We’ve got a Reader Question which actually stems from a friend of mine who made a giant blunder during a flight booking through OTA FlightHub and ended up paying dearly for it.
My friend sent me a message yesterday that she’ll be heading from Vancouver to Bangkok for a month and that she booked a flight already. I was curious as to what kind of disaster she booked this time around (she always books the worst flights and never bothers to ask beforehand) and I wouldn’t be disappointed once again.
On top of a horrible (without visa, illegal) connection she also used FlightHub instead of a reputable OTA such as Expedia.
Here is what she booked:
Let alone the fact that it’s China Eastern Economy Class (shiver) the connection included a double connect within China which requires clearing immigration and taking a domestic flight – something which isn’t possible without obtaining a visa beforehand. The Transit Visa Waiver isn’t valid for domestic travel, only for the particular city of entry and it’s vicinity as per the Visa Policy of China:
4) Foreigners who have confirmed onward tickets and seats on international flights and directly transit through China and stay for no more than 24 hours within the airport boundaries do not need to apply for a transit visa. However, anyone desiring to go beyond the airport boundaries temporarily should obtain permission from the immigration authorities at the airport.
While FlightHub does permit a 24 hour cancellation window post booking there is an additional processing charge of CAD$ 75.00 to do so.
Booking the flight with a reputable agency such as Expedia or Orbitz (same company anyway) would NOT have charged such a fee. Obscure agencies such as FlightHub are well known for charging frivolous fees including for seat reservations, adding a “phone support” fee etc. It’s really borderline, sometimes tethering on the edge of legality, and always preying on the carelessness of customers.
Unfortunately, these fees are legal even though authorities have mulled about restricting OTA’s from charging these. So far no legislation has been introduced that would prevent agencies from charging them.
I don’t recommend at all booking a flight through obscure websites or agencies especially on a published fare. There is absolutely no reason for not booking with the airline directly or in the very least use a proper OTA that also offers the 24hr Cancellation Policy without a fee (such as aforementioned Expedia or Orbitz USA). Careful: Not all airlines or country sites of Expedia do offer a 24hr cancellation option so I’d always refer back to their U.S. sites.
As far as this case here goes, the CAD $75 are lost – an expensive lesson that (knowing the person in question) likely won’t be learning. Still better to pay this fee than being denied check-in due to lack of documentation. In the end, we found a much better flight on EVA Air for the same price, which she should have booked in the first place as it’s a much better carrier and transit in Taiwan is a more pleasant experience.