Travel booking scams: BBB warns travelers about rebooking or changing flights

Flight delays and cancelations mean it’s been a bumpy ride for a lot of airline travelers this summer. We’ve got a warning you need to hear before you try to rebook or change your flight. Whether it’s the airline that cancels your flight or you just can’t make a planned trip you might need help changing a flight.

One viewer named Erica was unable to go on a $620 trip from Houston to Hawaii. She called United Airlines to ask for a refund and that’s where the trouble started.

Troubles trying to get refund on flight

Erica made several calls to United Airlines about changing her planned flight. During one call she was told the ticket she purchased was nonrefundable but if she paid $199 to “upgrade” the ticket to a refundable ticket she could get her money back. She paid it but never got the refund. That’s when she called the agent back and recorded the call.

“Is showing that we appreciate your patience, and you should hear back from us by 3rd of July 23 to your refund, ma’am.

“So sometimes it will predict on 25 business days or some on your some of the payment is taking a 1 to 2 billing cycle. Okay. So on your ticket, ma’am, it will take one to two billing cycle that’s filing them.”

Erica still didn’t get the refund. She called again. This time double checking *who* she was calling.

“Yes, I was calling because I’m trying to figure out, is this like organization that I’m calling? Is it just only United Airlines?” Erica asks.

“That’s what I’m saying. This is the consolidation. That’s what like and this is a flight reservation desk. Don’t worry about it.”

BBB warns about travel change scams

While Erica doesn’t think she called the wrong number for United this scenario is exactly what the Better Business Bureau is warning people about right now.

  • There have been 183 reports airline ticket booking issues so far in 2023.

The BBB says many of the scams have common characteristics including:

  • Operators posing as airline employees or being evasive about who they are.
  • Bogus taxes and fees
  • Misrepresenting airfare and/or availability
  • Re-booking and/or cancelling flights, without issuing refunds
  • Never booking flights in the first place
  • Asking for more money after purchase has been made
  • Using images, logos, etc. of valid companies
  • High-pressure sales/scam tactics, including a narrow booking window,
  • potential for losing money already paid, repeated callbacks, or badgering

Some users got to these fake employees by googling an airline name and customer service. Often top search results are actually paid spots, bought by scammers.

[We’ve told you before how this can happen with shopping websites.]

We found one of the numbers Erica called is linked to the website It’s obviously a fake website with misspellings and blank template info for the contact and location.

Customer thought she was calling United Airlines but ended up talking with someone from a random travel website. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

The odd thing about Erica’s case, after all the calling someone did refund Erica’s $199. United refunded her ticket price but only after we reached out.

United Airlines told KPRC 2 Investigates they do charge a fee for customers to upgrade a nonrefundable ticket in order to get a refund.

What to do if you think you sent your information to a fake travel agent

If you suspect this happened to you, first, contact your bank or credit card company then contact the airline by finding the information from the direct website or the airline’s app.

You can also check out the ticket policies for all airlines. The United States Department of Transportation has an airline dashboard with policies for each airline.

About the Authors:

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.