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Expedia's Awful Customer Service

by Tyler

We booked our tickets on October, 31st 2008. In December of 2008, Iceland Air discontinued their direct flight from Reykjavik to Glasgow. Expedia contacted us and offered to refund our money or re-route us through London. When we looked up new flights they were quite a bit more expensive than the deal we had originally found, so we agreed to be re-routed through London.

This seemed innocuous to me at the time. Chalk it up to naivety on my part; we should have booked directly with the airlines and will always do so in the future. Expedia happily re-arranged our flights but never re-issued the tickets. Essentially our itinerary looked great on Expedia'’s end but Iceland Air had no idea who we were.

We arrived in Boston and headed to the Iceland Air ticketing gate where we would stand for the next four hours fighting with Expedia on multiple phones (simultaneously) trying to get through to someone who knew what they were doing or at the very least were capable of understanding what we needed.

Throughout this entire process we had support from a brother and sister and mother who worked at Iceland Air (their dad works there too but he was away on business in Seattle). There is absolutely no way we would have made this flight without their help. Thank you Olafur and family!

Here is a timeline of our experience:

5:30 PM

Arrival at Iceland Air ticketing gate, the insanity begins as we try to unravel what occurred with the ‘help’ of Expedia’'s brain-dead support reps.

6:00 PM

When we establish that the tickets need to be re-issued Olafur'’s sister tries repeatedly to explain to Expedia what this means (!!!) and why they need to do it.

6:30 PM

Expedia tells us they have re-issued the tickets but nothing has changed on Iceland Air'’s end. Tara and I both get on the phone with Expedia hoping one of us will reach someone willing or capable of doing their job. Olafur and his sister take turns trying to communicate with the idiots at Expedia as well.

7:00 PM

Expedia tells us they are contacting their ticketing department to resolve the issue. Lots of useless holds ensue and nothing is accomplished.

8:00 PM

Expedia tries to have me purchase a ticket for a flight the following morning saying that they will refund the purchase. I refuse telling them I am not going to leave $6,000 in bicycling equipment in an airport overnight and that I don'’t trust I'’ll receive a refund much less be able to reach anyone who will help me when I don'’t.

8:15 PM

Olafur'’s mother pulls our baggage and has it held just in case we can’'t get things resolved.

8:30 PM

Olafur finally gets someone on the phone who is capable of doing something. Expedia agrees to refund us for a ticket purchased immediately if we fax them a receipt but not before I insist that I get an email confirming this as well as several phone numbers and names.

8:50 PM

Olafur'’s mother holds the flight for us to finish up while commenting that this is like “The Amazing Race”.

9:00 PM

I get enough documentation from Expedia that I feel ‘comfortable’ giving Olafur my credit card to run the $3,500 one-way booking.

9:05 PM

Chase declines the transaction even though I called them well in advance to let them know I would be traveling.

9:10 PM

I frantically call Chase to validate the charge. Olafur runs the card again and it asks for an authorization code. Not thinking clearly at all we waste another 5 minutes trying to figure out what that means with Chase when Olafur’'s mother realizes that we just need to enter the card’s CID (3 digit code on the back).

9:15 PM

With the transaction approved Olafur takes the lead and rushes us through security to our flight. We exchange hugs and thank yous and dash down the ramp to the plane.

9:40 PM

We are in the air eating a delicious hot meal with several glasses of wine laughing and being incredibly thankful for the good fortune of meeing Olafur and his family.

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How We Did It


I'm glad you enjoyed. Did you actually get refunded the money? Hope so, I faxed it as soon as I got back to the office from the gate area..

Good luck on your trip ;)!

- Olafur and co.
Posted by olafur on April 2nd, 2009 at 8:21 PM
Unknown as of yet, please shoot me an email so we can keep in touch (you can use our contact page if you don't have my email handy).

Also, I just fixed the spelling of your name.

We can't thank you guys enough, that was the most ridiculous four hours ever. THANK YOU!
Posted by Tyler on April 2nd, 2009 at 8:25 PM
OMG! I hate when booking places screw up flights. That happened to me when i was going to the bahamas and they almost told me that i wouldnt be able to go at all. Stupid stuff! I am happy you both are safe!

<3 Britt
Posted by Brittany on April 2nd, 2009 at 9:39 PM
I experience this within every "field." We are all human and occasionally make mistakes. I make them too. I find it best not to blame, but to resolve the problem efficiently. A most unfortunate occurrance, and I am glad you's made it thru. And to Olafur... thank you for being that person whom got everything straitened out. YOU THE MAN!!!!!
--Maestro Kurt
Posted by Schtick on April 2nd, 2009 at 9:57 PM
My loves, Thank God, you made it. That family are your blessing for the trip. Love you and hope all goes well from here. GM
Posted by The Mathman on April 2nd, 2009 at 10:06 PM
We believed when you left that throughout this journey you will both successfully walk through with favor every difficulty you face. In our hearts we know these successes will not be by coincidence but the influence of a guiding hand who cares about every detail of your trip and who goes before you preparing the way.
Love you and miss you already.
Posted by Tony on April 2nd, 2009 at 10:34 PM
Thank you for taking care of our kids Olafur & Co.

Remember this Tyler......peddle, peddle, peddle!

Oh yeah, BTW you forgot to plug the sump pump back in after taking your photos in the basement. Lucky for you I went downstairs last nite when there was only a LITTLE water in the cinema room - otherwise your credit card would be tapped out!

Have loads of fun!

Love you

Posted by Jodi on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:09 PM
Way to go Tara & Tyler.

I always remember what GM used to tell me when I was growing up. "Mark, you could step in S--- and come up smelling like a rose!"

I told Lisa, " That's my girl!", imagining you both kicked back in First Class. Well done!

Posted by Lisa on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:21 PM
congrats on your first big hurdle. and big thanks to the whole family who helped out!! so are you using internet on the plane right now or are you actually somewhere on the ground?

we love you!

ps check out the email i sent you about the friend i have in Edinburgh who you can chill with !
Posted by lian on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:25 PM
WOW! That's an amazing story - way to start your adventure. Well, congrats on navigating that whole mess. Y'all really have a knack for documenting chronology! -- Brooke
Posted by Brooke on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:44 PM
Haha, dude that is such a great story. My thanks go to Olafur and fam as well because I'll be damned if my dude doesn't get his travel on.
Posted by Ian Meyer on April 2nd, 2009 at 11:51 PM
I am glad to see you guys made it to Scotland safely, albeit with some mishaps. But nevertheless, the journey truly begins! I look forward to all of your photos, and reading your experiences! Have fun!

Posted by David on April 3rd, 2009 at 12:28 AM
Good times already!! Hope you have a blast once you get there! Did expedia refund you yet?
Posted by Amanda on April 4th, 2009 at 3:32 PM
Should I mention that a good portion of Expedia customer service is based in Bellevue?
Posted by michelle leigh on April 6th, 2009 at 11:47 AM
Way after the fact but if the airline should post a lower rate than the one you bought most majors will at leat give you a voucher for the difference. The discount acencies give you nothing
Posted by Cousin Dave on April 9th, 2009 at 8:52 PM
Our tickets were actually ridiculously cheap, Olafur was surprised. After a bit of looking around after the fact though I have seen that this is definitely the case. Live and learn!

Expedia just refunded us and gave me a $200 voucher for the trouble. Certainly not enough to keep our business but nice anyhow.
Posted by Tyler on April 10th, 2009 at 3:17 AM
Hi guys, I've started reading your blog from the very beginning. This post actually made me cry a little bit. Having also set out out on a long-term international travel journey I empathised hard! I guess it makes a good story now :)
Posted by Katherine Herriman on February 7th, 2010 at 10:56 AM
This was so intense/awful. Ugh!

Incidentally, we've just started reading your blog from the beginning too! Well, Mike's anyway. Yours is next :)
Posted by Tyler on February 7th, 2010 at 11:04 AM