airplaneA couple weeks ago you may recall a column I wrote about how Orbitz, the Internet travel service, lost all my personal data including my on-file credit cards.  Well most of this lost information is now back and I want to update the story.

I’m a long-time Orbitz user with enough frequent flier miles that they ought to care about keeping me happy.  And it turns out a number of Orbitz employees are also my readers, so that helps, too.  After that column appeared the company put some real effort into figuring out what had gone wrong and trying to fix it.

What happened, it turns out, is that I had tried to book a flight without first logging-in to my account.  The way the system works Orbitz would very much prefer if you sign-in first, but if you don’t they don’t require a sign-in, though in retrospect I wish they did.  Forcing me to sign-in would have saved a lot of trouble.

If you try to book without first signing-in, Orbitz will let you go ahead, but wisely won’t allow you to use any credit card data that’s already in the system.  This is intended to keep someone with a little bit of knowledge from using my credit to pay for his or her spring break.

This all makes sense but the way the credit card data is held in encrypted form the only way Orbitz can get rid of it is by GETTING RID OF IT — nuking forever the payment data held in their system for, in my case, maybe 10 years.  It’s gone and they can’t get it back.

I’m not so bothered by this because I now use only a debit card (living in the real world) so there was only one card number to replace, which I had to do personally.

But remember that I lost other information from the system, too, like my seating preferences (window) and frequent flier numbers with four airlines.  Losing THAT data was a bug according to Orbitz.  It shouldn’t have happened.  They are working on it.

So I started the dominoes dropping by trying to make a reservation in a hurry, but among the repercussions of my actions was a real bug that has probably affected other people, too.

My preferences and numbers are all now restored (by Orbitz) though I now seem to prefer aisles.

Things are almost back to normal in my travel world.