Flyer Claims Popular Travel App Cost Her $1,200

PHOTO: zhao jiankang/Shutterstock

This was more than a case of mistaken itinerary.

“See why life without TripIt is a distant memory for millions of travelers,” TripIt’s site reads. For some, however, the memory is still very present and very frustrating. We caught up with one such customer whose experience cost her not only time but money.

Founded in 2006 in San Francisco, TripIt is an app that aims to organize its users’ trip itineraries, so that everything—from flights to hotel and dinner reservations—is all in one easy place. The app has additional bells and whistles like flight tracking, a navigation system, and reviews on neighborhood safety. How exactly does it all work? You take care of any bookings (hotel, flight, etc.) and when a confirmation is sent to you, you can either forward it to TripIt or opt to have TripIt automatically import it into your itinerary. It’s easy.

But that ease cost a couple of travelers $1,200.

Natalia Soto, a veterinary surgeon, and her boyfriend were returning to the U.S. from Costa Rica after a work conference last April. Soto, a busy professional, says she’s always looking for ways that technology can save her time, and she’s been using TripIt since 2017 to do exactly that. On this trip, however, she received updates from the app for the wrong flight—a flight she hadn’t even booked.

Months before, a colleague emailed Soto his itinerary on Delta and TripIt uploaded it to her account. As a result, Soto and her boyfriend arrived at the airport to inadvertently catch her colleague’s flight, not their own, which she’d actually booked on Avianca via Orbitz. Unfortunately, the Avianca flight had already departed an hour earlier. Now they were stranded. To get home, they needed to book another flight for $1,200 and wait nine long hours. To make matters worse, her attempts to rectify the situation fell flat.

“There is a huge system error in your app. Recognize it,” she wrote on Instagram. The company blocked her soon thereafter.

“When I contacted [TripIt] to inform them of what happened, they started by saying I must have bought the flight they imported, that I didn’t use auto-import, so it’s my fault; when they confirmed I did use auto-import, [they claimed] that it was my fault because auto-import is unreliable.” Soto added that the customer service experience was terrible. There’s not even a way to contact TripIt via phone.

In a direct message exchange with the company on Instagram, Soto detailed her issues and included screenshots. “It clearly says I didn’t buy this suggested itinerary,” she wrote.

“Please stop spamming our Instagram page,” TripIt replied.

“Do the right thing,” Soto suggested. “There is a huge system error in your app. Recognize it.” The company blocked her on Instagram soon thereafter.

“TripIt has not corrected the mistake and they blame me for not checking that the app loaded the correct information, even though it’s supposed to automatically upload it,” she told Fodor’s.

TripIt declined to comment for this story.

While Soto said she doesn’t know anyone who’s encountered similar problems with TripIt, a quick search yielded several reviewers across the web who were less than pleased with the product. “Heaven knows I’d love to find something to replace TripIt, but for all of its quirks, it mostly does its job. Mostly,” said FlyerTalk user aquamarinesteph. “My main issue with using TripIt is that when something is technically wrong it takes me dozens of emails (often with supporting screenshots) to convince the TripIt people that I DO know how to use their app.”

Himeno, a user of Australian Frequent Flyer’s community, said they always had issues with TripIt, so they gave up. “It kept duplicating everything. Every time a change, update, or confirmation came through, it added the flight/hotel as a new record instead of updating the existing entry,” Himeno writes. “I’d end up with 6+ entries for the same flight.”

While the app is built so that consumers may have a clearer, more convenient way to navigate their travels, it’s clear that troubleshooting and miscommunication are factors that need to be taken into account when, well, planning a trip.

“This is another case of a company making claims they can’t live up to and then falling back on their user agreement as a way of not accepting any responsibility when their technology fails,” Soto said.