Failed Travel Transactions On The Rise

travelerrorBooking online has revolutionised the travel industry, but it also seems to have dramatically magnified the way in which things go wrong. One recent survey suggests that even amongst travel professionals, failed transactions have risen by more than a third.

The study by Progress Software estimates that $US11.5 million of potential business is lost each year, with more than half of the travel agents covered suggesting While the survey is small scale, it chimes in with my own recent experience trying to book a UK rail ticket via a site that apparently believes actually accepting payments would be a bad business practice.

What's the worst experience you've had with online travel booking? Get it off your chest in the comments.

Travel Industry Loses $11.5 Million per Year through Failed Transactions [Progress]


    I had an absolute nightmare trying to book a return flight to Singapore back in October 2008.

    I decided to follow my boyfriend on a business trip to Singapore. The best deal was with Singapore Airlines, so I booked a ticket directly through their website - or tried to.

    I paid for the ticket with my credit card, but instead of the confirmation page, I got an error message saying that the website was “experiencing technical difficulties” and to try again later.

    I rang my bank to see if the transaction had gone through - which it had. Singapore Airlines took my money, but didn’t give me a seat on their plane! I rang Singapore Airlines, explained the situation to half a dozen people before getting this response: According to our records, there was an ATTEMPT to book a seat, but it failed. No transaction occurred. If you want a seat, you’re going to have to do a whole new transaction. We don’t have your money, your bank is responsible for that.

    So I called the bank (again) and they said it’s the airline’s fault. To get my money released, Singapore Airlines will need to fax over a letter of authorisation.

    This game of tennis went on for the whole day. Neither the bank nor the airline was accepting responsibility for this mess. The airline refused to issue any letter because, according to them, there was no transaction. They did send me an email saying exactly that, but this wasn’t good enough for the bank.

    In the end, the bank admitted that the money is in limbo and would be automatically returned to my account within seven days if Singapore Airlines didn’t take claim the money that was currently stuck “in transit”. There was nothing I could do to speed up this process.

    My boyfriend then went to Singapore Airlines’ head offices in Sydney and sweet-talked his way into getting me a seat for several hundred dollars cheaper than what I had paid via their website. We had an otherwise uneventful trip to Singapore and back (in fact, I did not like Singapore at all, but that’s a story for another day).

    None of this would have occurred if Singapore Airlines’ website didn’t crash. But, alas, Murphy’s law cursed me that day.

      This is slightly off-topic: When I was in the UK last year I couldn't book train tickets online because my credit card had an Australian address. I had to phone up and book the tickets and then pick them up at the station. And don't get me started on the airline type pricing for long distance train trips...

      That is what credit cards are for!

      If there is a charge on it that you do not agree with, contact your bank and Challenge it. If it is wrong then you will not be charged for it.

      If you have Visa or MasterCard "Debit" then that is where this whole thing falls over. These stupid cards prove the fact that the banks charge too much for the EFT-POS network that they operate in Australia compared to the VISA or MasterCard networks that operate.

    Rex have got to be the worst by far.

    I booked a flight an hour before check in. They cancelled my flight because there weren't enough people on the flight to justify flying. That's bad business. If I had of booked by phone, they might have told me the flight was cancelled.

    They wouldn't waive the fee to change my friends trip even though one of his closest friends developed a terminal illness which made him change his plans. The fees outweighed the price of the trip.

    I've got about four more stories about the company. I would refuse to fly with them, but they are the only airline who cover a regular trip that I take in a single flight. They weren't prepared to offer any compensation in any case.

    On another note, Qantas were fantastic when I missed my boarding, they rebooked me at no extra cost.

    @B8Two: there is nothing wrong with "Debit" cards for chargebacks, you have the same right to appeal charges. The only thing they can't do is be used to hire cars, because the car hire company can't use them for a deposit.

    I travelled in the UK earlier this year and well know the frustration of trying to buy UK rail tickets online. Every time I saw that little “Verified by Visa” symbol on a web ticketing system I cringed. They never seemed to account for Visa cards being used by people who don’t have a UK mailing address or (my other nightmare) postcode. The heavy mark-ups for walk up ticket purchases on the day made it worth at least trying to get through for advance tickets, but in the end I started using my American Express card where possible. It didn’t have the pretty lock on the logo, but at least it worked.

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