Orbitz is Pure Evil
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I just booked my summer flight to visit my folks in Ohio. Over the years, prices have been going up and flight selection down, so every year it's a bit more difficult to find a reasonable combination of price and inconvenience. I used to be able to make the flight for $1,200 but now it's over $2,000 for the cheapest flight.

I hunt around various sites like Orbitz and Expedia and Yahoo! Travel and the like, and this year I happen to have bought from Orbitz.

As you might expect, you have to go through a bazillion pages of selection and confirmation and traveler info and billing. Finally, on the very last “click here to purchase” page, I luckily happen to have noticed that Orbitz had inserted a $330 “traveler's insurance” item to the bill, along with a tiny opt-out link. EVIL!

Orbitz is pure evil.

After you initially select an itinerary, you're presented with a “Review trip details” page that includes the price of the tickets after fees. Then for the next six pages of purchase flow, there's no mention of price at all.... just stuff like seat assignments, meal selections, and traveler info. So when you finally get to the last page, you're both exhausted by the ordeal and thrilled that it's done, so the temptation is to just press the “click here to purchase” button, because really, you're well acquainted with all the details because you've just spent six pages hammering them out.

But their trick is that they quietly buried a $330 bottle of snake oil in there, with a tiny “remove and reprice” link. They're just betting that you won't notice until it's too late.

Orbitz is pure evil.

This is not an “oops” mistake... it's a blatant violation of the most basic trust. I will certainly never use Orbitz again.

And it turns out that I'm not alone... searching for “Orbitz scam” yields plenty of results going back years.


All 13 comments so far, oldest first...

Sounds like they’re following GoDaddy’s way of confusing people into buying things they don’t need, albeit in your case the dollar amount is much greater. I’ve been using Kayak.com for travel arrangements and found it to be about the most pleasant experience of all the ones I’ve tried.

— comment by Andrew on March 2nd, 2011 at 10:34pm JST (6 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

Companies have been doing this long before GoDaddy. If you’re in the US, its pretty much impossible to get your congressionally-mandated free credit report without signing up for an extremely expensive and equally useless credit warning service.

— comment by 603 on March 3rd, 2011 at 12:48am JST (6 years, 10 months ago) comment permalink

With gas prices nearing $4 a gallon here, wouldn’t be surprised to see a real spike in airfares.

I’m not surprised by the prices… I’m just noting the situation. I’ve always wondered how airlines can possibly stay in business. All their customers complain about high prices and then demand service fit for a king, all the while being regulated to death. I appreciate that they still manager to fly, but can’t understand how they do. —Jeffrey

— comment by Bob Barlow on March 3rd, 2011 at 7:54am JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I’ve had similar experiences with Orbitz and they are not part of my search mix anymore. I usually find Expedia and Travelocity a little better. I also am a seasoned air traveler and I have found it harder and harder to find decent prices anymore. This really infuriates me and I feel I’m being taken by the evil airline companies et al. every time I purchase a plane ticket. I HATE the whole experience, from buying the ticket, to the security at the airport, to the plane ride itself. It’s all a major pain in the neck for me. I hate it. I used to love it 15 years ago.

And I too have had a similar experience with GoDaddy by the way, I’ve moved all my business away from them as a result.

— comment by rx1337 on March 3rd, 2011 at 8:36am JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I use Orbitz more as a search engine than anything else. I hate to say it, but, it’s a good tool to quickly find out what sort of flight options really exist in order to trade off departure/arrival times, stops, and price across most of the major airlines.

However, I haven’t purchased anything through them for years. Once I find the flights I want, I’ve almost always been able to get the flight directly from the airline for (nominally) the same price, and sometimes cheaper.

But, thanks for the the heads up on their scam!

— comment by John on March 3rd, 2011 at 5:19pm JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I find that for international flights, going to individual airline sites and searching produces better results (though more time consuming) than the various flight aggregators.

As far as aggregators go, I like Farecast (now bing travel), Priceline, and Expedia, but none of them seems to do as well on international flights. My parents use a human travel agent for international flights who always finds them some amazing fares and flight plans.

— comment by Andrew Shieh, Sunnyvale on March 3rd, 2011 at 5:25pm JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Just to make life even more difficult, some of the airlines – at least American Airlines – no longer will list or sell flights through Orbitz. I don’t think Orbitz mentions that little tidbit of information when it shows you best possible fares. You have to check with AA yourself to compare.

— comment by Marcina on March 3rd, 2011 at 10:59pm JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

I fell for that one once too, exactly like you describe. You go through many screens and just want to be done with it and suddenly there is a big new charge attached to it for some silly insurance.

— comment by Jao on March 4th, 2011 at 2:01am JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey, I have always found the local travel agents (used to be #1 Travel – now HIS, and another one I can’t remember offhand) got me by far the best rates. For instance, I am going with the family to Maine this summer and I just called HIS to get an idea of how much if was going to cost. The price I was quoted then, this was several months ago, was $500 cheaper than anything I find by trolling the net. I then called them, and the agent suggested I try in late March as the prices would probably go down by then.

— comment by Arthur on March 7th, 2011 at 6:04am JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

Recently I’ve been using Kayak.com. It has some of the best filtering options of any travel website. You don’t actually purchase though them. It searches orbitz, expdiea, etc. even the airlines’ directly. Then you when you’re ready to buy it sends of off to the source you select to buy the tickets.

— comment by Jesse on March 9th, 2011 at 1:49am JST (6 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink

first page is the main page, 2nd is the search matrix, then after selecting your desired flight, it leads you to the 3rd page which is the flight details page, where you enter traveler’s information, which by the way displays the total amount. 4th page is the add attractions and services page, which still displays the total amount. then 5th is the traveler’s information page, wherein at the topmost part of the page, you have an option to purchase the insurance. you might have accidentally clicked on yes. then on the following page, it will display the updated total price (if you purchased the insurance). had you been careful, it wouldn’t have happened. the orbitz website actually is vrey user-friendly.

I didn’t accidentally click anything… it appeared out of the blue in a “selected” state, with a new, higher “total price”, on the very last page. I was careful, which is why their slimy tactic did not catch me. —Jeffrey

— comment by victoria on April 8th, 2011 at 12:34am JST (6 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

I never used Orbitz, but the infamous Maddox has and definitely <nfsw>agrees</nfsw>

— comment by Damien on November 17th, 2012 at 1:11pm JST (5 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink

I too have had a frustrating experience with Orbitz. Recently while trying to book a multi-city trip to South America a matrix of options came up. Upon selecting one I received “As flight availability can change rapidly based on traveler demand, the flight that you have selected is no longer available”. I selected another. Same thing. Finally after numerous tries, I was able to continue booking. After lengthy booking options I tried to finalize only to find that it failed. I tried more that 14 times with no luck. My credit card was charged 14 times at $2.00 each (which was reversed after 5 days).
I then tried to book by phone and the phone agent (India I think) also had the same problem. After finally locating a booking that would allow him to continue ($400 more) I was pressured into purchasing which I declined. I located a better deal at Airtkt.com ($900 less than the initial Orbitz price)
I located an e-mail address within Orbitz and sent a message explaining my frustration and never received a reply. Avoid Orbitz.

— comment by Alan Glasscock on January 16th, 2013 at 1:07am JST (4 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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