existed? Is that even possible? Or did the schedule change and the notification never made it to the right place?
I don't think it is possible and there's something very strange gone on here. I can't imagine how someone would have a ticket for a flight that never existed.
 
Sep 19, 2015
2,704
3,919
113
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#17
Everyone seems to be assuming that there was a schedule change, but (and maybe I have a reading comprehension issue) I don’t see that mentioned anywhere in the OP’s post. From what the LATAM staff told the OP, it doesn’t sound like they ever had Friday flights. Did the OTA book a flight that never existed? Did the carrier accept a booking for a flight that never existed? Is that even possible? Or did the schedule change and the notification never made it to the right place?

I wondered the same as historically the Quito to Madrid flight has never been regularly scheduled on Fridays. Now the OP had the flight as a LATAM codeshare and had a LATAM confirmation number.
And the OP wrote:

The first leg from Quito to Madrid was with LATAM a codeshare with Iberia. The second leg was with RyanAir. Using the reference codes, I was able to confirm we were booked on the LATAM flight, but nothing more and there was nothing suspicious about the dates to set off alarms.

So I took that to mean that they did check at one point and the Quito to Madrid flight was booked
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,767
13,213
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
I wondered the same as historically the Quito to Madrid flight has never been regularly scheduled on Fridays. Now the OP had the flight as a LATAM codeshare and had a LATAM confirmation number.
And the OP wrote:

The first leg from Quito to Madrid was with LATAM a codeshare with Iberia. The second leg was with RyanAir. Using the reference codes, I was able to confirm we were booked on the LATAM flight, but nothing more and there was nothing suspicious about the dates to set off alarms.

So I took that to mean that they did check at one point and the Quito to Madrid flight was booked
That’s how I read it and that he never had a confirmation of the RyanAir flight. He says the code they gave him never worked.

But OneTravel kept telling him to check the day before instead. They totally blew it.
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
432
546
93
St. Louis
#19
Everyone seems to be assuming that there was a schedule change, but (and maybe I have a reading comprehension issue) I don’t see that mentioned anywhere in the OP’s post. From what the LATAM staff told the OP, it doesn’t sound like they ever had Friday flights. Did the OTA book a flight that never existed? Did the carrier accept a booking for a flight that never existed? Is that even possible? Or did the schedule change and the notification never made it to the right place?
One note: Mr. Bello stated we received an updated notice about the flight changes. It arrived in my mail while we were in Quito, but the issue with RyanAir was the same.
 

Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
432
546
93
St. Louis
#20
Sorry, but I don't understand why there wouldn't be compensation by OneTravel. They acted as the travel agent. They booked a flight segment that couldn't be fulfilled. Even if they weren't ticketed together, the agent has the requirement to be able to fulfill their flight. Should they not have rebooked the OP when they sent the notification that the flight outbound had changed by a day? And don't they bear some responsibility for booking this in the first place?
The reality is that these sites don't offer the services a travel agent does and everything is normally done by computer with little to no human interaction. Unfortunately, as we have seen with case after case with the third party booking sites, the consumer is acting as their own travel agent when making these type of bookings and the companies have written into their terms that they are not responsible. Basically, it is the same when you book directly with the airline

Upon notification of the change, the OP would need to have contacted the booking site or each airline to make the necessary adjustments. As the flight changes on LATAM would have permitted them to either be placed on another flight or refund, the Ryan Air as a separate ticket would not have that same protection. They would need to make the changes to the ticket in accordance with the fare rules.