Ontario family left 'stranded' in Jamaica after being bumped from flight home through Expedia

Adam Collet and his son Zachary. Submitted.

UPDATE: Expedia told Yahoo Canada in a statement that WestJet initiated a schedule change on Jun. 23 “due to the Boeing MAX 8 grounding.” Expedia attempted to notify the customer on Aug. 20, the day before the return flight, in addition to other previous instances.

“The first notification was sent on June 23rd via email, followed by another email and a phone call and voicemail on July 5th and a final attempt to contact the customer via email on July 12th,” Expedia said in a statement.

An Expedia representative previously told Adam Collet that two emails were sent on Jul. 5 and 12, in addition to a voicemail that Collet and his wife had no record of.

“Unfortunately no response was received, so the airline took control of the ticket and revalidated it for the flight departing on August 20th,” Expedia said. “Expedia made no changes to the customer’s online itinerary because we were unable to reach the customer and make any itinerary changes on our end, which is why the itinerary still shows the original flight.”

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A family from London, Ont., was left stranded in Jamaica after they were kicked off their return flight, booked through Expedia, without their knowledge.

Adam Collet, his wife Jeni, six-year-old son and a friend booked a vacation to Montego Bay, Jamaica from August 14 to 21. The couple go to Jamaica three to four times a year and always book their trip through Expedia, having received Gold membership.

On their way home, the group arrived at the airport around 5:00 p.m. local time for their 6:00 p.m. departure to Toronto on WestJet. The airport was “deserted,” with no flights from the airline on the list of departure trips.

“We get on the phone with WestJet first, WestJet says you booked through a third-party company, there’s nothing we can do to help you, call Expedia,” Collet told Yahoo Canada. “So we call Expedia...they pretty much told my partner Jeni to go fly a kite...we can’t help you, you’re stuck now.”

Luckily, Collet had some extra money and they were able to get a one-night accommodation at a local villa for US$100. WestJet recommended that Collet try booking a Jet Blue flight out of the area for the next day, as they regularly have available seats last minute.

Adam, Zachary and Jeni Collet

Later that night, Collet booked flights to Miami, Florida through another third-party company eSky. The flights were subsequently cancelled, with the company sending a Collet a message saying “[the] booking could not be completed.” He then booked four flights to Fort Lauderdale with Expedia because he just wanted to get to the U.S. as quickly as possible, with the hopes of catching another flight to Toronto.

When they arrived in Florida, they found out the only flight option for them was close to 20 hours long, with four stop-overs, costing US$4,500 to fly to Toronto. Instead, Collet rented a car and drove to Detroit, Michigan where friends picked them up and took them home to London.

The next morning, Collet had to rent another car to get to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to pick up his truck. Collet’s additional expenses totalled at least $2000, not including lost wages from missing additional work days.

Collet and his partner reached out to Expedia on several occasions to get an explanation for the unexpected change in flight. The company responded by saying they had sent two emails, on Jul. 5 and 12, stating that the flight was rescheduled.

“I said to Jeni...let’s make sure everything’s taken care of and we didn’t miss something,” Collet said. “There [are] no emails.”

Additionally, Collet claims his wife’s printout of the trip itinerary from August 13 - one day before departure, still states information from the original reservation and no changes to the returning flight.

Left - flight itinerary pulled on Aug. 29. Right - original flight itinerary booked by the Collet family.

After getting frustrated with the “lack of response” from Expedia over the phone, Collet took to social media to try to make them aware of his situation. He then began communicating with the company through Facebook messenger, in addition to more phone calls. Expedia has not compensated the group in any way, saying there is nothing they can do on their end.

“The airlines tagged your ticket as a no-show and denied to provide refund as claimed they sent an email with the details of the new flight. We wish we could do more for you,” Expedia wrote in a message to Collet.

“Based on the information we show on our end, two emails were sent to provide notice of the schedule change,” the latest message to Collet reads. “We have provided all the information we have on our end, and have also advised that no refund or compensation will be considered in this case.”

Collet has not been given any additional information about what was in Expedia’s emails.

“Our team is reviewing this now...however, these cases do take some time to review on our end, and we do need at least 24 hours,” Expedia told Yahoo Canada following a request for a statement.

Although WestJet referred Collet to Expedia to rectify the issue, the third-party travel company says the airline is responsible for any flight interruptions, while Expedia’s role is to communicate that to the customer.

“Generally speaking Expedia would communicate any schedule changes initiated by the airline in real-time, and would not have the ability to remove passengers from a flight,” the company said. “If a change occurred of that nature it would have to happen via the airline."

“I’ll never do a third-party booking again,” Collet says after this Expedia experience. “There’s not recourse, there’s no responsibility...call the airline directly, take the time, call the hotel directly.”