We booked an airline ticket with STA travel for our son's trip to Australia on October 5, 2015. The travel agency was recommended by the Australian outfit he is on the trip with. All flights confirmed received paperwork. We go to Newark airport to drop him at first flight to San Francisco with United on Jan 25, 2016 and were told that his ticket had been cancelled. Apparently Air New Zealand who tickets were purchased from failed to confirm flight with United within 24 hours of the booking and our son's ticket to San Francisco and Sydney Australia were both cancelled on Oct 8, 2015 No one ever notified us of the cancellation which occurred according to United on Oct 8th 2015. We received travel confirmation of RT flights on October 8th from STA Travel. STA agency - said they had never run into this situation before and said it was a "glitch" in system. We have gotten the run around from just about everyone involved.

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    Frankly I'd blame whoever you paid the money to first, it's their job to sort out ticketing
    – Gagravarr
    Jan 28, 2016 at 22:07
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    First step is reversing the credit card charge. That should get their attention. I'd say STA is on the hook, and see if they want to make good by getting you a ticket at their expense. Jan 29, 2016 at 5:24
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    @JonathanReez If the credit card purchase was for future services, ie a flight this month and those services are not provided then you can still file a report with the card company. The time limit on services usually starts on the scheduled "delivery" date of that service, not the day you booked & paid.
    – user13044
    Jan 29, 2016 at 10:34
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    @Aganju Depending on the fare rules United Airlines will only hold an unticketed reservation for a few hours before deleting it (usually 36 hours). If the TA did not issue the ticket properly and ensure the UA PNR was properly annotated to that effect, then UA's ticketing robot will eventually delete the confirmed reservation. This is to prevent space being occupied for a passenger who has not paid. The travel agent should get a notification in his queue about the PNR deletion but it is quite possible it didn't appear if the ticketing carrier was NZ and didn't pass on the message properly.
    – Calchas
    Jan 29, 2016 at 20:03
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    @Aganju This kind of ticketing interline problem does not come up very often these days unless you have several airlines on the same ticket, but the problem is that TAs are less experienced in dealing with these problems when they do arise. There's nothing special about online ticket buying, indeed they are probably more prone to technical problems precisely because there's no human inspecting the eticket for any problems.
    – Calchas
    Jan 29, 2016 at 20:12

1 Answer 1


Well the first question would be, how did your son get to Australia? Did United, STA and/or ANZ sort out a flight for him and you are simply wondering who to seek some compensation from for the hassle? Or did you have to buy a new last minute ticket?

If you had to buy a new ticket, then STA is the one you need to work with to get the previous ticket refunded. They are the agency of record and all payments go both ways through them (especially since it may well have been a consolidator ticket, as STA is a huge ticketing group). Ultimately they have to get the funds back from whichever airline is the marketing carrier and may delay the refund using that excuse, but STA should be big enough and professional enough to pony up the refund before they finalize with ANZ.

If his flights were sorted out without any additional ticket purchase and all you want is some compensation for the hassle or delay if any, I don't want to be pessimistic but good luck. A glitch in the system, a lost data packet or two between computers happens and it is hard to prove blame for anyone party. Your best bet in this scenario is to write the airlines involved a polite, factual letter outlining the issues and hope you reach a caring ear. You may get something like extra frequent flyer miles, maybe get real lucky with a voucher towards a future trip, but don't count on any major compensation.

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    "a lost data packet or two between computers". Oh, so travel agencies use UDP for all their communications? :)
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 30, 2016 at 10:40
  • Normally the marketing airline's reservation system will automatically block and confirm space with the operating carrier's reservation system. Based on third hand information we have it would seem that the communication between the two systems failed. And to be honest I don't know exactly what format of data communication is used between two different airline res systems. Do you?
    – user13044
    Jan 30, 2016 at 11:43
  • that was more of a joke
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 30, 2016 at 11:48

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