In August, my boyfriend and I went to America for a month. I, being organised and excited about going away, had booked the flights with the Student Travel Agency (STA) way back in December last year. Additionally, being so in advance this meant I managed to get the flights far cheaper and within my (poor) student budget. All went to plan until two days before the flight.
Two days before we were due to fly out and while choosing which travel neck pillow to buy for the flight, the thought crossed my mind to check over our flight details. I checked the status of our flight to discover it remained ‘unconfirmed’. I then rang STA to enquire about this to then be informed our first leg flight to Iceland had been cancelled.
The lady on the phone (clearly reading from a script) provided me with a couple options: a full refund or two seats on a flight leaving the very next day. We opted for the seats, only to then be told they actually were no longer available. So, this threw us into a situation of utter stress working out how we can get a flight to begin our holiday. We ended up finding last minute flights to Iceland with British Airways at double the rate of what we had paid for the whole original service to America. From here we were forced to deal with the situation STA had left us in and then chase up the refund once we settled in America.
Fast forward a month and we finally got a reply about the incident and were directed to STA Travel Cares. I informed them of the whole situation and received no response (for around a week and a half) until I tweeted the company complaining about their support. Since then they have passed me from team member to team member with no coherent information or understanding of the situation.
They then finally built a case for me and said I would have a result in 28 days. At this point, very frustrated and disbelieving they would ever get back to me, I set a reminder for when the 28 days was up. When the time came, I received nothing. In my growing rage towards STA I emailed and told them the time period was up, and I was expecting the verdict promptly. They replied saying they could send the refund for the original flight but provide no compensation for the extra cost for the new (double the price) lastminute.com flights, which had to be purchased because of their own incompetence and lack of information.
As the current situation stands, I am still being passed to different team members and being told they can do nothing for me other than the original refund that I had to chase on numerous occasions. My whole experience with STA’s Care Team was appalling and in no way supportive to students (as they claim). So, I am writing this (as they still refuse to compensate for their mistakes) as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of booking flights through STA. STAy away as you’re probably better off with finding affordable flights on your own as STA don’t provide the comfort and safety net for students that they claim to.