Reader’s Horribly Frustrating Experience With The Capital One Travel Portal

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Capital One Travel Portal Issues

Capital One Travel Portal Issues

It seems like banks have wanted to become more and more like travel agents. Pretty much all the major banks have launched their own travel portals over the last few years. They even give huge multiples to use their bank’s cards in the travel portal #synergy. Heck, Chase is even doubling down in their effort to become a travel behemoth. It looks like Capital One has been on the same wavelength of thinking. Look no further then when they launched the Capital One Venture X. Ever notice how much their new travel portal played a role with the card? They give you a travel credit and anniversary points that can only be used in their portal. They also offer up to 10X earning when you book through their portal, which seems pretty amazing. The problem is that this isn’t the banks’ expertise so they are not adept at fixing issues that come up. A reader reached out to me with some Capital One travel portal issues and asked me to share her story. I have heard of other grumblings here and there about the Cap One portal too (all bank travel portals really).

Reader’s Experience With Capital Travel Portal Issues

I will share reader D’s experience with their recent Capital One portal booking. It appears that there was an issue on Capital One’s back end when she booked her trip. Sadly, it wasn’t caught until it was too late. To make matters worse, Capital One struggled to come up with a reasonable solution once the issue was discovered. This led to over 10 hours on the phone, all while traveling internationally, for reader D. That is how a vacation gets ruined right there!

Capital One Travel Portal Issues

Capital One Travel Portal Booking

Reader D booked a roundtrip flight from Chicago to Warsaw, Poland in first or business class via the Capital One travel portal. She had used her newly minted Capital One Venture X card to book the flight for the card’s 5X earning on flights when using the Cap One portal. This was a way for her to burn her $300 yearly travel credit too. Using the portal is a requirement for this yearly perk, as well as the anniversary gift of 10,000 points. That means you need to use Capital One’s travel portal in order to maximize the card’s perks and offset the $395 annual fee.

Reader D had thought she got a great deal on the airfare ($1584.69) for a mixed cabin flight. She would have first / business class on the long leg of the flight over the pond and then switch to economy for intra-Europe flight. Things didn’t work out that way though. She was met with a surprise when she went to check in for the flight out of Chicago. United showed that they were flying in Premium Plus instead of business class. Capital One was showing first / business class when she booked the ticket but United’s system was showing them booked in Premium Plus. Here are some screen shots of the return flight showing the discrepancy (she didn’t have access to the original flight any longer).

What the Capital One booking showed her:

Capital One Travel Portal Issues

What her United account showed when checking there:

Capital One Travel Portal Issues

At the airport the gate agent told her she would have to pay $1398 to upgrade to business class. United was unwilling to do anything since the flight was not booked directly with them. She paid it and got on the flight (risky), figuring she would straighten it out with Capital One upon arrival.

Lessons To Be Learned 

There are a couple of things I want to point out here that we can all learn from. First off, check your tickets after booking, especially if booking via a third party. Verify that the ticket matches the same class, flight times, equipment etc. as it did when you booked it. It is much less stressful to deal with these issues prior to your trip versus while you are on it. I know we all get lazy with this, myself included, since it is right 99% of the time. Still check!

Secondly, remember that when you use a travel portal to book a flight or hotel you are not going to get any assistance from the hotel or airline. It is like booking via Expedia etc. They have to give these bank travel portals a cut of the money too, so they aren’t going to bend over backwards to fix things for you.

Trying To Get The Capital One Travel Portal Issue Corrected

Upon getting to Warsaw reader D went to work. It was a bit tricky since she needed to fight for her $1398 upgrade charge at the airport and get moved into business class for the flight home. The was a two headed beast that needed to be slayed.

She started calling and messaging Capital One to get a resolution. She got bounced around multiple call centers and spoke to numerous supervisors. Some would tell her they would give her the credit for the flight over but would never put it in writing or send an email. Reader D figured they would be able to see the booking discrepancy and get with United to book them into the proper class of service for the flight home. It was anything but that simple.

She was getting the run around right and left, being told there were no more business class seats on the flight even though they still showed space online. Including on Capital One’s own travel portal. At one point she was told supervisors weren’t available until the morning, 9AM ET. Around and around it went.

 

Capital One Travel Portal Issues

Finally, Victory!

She finally saw light at the end of the tunnel, an agent found business space she could be booked into. That was until he came back 10 minutes later saying the system wouldn’t let him book it. Capital One kept saying that a refund was the only option ($1000) and she would have to fly premium economy home. Most would have given up here, but not D!

After some more back and forth they kept insisting on just refunding the cash and points used for the flight. She kept refusing and feeding them different flights showing space. Then, finally, they booked her on Lufthansa business class connecting through Munich. She also was refunded the $1398 for the upgrade at the airport for her flight to Poland.

Capital One Travel Portal Issues: Final Thoughts

I am glad it all ended up working out for reader D in the end. But, wow, did it take a lot of effort. The last thing I want to do on vacation is spend 10+ stressful hours on hold, talking to customer service reps / supervisors and messaging back and forth non stop. Throw in the fact that she was overseas, with different hours and added hoops of getting around international calling costs etc., on top of it.

I have always been one to say, I’ll suck it up now and look for compensation / resolution later so I can focus on enjoying the trip. I can say, without a doubt, that wouldn’t have offered as good as a solution as reader D got here. It would have likely meant flying premium economy and just getting a $1,000 courtesy credit when it was all said and done. Paying cash for the upgrade at the airport was a risk too. They may have refused to credit the difference there, even with proof of the discrepancy.

This right here is a big reason why I refuse to use travel portals. I’ll cash out the points and book direct instead. When everything runs smoothly they are perfectly fine, but, when you run into issues having another cook in the kitchen makes things much more difficult. The airlines, or hotels, and the travel portal company are not going to work together to fix something for you. So be aware of that when you book via this route, and be prepared to fight to the death when an issue arises. Just like reader D had to.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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17 COMMENTS

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17 COMMENTS

  1. I’m having a terrible experience with the C1 travel portal as well. It’s showing a flight for Bali that they don’t actually have. Yet they still sold me price lock-in and still posted the pending payment to my card. I called C1 and the customer service rep yelled at me then hung up. Looks like I have to buy the ticket directly from the airline. Venture X is a scam.

  2. Well, I’m using Cap1 for airfare – did alright on current United trip
    But never again for Hotel. Booked an IPrefer hotel and when I called hotel for room preferences the person said they could not even leave notes on my reservation. Plus I show up and they assigned me the worse room in my category and the desk clerk claimed all suites the same – doesn’t even know his hotel. Cap1 will hear from me.

  3. Mark

    You already provided a solution in “Lessons to be Learned”. I always check my bookings directlly even when booking via a 3rd. party. For flights I always log in to the airline site and then check and/or re-assign my seats. That alone done in advance would have alerted the person that there was an issue.

    Also I’ve seen this before with some OTA’s not distinguishing between PE and Business and calling it Premium and assuming it’s First or Business. Again a quick check with the airline or even Seat Guru if the seats were assigned would have identified the issue.

  4. The only travel portal that I will use for airline tickets is Amex and only for AA flights since they normally have a discount for using the Amex card and I am EVP at AA so they can always help if there is something wrong. For the $300 credit for Capital One I am using for hotels

    • That makes sense. With the stacking the juice would be worth the squeeze there. That would be my plan too for Cap One – hotels or car rentals – to burn the credit.

      • Hotels but not car rentals. Reviews have shown hotel rates are good but car rental search doesn’t do well. I usually use hotels.com bc of the great rewards program and ability to buy gift cards at a discount, but Cap1 has a wider selection and often better prices, plus the 10x points makes it about equal to my hotels.com rewards (which may get nixed next year anyway). Car rentals make no sense; I always wind up rebooking based on AutoSlash, which would mean having to cancel my original Cap1 car booking anyway.

  5. Hi Mark: Is that the approach you take with American Express pay with points as well (e.g., you’d rather cash out the points and book directly)? I ask because that 35% points back with the Platinum Business often means a far better rate than booking with the airlines miles directly.

    • I haven’t really dabbled with Amex myself. I have heard some horror stories there too but the difference in value (1.1 vs 1.5) would probably make it worth it for me if the cost was high enough. I wouldn’t do it if the flight is iffy though

  6. This is a terrible story. Not blaming the reader at all but there was a telltale sign of a likely problem. For transatlantic flights with a connecting European flight, premium economy on long haul is almost always paired with economy shorthaul. And business almost always pairs to business class on short haul. Given business class seats are same as economy on shorthaul flights, there is no practical capacity constraint on number of short haul business seats. all the European airlines are happy to sell as many shorthaul business class connections as they can. So seeing shorthaul economy on itinerary was a potential red flag that business class long haul was not ticketed.

  7. Part of the benefit with Capital One is you get Hertz Presidential Circle. When I book thru that it cost more than when my wife books it as she is a gold member. We tried it multiple times. President Circle is a waste for C1.

    • I use autoslash.com. Depending on the market you are renting in, you will IME, often see Hertz with the best price, via Priceline. When I then book on Priceline, using the autoslash link, I just add my Hertz Gold Rewards # to my Priceline booking. You will then be able to see your Hertz reservation in your Gold Rewards account, and get the relevant benefits for President’s Circle.

  8. “ This right here is a big reason why I refuse to use travel portals. I’ll cash out the points and book direct instead.”

    There’s no way to cash out the $300 VentureX credit (which is why your reader was in this situation). You’re saying this is a card you wouldn’t get because you’re forced to use a travel portal? Or that you would forfeit $300 in value (this arguably makes the VentureX a terrible card compared to most other premium travel cards)?

    • First off I am not sure if she had used her $300 credit or not yet but that could have been a deciding factor to making this booking for sure, or it could have been the 5X earning that you can then “erase”.

      Having to use the portal does make the card one I would be less likely to get. But if I did I would prioritize non chain hotels and car rentals to use the credit. I would try to avoid flights or hotels where I could earn points / use elite status as much as possible. For many that travel this would be easy for $300 a year. For others not so much. If that is the case then I would say get the Venture card instead since you probably don’t travel enough to use the perks of the Venture X anyway.

    • Hi – I’m Reader D and I already cashed out the $300 Venture X travel credit on a previous domestic flight earlier in the year. So this had nothing to do with the situation that occurred. The author was simply noting this was a way to use the $300 credit, not that I did.

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