Website error by travel site Orbitz costs couple $5,000

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. – A bride was worried her family wouldn’t be able to make it to her big day because of a communication error between two travel websites. They got to the airport and the names on their tickets didn’t match their passports.

Chao Li has the Chinese marriage symbol for happiness and good luck all over her Lee's Summit home. And if any couple needs some luck, it's Li and her soon-to-be husband, Shikhar Sherchan.

Just days before her wedding, Li's parents and her aunt and uncle were barred from boarding their flight from their hometown in northern China to Kansas City.

"My phone kept ringing," Li recalled. “My uncle was calling, my cousin calling. People kept ringing my phone."

They were all desperately trying to reach her because she was the one who had purchased the four roundtrip tickets on Orbitz, at a cost of nearly $5,000.

Air China wouldn't let her four family members board the plane because the name on the tickets didn't match the names on the passports.

So what happened?

The middle name of each passenger, which Li has proof she clearly typed into the Orbitz electronic ticketing system, did not transfer from Orbitz to Air China. That's because Air China's ticketing system doesn't accept middle names.

That means Li would have needed to type both the first and middle name as one word into Orbitz' first name slot. That's something that Li was never told. But when Li and her finance called to try and get the problem resolved, they had no luck, despite multiple phone calls to anyone who might listen.

"I called Orbitz" said Li's finance Shikhar Sherchan. "I called Air China. No one was helpful."

A representative from Orbitz finally told them they would need to buy four new one way tickets to Kansas City at their own expense.

So Li and her family were forced to shell out $5,000 to Air China for the four one way tickets, which was several hundred dollars more than the cost of the four roundtrip tickets purchased a month earlier.

Although those new tickets allowed her family to make it to Kansas City in time for the wedding, Li thinks Orbitz should reimburse her for the extra $5,000 she spent since she followed Orbitz instructions when buying the original tickets.

When Orbitz didn't agree that it owed her a refund, Li called FOX 4 Problem Solvers.

We agreed with Li that Orbitz should have solved this problem since it was the original ticket agent and the problem appeared to be in the Orbitz ticketing system and its ability to communicate with the Air China system.

A few days after emailing Orbitz, FOX 4 Problem Solvers got some good news. An Orbitz spokeswoman wrote to us that, after talking to Air China, Orbitz has decided to reimburse Chao Li and her family all the extra money they spent to fly to the United States. In addition, Orbitz has fixed the names on the reservation for the return trip, so that the problem won't happen again.



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