‘Who would call them?’ On Your Side secures refund for Phoenix woman after travel nightmare
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Judy Gangi has traveled all over the world. Right before the pandemic started, she and her sister decided to visit Norway to see distant relatives.
“We had purchased tickets thinking we were talking to Icelandair,” Gangi said. “Go on our computer. Type in Icelandair. Along comes a list of contacts.” The sisters called and booked their tickets. They then realized they had actually handed over their payment information to a booking agent called Lookbyfare. “Who would call them? I’ve never heard of them!” Gangi said. The original trip was ultimately canceled because of COVID, but Gangi’s business with Lookbyfare continued. “I got my refund minus $200, so they said, ‘If you book again with us, you can use your $200.’”
She tried. She and her sister were still determined to make it to Norway. “I get a printout, dates, times, there and back and a booking number,” Gangi said. “So one would believe that everything is fine.” But the night before the trip, Gangi didn’t receive check-in instructions like her sister did. Gangi called Lookbyfare. “The individual said, ‘Wow, There is a problem. You need to call Icelandair directly.’”
There was no record of her trip. She ended up paying $2,800 to book the last seat available in coach. “I’m just really incensed that Lookbyfare, first of all, still has my money. Second of all did not inform me that there was a problem getting a ticket, and I had no ticket,” Gangi said. On Your Side and our Call for Action volunteers got to work, ultimately securing a refund of $1,680 from Lookbyfare.
“You were the only people that returned a communication at all to me,” Gangi said. “[Lookbyfare was] blaming the airline for everything. They took no responsibility for anything at all. Anyway, I got my refund from them, so I’m just thrilled!” After the refund was issued, On Your Side asked Lookbyfare several times by phone and email for a statement to include in our report. The company did not provide one.
Gangi said she’s become an even savvier traveler. “I’m much, much wiser now, but it was an expensive lesson and I think that’s the greater caution to people,” she said. “When you do a search, make sure that what you’re searching for is what you want.”
To avoid a similar situation, Clint Henderson, the managing editor at the The Points Guy says consumers should try to avoid booking travel through third parties. If you do use a booking site for flights, make sure you get a 6-digit alphanumeric record locator and a ticket number so you have a reservation of both. He also suggests calling the airline, hotel, or rental car company directly to confirm that they have your reservation.
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