Orbitz / changed itinerary
Re: Itinerary [protected] Gwen Eaton
Itinerary WUORJX Tamara Ballou
To whom it may concern
This letter is intended to provide information related to the 2 travel itineraries shown above, which were purchased on the same day for the same flight, so the parties could travel together. Ms. Eaton's reservation was changed by the airline, but Ms. Ballou was not offered the same change which resulted in separate flights on different days, preventing the parties from flying together.
In August of 2018, Ms. Eaton purchased an airline ticket to Paris, via Denver, for travel dates Dec 20 through Jan 4. The ticket purchase was made through Orbitz and was purchased on the same day that her sister, Ms. Ballou, purchased the exact same flight to Paris, also through Orbitz, so the family could travel together FOR MEDICAL REASONS. Ms. Eaton must fly with a designated partner (Ms. Ballou) due to a disability. The airline (American) was notified that a wheelchair would be needed, and Ms. Ballou should sit with or very near Ms. Eaton to assist her during the flight.
In early October, Ms. Eaton received notification from Orbitz, that AMERICAN AIRLINE had made a schedule change to the flight, and Ms. Eaton was to select one of the changes offered or her ticket would be terminated, and a refund given. After discussing the notification with Ms. Ballou, Ms. Eaton discovered that her sister had NOT received the notice, but pressured by the agency, she was forced to accept the change dictated by the airline. Ms. Ballou agreed she would choose the same option when notified.
The change notification was received by Ms. Ballou on Thursday, November 15th. She called Orbitz immediately and spoke with an agent regarding the options. The change that Ms. Eaton was forced to accept was NOT offered to Ms. Ballou. Her ticket was changed to a day earlier departure, on December 19th, flying through Miami instead of Chicago to Paris. Ms. Ballou explained to the agent that she was flying with a disabled family member and that the itinerary's much match. The agent assured her that this would be possible without a problem and proceeded to change Ms. Ballou's reservation/itinerary to accommodate the Airlines change. While confirming her flight, Ms. Ballou informed Ms. Eaton of the change and told her to call Orbitz right away and have the same change made to her ticket.
Me. Eaton proceeded to call and request the same change but was met with complete opposition. Orbitz refused to change her ticket, stating that she had already made 1 change and any additional changes would incur fees and repricing. Stunned, Ms. Eaton denied ever making a change to her itinerary. It was the AIRLINE that made the change, and the AIRLINE that forced her to accept the change to her ticket or risk cancelling the ticket all together. Thus began 4 continuous days of countless hours on the phone with Orbitz agents, supervisors, American Airlines and Iberia Airlines. Both Ms. Eaton and Ms. Ballou called repeatedly, trying to get the issue resolved. On Sunday, they were on a 3-way call with Orbitz that stretched to over 5 hours. Orbitz and the airline refused to acknowledge that they had initiated the change to the ticket. Their response was that Ms. Eaton changed her ticket once already, and any additional changes would incur large fees and reticketing prices. They refused to accept her disability claim, even though the wheelchair and travel partner information had already been requested and was in Ms. Eaton's reservation file.
Orbitz would promise a resolution, then force us to stay on the line for over 20 minutes at a time, while they "negotiated" with the airline. When Ms. Eaton called American Airlines, the agent said she would have been happy to make the change, but it was an Iberian flight, so she did not have the authority to make the change, EVEN THOUGH THE NOTIFICATION ABOUT THE CHANGE IN SCHEDULE CAME FROM AMERICAN AIRLINES.
It is our firm stance that Ms. Eaton's ticket be changed to match Ms. Ballou's ticket. The customer DID NOT REQUEST THE CHANGE, THE CHANGE CAME FROM THE AIRLINE! The tickets were purchased in August to avoid the high cost of buying them closer to the date of travel. The airline then made changes during the time between purchase and travel, did NOT offer the same changes to the customers and that has resulted in the change and complications of our current travel plans. To preserve any resemblance of the original plan, the airline is trying to force us to pay exuberant fees in order to keep our flights together. They are asking us to PAY AGAIN for a ticket that we have already bought. This is an outrage. These travel plans were made months in advance to ensure the family could travel together due to a disability. This is not just a requirement of convenience. THIS IS A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH. Ms. Eaton must have her limbs massaged during flight to prevent blood clots. She will be on oxygen, and the medication she is taking requires immediate access to the bathroom. Ms. Ballou will be able to assist her with all these requirements. We do not feel that the flight attendants will be readily available to assist her. Flying alone without assistance could cause her serious health problems. In addition, we feel we were tricked by the airline to accommodate a change for their convenience. Even after explaining our situation, they refused to assist us, and therefore we also feel we are being discriminated against due to the disability.
We would like Ms. Eaton's flight changed to match that of Ms. Ballou's flight, without fees. This change is required because of the initial change made by the airline which resulted in separating the parties planned travel together. The parties must travel together due to a disability, and life-threatening situation that could occur if Ms. Eaton should be forced to fly alone. I don't want this to end in any harm to Ms. Eason, simply because the airline refused to honor the tickets that were originally purchased specifically so the parties to fly together. It is hard for me to believe that the policy would be enforced, even if it could result in the death of a passenger.
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