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Who's responsible Delta or Expedia? Please Help!

Who's responsible Delta or Expedia? Please Help!

Apr 16th, 2011, 02:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 3
Who's responsible Delta or Expedia? Please Help!

2 of my girlfriends and I booked a 4 day 3 night trip package from Ottawa to Manhattan through Expedia on a Delta flight leaving at 6am Thursday morning for my girlfriends birthday on the 15th. When we arrived at the ticket counter to check in with Delta at 4:20am, we were told that 1 of the members of our party was not allowed to board because she was flying with a portugese passport and did not have an ESTA visa. This was the first time that we had heard of this particular visa. We were informed that there was a pay internet terminal in the airport, so we went and were able to get an ESTA number immediately.

We arrived back at the counter at 4:40-45am. When we arrived there we discovered that the flight was overbooked. The guy helping us was originally going to book us into seats 2abc, as only seats 6b&d were available. The other woman at the counter, who I am guessing was his superior, told him to put us into the 6 series seats and that she would release the other seat for us. They finally had our boarding passes issued to us at 5:12am, 25-30 min AFTER we got back to the counter.

While we were in line and going through security and waiting to go through customs, the ticket attendants realized that they had bypassed my girlfriends ESTA visa number which caused it to be flagged for secondary screening at customs. 2 of us cleared customs at 5:45ish. When we realized that our girlfriend was not with us, I went ahead to try to find out what gate we were to go to for boarding. The ticket attendent who had been helping us, was just outside customs looking for us. I went ahead to the boarding gate, and informed them that our friend was held up at customs, and we didnt know what was going on. They told me that they were going to have to pull my bag and that they would put us on the next flight. This is where I need to know where the blame lies.

When the Delta attendent attempted to reissue the tickets, apparently we had booked supersaver bulk tickets through expedia. Delta then claims that they were unable to reissue them because of this reason. They said that Expedia had to reissue the tickets. They put a waiver on the record locator for our file, but Expedia told us that once the flight had left, they could do nothing for us from their end, unless we bought entirely new tickets. Delta spent 4 hrs trying to say that Expedia was to blame for not informing us that we needed the ESTA visa, and that is what caused us to miss the flight. In actuality it was DELTA who spent 20-30 min trying to assign us seats, and not entering the ESTA visa number correctly that caused us to miss the flight.

Delta tried to even rebook us onto a direct flight with Air Canada at 2:00pm but for some reason the tickets were never reissued. Delta has already offered to send us a $100.00 travel voucher each, which was supposed to be sent to my e-mail last night which has yet to arrive.

If there is anybody out there who knows how Expedia deals with the airline companies and who I should be going after for compensation for the flights please help me!
vixy is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 04:49 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9,952
It is not Expedia or Delta's responsibility to know, inform, and make sure you adhere to immigration requirements. That responsibility lies with the passenger alone.

I can't deconvolute the situation well enough to tell you give you more insight to the rebooking problem, but your story is good reminder to me to always book directly with the airline if possible.
J62 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,076
Exactly. The responsibility for having the correct passports/visas/documents to enter a foreign country lies solely with the traveller. It sounds like you got more assistance from Delta than they were obligated to provide.
txgirlinbda is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 05:05 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,032
Ditto on the visa issue: passenger's responsibility 100%.

It sounds like you did get to your destination but you did not say when nor how.

If the tickets were indeed bulk then Delta is correct in that they could not reissue the tickets, mainly because they did not know the original sale price which is necessary for a reissue. (it's complicated) But it sounds like Expedia may have been confused, although there's really not enough information provided here.

You may, at a minimum, be able to get Delta to throw some miles your way in addition to the voucher but much more may be questionable.
NoFlyZone is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Today is 4/16. What exactly happened in the end? Or am I missing something? Did all of you get to your destinations? Did you have to pay out of pocket to get to your destination?
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I would say your friend is responsible for attempting to travel without the proper documents (it's the passengers responsibility to have proper docs, not Delta's or Expedia's). For an international flight, Delta requires you be at the gate 45 minutes before departure and it doesn't appear you met the requirement. Whenever you book through a reseller such as Expedia, you typically have to contact them regarding changes. I will be surprised if you get anything from Expedia since you didn't have what you needed to fly (your friend's fault, not theirs).
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 16th, 2011, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 9,952
It seems as though you chose not to board the flight as well. That's a choice you made. I would have done the same thing to stay with a friend, but I can't fault Delta since you made the decision.
J62 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 06:36 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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I think your friend is to blame for not having the required documents, not expedia or the airline.
andrews98682 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2011, 08:28 PM
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Posts: 63,881
"who I should be going after for compensation"

Your friend, if anybody . . . Sounds snarky, but it was her mistake that caused your problems. As I see it I agree w/ everyone above - no one owes you anything.
janisj is online now  
Apr 17th, 2011, 02:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,132
Since I had never heard of an ESTA Visa I did a bit of research. This is something issued instead of a visa when a person does not get the required visa. It is available on line or immediately but it clearly states that the person travelling with such a visa waiver is subject to extra security.

So the problem with your friend started way before you got to the airport. She neglected to get a visa to travel to the US and that is 100% her responsibility to investigate what documents are required to travel internationally. Since she neglected to get this visa in a timely fashion the only alternative was to get a visa waiver at the airport - which obviously took time.

Forget the nonsense about someone entering numbers or not, bulk tickets or not - since that is not the critical issue here. That she even had an option for 6AM travel when she neglected to get a visa before the trip is a surprise to me.

The issue is that she did not apply for and get a visa for the trip before she left home. If anyone owes you anything for your time and trouble, it is your friend. She arrived late (under 2 hours prior) for an international flight without proper documentation.
gail is offline  
Apr 17th, 2011, 07:54 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 3
I too was focused on the visa documentation as well. However, we were able to obtain the documentation, and still make it back to the ticketing counter with enough time to make the flight with no problems.

The issue that I have with Delta, is that although they tried their best to help after the fact, the delayed us by almost 30 min at the ticketing counter trying to assign us seats, when according to the delta customer care specialist that I spoke to on Friday, They should have just issued us general boarding passes and figured out the seating at the boarding gate, especially since the flight was over booked. Also, since the ticketing agent did NOT imput her Visa number but bypassed it in the system, that is what resulted in her being flagged for secondary screening. Even with the time spent in customs, had they just issued us tickets when we got to the gate, either in economy or in business class, instead of trying to release seats from the system, which they were not exactly sure how to do, and took them several tries to accomplish, we WOULD have made the flight. She got out of customs at 6:10am. That 25-30 min spent at the ticketing desk is what really killed us.

And no. We are still in ottawa, attempting to claim our insurance on the package, but don't know what we are going to get back yet. Nobody was able to reissue us tickets, and we eventually left the airport after 8 hours of trying to fight it out.

Believe me. I agree that some of these problems would have been solved by the traveller getting the visa ahead of time, however, that issue was solved fairly quickly.

We will be rebooking the trip for the fall, and this time going to book directly through an airline. More expensive, but worth it in case of delays or missed flights.
vixy is offline  
Apr 17th, 2011, 08:01 AM
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Also, if the DELTA ticketing agents KNEW that we would not be at the boarding gate 45 min ahead of time, then they should have never issued our boarding passes. I didn't know that we had to be at the acutall boarding gate that far in advance. We then could have called Expedia before the flight left, and maybe could have done something.

Still, this has, if nothing else, been a learning experience.
vixy is offline  
Apr 17th, 2011, 01:17 PM
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 109
I agree totally with J62. This is a good illustration of the risk that you take any time you deal with a third party instead of going directly to the airline, rental car company or hotel to make a purchase or reservation. Third parties such as Expedia, Priceline, etc., can sometimes get you a good deal and sometimes even resolve problems for you, but they also can add unnecessary complications, making it even harder to resolve the situation while there is still time to actually do something about it. This is not to excuse you and your friends from all responsibility but only to recognize that the more channels you have to go through to solve a problem, the more risk you take that it will not be resolved.
sumrcr is offline  
Apr 17th, 2011, 05:34 PM
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>>>Believe me. I agree that some of these problems would have been solved by the traveller getting the visa ahead of time,<<<<

Wrong. There wouldn't have been ANY problems if your friend had proper documents as required (must apply 72 hours in advance of flight).

>>>>Also, since the ticketing agent did NOT imput her Visa number but bypassed it in the system, that is what resulted in her being flagged for secondary screening.<<<

I think you are just assuming this. It could be someone getting a last minute visa is automatically subjected to further screening for other travelers safety and can't be entered in the system last minute.

FYI - It's not just Delta requiring check-in or at the gate times. All airlines have these rules and you have to check-in earlier for international flights than domestic ones.

I think your only recourse is your travelers insurance, but there also might be something in the fine print about having proper docs to travel.
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 17th, 2011, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
The average traveler with a foreign passport usually knows that they have to have something other than a passport to get in the US these days so clearly your friend caused the problems.

If the airline who allows the departure (misses someone not having proper credentials) they are fined so you can see why everything has to be correct.

The immigration/security system at most airports these days will cause anyone to be flagged for a secondary screening if they do anything different to their original reservation among other things.
FYI-I have worked for a US airline for many many years and when I have traveled on my own airline on a pass, I have been flagged for secondary screening if I changed the flight or did something different to my original listing.And I have my fingerprints on file and have been screened by Homeland Security!!!
dutyfree is offline  
Apr 17th, 2011, 07:50 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 3,864
It is recommended that the ESTA application be taken care of at least 72 hours in advance of travel, but it is not a requirement.


I don't think there's any way to find out why your friend was flagged for secondary screening. She did correct the situation and did show up at the counter the second time with proper documentation. But it could very well be that it taking two tries was what flagged her.

You can try to get some compensation from Delta, but I doubt you'll be successful.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 06:57 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 12,492
Just to clarify for those who do not know exactly what ESTA is. ESTA is for the travelers from countries in the visa WAIVER program. You need no visa to get into the USA from these countries, of which one of them is Portugal. But now you need to pre-register and acquire a number, which supposedly is facilitating the immigration process on the other end. This number lasts for two years.

Yes, one should apply 72 hours in advance, but unfortunately when booking on certain websites, most likely from the US/Canada, the foreign ticket holder has not been informed of this NEW rule. Having been able to travel freely for years, then ESTA came into being. I am not surprised that someone who hadn't traveled to the USA for a few years had not heard of it.

On most European websites there is a big notification every time you book a trip to the USA about getting your ESTA number.

If Expedia had asked for passport numbers, I am surprised it didn't catch that this was a foreign passport and dutifully advise the passenger of the new ( although a couple years old) rule.

In the end, yes, each and every traveller should find out before any trip to another country if there is any new regulation.

Hopefully, if Europe and other visa- waived countries bound to ESTA and its $14 registration fee decides to do the same reciprocally to Americans there will be plenty of warning, especially online when they buy a ticket..

Sorry about your disappointing trip cancellation. I hope your next adventure goes more smoothly.
lincasanova is offline  
May 2nd, 2011, 03:49 PM
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 429
Sounds snarky, but it was her mistake that caused your problems. As I see it I agree w/ everyone above - no one owes you anything.
Yes, Janis and I agree with you that it is a snarky commnent and really unnecessary. This poor woman went through quite an ordeal here. If you cannot offer any kind or helpful words then why write anything at all!
travelme is offline  

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