Delta bends a rule after daughter’s tragic death

I’m honored to introduce our newest columnist, Andrew Der. His weekly feature is called “The Good News Guy” and it offers a much-needed counterpoint to all the negative stories on this site. I hope you find this feature as uplifting and inspiring as I have.

Too often, airline rules add insult to injury.

If you cancel a flight, for example, they make you pay even more for a new one, assuming the fees and fare differential don’t consume the entire value of your credit. And forget about changing the name on your ticket — it’s not allowed.

But those rules are not written in stone. Thank goodness for that.
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Hello, Dummy! Comcast calls its customers more shocking names

Caution: This post contains language that may not be appropriate for a family audience.

The most shocking thing about a revelation that a Comcast employee changed a customer’s name to “a**hole” was how shocked everyone was.

Readers reacted with indignation at my report that the company with the worst customer service scores in America would have employees who hated their customers enough to put it in writing.
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Help, the names on my kids’ airline tickets are wrong — what should I do?

arrowHeather Matinde’s problem is fairly common, but when it happens to you, it can sure seem like the end of the world. She’d just paid a small fortune for airline tickets from Los Angeles to Brussels on Expedia, only to discover a serious problem with her sons’ reservation.

Each boy had each others’ middle names on their tickets, and the airline was balking at making a correction. Unfortunately, Matinde didn’t reach out to Expedia and the airline, Jet Airways, within 24 hours and — you guessed it — the airline was refusing to fix the names.
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“It sounds like criminal activity to me”

Getting a ticket name change can be an uphill climb. / Photo by ykanazawa1999 - Flickr
And now, a little story about names, online travel agencies, airlines and the TSA.

Are you still with me?

Good. Because this could affect your next trip if you’re not careful.
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Can this trip be saved? I paid for the ticket — where’s my credit?

One of the things travelers love about an airline like Southwest is that it goes against the grain. When other airlines charge baggage fees, it doesn’t. When they impose change fees, it doesn’t. When they have assigned seats, Southwest refuses.

So passengers can be forgiven for getting a little upset when Southwest starts acting like … well, other airlines.
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Ridiculous or not? Your airline ticket isn’t transferrable

Why can’t you change the name on your airline ticket?

Chayaron Hantalom wants to know. He’s a first-year law student at the University of Wisconsin, and last month, he booked tickets to fly from Madison to Los Angeles for himself and his girlfriend.

“Unfortunately, on the ticket back from Las Vegas to Madison, I put my girlfriend’s last name as my last name,” he says. Neither Orbitz, through which he bought the tickets, nor Delta Air Lines, the carrier they’re flying on, will fix the error.

Why not?
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It may be useful to remember the name on your hotel reservation

Jerry Stannard booked a room at the St. Gregory Luxury Hotel & Suites in Washington through Expedia recently. But when he tried to confirm the reservation by phone, no one had heard of him. He had to pay for another room, even though Expedia already had his money.

Did the hotel lose Stannard’s reservation? Did Expedia forget to tell the St. Gregory he was coming?

No — and no.

Stannard phoned my friends at KCRA when he couldn’t get a $499 refund for the first pre-paid reservation from Expedia. KCRA contacted me for help. Why was was the online agency holding on to his money?

The answer: Stannard had booked a reservation at the St. Gregory. Under a different name.

I asked Expedia to look into this case, and its records show that he failed to remember the correct name he’d booked the room under.

Since they could not find a booking under his name, he and the hotel assumed it had been mistakenly canceled, and he booked another room and was therefore charged twice. I’ve been advised that the record on Mr. Stannard’s itinerary does not contain significant detail from that point, so as a measure of goodwill, Expedia has refunded Mr. Stannard in the amount of $499.

Lesson learned? Try to remember the name on your reservation. Otherwise you might have to pay for your hotel room again.

It was generous of Expedia to give Stannard the benefit of the doubt. But it didn’t have to.

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.