NBC 5 responds to Texas family's vacation ticket issues – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Valerie and Wes Johnson spent four years planning and saving to take an unforgettable three-week vacation through England with two of their grandchildren last summer.

“We had a fantastic time,” Val told NBC 5's Kristi Nelson. “We just got together with family and did things.”

Johnson said she booked flights in February 2023 and travel insurance for round-trip flights between DFW and London Heathrow last July through Expedia.

The night before the flight, she checked in on American's website – but didn't get boarding passes. When the Johnsons arrived at the airport, they received devastating news from an airline employee.

“He said, 'There are no tickets for you,'” Val said. “You are not on that flight.”

They called Expedia from the airport and learned that their tickets had been canceled.

“There was no indication that anything had been cancelled,” Val said.

Luckily, they arrived almost four hours before departure, because they spent three hours at the check-in counter while staff tried to find their missing tickets.

Having already made plans and booked accommodation in various towns and villages in England, they had to make a painful financial decision: they bought new plane tickets for all four of them, each costing more than $4,700. The total: more than $19,000 – for the same seats for which they had already paid more than $8,800.

In addition, they have almost maxed out the amount on the credit card they wanted to use for travel expenses.

“I thought, 'I'll have to deal with that later,'” Val said.

Months later, after the otherwise successful trip, the issue of the duplicate seat purchases still wasn't resolved. They contacted their credit card companies, American Airlines, and Expedia. After having no success on their own, they turned to NBC 5 Responds for help.

Our consumer team worked with Expedia to obtain a refund for the Johnsons of $19,172.60.

“I’m just so glad we reached out to you and you all responded,” Val said.

In an email, an Expedia spokesperson told us:

“When situations like this arise, we advocate for the traveler to achieve the best outcome. We thank the family for their patience while we resolved this matter with the airline and are pleased to report that tickets will be refunded.”

We spoke to Sally French of Nerd Wallet about situations like this. She said that booking airline tickets or rooms through a third-party booking site rather than directly with the airline or hotel adds an extra layer of bureaucracy in case there's a problem.

“So if you get into a situation where, for example, a flight is cancelled, now you're not only dealing with the airline, you're also having to go through the travel agent that booked the ticket,” French said. “Particularly if you're in a situation like this person who needs to take their flight, let's say, the same day, it can be unnecessarily complicated to deal with that middleman instead of being able to work directly with the airline.”

Anna Harden

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