Q. I have a problem with a Priceline flight schedule change. My upcoming flight on American Airlines from Madrid to Boston originally had stopovers in Washington and New York. My flight itinerary was changed without my approval, eliminating the stopovers.
I contacted Priceline.com about this issue. I asked it to either change back the itinerary to add the stopovers or adjust the price. I had paid extra for the stopovers. Priceline escalated the case but yesterday they told me that they had followed the procedures correctly. If I want to change the flight, I would have to pay even more. Can you help me?
RUBEN NIETO, Washington, D.C.
A. I’m sorry about your flight schedule change. Priceline, your online travel agency, should have contacted you with at least two options: a new flight of your airline’s choosing or a full refund of your ticket.
It looks as if Priceline tried to call you, but you were out of the country. So the agency made a choice for you — a more direct routing from Madrid to Boston. I think the agent handling your change thought he was doing you a favor by getting you to Boston faster. But you had booked the stopovers intentionally because you had meetings in Washington and New York.
You could have appealed this to one of the Priceline customer service contacts I list on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. You could have also appealed this to American Airlines. After all, the airline initiated the change, which forced Priceline to rebook you.
Further complicating your case: It looks like your trip was built using a combination of airlines. During the rebooking, three of your legs were canceled. What a headache!
Nothing is more frustrating than a company that says you’ve exhausted all of your appeals. You were far from that. If Priceline and American hadn’t helped you, then you could have filed a dispute with your credit card. You booked a flight with two stopovers and didn’t get it. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act you have the right to file a chargeback and receive a full refund for your ticket. America Airlines and Priceline weren’t delivering what you purchased.
I contacted Priceline on your behalf, and it investigated your ticket change. “Our agent made an error in changing the ticket from multidestination to round trip,” a spokesman told me. “We have reached out to the customer with a solution.”
Priceline offered to pay for the additional flights required to duplicate your original itinerary.
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Contact him at elliott.org/help or firstname.lastname@example.org.