Travelocity and the mysterious total cost for my multi-leg trip

OK… This has very little to do with my usual beat of online communications, but I’m totally baffled by a situation I find myself in. I’d like for someone to help me make sense of this.

In a couple of weeks I have back-to-back on-site jobs with several east-coast clients. So I went onto Travelocity and booked a multi-leg trip. Simple enough. When I finished my complex reservation and booked the ticket, I was duly charged a total fare for my trip.

Each of my clients is covering travel costs only for their portion of the trip – which means I need the itemized cost for each leg in order to get reimbursed.

I figured Travelocity could tell me that, since they charged me the total fare. They had to have numbers to add up in order to arrive at that total, right?

Guess again! So far I’ve spent a few hours talking to Travelocity and each of the airlines involved, and no one can tell me how much each leg of my trip costs! As far as I know, Travelocity pulled that $1500+ fare total out of a hat.

Wait – it gets even better…

When you book a multi-leg trip on Travelocity, you aren’t allowed to get electronic tickets. They must ship paper tickets off to you. No big deal, except it seems that when paper tickets are involved in a trip, Travelocity and airline customer service agents become strangely unable to provide information about the trip to you over the phone.

After numerous phone calls and a LOT of Muzak, the bottom line is: If I want to get my per-leg fare information, I have to go to the airport in person (45-minute drive each way for me) with my paper tickets, ID, etc., just in order to ask what my per-leg fares were.

Since a different airline is involved for each leg of this trip (joy!) it’s quite possible that I will have to walk to each airline’s ticket counter, and wait in whatever inevitable lines exist there, just to plunk my paper tickets down on the counter and ask them how much their leg of my trip cost.

…And maybe – maybe – I’ll be able to get that information. Maybe not. No one’s making any guarantees. It’s all very mysterious.

Un-freaking-believable!

Travelocity informed me that after the completion of my trip, I can call them and request an itemized receipt bearing the cost for each leg, and they’ll happily send me that.

Hmmmm…. let’s review…. Travelocity already charged me the total fare. They don’t know how they arrived at that total fare. But magically, after my trip is done, they’ll suddenly have access to the per-leg costs.

Why can’t they just tell me now?

Why can’t anyone just tell me now?

This is absurd. Most multi-leg trips are booked by business travelers. Of course we want to know how much each leg costs! It’s business, after all. Itemization is not an unreasonable expectation or request.

I would love it if someone could explain to me a way to avoid this hassle for multi-leg trips in the future. Do other travel services (Expedia, CheapTickets, Orbitz, etc.) have better reporting of per-leg costs?

Why is this such a hassle?

If you have any information, I’d love to know. Thanks.

</rant>

10 thoughts on Travelocity and the mysterious total cost for my multi-leg trip

  1. Can you go and price each leg separately? If the total cost goes above what you paid, you can at least get a percentage for each leg and then charge each client that amount. Good luck.

  2. That’s a good idea, Aaron. I’ll try that.

    They only thing is, I’m pretty sure my clients will want specific numbers, not a guesstimate, for reimbursement purposes.

    Also, I made this reservation a couple of weeks ago. Fare changes since then could skew those proportions. No way of knowing.

    – Amy Gahran

  3. Hi Amy,

    Next time… call your travel agent instead 😉 It will not cost you more, and if a problem like this happen, the agent will do all the calls for you.

    This happened simply because this is how travelocity works.

    With a travel agent, you would have been ablt to get the exact price for each leg.

    Another reason why it is not necessarely true that you save money by booking online 😉

  4. Good point, Stephanie. it’s rare that I have to do multi-leg trips, but when I do I will work with a travel agent to book it. It seemed easy enough to do on Travelocity, but obviously there were major hidden drawbacks.

    – Amy Gahran

  5. You are in luck with a paper ticket. One part of your paper ticket should have the components of your total fare mapped out in hyrogliphcs . . . strange numbers that will add up to the total fare. There is no comparable for e-tickets.

  6. Aha, Brilliant, Richard! I’d only glanced at that block of text and assume it was just cryptic internal airline codes, but now on closer review I see it does have the price per leg. Thanks!

    – Amy Gahran

  7. Now, the downside is that it looks like Travelocity nearly doubled the price for one leg of my trip while significantly reducing the others… Oh, this is going to be fun figuring out for reimbursement…

    The problem with travelocity is, if you book a multi-leg flight on that service, they only cite a total cost the whole way through the process. Had their system showed me per-leg costs throughout the process, I could have made better flight decisions based on price as well as schedule.

    Grumble, grumble grumble….

  8. Airline fares are completely incomprehensible at best. I would simply count the miles between each leg and charge the client the pro-rated amount (their portion) of the total. Why pass on incomprehensibility?

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