After booking trip of a lifetime, Chicago sailor’s flight was canceled two months later, beginning rocky road to refund

CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago sailor’s exciting vacation plans to hit the open sea hit a snag when his flight was canceled. Finger-pointing only furthered his frustration than him.

Morning Insider Lauren Victory learned his bungled booking isn’t unique, and shared how the company involved is trying to right the ship.

Out in the Atlantic Ocean, Chicagoan Eric Palm fulfilled a dream. He learned to use the instruments to man a tall ship, after navigating a frustrating journey just to get there

Was all the drama leading up his trip worth it?

“I was going no matter what,” Palm said with a laugh.

The drama stemmed from the flight he booked on Travelocity, when it changed two months after booking.

Palm could accept the new time or cancel, but wasn’t interested in either option.

So he called Travelocity to get confirmation of a seemingly simple request: hop on a different flight.

“A booking that is one day earlier. And then that booking just disappeared,” he said.

The new flight showed up canceled on his Travelocity account, beginning his rocky road to a refund.

Travelocity’s parent company, Expedia, told him to contact the airline for his money, but when he did, he said they told him, “your flight is intact. We expect you to fly.”

“And I thought, ‘What the? What the heck ?!'” Palm said.

Travelocity customer service representatives were apparently baffled, too.

“They say, ‘Ok, hold on for a few minutes,’ and that cycle repeats. You know, I was on the line for 45 minutes with that cycle. I think they’re almost waiting for me to hang up,” he said.

Slow response time is a common theme in the complaint section of Travelocity’s profile on the Better Business Bureau website.

A spokesperson said the company is using that feedback, pointing to new “self-service” tools like one-click cancel and virtual agents.

“How can it be this bad?” Palm said.

The unimpressed sailor eventually shipped off to port using a different booking website, but he fought Travelocity for a refund for months.

After emailing CBS 2, he got his money back in 48 hours, and the refund arrived ahead of his trip; a wave of relief.

Travelocity apologized to Palm through an email to CBS2. The company blames the airline for a long refund wait time.

You can read Travelocity’s full statement below:

“First, I want to apologize for the stress this has caused Mr. Palm. This is not reflective of the experience we strive to create for our customers. In early November, the airline canceled Mr. Palm’s flights from Chicago to Portugal, providing the option to cancel or confirm an alternative flight. Mr. Palm requested to rebook the outbound flight on the original departure time, but ultimately, Mr. Palm’s flights were indeed canceled, and our agents requested a refund. Such requests can sometimes take up to 2 -12 weeks to receive feedback or approvals from the airlines. Given the time that has passed and understanding that this was a frustrating experience, Travelocity will be refunding Mr. Palm directly.

“The pandemic interrupted so may travelers’ plans, and Travelocity has put enormous focus on creating a better customer experience for them. We’ve focused on the most common requests and issues our travelers encounter and used that feedback to inform our product enhancements. Some examples are the new self-service tools and resources we developed to make it easier for customers to manage their itineraries in real-time and find essential information, including our virtual agent and one-click cancel tool. We’ve also made it easier for travelers to find flexible travel options with a “free cancellations” filter.

“Most importantly, our teams continue to focus on advocating for our customers and working with our partners to deliver a great customer experience.”

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