Weather Messes with Expedia’s Coupon Glitch Generosity

Sometimes travel is all about karma.

I was fortuante enough to take advantage of an excellent opportunity in the Expeda.ca $300 off to New York, Vegas, and Cancun. Since travel had to be complete by the end of the year, I only managed to grab a trip to New York (shame, too, as it looks like I need to make a one day visit to Vegas next mont). I grabbed one ticket (with throwaway hostel stay) for myself and another vacation package on the same flights and different hostel for my wife. I didn’t have time to grab a third package with throwaway flights to get cash towards a nice hotel for the weekend. So I used points at the Andaz 5th Avenue where I’ve very much been wanting to stay, if only because it’s been a pretty controversial property since opening a few months ago, and I was curious. That full review will be forthcoming soon.

But my free trip was looking like it might not be worth what I had paid for it, first because I was very much facing a rain out and second because my travel plans home were collapsing. From the beginning of the day there was a ground stop program in place for LaGuardia arrivals of more than two hours. Departures were seeing 30 minute average delays. And those usually stack up across the day. But I didn’t want to cut the trip short, I didn’t head straight for the airport to try to get on an earlier flight.

Instead, I went about my deal. And got the dreaded automated phone call, about four hours before my flight. Cancelled.

I was seeing seats out four hours after my originally scheduled travels, of course I didn’t know what would happen with the 8pm back from laGuardia… would the aircraft itself be delayed? Would the crew wind up over their maximum hours? It could wind up as the cleanup flight operating normally and getting everyone home, or a flight facing interminable delays itself and even cancellation.

That meant I was either going to spend the night in New York, I wasn’t going to wait around the airport hoping to make it home, or I was going to take Amtrak home. Amtrak! And I’d have to pay for that. With pelnty of cancellations and it being apparently a peak travel weekend based on hotel rates, Sunday afternoon trains were full and far from cheap.

But I went ahead and redeemed a ticket for my wife with Amtrak Guest Rewards points. It was a fabulous innovation just a couple of years ago where they let you redeem those online. And I bought a ticket for myself.

I called up US Airways and they asked me what I wanted to do when I told them I had a cancelled flight and gave them the record locators (shouldn’t they have offered me some suggestions?). I said just go ahead and issue a refund for the return portion of the tickets based on the cancellation.

Boom. Refund. On Expedia glitch tickets. And the refund amount will more than cover my train ticket home plus the cost of getting from Union Station in DC to National airport to pick up my car, where I parked since I was only to be gone a day and a half. I grabbed a train an hour earlier than my flight was to have been (avoiding the TSA and the trip to LaGuardia, another savings) and got back just an hour later than planned.

So karma bit me, I bit it back, in the end we’ll call it even. And I still enjoyed my weekend in New York, thanks to Expedia’s Canadian website!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, you’ve often aimed sharp (and much-deserved) criticism at Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program for various shortcomings, including sudden changes (such as dropping partners) with no advance notice. But you gotta say that redeeming 3000 AGR points for a last-minute NYP-WAS o/w ticket that would otherwise cost ~$145 is pretty sweet.

    Suggested motto: “Amtrak — We may not get you to BKK or LHR, but rail redemptions on the NE Corridor can yield decent cpm value, and when air traffic is SNAFU, we’re still there. Also, we don’t grope your nads. Yet.”

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