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Computer says no

Published: 3:43PM Sunday July 25, 2010 Source: Fair Go

Reporter: Phil Vine

These days there's a 50/50 split between travellers booking online versus the old fashioned way and going to a travel agent.

Going to a travel agency is advisable when your itinerary is complicated though there's no guarantee your agent isn't going to get something wrong.

Abdi Hassan's a Somalian refugee who's been resettled in Hamilton. In May he approached the Flight Centre to buy a ticket for his wife to come and join him. They'd been married three years ago but Qadan's just received permission to live in NZ. Flight Centre booked Qadan from Addis Ababa through Hong Kong to Auckland. Abdi told Fair Go he asked Flight Centre three times if she needed a transit visa for Hong Kong. He says three times he was told no.

On the day of her flight after a two day bus ride from Somalia to Ethiopia, Abdi says Qadan was refused entry to the plane because she didn't have a visa. Abdi went back into Flight Centre and they gave him an information sheet which said Qadan didn't need a transit visa. Then he says they changed their advice and told him she couldn't travel and he couldn't he his money back, the ticket was non changeable and non refundable.

Flight Centre claim they told Mr Hassan several times he did need a visa but couldn't really explain why he was given written advice which said completely the opposite.

Flight Centre then questioned the validity of Qadan's travel documents saying she couldn't fly on them.

Fair Go has checked these documents and they are completely legitimate.

Ethiopian airlines has since agreed to refund Abdi's ticket.

A refund too for Jeff Lanzilotta who Flight Centre booked along with his whole family to the wrong city in the USA.

They were going to Portland, Maine, and Flight Centre booked them to and from Portland, Oregon.

At first the travel company refused to reimburse Mr Lanzilotta for his extra expenses saying they didn't realise he had any. The company is now paying up.

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