Wrong name on plane ticket means son won’t be home for Christmas — what now?

By | December 1st, 2010

Mariana Damon thought she had booked a ticket for her son to fly home for Christmas when she called Travelocity.

Not quite. For some reason, the reservation was in her name. Repeated attempts to convince Travelocity to fix the ticket have been unsuccessful. I’ve tried to help, too, and I’ll get to the results in just a moment.

Damon’s case raises several important issues, the most obvious of which is: Who is responsible for getting the name on a ticket right? Should passengers read a confirmation email, and verify the accuracy of a name and other details?

What if they never get the confirmation? And what, exactly, is a service guarantee worth when you’re booking a ticket online?

Damon says she called Travelocity on Nov. 2 to buy a ticket for her son to fly from Philadelphia to Nebraska. It was important to have her son home for the holidays, because her husband had recently passed away.

The gentlemen I spoke to had heavily-accented English. In addition, after the transaction was made, he was unable to send me a confirmation email stating that something was wrong with the computers that evening.

On the evening of November 18, I learned that he had mistakenly booked me as the passenger instead of the person buying the ticket. I was told that there was no way the name could be changed and that it was all my fault.

I pointed out that there was no way I would book myself a flight from Philadelphia since I live in Nebraska and that, in addition, I had spent almost $700 for a ticket that the Travelocity representative was now telling me was completely useless.

Well, not completely useless. After some more back-and-forth — all by phone — Damon was told she might be able to get a name change on her ticket. But when she tried to make the change, she says she was told the airline was “too busy” to help her.

I suggested she send a brief, polite email to Travelocity, but it replied with a form letter saying that name changes are “not permitted” by her airline.

I contacted Travelocity on her behalf. Maybe the online travel agency had audio recordings of her order, or other electronic records, that might shed some light on her case.

Here’s how it responded to her:

After a review of our records, we show that the reservation was made on November 2, 2010 by phone with one of our agents and an automated email was sent to [your email] after the ticketing was complete. We were not advised of any errors with the reservation until 2 weeks later on November 18. Since we were not contacted immediately to advise of any errors with your reservation, this complicates our ability to assist with your request.

The rules of the ticket indicate that it is a non-refundable, therefore, in the event of cancellation it will maintain a credit for future travel with American Airlines for 1 year from the purchase date. Any changes to the itinerary will be subject to a penalty of $150.00, and any difference in fare will be due.

  • Jenniibee

    Only yesterday I managed to finally get a name changed (well, it was more like just 2 letters in a middle name!) on a flight ticket after a week of being messed around and being quoted different prices every day. I was promised I could change the name, then the Travel Agent went back on their word and told me I’d have to buy a new ticket, and then after complaining they changed their mind again and told me they could change the name, but for a fee of almost £200 (of which we discovered £90 of it was just to reissue us an e-ticket!!). We told them this was utterly unacceptable and after much shouting they eventually backed down and discarded the £90 fee so we ended up paying £85, which was much more acceptable than the original figures we were being quoted.
    Don’t be bullied into paying these fees. Fight your corner and they’ll back down eventually when they know you’re not going to let them take you for a ride!

  • Philip Brown

    Please see my comments on Travelocity & Spirit Air in the forum on Code-sharing.
    Muchas gracias,
    Philip C. Brown