Booking Airline Tickets: How I Overpaid And Then Fixed It

I spent a day last week booking airline tickets. And then subsequently cancelling them after realizing I didn’t pay what I expected to be charged. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, it’s happening more and more these days.

And, as much as I hate to admit it, even this professional traveler missed some of the fine print details of an airline scam.

I use the word “scam” loosely for two reasons. First, I’m not specifically looking to throw a popular travel brand under the bus. My goal is only to educate others before they make the same mistake. Secondly, as hard as this is to admit, I was wrong. And the airline did correct MY mistake without penalty.

For over an hour I pleaded my case to customer service. They transferred my call 4 different times and I had to start the story completely from the beginning. Do you have any idea how frustrated I was by the time I explained my problem to the fourth person?

Yes, you do. You’ve likely been there!

Is there anyone that travels who hasn’t needed to call an airline customer service line to complain at one point or another?

In my mind the issue was crystal clear. I purchased “Kids Fly Free” tickets. True to the deal, I was not charged airfare for my children. However; the “taxes and fees” cost was double the price of my airline tickets!

Essentially, the airline tacked my kids tickets into a clever line item and called it a fee. Not okay.

And, rest assured, the unfortunate employees who got to speak with me knew I wasn’t happy. But then, guess what happened?

I was proven wrong. An employee was able to walk me through several screen options and encouraged me to scroll all the way to the bottom of the extra terms and conditions. Although I’d read the big, bold terms and conditions on page 1…I’d failed to “learn more” several times. After a few clicks, I finally found the hidden exceptions.

A portion of my flight was in an excluded market. Ironically, for almost the exact dates of my trip. Therefore, my “great deal” wasn’t so.

I felt cheated. And misled. Even a little embarrassed that this travel pro messed up booking airline tickets!

Out of principle, I tried to cancel the airline tickets on the spot with the customer service representative who made me aware of my error. Knowing I occasionally have a hot temper, my husband told me to take a breath and verify the airline’s 24-hour cancellation policy.

Admittedly, I should have waited until the 23rd hour. It would have taken at least that amount of time for me to cool off on the issue. But, I ended up cancelling my tickets within an hour of hanging up with customer service. I had every intention of writing this post- furious at being scammed!

Here’s my justification for being upset at the airline:

  1. I’ve spoken highly of Frontier Airlines in the past, even promoting their Kids Fly Free Program.
  2. We purchased a Discount Den membership and (based on my previous post about the program) really wanted to get our money’s worth by taking another Kids Fly Free Flight.
  3. In trying to book a ticket from Charlotte to Seattle- the website SAID my kids would fly free. There isn’t a specific rule stating that a connecting flight may cause portions of the flight to be charged as a fee.

But here’s what Frontier did well:

  1. They continued to pass me around to their customer service employees until I was able to speak with someone who could navigate my issue. It was never dismissed or blown off. I was able to get answers.
  2. The airline offers 24 hours to cancel a flight. I paid nothing for my mistake. (Unless you count my time and pride!)

Want to know the most hysterical part of this whole story?

A few days later, after I looked into the whole situation through fresh eyes, I ended up rebooking the exact same tickets!

Yep. At the end of the day, even though I wasn’t receiving quite as thrifty of a deal as I expected…it was still the most affordable way for our family to travel to Seattle. By far! Trust me, if there’d been an option that was even close I probably would have considered it since I was so upset at being misled booking my initial airline tickets.

So where is the takeaway lesson for booking travel in this post?

First of all, before booking airline tickets or any other major travel expense (cruise, rental car, hotels, etc.) find out what the cancellation policy is going to be! Know the fee for canceling or changing dates.

Secondly, read all of the fine print. If something doesn’t seem right, go back and re-read company policies. I saw my total charge throughout the booking process. Assuming the kid’s ticket price would drop off at the very end, I continued from screen to screen as I entered our booking information.

Finally, own your mistakes and learn from them. I still feel a little misled; however, I wasn’t charged for the hassle that was ultimately my problem. Everyone I spoke to at Frontier was kind. I didn’t get what I wanted. But I did learn a lesson.

And, at the end of the day, I still found a very affordable way to travel!

You will also enjoy reading:

6 Airline Hacks For Flying With Kids

9 Days, 6 Hotel Nights and Only $100…How We Pulled That Off

There’s Much More To Waco, Texas Than Just Magnolia Market

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