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HELP - Swiss Air cancelled our flight!

Old May 18th, 2010, 08:46 AM
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HELP - Swiss Air cancelled our flight!

Our flights - June 10 return July 4 - GOT CANCELED!!! Swiss Airlines is blaming Airfare.com (who we purchased through) and Airfare.com is blaming Swiss Airlines.

After 6 hours of fighting with both on the phone (and lots of tears, and a horrible stomach ache) I don't know whether to give up the fight or what else to do.

Our original reservation was nonstop SFO-Zurich and then a 2 hour layover before our Zurich-Rome flight. Then on the way back we flew Paris-Zurich and transferred to a Zurch to SFO flight. Total cost $5128 for our family of 4 ($1282 pp). Now the cheapest I can find with nice nonstop transatlantic flights is $7000! And neither Airfare.com or Swiss seem to care about that additional $1800!!!

I could really use some advice. Do I just pay the $7000 and get on with it, or is there anything else I can do????
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Old May 18th, 2010, 08:51 AM
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On Kayak.com I see $1360pp using KLM for your dates.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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kayak shows it as KLM flight #'s, but they are Delta flights through Detroit, kayak redirects to orbitz.com, then orbitz says "sorry, no longer available..."
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Old May 18th, 2010, 08:59 AM
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I thought of using airfare.com once, what exactly was the issue as to why your flight was cancelled? Just wondered for future reference. If the flight still exists, it wasn't cancelled, but maybe you never had reservations? If the entire flight was cancelled, obviously, it can't be due to airfare.com. I think airfare.com is a consolidator and thus may not be selling the same kind of tickets you'd buy yourself, but I might be wrong about that.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 09:10 AM
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I have yet to get a straight answer on what went wrong. Airfare.com says Swiss bumped us. Swiss says Airfare never issued our e-tickets. Airfare says Swiss didn't process it correctly. Swiss says our reservation was never complete. Airfare says it was complete but Swiss had a computer issue so their computer didn't show it as complete.

See the run-around I have been getting since 4pm yesterday. My sweet DH took 2 hours of that phone time because I was crying so much. 6+ hours of arguing and I am still getting the run around.

In fact, he was basically telling me to go away until I mentioned I was going to post it on Fodors.com and Tripadvisor and now he calls me back every 20 minutes, each time with a crazier solution. The last time he was trying to explain why it would be better to have a 5 hour layover in Salt Lake rather than a nonstop to SFO.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 09:31 AM
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Very very frustrating. But a layover isn't the end of the world, even with kids (our 14 year old has been to Europe 14 times and we have had all kinds of journeys and always enjoyed the trip!). Just book something more comparably priced, reduce your blood pressure and go book to looking forward to it.
(You can take a nice quick, free transport provided by the Mormon church outing from the airport to the central tourist destinations in SLC in that time - occupy you all nicely. Don't ask how I know that. lol.)
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Old May 18th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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I think you need to forget about "nice" flights and get yourself into either sidestep.com or to itasoftware.com and stop wasting time arguing with that company you used and/or Swissair because you WON'T WIN.

Did you use a credit card to pay..then talk to THEM.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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How do you know your flight was canceled? Who told you? Airfare or Swiss? It sounds as if Airfare took your money and never made your reservation with Swiss. Did you check Swiss after about 24 hours from purchase to make sure you had your flight?
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Old May 18th, 2010, 09:46 AM
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You could try writing to "travel troubleshooter" Christopher Elliot:

http://www.elliott.org/
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Old May 18th, 2010, 09:50 AM
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You might for the heck of it check out www.europeandestinations.com

We used them a couple of years ago when they could do it for our family of 4 cheaper than we could making the arrangements ourselves. Though you don't have to use their "hotel" portion, we used it for our Paris stay and were very pleased with the quality of their choice.

While they have a website where you can plug in your information, including an "advanced" option where you can do open-jawed arrangements, etc. it might be easier and faster to talk to a real person. That's what we did because they could offer options/solutions that we weren't aware of (so didn't "plug in" the best option in the blanks on the request). They could also get us our car cheaper.

I feel for your delema...wishing you the best!
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Old May 18th, 2010, 10:34 AM
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Oh, no! Swiss air non-stop is just starting in June, I was so happy to see it, even posted on Fodor's about this new thing hoping to do SFO-ZRH maybe next year.

Wish you the best outcome and happy vacations despite this problem!
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Old May 18th, 2010, 10:37 AM
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kybourbon - I was just checking our seat assignments. I am anal that way, and wanted to check seatguru. I had made seat assignments in December, and confirmed them in March, and everything was fine. I couldn't find the piece of paper I wrote the seat info on, so thought it would be easier to call Swiss and ask instead of clean my desk. Thank goodness I have a messy desk and spend too much time on travel sites or I wouldn't have called yesterday and gotten the horrible news. Could you imagine if I hadn't called until the week before the flight!!!

I think the issue might be (though nobody will say so) is that Airfare didn't forward the MONEY to Swiss. Again to the Airfare.com saying it was Swiss's computer system that messed up (all my cc info was on the Skybird confirmation I got) and Swiss saying it was Airfare.com's job to make sure they had the e-tickets.

So, yes, I got a confirmation, but I had never gotten an e-ticket. I guess I didn't know they were different things. The confirmation was very complex so I assumed all that jargon was the ticket.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 10:41 AM
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so the flight wasn't cancelled, your reservations just were not finalized. That's a good warning that I won't want to use airfare.com in the future if they have booking problems. I think some of the issue may be that they are a consolidator and thus the tickets that airfare.com MAY be booking don't have the same rights as others, and may be the first ones to be bumped if the plane is full. Maybe they are just stand-by tickets, who knows. Or maybe airfare.com didn't really finish the booking at all.

I'd try to get a decent flight, also, rather than focusing on the nonstop thing. I would think you could still find something for those dates, I think I saw a sale recently some airline(I think it was American). If desperate, look for good flights from JFK, and then add on your own domestic flight to get home to SFO or something like that. Be sure to allow plenty of connection time in the US.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 10:45 AM
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It sounds like Airfare simply never paid Swiss for your tickets so they canceled because they didn't get their money. You can't blame Swiss for not wanting to fly people if they haven't been paid. I wonder if Airfare is on the travel insurance list of companies they won't cover because of financial problems. They evidently held your payments for 5-6 months (assuming the charge went through on your credit card). I'm sure it's quite illegal to do so. I would contact a consumer advocate such as BBB.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 10:48 AM
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"How do you know your flight was canceled? Who told you? Airfare or Swiss? It sounds as if Airfare took your money and never made your reservation with Swiss. Did you check Swiss after about 24 hours from purchase to make sure you had your flight?"

I agree. If you do not have ticket numbers then it was the fault of airfare.com. If you have ticket numbers then Swiss Air would be accountable.

I do not understand how you could confirm seats without a record locator and without tickets being paid for as airlines do not allow that as a rule. Did you log on to SwissAir with a record locator to get seat assignments?
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Old May 18th, 2010, 06:07 PM
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So, to save myself from getting an ulcer, I have booked new flights. All nice and paid for and e-ticketed with real ticket numbers - direct from Air France. I will NEVER book from a flaky web site ever again - just directly from the airlines or from the web sites that have been around for years.

It ended up costing us almost $1500 more than the original reservation, but I was getting scared that even those prices would disappear.

Thanks everybody for the support and advice. I am not done with Airfare.com. I plan to keep tormenting them in the hope that they will lose business from potential customers from this trick they pulled.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 06:25 PM
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Just wow.

I have been leaning the last few years toward booking directly from the the airlines themselves (once I determine who has the cheapest fares w/most direct flights) and this experience just triples my conviction to do so. Thanks for updating us on the woeful saga, TaraMom, and alerting us to those problems you faced. I sure hope you have a great trip to compensate for this grief!
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Old May 18th, 2010, 06:27 PM
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Where IS your money? Was it refunded by Airfare? Perhaps I missed something. It does sound like they never dealt correctly with Swiss (a good airline). All sounds a little shady to me, though their "consolidator" business probably started out OK. (you were not out money with Airfare were you?) Glad you will continue to report them...and I feel like they WILL lose business by posting this on Fodors etc.

Glad to hear you have firmed up reservations with Air France. You have a beautiful trip planned,,,,very enjoyable~~and one I'm sure your family will treasure.
Have fun, be flexible, laugh a lot and enjoy each other.
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Old May 19th, 2010, 05:40 AM
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I would never book through a third party website like that (Expedia etc are a bit more mainstream) unless I really were saving a lot of money. Because there isn't any purpose to using them if you aren't, and it can only cause potential problems. I have perused airfare.com many times because I think they show up on kayak searches, which is why my understanding was they are not a regular travel agency like Expedia. In my searches, their fares were never very different from the airlines own fares, so I haven't been that tempted to use them. But since Kayak shows them in their searches, I don't think they are a totally bogus company, of course. It appears they are a travel agency that uses consolidator tickets or something.

I missed where the money actually is, also. I wouldn't ever think a confirmation from a website or travel agency is a real ticket, though, but I guess I've flown enough to know etickets are pretty obvious they are actual tickets and are from the airline. I don't know what a Skybird confirmation is, but Skybird is another consolidator, not an airline, as far as I know. I don't really understand what this was all about as airfare.com on its website seems to say they issue etickets immediately after confirmation. I think the OP may have just made seat assignments and checked them with airfare.com, not Swiss, but I am not clear on that. airfare.com says the tickets they sell are totally nonrefundable, etc., because they are "highly discounted", which implies to me they aren't regular tickets under any conditions. They also say on their website they are "wholesale" and "consolidator" tickets.

I've always gotten etickets within a day or so of paying for an airfare on any website. airfare.com seems to be a member of ASTA and affiliated with reputable companies, so I think you should be getting something out of them, although it sounds like maybe it's just a refund of your original money if your reservation was never finalized.

I dealt with a consolidator once some years ago who was going bankrupt (although I didn't know it, I read it later in the paper), and they were playing games with moving money around -- like charging you for your tickets and not actually buying them until closer to your flight date because they had cash flow problems. Some people got caught in that game and never got tickets when they defaulted.
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Old May 19th, 2010, 05:45 AM
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This is one reason why I personally buy travel insurance when planning a trip as costly as this.
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