I booked a return flight from Amsterdam to New Zealand through Expedia.nl in 2013. I checked the Fares and Rules section because I knew that I might have to change the return date, depending on my visa situation. The cost of changing a flight, it said, would be 100 Euros, plus any difference in fares. That was fair enough and I was happy with that.
The return date of the flight was 6th December 2013. At this point, I was waiting for my New Zealand work visa to come through and I phoned Expedia in Amsterdam to postpone the return date and paid the 100 Euros. I changed the date twice more after the 6th December. When I spoke to Expedia in October 2014 about changing the flight, I specifically asked them then how many times I could change the date and if there was an “expiry date” on the ticket. Iris, in Expedia Flight Support in Amsterdam, told me over the phone, that there wasn’t an “expiry date” on the ticket and I could change it as many times as I liked, as long as I paid the 100 Euros change fee and pay any difference in fares. She sent me an email with the new return date of the ticket: 5th February 2015 and said that my credit card would be charged 100 Euros.
Now I decided in December last year that I would apply for an extension on my work visa. So if the visa was granted, I’d have to change the date of the flight again to May, when my work visa expires. This was the last time that I had planned on changing the flight because I intended on going back to Europe. But when I phoned Expedia again in January this year to change the flight for the last time, Expedia Flight Support told me by email that I couldn’t change the ticket because it wasn’t valid anymore. I couldn’t believe it! I looked in the Terms and Conditions of the Quantas flight to see how long the ticket was valid for and it said that they are only valid for a year after the return date.
So the ticket expired on 6th December 2014. The last time Expedia changed the flight for me, I asked them to change the return date to the 5th February 2015, which they did and which I paid 100 Euros for. This was already past the expiry date of the ticket. So I phoned Expedia and explained everything that Iris in Flight Support had told me and asked them to change it one last time, seeing as they had already extended the ticket past the expiry date. They said “No, it’s not possible anymore”. So that meant that I had to go and buy a single flight back to Amsterdam. I was fuming. I know I should have looked at the Terms and Conditions beforehand to check the validity of the ticket but at the same time, Expedia led me to believe that there was no limit on changing the ticket, as long as I paid the change fee.
I asked a Dutch colleague of mine, Nicole, to phone Expedia for me, thinking I might make more progress if a Dutch person contacted them. Nicole’s mother, who doesn’t take any bullshit, phoned them but they said the same thing to her: the ticket had expired.
I called Quantas and told them what happened and asked if it was possible to change the ticket one last time and they said that they couldn’t do anything about it unfortunately. They said that Expedia somehow were able to override the system when they changed the ticket for me to 5th February 2015. I then had to go and book a single flight fairly quickly as the price of tickets were increasing fast. I found a flight from Auckland to Amsterdam, via Hong Kong, which cost me about $1000. Nicole then suggested trying to get some compensation back through my travel insurance. So I lodged a claim with Allianz Global, explaining the situation in Dutch to them. Wait till you hear what they came back with!
They investigated my case and said that my travel insurance is only valid for trips with a maximum of 60 days and that because I’m living and working in New Zealand that my travel insurance wasn’t valid anymore. I only wanted travel insurance for any trips I took while I’m over here and to cover me when travelling back to Europe. That insurance would also cover medical emergencies while travelling too. So apparently I wasn’t insured for any of that, even though they took the money that I paid them for the premiums. It would have been too much hassle to try to explain the whole Expedia situation to them over the phone. So Nicole wrote a letter for me, fair play to her, saying that the least they could do was to pay me back for last year’s premium. They said they would give me back 202 Euros for last year’s premium, which is something I guess. I’m still waiting to see that back in my bank account.
So now I have to find and pay for another travel insurance to cover my flight back to Amsterdam in May. Someone has recommended World Nomads to me and I’ll have a look at their website. Needless to say I wasn’t happy at all with Expedia and I will never book anything with them again. Their customer service is one of the worst I’ve come across. I will in future though be a lot more careful when booking flights and check the validity date and the rules for changing or cancelling flights.