When booking a trip on Expedia.com (or its subsidiaries Orbitz and Travelocity), you will be pushed to purchase a “flight protection plan” during checkout.
The website now makes a concerted effort to blatantly scare you into spending $19 on travel protection. Here’s why you shouldn’t do it.
Expedia Travel Insurance will Only Refund You in Extraordinary Circumstances
You will only get a refund for your online booking under very specific — and very unlikely — circumstances, including:
- death in the family
- extreme illness
- natural disaster that severely damages your home
A few other scenarios are listed in the dreaded terms and conditions, which admittedly I did not read before making my mistake of buying “trip protection.”
Do Not Let Expedia’s Booking Language Intimidate You
At the core of this issue is a lack of respect for the user, the traveler. Expedia.com goes to great lengths to fool you into buying a $19 flight protection plan. They do this through not-so-subtle language and design:
- Upon entering checkout, Expedia tells you that protecting your flight is “recommended.” Recommended for whom? And by whom? It doesn’t say.
- Then, in foreboding red letters, Expedia warns, “Avoid change fees. Protect your trip.” Protect my trip from what? It doesn’t say.
- There’s a deceptive link that reads, “3 reasons you might need travel protection.” Might is a curious word. More on this later.
- The website also puts words in the customer’s mouth if you say “no” to trip insurance: “I’m willing to risk my trip.” Sheesh.
If you do click “No” and try to opt out of the travel protection plan, Expedia.com displays a warning message: “Your trip is not protected.” And it prompts you to “reconsider.”
All of this is manipulation and intimidation. Expedia is not telling the whole story.
Before You Buy Expedia Insurance, Read the Terms and Conditions
At this point, you might be thinking that you want to be a more educated consumer about Expedia’s flight protection plan option. You might click on the blue link: “3 reasons you might need travel protection.”
These aren’t reasons you “might” need travel insurance. They’re basically the only three reasons you would need it, because if none of these three scenarios happen, you can kiss your refund goodbye.
And now we come to the terms and conditions — that tiny little blue link — “View terms, conditions, and plan sponsors” — which, of course, doesn’t even appear to the user, unless you actually click on “3 reasons you might need travel protection.”
The terms and conditions (3,500 words in all), to be fair, do explain the scenarios in which the travel protection plan will actually protect you. So yes, I should have read the fine print. But did I want to spend even more time researching T&Cs after having spent over an hour researching flights, hotels, and more? Not really.
To add further confusion if you do want to perform exhaustive research on travel insurance, Expedia offers at least four protection plans with nearly the same name:
- Expedia Package Protection Plan
- Expedia Vacation Waiver
- Expedia Cancellation Plan
- Expedia Total Protection Plan
Happy T&Cs reading!
Why I Opted for Expedia Flight Protection — and Regretted It
I was slated to go to a business conference for one client, and I had another client who was possibly going to be in that same city that same week. Thinking that I might need to adjust my flights pending my client’s plans, I bought Expedia’s $19 flight “protection” plan.
A couple weeks after I booked the flights, the work conference was rescheduled, so I needed to cancel my flights altogether. Time for my “flight protection insurance” to kick in, right?
Nope. This is where I learned that I would receive no refund, and almost no credits. My trip protection only would have protected me if I had had a death or illness in the family, or the aforementioned, very unlikely reasons.
I called Expedia to complain, but to no avail. Policy is policy, they said. I told them their website was deliberately misleading.
In the end, my $256 plane ticket turned into:
- $200 down the drain due to a “reissue fee” from United Airlines (another gripe altogether)
- $56 in credits to use toward a future reservation
To further annoy me, I will have to call Expedia to use my $56 United credit — I can’t simply apply it online. Another poor user experience.
Is Expedia’s Flight Protection Plan Worth it?
In the vast majority of circumstances, buying Expedia travel insurance is not worth it. If you do the math, the only way it’s worth it is if once every 10 trips, one of following events happens:
- You get extremely sick.
- You have a death in the family.
- An act of god destroys your house.
Here’s the math. If you:
- purchased trip protection ($19) on each of your next 10 trips, you’d spend $190. Guaranteed.
- needed to change or cancel a flight (highly unlikely) from United, American, or Delta, you’d pay $200.
Need more advice? Here’s how you can try to avoid change fees or reissue fees moving forward: http://mashable.com/2016/01/28/change-fee-policies/