Today’s nugget will deal with flight arrangements.  When you book flights through third-party sites such as Expedia, JetAbroad, Priceline, Travelocity, or AirTreks, they become the party that the airlines will deal with.  If you have an issue with a flight, the airline will not work with you, only the company that booked the flight for you.  And that company will usually have a logjam of customer problems, especially if many flights were cancelled due to a large weather disturbance (or a global pandemic!)

We had booked flights from Buffalo, NY to Cairo, Egypt in 2021 through a company called JetAbroad.  A week before the flight, Royal Air Maroc canceled the leg of the flight from  Marakesh, Morocco to Cairo.  They rebooked the flight, but we would have had to stay at the Marakesh Airport for 25 hours!  That would have caused us to miss the first day of our tour in Egypt.  They said we could accept the change or request a refund.  We booked our own flight on Delta and canceled the Royal Air Maroc flights, since we would have missed our tour.  It took about 19 months, a dozen emails, quoting the FAA’s rules on flight cancellations, and an email to a consumer assistance program before we received our refund!  We contacted JetAbroad, but they just said that we were in the Royal Air Maroc queue.  We contacted Royal Air Maroc, but they said they would only deal with the company that booked the flights.  It was very frustrating!  We are sure that without our constant pressure, we would not have ever received our refund.

Now, the airlines can sometimes fix minor issues.  I had a client who booked his flights through Expedia.  The night before his flight, he noticed that the boarding passes and their passports did not exactly match names.  Some had middle initials, some had middle names.  Calling the airline did not help, nor did calling Expedia.  Both pointed fingers at the other.  I suggested he go to the airline counter at the airport to see if they could resolve the issue.  They drove there that night and the ticket agents said they could fix the problem, but only when they checked in the next day.  When they checked in, the ticketing agent resolved the problem, but only for the outbound flight.  They had the same problem on their way home, but it was resolved at the ticket counter when they arrived at the airport the day they flew home.

The moral of the story is to always book your flights directly with the airlines, or you are setting yourself up for frustration if there is an issue.  You can always book the land-only portion of a group tour if you go that route.