I got some good news from Yapta.com yesterday, or so I thought.

If you don’t know about Yapta, it’s a site that tracks flight prices and then helps you figure out how to get a refund from the airline if prices drop for a flight you’ve already booked. It sounds like a no-brainer, right? So I got an alert that my Paris flight price had dropped considerably (over $300). All I had to do was call Continental, pay a $250 change fee and get $100 or so back. Yeah, I know, I should get a full $300 or so back, but the airlines like to rip us off and we’re all very aware of that. But $100 is something, right?

I had booked my flight directly with the airline at Continental.com. NEVER DO THAT. Because the scam is that although the price for flights dropped on every other site (including Orbitz, CheapTickets, etc.), it did not drop on the Continental site. On Orbitz, the price for the flight was $823. I originally paid $1200 (which at the time, with fuel prices the way they have been, was considered a deal). That’s a lot of money, but summer travel has been very iffy this year and most everyone told me I needed to book then, rather than wait to see if prices go down. That was the lowest I had seen since I’d begun checking a few months before I booked it, so I thought I would just pay twice of what I paid two years ago to fly to France and cry about it later.

So yesterday, the prices for that flight dropped. Except on Continental.com. Where the price was actually set to $1600. For the EXACT SAME FLIGHT.

So I was told that because I had booked it on Continental’s website that I would not receive anything back because the flight was now more expensive on their site. Oooh, they told me, you got a good deal.

Did I? How could I have received a good deal when that same flight is now $823 on Orbitz?

The airlines keep telling us they want us to book through them. That they will give us the better deal. Don’t listen to them. They lie. If I had booked my flight through Orbitz, I would have received the full $300+ back if someone else had booked that same flight at a lower price.

Lesson learned: Never book through an airline website and always use Orbitz. And American Airlines? Since you keep yanking your listings from sites, you will never be an airline I fly.

I have generally been very impressed by Continental. But this experience put a very sour taste in my mouth. I won’t hold that against their flight crews or staff, however, as I do find them to be the nicest in the skies. The company’s policies have nothing to do with them, after all.

I am also certain that Continental isn’t the only airline pulling this sort of scam.

So now, I can just chalk this up to a learning process and look forward to the trip that I obviously over paid for. I had the money for the $1200 flight at the time, but it sure would have been nice to have been treated fairly in the process.

Fair is not a word in airlines’ vocabulary, though, is it?

Anyway, in a totally pointless effort, I did send an email to Continental.com’s customer support with a screenshot of Orbitz’ page with the flight information and price, which also included the price guarantee. I doubt I’ll hear anything back, but I still think they need to know that I will never book through them again and will tell everyone I know not to, as well.

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