Twilight Zone between Priceline and Air France

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Sep 2, 2015
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#1
My issue with Priceline regarding tickets for my husband’s and my vacation to Italy next week.

The original problem was due to a typo I made in March when I bought our plane tickets on Priceline (Air France SFO to Paris & a second flight to Naples). I didn’t notice that my computer autofilled my first name (“Eleanor”) in the fields for both passengers’ first name. Priceline sent an email last week indicating that their computer had picked up the name oddity and said I should call Customer Service. That’s where my gratitude to Priceline ends.

8/26, Wednesday morning, right after I got the email, I called. Then I called again the next day and again Friday, bumping it up each time to a “travel specialist” and waiting on VERY long holds. On Friday evening, after yet another long hold, a specialist did the name correction on my husband’s ticket. It appears, in doing so, he also inadvertently lost my husband’s Premium Economy seats on the outbound flights. Someone else quickly bought the last remaining Prem. Econ. seats on our flight. An Air France agent was able to find my husband an Economy seat and we are holding that reservation. I have called many times since this problem was discovered Friday night. Finally today I was able to speak to a Priceline supervisor—no mean feat!

As we paid for the substantially more expensive Prem. Econ. tickets, I am demanding Priceline do one of 3 options: 1) Refund us immediately for the price difference between Economy and Premium Economy and re-issue my husband’s tickets so that the now confused and contradictory reservation does not cause him to be turned away by the Air France (AF) agents at the airport. 2) Upgrade my husband to Business class (the airline has indicated there are seats in that class of service). 3) Find us other Premium Economy seats on a different SFO-Paris flight the same day or a surrounding day (they are all booked so this is no longer an option).

When I spoke to a “specialist supervisor” today, I had him speak to an Air France supervisor on the other line (using speaker phones). (Both companies have rules against calling customers. Obviously, if one had been willing to do that, I could easily have merged the 2 calls). Although awkward, the 2 companies’ supervisors did communicate this way, with me listening and speaking to both. The airline supervisor indicated that AF was unable to re-issue the lower-cost ticket (for very technical and/or legal reasons) and instructed Priceline’s supervisor how to do this on AF’s site for travel agencies. The AF supervisor said he believed the act of re-issuing the ticket would trigger an automatic refund to our credit card for the price difference between the service we paid for and the one we will get.

Priceline’s response was to ignore the advice and try to do what the airline supervisor had been unable to do (bumping the issue up several internal Air France levels). By the time today’s 2-hour call ended, the issue was still unresolved. But it was very clear that Priceline intends to avoid giving us the refund—the apparent reason the supervisor refused to do the re-issue on the airline’s travel agency site (he wouldn’t admit that, just said that’s not how they usually do re-issues). The PL person promised to try again and call me back tomorrow.

Since Friday, I have spent about 6 hours on the phone w/multiple Priceline specialists and AF supervisors, attempting to resolve this issue before we get to the airport next Wednesday. If we don’t get a re-issued/corrected ticket, my husband will be unable to fly with me to Europe next week for our long-planned 3-week vacation.

If you have any advice for how to get Priceline to do the right thing and immediately refund or upgrade my husband’s ticket, please let me know ASAP.

I apologize for the extensive details here, but I’m hoping this sad tale will trigger some ideas for resolving my Twilight Zone between Priceline and Air France
 
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bodega3

Guest
#2
Air France must have sent a message to the agency that there was a double booked passenger and was going to cancel both tickets, which is how all this works between the carrier and a ticketing agency. You admit that the error was on your end at the time of booking.

Just so you understand the process, when a name change/correction is allowed to be made, a new ticket is issued and seats get cancelled and have to be rebooked. Depending on the time this takes...and it takes a bit of time, those seats do go back into inventory and someone can grab them.

Priceline can only do what the carrier will allow for a reissue and has to give the agency a code to reissue any tickets at this time. An agency gets fined for doing anything that isn't approved by the carrier.
 
Sep 2, 2015
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#3
Hi bodega3,

Thanks for your response. I'm confused because the Air France agent who discovered that the Premium Econ. seats were gone right after the name correction said the Priceline person had done the correction the wrong way, which resulted in putting the space at risk for what did happen. He said there was a different and safe way to do it.

I'm also unclear if you are suggesting that we are NOT owed a refund for the difference between what we paid for and what we are now confirmed for? That doesn't make any sense to me.

What is the resolution in your mind? What should we do to fix this? Priceline has not reissued my husband's ticket; pretty sure without a reissued ticket, he can't fly next Wednesday.
 
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bodega3

Guest
#4
Air France doesn't have a clue to what the agency did. We have certain ways we must do things, so when an airline bad mouths an agency, I take it for the price you paid to get it from them...nothing. When I do a ticket exchange in my GDS, seats are lost and I try and go in to reassign.

As for the fees, AF should refund what isn't given. But I know that doesn't happen with many carriers and since the error was made on your end, Priceline isn't responsible for any refunding. BTW, they don't own the funds, the carrier does.

You can go online and see what airline ticket number is showing and compare it with your current ticket numbers. As an agency, we don't reissue tickets where the passenger provided us incorrect information. We have the carrier to that. Reason is for the fine they will impose on us if they think we didn't something in error on the reissue.

You are requesting an upgrade to Business class, but if the error was on your end, the carrier has premier flyers they will accommodate over this request.

When you book as a DIY'er, you are accepting any errors made on your end. Reissuing due to an error has issues and you just encountered one with the seats being canceled in the process.
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#5
When you got your confirmation back when you booked. Didn't you notice your name was in the booking twice and your husband had nothing in his name? You should have noticed that right in your same day confirmation. You had 24 hours to correct it.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#6
So frustrating. I'm impressed you even got someone on the phone on Priceline. If it is any consolation, Air France premium economy is not well reviewed and you may receive similar satisfaction for the economy seat. With the short time line and a 3 week Italy trip on the line, I would just make sure your husband has a seat on the plane and deal with refund issues separately. He does have a seat on the plane, it is just more $ than you hoped and not in the class you had hoped. Requesting business class seems like a stretch as well. Those seats are thousands more and this was your error, not theirs, a totally understandable one, but still yours. You also didn't review your confirmation, which had been sent immediately back in March.
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#7
I think it is amazing Priceline alerted you to the error before you arrived at the airport. Then the flight could have been sold out and you would be really stuck, and have to rebook your seat too.
 
Likes: jsn55
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bodega3

Guest
#8
I think it is amazing Priceline alerted you to the error before you arrived at the airport. Then the flight could have been sold out and you would be really stuck, and have to rebook your seat too.
As I mentioned earlier, AF must have sent a message to queue in Priceline's GDS. We have to take care of all messages or risk a fine. Since the agency is the one on record for ticketing and the same name is noted twice on the same flight, the agency has to tell the carrier that this is correct or take care of the duplicate name. It was not that they were being nice. It was because they were going to risk a fine if they didn't clear this up.
 
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Sep 2, 2015
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#9
Thanks, all, for your comments. The latest is that Priceline is refusing to re-issue the ticket (for unexplained reasons) and so our second set of reservations for the flights next week were lost. We discovered this tonight when calling Air France and had them book the last seats on both outbound flights for my husband. The AF supervisor said these reservations, too, will cancel out if Priceline does not re-issue the ticket within 24 hours. AF person made it crystal clear they cannot re-issue the ticket, only Priceline can.

At this point, we just want to be sure my husband will travel with me. A refund for service price difference can be dealt with later, if we choose to. Does anyone have an idea how to get Priceline to re-issue the ticket so that we don't lose these third reservations? It took me 4 days to get a supervisor to call me yesterday so there isn't time to go through that hurdle again. As I said in the original post, the PL supervisor wasn't able (willing?) to do the re-issue while I was on the phone w/him, even though an AF supervisor explained how to do it on their agency website. PL person said he had "another way to do it" and that he'd call me back today. He did not. So the second reservations were lost.

We need help solving this problem so our vacation is not ruined. Anyone?
 
Aug 28, 2015
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#10
I'm so sorry this is happening. I don't know the intricacies of that but many people here do and I know one will get back to you on this today. We can't let your husband be left behind. In the meantime, if you can get Air France on the phone, what do they tell you to do? Do they have some sort of dept that deals with issues with online travel agencies? Can't they just fix this!? So frustrating
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
13,379
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www.promalvacations.com
#11
You have 24 hours to make a name change when booked. If you don't do that, then new tickets have to be issued. Airlines just don't make name changes anymore - they require new tickets to be booked. They will give you a credit for what you originally paid less a cancellation fee for the original flight and any difference between the price of the flights.
 
Likes: AAGK
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bodega3

Guest
#12
A carrier can fix it if agency didn't issue the ticket with Bulk as the fare. A lot of agencies will do this and it requires the traveler to go back to the issuing agency. This is being done a lot as it protects the agency's commission.

Priceline is your agent and should be assisting you with this, but I also know that the people you speak with on the phone are just order takers and you need to speak with someone in their ticketing department. The latter is hard to reach...or so I have been told.

Sadly, this should have been caught back when you bought your ticket as Promal mentioned. Right now rebooking due to space is an issue with the travel date so close. Even if you get the ticket reissued, you still need a seat assignment or he will be standby.

Please find a brick and mortar ticketing agency in your area of SFO for any future travel needs and don't book online. OTA's are not your advocates, they just want your sales and don't want to speak with you and don't know how to help you.

I would be on the phone with AF and explain that the agency isn't helping you.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,856
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#13
Unfortunately, this is a situation where you have to decide whether to just buy your husband a new tix directly from AF or take a chance he doesn't fly. You can demand that Priceline do something all day long, but they can just ignore you.

It all depends on what your anxiety level is ... I would not be able to sleep if I were in your position. I'd buy a new tix directly and cancel whatever is on Priceline's books for him. I'd go have a wonderful vacation and straighten this all out (hopefully) when you get home.

It's not fair that an airline refuses to help correct an simple error, but these days ticketing, security and pricing are governed by rules that defy the understanding of us mere mortals.
 
Likes: AAGK
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bodega3

Guest
#14
She had a second reservation but they cancelled it according to her. So my guess it that they did not cancel to rebook, which is what appears they are being told they need to do. Duplicate bookings can get both bookings cancelled. Time is of the essence.
 
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Likes: Neil Maley
Aug 28, 2015
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#15
Can't Air France just book a new ticket adding the change fee and price increase, without speaking to Priceline?
Otherwise, Priceline must have a feature to cancel and preserve the credit for future use. Can she just do that and buy a new ticket? Unfortunately, there will be a cost for not checking your confirmation for months. It makes sense though, because then tickets would all be transferable if names could be changed whenever.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
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bodega3

Guest
#16
Can't Air France just book a new ticket adding the change fee and price increase, without speaking to Priceline?
Otherwise, Priceline must have a feature to cancel and preserve the credit for future use. Can she just do that and buy a new ticket? Unfortunately, there will be a cost for not checking your confirmation for months. It makes sense though, because then tickets would all be transferable if names could be changed whenever.
They could if the fare is showing. But as I mentioned, a lot of agencies now ticket showing the words BULK and only the taxes that the airline can see, so the rebooking has to go back to the agency as the airline doesn't know the fare breakdown.

Also, the airline's really, really don't want to touch an agency booking.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Nov 19, 2014
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#17
I know from past experience in attempting a name correction with Air France that it does usually need to be done via their agency site or over the phone. I'm not sure why Priceline is having difficulties making the correction. Their ticketing department should have called Air France's agency support desk or gone to the agency support website for assistance. The airline would have corrected the name in the PNR and provided a waiver to reissue the ticket, even if it was a bulk fare. I have made these corrections on more than one occasion with Air France. I think the problem became more complicated when Priceline booked a new PNR for the passenger rather than having the name corrected in the existing PNR. As Premium Economy is an actual, separate cabin on Air France and not just a "better" seat in the economy cabin, making the correction in the original PNR should have preserved the premium economy seating, if not the actual seat assignment.

I am surprised that it took so long for Priceline to be notified of the duplicate name by the airline. With both American and United if we book the same name twice, even in a different PNR, the airline will cancel the more recent of the 2 bookings within 24 hours(sometimes sooner) and send us a notification that it was canceled due to a duplicate booking. Evidently Air France doesn't catch duplicates as quickly.
 
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bodega3

Guest
#18
Yes, the time period had me wondering, too. Did Priceline just not address it when they got the message in Queue? Yes, AF could give the code, but AF won't handle this if BULK was the fare shown. The LW doesn't mention any code being given. We never use anything online for clients, so I don't know about this, but can an agency that issued the ticket in their GDS do this on AF's agent portal?
 
Likes: Neil Maley

kenish

Verified Member
Sep 1, 2015
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#19
If your travel date is coming up soon, I highly recommend purchasing your husband a whole new ticket, totally separated from the PL issue. Purchase directly through AF or visit a brick-and-mortar travel agent, not through PL or any other OTA. It's difficult to find cheap fares (or seat availability at any price) within 3-5 weeks before an international flight, especially for a specific flight number and date. On top of that, airlines switch to their winter schedules in mid-October...AF for example, drops one of their two daily flights from SFO and downsizes to a 777 on some days....a 40-50% reduction in weekly seat inventory.

One tactic is purchasing a fully-refundable roundtrip replacement ticket. It will be expensive, but if PL/AF resolves the original ticket you can get a full refund on the backup ticket. If the PL ticket is still unresolved the backup ticket may be money well-spent.

Last (important) comment- Your original post is for a SFO-CDG-NAP ticket....what about the return? If it's on the same ticket you have a problem with the homeward segment(s) too!
 
Likes: bodega3