Tuesday Travel Tips: Fix Travel Booking Mistakes ASAP

Sometimes when you book a ticket or a hotel something goes wrong (Oh, no!).

  • You accidentally select the wrong date, or the wrong location for your hotel. It’s especially confusing for a lot of travelers that many cities in Europe share their name with the surrounding province (Barcelona, Venice, and Berlin, among others) and sometimes accommodations won’t expressly state that they’re in the province, but outside the city of the same name, which depending on the transportation available and your plans, might be less than convenient.
  • You forgot to click on details before selecting a flight on Delta.com and find out after the fact that even though the airline claims your flight has only one connection, you have to change planes, and go through international customs in JFK in less than an hour and a half– I don’t care if the flight number stays the same, that’s another connection and a tight one at that. Always read the small print (and the details) folks!

Fortunately for all of us, in my experience all of these mistakes are fixable, especially if you address them ASAP.

A good example is  a travel booking mistake that I made last Sunday on American Airlines site for Spain.  After searching multiple sites and deciding that AA was the best option for my Easter trip to Puerto Rico, I hit the back buttons to get back to the search page, hit search, was amazed at the suddenly even lower prices for my dates, purchased a flight and realized after the fact that bargain basement pricee was because when I went back to the search page with the back button, the page switched the month from March to February, so I had purchased tickets for a month long stay in San Juan, as opposed to a week.

I’ve traveled a lot and made my fair share of booking mistakes, so I followed my normal procedure. I looked for a way to cancel my ticket right away. When there wasn’t an online option to cancel my purchase and the local Barcelona help number didn’t operate on Sundays, I made a long distance phone call to the American help center (24 hour  7 day a week service is the bomb). After ten minutes on hold, I was able to cancel my ticket without paying any  fees, and then carefully rebook it online for the correct dates.

In my experience, immediate action to correct a booking error almost always results in a quick fix, most often with no fees. In the above example with the “surprise” connection in JFK that Delta employees insisted to me was “not a real connection” I was able to change my tickets without paying a change fee, only paying the small  but annoying difference in price for a truly one-stop itinerary. With hotels and hostels, most allow you to cancel your reservation for free up 48 hours before your arrival date.

So when you make a boo-boo, don’t waste your time panicking. Get to work on fixing it, right away. Be firm but polite and considerate of whoever’s helping you, even if they’re not doing the same. Oh, and if the first person you get on the phone/email/live chat is unpleasant, try, try again. The next time you’re likely to get someone else, and a lot of times it’s someone nicer that’s willing to make an exception for you “just this once.”

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