The highs and lows of using Capital One Travel to book flights while abroad
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It can be appealing to book flights through credit card travel portals. After all, some cards offer significant category bonuses to reward cardholders for using their travel portal.
However, I typically avoid booking flights through online travel agencies and credit card travel portals because of the hassle I’ve faced in the past when needing to change or cancel my flight.
Instead, I usually book directly with the airline or one of the airline’s codeshare partners. After all, I can still earn 3 points per dollar spent (on up to $150,000 spent in combined purchases in select categories each account anniversary year) and get solid travel protections when using my Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to book travel.
But on a recent trip, it proved impossible to book intra-India flights directly with Indian low-cost carriers IndiGo, AirAsia India and Go First. So, here’s my story about the highs and lows of using Capital One Travel to book my intra-India flights.
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Booking flights through the Capital One Travel portal
I couldn’t book intra-India flights with Indian low-cost carriers IndiGo, AirAsia India and Go First through their websites due to website glitches and security measures that prevented me from using my U.S.-issued credit cards.
As I watched fares increase, I decided the best option would be to book through an online travel agency or credit card travel portal.
During this trip, I was working toward meeting the minimum spending requirements to earn the sign-up bonus on my new Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. So, I headed to the Capital One Travel portal to see what flights it offered and whether there was a large markup compared to booking directly.
Fares were similar to booking directly for flights from Bengaluru to Jaipur (IndiGo for $127 per person), Jaipur to Chennai (AirAsia India for $97 per person) and Chennai to Bengaluru (IndiGo for $57 per person). So I went ahead and booked flights for my husband and me through the Capital One Travel portal.
Since I used my Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card to book through the Capital One Travel portal, I earned 5 miles per dollar spent on these flights.
Based on TPG’s valuations, the 2,810 miles I earned by booking these flights through the Capital One Travel portal are worth $52.
Getting refunds when prices dropped
One benefit of booking through the Capital One Travel portal with the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is price drop protection. For each of our intra-India flights, Capital One Travel checked for price drops for 10 days after booking.
This benefit would refund us up to $50 per person per flight if the price dropped — and the price dropped for two of our flights.
We’d booked an IndiGo flight from Bengaluru to Jaipur for $127 per person less than five days before departure. Then, Capital One Travel sent me the following email one day before departure, notifying me I’d get a $25.81 refund (about $13 per person).
Then, about 10 days after we purchased a flight from Chennai to Bangaluru for $57 per person, I got an email from Capital One Travel stating I’d get a refund of $6 per person for this flight due to a price drop.
While modest, these refunds will make me consider booking future trips through Capital One Travel if I think a price drop in the 10 days after booking is likely. In particular, the price drop protection can be particularly useful when booking last-minute flights, as I did in India.
No ability to reserve seats for some flights
One benefit of booking directly with low-cost airlines is purchasing all the add-ons you want during booking (which is usually when these add-ons are the least expensive). Often, you can even purchase a package that offers multiple items for less than you’d pay a la carte.
But I couldn’t purchase any of the AirAsia India or IndiGo packages when booking through Capital One Travel. And I couldn’t select a seat through Capital One Travel, even by paying to do so.
So after booking our flights through the Capital One Travel portal, I used our IndiGo and AirAsia India confirmation numbers to access our bookings online and attempt to purchase seats.
I successfully purchased two “premium pack” packages for our AirAsia India booking that included seat selection and a hot meal for 500 Indian rupees (about $6) each. Interestingly, my U.S.-issued credit card worked fine for this online transaction.
But for our IndiGo flights, the website wouldn’t accept any of the U.S.-issued credit cards I tried. So the airline automatically assigned us seats apart for both flights. One flight was empty, so we could use a kiosk at the airport after checking in to change our seats. But for our other two IndiGo flights (yes, other two — as you’ll see below, we never got to fly AirAsia India), the cabins were relatively full, so there wasn’t an opportunity to change seats at the airport.
Hopefully, IndiGo will begin accepting U.S.-issued credit cards online for seat selection and other add-ons as it sees more U.S. visitors through its codeshare flights with American Airlines.
No support for a canceled flight
The airline canceled one of the three intra-India flights we’d booked through Capital One Travel — the AirAsia India flight from Jaipur to Chennai — about four days before departure. I got the following email from AirAsia India:
AirAsia India only operates one nonstop flight daily from Jaipur to Chennai and had canceled this flight for several days. AirAsia India’s only other option on our date was a two-stop routing with a much longer duration. Meanwhile, the only other nonstop flight from Jaipur to Chennai on our date — operated by IndiGo — was now more expensive.
The airline will often force you to work with your online travel agency when it cancels your flight. However, a Capital One Travel phone agent said Capital One Travel only sells the flights and that we’d need to work with the airline to get a refund or rebook.
Thankfully, AirAsia India refunded our fare, meal and seat packages after we requested it do so. But know that in some cases, Capital One Travel can’t do anything with your flight booking after it sells it.
Although I usually avoid booking through online travel agencies and credit card portals, doing so was the best option during a recent trip to India. I earned 5 miles per dollar spent on my bookings and got access to Capital One’s price drop protection. The price drop protection is only for the first 10 days after booking, but it worked excellently for my last-minute flights.
Capital One Travel saved the day by allowing me to book flights when the airlines’ websites either didn’t work or wouldn’t accept my U.S.-issued credit cards. But I couldn’t select a seat during booking and it proved impossible to pay for IndiGo seats after booking.
Also, remember that when things go wrong, you may have to reach out to the airline directly to be rebooked or get a refund. And depending on the airline, this could be a painstaking process.
Featured photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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