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Today’s post comes from reader Andie, who writes in with a dilemma that her family of 7 is running into.  She says:

I bought an itinerary with Alitalia and Egyptair a few weeks ago through an OTA. I received my 7 etickets for my fam and my Alitalia confirmation code and thought all was good. Well, the Egypt air portion of the outgoing flights was cancelled. Only that flight. It seems they aren’t flying on Saturday anymore, but on Sunday. OTA was supposed to re-ticket us for Sunday because I chose “affirmative” in their email. However, I haven’t received anything from them with new itinerary yet. Our Alitalia confirmation shows that one flight as completely missing and us ending up in Cairo rather than our final destination of Johannesburg. (But we have complete return tix from Jo’burg). Egypt air tells me they can’t help because Alitalia issued the tickets. Alitalia tells me they can’t help (though I bet they CAN) and to call the OTA.

I am stuck in a triangle. How would you handle this situation? I really believe Alitalia could probably help if they wanted to since they issued but maybe I am not understanding how it works.

My thoughts

My understanding on tickets is that the issuer “owns” the ticket up until the day of travel.  At the day of travel, then it becomes the airline that you’re actually flying on.  In many cases for “normal” people, these are all one and the same, but for those of us who are more “extreme” travelers, it is not uncommon to book using the miles of one carrier to fly on a totally separate carrier.

In Andie’s case, I believe because she booked through an OTA, then it’s the OTA that should help her.  I believe EgyptAir (who is the airline that is actually flying the flights in question) is correct in that they can’t do anything.  I do feel like Alitalia might be able to do something, but I admit that I am not 100% clear on the relationship between OTAs and airlines in this case

Note that as I mentioned earlier, this would be different if this was an on the ground / day of travel situation – for example if they were in Cairo and ready to board when they found the flight canceled.  In that case, EgyptAir would be responsible for getting this family down to Johannesburg.  That would be similar to the situation I found myself in when our business class flight from Boston to Dublin was canceled while we were sitting on the tarmac.  I had booked using British Airways Avios to fly on Aer Lingus, and because it was the day of travel, it was Aer Lingus that was responsible for rebooking us (they ended up booking us into economy on a flight the next day)

After MONTHS of following up I finally got compensation – $1306 from Aer Lingus due to EU261 rules and 25,000 Avios from British Airways for the downgrade from business to economy.

Now it’s your turn – any suggestions to help?

If you have any suggestions for Andie and her family – leave them in the comments!


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