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I'm having a problem with Orbitz, a third party travel site, where they changed my plans in a way that won't work for me. I need to know what I can do about it, so that either I get a refund or I get accommodations that work for me.

I originally booked a package deal (flights,hotel and car) with Orbitz on July 31st for travel date of 23rd Nov. It was for a flight at 7:45AM, the earliest my family can manage, given we have a child with special needs.

Around September 1, I received an email saying my itinerary has been changed and they have put us on a flight which is 1:45 hours earlier (departing at 6:00 AM). The 6:00 AM flight option was available when I did the original booking, but I chose not to take it even though it was cheaper and chose 7:45 a.m. flight. The 6 AM flight offered as a result of change to my itinerary will not work for my family, as it is too early for us to get to the airport.

I called Orbitz to see what they could do. Since the change is within 2 hours of the original scheduled time, they could not cancel my flight. They asked me to call American Airlines and request them to do so.

I called AA, and they offered me another flight which has 2 hour 40 min layover(original layover was 1 hour). My son has special needs and this itinerary will also not work for me. Now AA is not ready to refund my ticket and Orbitz has nothing to do with it. The reason I booked almost 4 months in advance was so I could select the itinerary that was convenient for my family and situation (special needs son).

In this situation, can I file a merchant dispute with my credit card issuer (Chase - Sapphire Preferred) as I am not getting the services I paid for? Or is there any other recourse for me?

  • I edited for clarity - if I changed anything important please correct. – Joe Sep 9 '15 at 15:44
  • You could try but as my own experience with United showed, they are pretty well entrenched and credit card companies don't go to bat for you on this kind of thing. But each bank is different, maybe Chase will go to bat for you on it, I know HSBC didn't for us. One thing that wasn't clear in the statement and if I missed it I apologize, but did you actually end up using this itinerary, even though it sucked for you or not? I am talking actual use of the flights. If you did, chances are they will not do anything for you. If not, still they can argue they offered you rejected, chances are murky. – GµårÐïåñ Sep 9 '15 at 16:03
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    there's a travel.se that might be better suited for this question. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Sep 9 '15 at 16:23
  • @ GµårÐïåñ, I have not accepted or used this changed itinerary. This is for travel in Nov 2015. Thanks for your reply. – Gauri Mhatre Sep 9 '15 at 18:18
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    If your son can't tolerate a 2:40 layover then I have serious doubts about whether you should be flying in the first place. Delays happen. My record so far is 8 hours over and above the planned connect and I've had multiple additional delays in excess of two hours. – Loren Pechtel Sep 9 '15 at 23:30
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Are you on Twitter?

If so, the first thing I'd do is tweet this question to @Orbitz and/or @AmericanAir (AA). I'll edit it to be a bit nicer english-wise. Tweeting (or Facebooking or Instgramming or ...) is one of the most effective ways to get customer service in 'edge' cases. Explain your case in a nice, tight narrative that has the pertinent facts, why you should get an exception. Social media tends to get results that you can't get just talking on the phone; in part because you're effectively talking with a higher-up person, and because you can make your case a bit more clearly.

You can actually tweet this StackExchange question directly, or word it yourself in a tweet/FB post/etc. On Twitter i'd link to here or somewhere else (too short), with something like "@Orbitz @AmericanAir, you changed our trip and now it doesn't work with our special needs child. Any way you can help us out? [link to this q or a blog post somewhere]".

As far as a merchant dispute; it would realistically depend on the agreement you signed with Orbitz when you bought the tickets. Likely it includes some flexibility for them to change your plans if the airline cancels the flight. If it does, and they followed all of their policies correctly, then technically you shouldn't dispute the charge.

It is possible that Chase might have some recourse on your behalf, though I don't think this qualifies for Trip Cancellation Insurance (Which you have through your Sapphire card ). It might be worth calling them, just to see. In the future, I would recommend booking through their site - not only do you get 25% bonus rewards when you use miles through there, which often is enough to offset the advantages of discount travel sites, but they're quite good at helping deal with these sorts of problems (as Sapphire is one of their top cards).

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    Good answer. I'd also add that stuff happens all the time when you're traveling by air. Planes can be delayed, weather can re-route you at the last moment. OP needs to be prepared for long layovers and travel delays regardless of the original itinerary, especially if there is a special needs child. – Rocky Sep 9 '15 at 15:53
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    Yup. I also wonder if Travel is possibly a better place for this question? The CC dispute side of things is better here, but the getting an airline to listen to you is perhaps better there? – Joe Sep 9 '15 at 16:00
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    @ Joe, thank you very much for your reply. I am not on twitter yet. In past, many times my itinerary was changed and we either worked with the airline and got a better route or sucked it up because it was at the last minute(I mean literally, morning i was notified of the flight change that I was suppose to take at 1 p.m.) I understand stuff happens at last minute. But now we are talking about more than 2 months in advance. – Gauri Mhatre Sep 9 '15 at 18:29

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