$240 in Checked Baggage: Feeling Tricked by Expedia Canada and TAP Airlines

Our experience booking a TAP Airlines flight with Expedia Canada (via Expedia for TD) has been very disappointing. We found a relatively cheap flight from Toronto to London (via Lisbon) and were unexpectedly charged an exorbitant rate of $240 for our two checked baggages. We fell into TAP Portugal’s pricing “trick”, a way for the airlines to discount their flight (for more favourable positioning on search engines like Expedia) only to make up any savings by charging their customers a very high amount for checked baggage.

Like most travellers on a budget, we booked the cheapest flight available to us via Expedia. It was $300 per person for a one-way flight with TAP Airlines from Toronto to London, with a long layover in Lisbon. At the very bottom of our confirmation from Expedia there is generic text — “airline may charge additional fees for baggage”, a link which takes me back to the Expedia for TD login, where the login page had technical difficulties on mobile.

Before our flight, we tried to check in online but TAP Portugal system had technical difficulties. Their glitchy system showed $0 as the checked baggage rate, but on the confirmation screen the rate changed to $240. We were shocked by the amount (there must be a mistake on this glitchy system), and decided to check in with a real person at the airport instead.

When we got to the TAP check-in counter at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, we were very surprised to be charged $120 x 2 for our two pieces of checked baggage! Our backpacks were not overweight nor oversized, this is the same baggage we’ve been carrying with us for our past 2.5 months of travel.  TAP is not a budget or discount airline — they are Portugal’s national carrier, and a Star Alliance member.  If there was any expectation we would have to pay for our first pieces of checked baggage, it was CERTAINLY NOT such a high amount of $120 per person. (Have you ever paid this much for your first piece of checked baggage on a national carrier’s international flight?!)

Upon calling both Expedia Canada and TAP’s customer service lines to complain about this unexpected fee, each party put the responsibility on the other to notify the customer of any additional baggage rates.

On our phone calls:

  • By Expedia, we were told it is not their responsibility to stay up to date on TAP’s fees. They are ever changing and if we want the most up to date info we should look on TAP’s website.
  • By TAP, we were told our booking agency (Expedia) should bear the responsibility to let us know about additional charges. Had we booked directly with TAP, they were certain we would have come across baggage rates during the booking process.

As a consumer, I felt like I was caught in the middle between two big companies.

I feel frustrated, caught off guard, and felt like I was not provided with the details to make an informed decision on whether I still wanted to book that flight with TAP Airlines at the actual price of our journey.

It has taken me an entire flight to gather my thoughts and pinpoint why we feel so icky about our experience, and I’ve narrowed it down to two many points.

  1. I feel annoyed that Expedia, as a trusted booking agent and one-stop shop for booking flight tickets, would pass the responsibility onto the customer to research excess fees by the carrier. If Expedia gave us a heads up on baggage fees (or even an estimate) so we could make an informed decision in our booking, I would be less annoyed.
  2. I feel tricked that TAP Airlines displayed a discounted flight price, only to increase our spend by charging us an exorbitant amount for checked luggage. If the amount had been more reasonable and comparable to what we’ve paid on other airlines, I would feel less tricked.

I understand the WHY behind this. From a business perspective, TAP’s low rates seem to be competing with budget airline carries, but, they make up their lost revenue for discounting flights by charging an exorbitant for baggage. I also understand that Expedia does not want to be held responsible for fluctuating baggage prices by airline companies (although they built their business on being an aggregate for the flight prices of the same companies….🤔). Corporations like Expedia and TAP have fine print to cover their own butts from customer complaints in scenarios exactly like this.

YES, as consumers we could have done more research, question or be skeptical of any too-good-to-be-true flight deals. But it is not a good customer experience to always have to double check, question and be skeptical of what a company — especially one I trusted like Expedia — has to offer. We support and put our trust in companies like Expedia to look out for us and in this scenario, I felt like they fell short.

Because I never want to share a negative experience without taking some sort of lesson from it for myself and my readers, here are some lessons we learned. You can be sure we’ll be taking these into account the next time we book a flight.

  • The “sort by price” option on Expedia does not take into account extra fees like baggage.
  • TAP Airlines seems to charge a higher rate than any other airline we’ve ever encountered on your first piece of checked baggage.
  • Never assume baggage fees are reasonable — always double check the rate.
  • If a website (ie. TD for Expedia, TAP) glitches out on you, call in to get your questions answered.
  • If you book through a third-party aggregate like Expedia, expect that if anything goes wrong with your flight, they will each try to pin the responsibility on the other party.

To make matters worse, the lady at the check-in counter only did the paperwork for Steve’s bag to get off the plane at our long stopover.  Having our bags in Lisbon was something we specifically requested and the job was only half done.  They are currently looking for my bag, the expected wait time is over two hours.  If you’re going to charge us $120 per checked luggage, at least handle it correctly.  Beside me, another frustrated TAP customer is waiting for her baggage to be returned from a canceled flight. TAP Airlines is a disaster!

This was an expensive start to the Europe portion of our world tour— but I feel better that I have a platform like Modern Mix Travel to share my experience with so future travellers can make better informed decisions, budget and prepare accordingly, and not be caught off guard like we were.

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5 Comments

  1. Our TAP experience was similar to yours (i.e $95/bag on Boston-Lisbon-Madrid flight). That there would be baggage fees was never explictly stated on the online booking (by CheapOair, an Expedia wannabe) or on the email confirmation from TAP. We were very surprised, not to mention pissed off, when we were charged $190 (US) for 2 bags at check-in. Although the crew was very nice, our overall experience was not a positive one and we will never fly with this airline again.

    1. *sigh* — I hear ya. Agree with you too that the crew was nice and the overall flight was comfortable but I also will try my best to avoid this airlines in the future, especially for the rest of our time in Europe (the next three months) where we have baggage to check in. All I can do is share my experience and hope others aren’t caught off guard like we were. Do you by any chance remember how you came across this blog post?

  2. We experienced the exact same thing, booked our flights through cheapoair from Miami to Lisbon. When we got to the check in counter, we were charged $95 per each piece of luggage. I agree, service was okay, but will not fly TAP ever again.

    1. Sorry to hear you went through that as well! I know the feeling. 🙁 Hope your trip went well otherwise!

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