Wrong name on a United Airlines ticket? No problem!

There’s no shortage of sob stories about airline passengers who bought a ticket under a wrong name — like a maiden name or nickname — only to discover they’re holding a worthless piece of paper. So when an airline reverses course and allows a name change for free, then you have a legitimate man-bites-dog story.

The carrier, in this case, is beleaguered United Airlines. The passenger: longtime reader Cliff Ruddick. Here’s what happened:

I booked award tickets on United Airlines’ Web site and I accidentally interchanged my traveling companion’s first and last names on her reservation. When we got to Los Angeles, we tried to check in curbside, but since the names were interchanged on her reservation, the agent sent us into the chaotic ticketing lobby, but told us to find the ticket line for “Quick Clips”.

Uh-oh. Were they about to extract an outrageous change fee from Ruddick at a quick clip? That’s certainly what it looked like.

We explained the problem and the agent behind the counter took about two minutes to fix it in the reservation system. Then — and here is the amazing part — she met us at the end of the reservation counters and personally escorted us upstairs to the lightly-used security line on the second floor and brought us up directly to the front of the line.

Ruddick is neither a million miler or a VIP, so when an agent went the extra mile for him, it took him by surprise. He wrote a letter to the airline, praising the employee. “United gets trashed regularly about its customer service,” he told me. “But I have found they really employ some gems as well as some clunkers.”

Well, let’s hear it for the gems.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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