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My Irritating Experience of Buying Airline Tickets Through Expedia

By JLP | May 2, 2012

Rant on…

My mom is coming down Mother’s Day weekend for my daughter’s dance recital.

My wife and I always pay for her plane ticket.

I went to Expedia.com to make the purchase. I selected the dates and Expedia took me to a screen to choose the flights I wanted. I made the selections and went to place my order. My original quoted price was $450. But, when I went to place the order, the price jumped all the way up to $600. There was a note that said something to the effect that, “They didn’t have current information on prices,” or something along those lines.

So I tried Priceline. Same thing. Why? If the ticket prices are correct at the time of purchase, WHY can’t they be correct when searching for them in the first place?

I have a theory about this. I think websites like Expedia, Priceline, etc., want the lowest price in order to get people to use their sites. If one does it, THEY ALL DO IT!

I’m of the opinion that it should be against the law. It’s really no different than getting a flyer in the newspaper that says computers are on sale and then you get to the store and find that they are $150 more than the sales flyer said they were.

My advice: boycott Expedia, Priceline, and the other third party ticket websites and go directly through the airline. That way, you don’t get your hopes up, thinking you are getting a deal when in fact, you are not.

Rant off…

Topics: Rant | 9 Comments »


9 Responses to “My Irritating Experience of Buying Airline Tickets Through Expedia”

  1. BD Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 9:37 am

    It happens on the airlines’ own websites too sometimes…they still have one cheap ticket available when you search for fares, but then someone buys it before you can click through to purchase, so the fare jumps up suddenly when you get to the next screen. It happens more often on the third-party sites because they only update their inventory a couple times an hour.

  2. JLP Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Thanks, BD.

    I still don’t understand why the second you click “purchase” the price goes up (in all my searching, the price never went down). Why can’t they use the same technology to give accurate prices when searching as they do when you go to make the actual purchase.

    I smell a rat.

  3. Robby Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Give Kayak.com a try. It’s my new favorite. It usually adds in the miscellaneous fees and taxes so you see your bottom line price.

  4. BG Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 10:45 am

    I second the recommendation for Kayak. I believe their technology actively logs onto the airline’s sights to pull the latest prices when you do the search.

    Sounds like the sites you mentioned are using a stale cache (which should be updated for new searches as soon as someone clicks the purchase button and a new price is determined).

  5. Sharon Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Just happened to me on Southwest Airline’s website- doubled since yesterday- so something happened.. very frustrating! Just threw my vacation plans into turmoil…

  6. Money Beagle Says:
    May 2nd, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I usually use those sites for info only and then head to the airline to do the actual purchase. Never once has this resulted in a higher price, and the upside is that if something happens, you need to contact someone, or there’s any sort of issue, you have only one place to deal with.

  7. Danielle Says:
    May 4th, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Trust me — they would love to be able to provide you with accurate information. It’s a technical problem that the OTAs constantly struggle with.

  8. slinky Says:
    May 25th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    They’re either using cached prices or not pulling complete pricing information when you do an availability search. Some sites only confirm pricing when you book, others will verify pricing once you select the actual flight, but before hitting confirm. I happen to know anything ending in vacations.com has this intermediate step and also checks again when you hit confirm. Expedia I think (not totally positive on this) confirms availability of the seat but not pricing when you search for airfare. That makes the process faster but less reliable.

  9. slinky Says:
    May 25th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Accidentally hit submit before I could add my credentials – I used to write software for the hotel inventory for the vacations.com sites.

    Bonus trick on vacations.com sites – do a search, wait, do it again. You may get additional flights or hotels. some don’t come back fast enough to return right away, but they get cached for the next search.

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