Lastest Headlines from

The News

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Have a Complaint? - Share it with Us

If you have an airline complaint that you would like to share with the world, please visit's Online Complaint Form where your complaint (edited for content and without personal identifying information) will be reviewed and either published here or forwarded to the appropriate organization.

Carry on Advice | Prohibited Items | Fear of Flying
Baggage Advice | Top 10 baggage tips

17 December 2009

When You Book with an Online Travel Service, Prices Can Change Before Your Very Eyes

George was kind enough to share the following story about his experience booking a holiday trip online, and it looks like the online service decided to give itself a present.

I went to Travelocity and filled in the required fields for the round trip flight for $312.40 for two seniors (my wife and I are visiting her brother for the Christmas holiday). When I went to the bottom of the page and clicked on the "Continue with Flight Only" button a page came up with a dialogue box that said "we're sorry. The price for this trip has changed. . . ." The new price was $392.40.

This is classic bait and switch, which is larceny by artifice or device in every state in the union. In my state larcenies carry a five year felony incarceration. I sincerely believe that if the person or persons who built this website, maintain it, or oversee it, are prosecuted as an example, with adequate publicity, then it will stop. Otherwise, they will continue doing it. I have retained the printed pages from the site with all of the foregoing information on it as written documentation of the bait and switch electronic maneuver. Responds

While we have no comment or opinion on the potential legality of changing prices in the middle of an online order, but it seems that there could be a more customer friendly way to deal with sudden price changes. The average customer would be happy to see an unexpected price drop, but a sudden price rise might deny any online travel service the most valuable thing of all, a repeat customer.


  1. Travelocity has tried to pull this with me twice.I will never use them. I cancelled both times and went to another travel site. This is their method of doing business.

  2. This happened to me with Alaska Airlines this fall. We had saved up our mileage for years and hoped to use it to fly first class to Hawaii for our 50th anniversary this winter. I found some reduced mileage options while perusing the site - before I was logged in. I immediately logged in and went back to the dates and they were all gone. I called them and the person said they must have sold out in that short of time. We had to book coach. I am still upset about it.

  3. While I agree that this should not happen, the way the system works is in real time. Thus, an airline puts x seats for sale at a given price. Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, and customers at the airline's own website are all booking at the same time for a limited number of seats at the lowest price. Thus, you might see a fare, but by the time you click to purchase someone else has booked that seat. At the limit, imagine you're looking on travelocity and that someone else on orbitz has booked the last seat on a plane; the airline isn't going to issue any more seats (except that they do overbook). This can even happen on the airline's website. I was once booking a frequent flier trip on the Northwest website and between choosing both legs of a trip, the FF seats were taken by someone else. It happens. I don't think this is a case of bait and switch. Travelocity is operating in real time and the inventory and price of seats is constantly changing. I personally use to find all my flights. They take you directly to airline websites.

  4. If you have snagged a seat at a price, then the airlines need to hold that seat for at least a reasonable time like 10 minutes to give you time to buy it. Making it a race to see who can fill out the form the fastest to snag the particular seat is nonsense. I would agree it is definitely a bait and switch. When you buy seats at an event like Ticketmaster, they hold the seats you choose for a short period of time to give you a fair chance to finish buying them. Any other method is a rip off and they should be prosecuted.

  5. Within one month:

    Feb 25, 2010. On Delta Air Lines I attempted to book a business class ticket, New Orleans to Manila. Dep. 5/26; Ret. 6/20. The original fare quoted was $4375. At the last moment, just before confirmation, screen, the fare suddenly jumped to $8275.

    March 2, 2010. On I attempted to book a business class ticket, New Orleans to Manila. Dep 7/23; Ret 8/10. The original fare quoted was $4400. At the last, just before confirmation, screen, the fare suddenly jumped to $8450.

    I actually booked both trips on Continental Airlines, at close to the originally quoted fare by Delta. Continental from now on has my business and I look forward to continued business with them. Delta Air Lines can go to hell, for what they are worth. (not much it seems)

    Nevermind that I am a Delta Million Miler (a few thousand miles from becoming a TWO million miler), a Delta "Diamond" Elite. A "Loyal" Customer. It's worth less than SHIT.

    I wish Delta to a quick bankruptcy. I hope they will soon be out of business.

  6. The online booking system for traveling has changed the vision of the travelers, as it helps the passengers to travel for different types of trips by saving their booking time. Today, the online booking tools has expanded its perimeter for corporate travel, which makes the journey safe and comfortable.