It is always difficult to cancel any holiday. One week delay in Poolside Paradise due to unforeseen events (such as a global epidemic) is never fun. To add to the challenge, it can sometimes take weeks or even months to show an airline refund to your bank account. If you’ve booked your trip through an online travel agency (OTA) like Orbitz and are still waiting for you, here’s what you wanted to know about airline refunds and credits and why it took longer than you expected.
Related: Is working for an airline really worth the travel benefits?
How exactly does OTA work like Orbitz?
Simply put, travel providers (such as hotels, airlines and car rental companies) distribute and market their products on third party sites like Orbitz to reach millions of travelers around the world. They load their available inventory into OTA’s system, then price and publish. By making their platforms accessible to different travel providers, OTAs like Orbitz can offer travelers a convenient way to book their entire trip, offering the most diverse travel offer across flights, accommodations, rental cars and activities.
Where does my money go when I buy an airline ticket through an OTA like Orbitz?
Most OTAs allow you to book a single flight, hotel or car; Or book a package that combines them. This is done primarily through a business or agency model.
Under one Merchant model, Online travel agency facilitates booking of hotel room, alternative accommodation (such as vacation rental), airline seats, car rental, and destination services from travel providers and acts as a merchant of such booking records. This means that OTA is charged directly from the customer. For OTAs like Orbitz, most merchant models deal with lodging bookings.
Under Agency model, Facilitates an OTA travel booking and acts as an agent in the transaction, directing the traveler’s booked reservation directly to the relevant travel provider. Instead OTA receives commissions or ticketing fees from travel providers and / or travelers. This means that the travel provider charges the customer so that when you view your bank statement, the actual provider (e.g. airline, e.g.) will show up and not Orbitz.
If I have a voucher, refund or credit, will it come from an OTA or travel provider?
Regardless of the business model, the terms and conditions of booking are set by the supplier and not the OTA. For example, whether a booking is refundable or whether a change fee will be charged is all determined by the provider. However, OTAs usually employ large customer support teams who advocate on behalf of the customer if there is a dispute or problem between the customer and the supplier and they will work directly with the supplier to find a solution for the traveler. In the first few months of the global epidemic, for example, OTAs have navigated the cancellation policy of more than 3,000 individual airlines; Many such policies call for the issuance of credit to travelers. Orbitz, for example, has developed a “one-click” cancellation feature that allows travelers to cancel directly via SMS or via an app, reducing the stress and length of time involved with massive cancellations.
How long does it usually take to show a return, voucher or credit to my account?
The OTA approval from the airline or hotel for processing refunds, vouchers, credits, etc., prompts the customer to process quickly. However, under the agency business model (which is set up by most airline partners), the supplier (i.e. the airline) controls the return process and timeline. COVID has caused widespread delays on this front for a variety of reasons (including the sheer scale of requests), but in general, airlines process refunds within the credit card billing cycle, although some may take longer for some short or most international carriers. As a credit, it usually takes about 12 hours, assuming there is no sync issue between the airline and OTA.
How do OTAs deal with unused flight vouchers issued to customers?
Orbitz has introduced new self-service tools so that customers can easily redeem their existing flight credits without calling. For example, if you have an account with Orbitz, its new coupon and credit page is a central place in your account where you can. View and use any credit or voucher you have, start chatting with a virtual agent, and redeem credit as well as access a customer service line.
Why was I given credit when I could get cash back?
When cancellations due to the epidemic were at an all-time high, many OTAs, including Orbitz, launched a series of active campaigns to cancel bookings without calling customers. Orbitz was canceled at the time and a flight credit was issued. Or vouchers. However, since then, the company has gone back and confirmed that all customers who were eligible for a refund based on the booking airline or hotel policy have been given a way to get a refund instead.
Are OTAs extending airline credit due to long lockdowns in Europe and Canada?
The expiration date of airline credits varies, which is set by the airline. Many airlines have extended credit validity until 2022, but this varies depending on the airline. OTAs have been actively advocating for their customers and working with their airline partners to get the best possible resolution for travelers.
How are OTAs helping customers still waiting for a refund?
Over the past several months, OTAs such as Orbitz have confirmed that a return route has been offered to any customer who actually received a credit or voucher but was eligible for a refund; Orbitz has pledged to continue working closely with its airline partners to provide support for its customers.
What should I do if I’m still waiting for my flight back?
Sit tight! Although OTAs work closely with their airline partners to ensure that travelers get their money back as soon as possible, in the end it is up to the airline to reimburse the traveler because OTAs like Orbitz pay the airline as soon as they buy a ticket. There are still a lot of backlogs from some airlines.
Note: Orbitz compensates authors for appearing on this site.