A woman says that after booking a flight through Kiwi, a travel website, she was unable to get on the plane because her boarding pass was labeled fraudulent.
She ended up paying the airline directly to get on the flight.
In a TikTok posted on June 19, Maggie Isola (@maggieisola) says that she was stopped from getting on a place after using a boarding pass she had received from booking with Kiwi. Isola says that her boarding pass was registered as fraudulent and that she had to pay $130 to the airline to board the plane.
“Everyone around me let out a collective gasp,” Isola wrote in her video’s overlay text. Kiwi “took my money, gave me a boarding pass, and never actually paid the airline.”
She even said that she was “almost kicked off the flight” and that the airline told her that “Kiwi does this often.” The company brands itself as “cheap flights and travel hacks.”
On Thursday, Isola’s video had over 2 million views. The Daily Dot reached out to Kiwi and the TikToker.
Now nobody wants to sit next to me on the flight 🙁
Some commenters on Isola’s video said they had similar experiences with Kiwi.
“Kiwi once booked me on an airline that doesn’t exist,” @farawayfleming commented. Isola responded, “That’s a way around paying the airline.”
“Kiwi lost our reservation for the second half of our connecting flight,” @skipschool wrote. “And we almost got stuck in Montreal instead of going back to LA.”
“Weve booked on kiwi and they’ve kept cancelling (stealing from us),” @grreenbean2019 commented. “And they had the audacity to send us a ‘2022 in review’ for flights we didn’t take.”
Others noted that Kiwi has subpar reviews online: The travel company’s Yelp page has 27 reviews, all of which are one star.
“Took my deposit and canceled flight even though I have the receipt!!!” one Yelp user wrote in their Yelp review of Kiwi. “Trash company.”
“This company is more like gangsters company with all kinds of risks under the floor,” another wrote.
Some commenters shared the travel hacks they use to utilize Kiwi without actually booking through the company—including only using it as a search engine for flights.
“I use Kiwi to find the cheapest flights,” @ewwieeeee shared. “And then go to the actual airline to book.”
In a statement from Kiwi, a spokesperson told the Daily Dot that “the ticketing provider we used to source our customer the best price applied publicly available promotional codes from the airline.”
“We can only assume the airline decided to pull the promotion and the tickets connected to it, denying boarding to our customer and possibly other travellers who did not book through Kiwi.com but were using the promotion,” they told the Daily Dot. “We are pleased that the customer was able to take her flight and we were able to ensure she was not penalised financially by this action, covering both the cost of the original tickets and the extra she was asked to pay.”
Update 3:48pm CT, July 14: In a statement from Kiwi, a spokesperson told the Daily Dot that the travel website offered likely customers, including Isola, a promotional code from the airline to secure “the best price.”
“We can only assume the airline decided to pull the promotion and the tickets connected to it, denying boarding to our customer and possibly other travelers who did not book through Kiwi.com but were using the promotion,” the spokesperson told the Daily Dot.
The spokesperson said Kiwi covered both the cost of the original tickets and the cost of the additional ticket she purchased from the airline.
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*First Published: Jul 13, 2023, 4:48 pm CDT
Tricia Crimmins is the IRL staff writer at the Daily Dot. She is also a New York-based comedian and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previously, she has written for Mashable, Complex Networks, and Moment magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @TriciaCrimmins.