An Icelandair & Expedia Horror Story

This article is written by Geoff McCausland. I'm the fiddle player with Murder Murder and have booked all of our flights to Europe for the band over our career.

Over the last two weeks I've spent about 20 hours on the phone trying to resolve an issue with our band's flights to Europe in less than a week - full days on the phone with Expedia and Icelandair for a booking I made in Oct/17.

Icelandair cancelled our original flight (YYZ-KEF) in December, and while I spent the first 5 or so hours rebooking, I found it very disturbing that the representatives at Expedia could not tell me whether our tickets would include checked bags. I agreed to a flight where we would leave earlier on the 23rd and add a leg with Westjet through Boston (YYZ-BOS-KEF-AMS) which would have us land in Amsterdam at the original time. That was the first time a representative of Expedia and I called Icelandair together, but in the end I was told they would not know about baggage until the tickets were issued. I was told that our new tickets through Boston were "Guaranteed" over the phone, but would not be issued until later, maybe even only a few days before we departed. That sounded bizarre to me, but the supervisor at Expedia I was talking with was very confident, and so two weeks and the Christmas holidays went by. Then I started to get nervous as we had received no confirmation of our new flights and no tickets whatsoever. 

After 5-10 more hours on hold, I found out that our tickets were reserved, but that I had unknowingly purchased 7 “Economy Light” flights, and they would not include checked baggage. I booked the same YYZ-AMS “Economy (U)” flights one year earlier through Expedia, and although appearing identical throughout booking, that first time I received 7 Economy Comfort tickets with 2 checked bags per person. Neither party will acknowledge that when you buy an Icelandair Economy ticket through Expedia, you get 1 of 5 Economy ticket options, with no clear indication of what the "U" "L" or "S" Economy designations indicate, some baggage cost estimates and the disclaimer "Estimated baggage fees charged by Icelandair (Please confirm with airline)". I assumed as the class was identical to the previous purchase I had made (U must designate Comfort Class, right?), and the ticket cost was only slightly more expensive than the year prior ($516.73 pp vs $554.66 pp), that we would be getting Economy Comfort again.

It turns out that the estimated checked bag cost was the reality bag cost, and one roundtrip checked bag would cost $252 per person, for a total increased cost of about $1764 (+45% of our original ticket price). To add the two bags included in Comfort Class would just about double the original booking cost.

Screenshot from my Jan 11, 2017 flight confirmation indicating "Economy (U)":

Screenshot of Jan 23, 2018 flight confirmation indicating "Economy (U)":

The five different Economy tickets currently offered by Icelandair: 

The issue is really based in the conflict of their two systems. Expedia only wants to indicate that you are getting an Economy, Business Class, or First Class ticket, and lacks the specificity that should be required to sell Icelandair economy tickets. In the end I was told by Icelandair that due to the flight schedule change they had initially made, I could cancel the flights without penalty. I booked new flights on Jet Airways (at the last minute, so costing $862 more than our original flights cost), called Icelandair, waited 45 minutes on hold, verified my credit card and the amount that would be refunded, authorized and confirmed the refund. 

That was nearly a week ago. That transaction has still not been completed, and so I called again, and spent another 3.5 hours on the phone yesterday. 1 hour on hold with Icelandair, before being told they had no record of a refund, and in fact they could do nothing to refund my tickets, but instead I must seek resolution from Expedia. 

I called Expedia, and the agent there told me that he could do nothing for me without contacting Icelandair. The Expedia agent and I spent TWO HOURS AND TWENTY THREE MINUTES trying to contact Icelandair to have the refund processed (Expedia has no direct or priority phone line to Icelandair so you just get in line with everyone else). Finally, the Expedia agent got through, started the refund process, and then while inputting data, was DISCONNECTED BY ICELANDAIR!? 

At this point I am angry, frustrated, disappointed, and don’t know what to do. Yesterday was actually the third time I spent 1-2.5 hours calling Icelandair while on hold with Expedia (as well as having called 4-5 times myself). I’ve emailed Icelandair, sent them Facebook messages, I called again this morning and was disconnected after another 43 minutes on hold. I’ve spent about 20 hours now (no exaggeration as I have the phone records to prove it) talking to supervisors at Icelandair, their customer care department, Expedia, Expedia supervisors, even Expedia corporate (who gave us a partial $500 refund to say sorry for the inconvenience but without fixing anything or admitting responsibility in any way), and still I have no resolution. I’ve gotten false information and been sent back and forth on a wild goose chase. This whole process has been a complete embarrassment for all parties, and both have shown a complete disregard for their customers' time.  

In talking with the airline, they made it clear that they are well aware of this problem, but as there has been a flood of cases like ours, they have resolved not to have any discussion about or make any changes to all "Economy Light" tickets that are booked. 

I read that Icelandair changed their ticket structure to compete with WOW air, the new Icelandic discount airline.
It seems they’ve discounted their standards as well.

Geoff McCausland, Jan. 17 2018 (we now fly out on Jet Airways direct from YYZ-AMS on Tuesday Jan 23rd)

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