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The digital age has made flight ticket booking a straightforward task, thanks to innovative platforms like Google Flights and Matrix Tool that provide options and enable return-on-investment calculations for each ticket. However, booking directly through airline websites is still the preferred option due to the familiarity users develop over time. When an airline lacks a robust online presence, customers often rely on third-party online travel agencies (OTA) to complete bookings. While this arrangement can prove efficient in some cases, it can also lead to unnerving experiences, as I discovered during my booking with CheapOair. This recount is an exposition of my ordeal.
Booking with CheapOair
CheapAir.com, the OTA in focus, was established in 1989 by Jeff Klee. The American-based company operates from Calabasas, California, with additional offices in Chicago and Denver. Ranked #48 on the 2013 Power List of Travel Agencies in the United States, according to Travel Weekly, CheapAir.com operates under the umbrella of its parent company, Amtrav.
On December 17th, 2022, I secured a flight ticket for January 2nd through CheapOAir, for travel from Bali to Jakarta. Initially, I attempted to book via the official airline website, but technical glitches thwarted my efforts. Upon booking through CheapOAir, I noticed that my booking confirmation lacked a ticket number, which was unusual given that tickets usually garner a number within a few hours, or at most, 24 hours post-booking. I overlooked this anomaly, forgetting it until it was time to check into my flight after an enjoyable stay at Alila Bali.
To my dismay, the airline website could not locate my reservation. A frantic check on CheapOAir’s site revealed that my ticket number was still non-existent. Upon contacting CheapOAir’s customer service, I was met with several disconnections, transfers, and no resolution. Ultimately, I had to secure another ticket on the spot, with the customer service agents providing inconsistent explanations for the debacle. Exhausted and dissatisfied, I concluded the issue by claiming a chargeback upon completing my trip.
Dispute and Discontentment
On returning from my journey, I contacted American Express regarding the initial charge, which led to a chargeback and the launch of an investigation. Subsequently, a flurry of paperwork was witnessed as CheapOair presented “evidence” that the transaction was legitimate and the service was “rendered.” Dissatisfied with American Express’s investigative prowess, I presented comprehensive evidence, including screenshots of failed online check-in attempts, email confirmations lacking ticket numbers, and a recorded inability to locate my reservation on the airline website. Fortunately, American Express raised no further disputes, leading me to believe the matter was resolved.
Continued Harassment from CheapOair
Contrary to my assumptions, I received an email from the CheapOair collection department asserting that I had wrongfully reversed charges on a ticket I had never received. The ambiguous email suggested I follow a link to resubmit the payment if I thought it was a mistake. Despite advice to ignore the email, I attempted to contact you to avoid any potential impact on my credit score. Unfortunately, no one answered my calls, nor was my voicemail returned.
The matter escalated further when a markedly more aggressive email landed in my inbox a week later. Despite my previous response, the sender claimed I had ignored the initial email, which was patently false. This continuous harassment prompted me to reply with a screenshot of my prior response, urging them to cease their unfounded demands. Their relentless pursuit and disregard for their clear error were not only unprofessional but showed ill intent.
In conclusion, the amount of time and effort invested in resolving a matter over a $100 airline ticket has been excessive. I am left stunned by CheapOair’s unscrupulous actions and lack of professionalism. I assure you that I will never use CheapOair again, and I will share this experience whenever asked about this company.