Can this trip be saved? Wrong middle name on my airline ticket

Having the wrong name on your airline ticket is no longer a minor inconvenience, now that the TSA has begun enforcing its name-matching requirements for airline tickets. And that could be a show-stopper for Jesse Demastrie and his wife, who are scheduled to fly from Washington to Las Vegas for the holidays.

The problem? Demastrie’s father, who booked the flights through Travelocity, got his wife’s name wrong.

“He inadvertently used my wife’s old middle name,” he says. “She actually dropped her middle name and now uses her maiden name as her middle name. So the ticket she was issued has her correct first and last name but her old middle name.”

Passengers must now provide their full names as they appear on a government-issued ID, their date of birth and their gender when they book a flight.

Demastrie is concerned his wife won’t be allowed on the plane.
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Why is Travelocity “unable” to refund my ticket?

Question: I’m writing to you because of a really difficult situation that I have with Travelocity.

My girlfriend and I had a set of multi-destination tickets that we booked through the site. We called Travelocity to ask if we could change one of our flights from Chicago to Washington. An agent told me it would cost another $300. She was nice but her English was not all that great. I got a confirmation email, but without any numbers.

Instead of charging me $300, Travelocity billed me another $4,000. They re-issued all the flights again, including the transatlantic flight.

I’ve been on the phone with their agents for the past month or more, trying to get this fixed. Eventually, they told me that if I cancel the remaining flights I would get a refund, which I agreed to. The refund was to appear on my credit card in one to two billing cycles. I re-arranged my travel plans and bought the tickets I needed elsewhere.

However, I then received an e-mail that said Travelocity is “unable to refund” the money. I called to see what was happening, and several agents and supervisors said that the refund is no longer possible but that I can get credit for future purchases, provided that flights take place within a year. Do you have any advice? — Marko Grdesic, Madison, Wis.

Answer: Next time, don’t change your flights. Oh, who am I kidding? Plans change, and Travelocity should have been able to handle this request without sucking another $4,000 from your bank account.
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Wrong name on plane ticket means son won’t be home for Christmas — what now?

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?
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Paris for 10 euros a night — uh, make that 100 euros

Question: I recently booked a hotel in Paris through Travelocity for 10 euros a night. Great rate, huh? Afterward, I booked airline tickets separately.

Not long after that, in the course of e-mail conversations with the hotel, they told me this was a mistake and that they could not honor the rate. Instead, they offered to increase my rate to 100 euros a night.

I then contacted Travelocity via phone, told them the problem and they called back and left me a voice mail saying it was a mistake and to go ahead and travel and then when I got back to contact the consumer relations department for a refund. I still have the voice mail. I contacted the hotel via e-mail and I said I would accept the new rate.

Now Travelocity has offered me a $50 voucher for my trouble. A few days later, they upped it to $250. This is pretty much worthless to me as I usually travel using miles and book my hotels using points. Can you help? — Patrick Kerr, St Louis

Answer: You’re right, that’s a great rate for a hotel room. Unbelievably good. And if Travelocity hadn’t left a voice mail promising to refund 90 euros a night, your case wouldn’t stand much of a chance.
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And the online travel agency with the most complaints is …

Expedia. That’s according to a survey of my authoritative email “in” box, which contains seven years of complaint data from travelers. Coming in second? Travelocity, followed by Orbitz.

Alright, my methods may not be completely scientific (after all, my email contains all of my correspondence, not just complaints) but it’s a pretty good indicator.
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Can this trip be saved? No one told her about the flight restrictions for kids

Note: This is the second installment of “Can this trip be saved?” where you get to vote on whether I mediate a case. The first case was solved last week (see update).

Even though she did her best to ensure her 15-year-old grandson could make the flight from St. Louis to Fort Myers, Fla., things didn’t quite work out for Victoria Horwitz-Denger. He ended up having to pay another $100 to fly down to Florida and bought a brand-new ticket to get home.

Now Horwitz-Denger wants some of her money back — either from her online travel agency, Travelocity, or from her airline.

Why? No one mentioned the restrictions on the ticket for minors.

Should I intervene on her behalf, and ask Travelocity or the air carrier to return her money, or have they done enough?
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Rooms for $58 a night at the Ritz Carlton Chicago? No way!

When Jack Whalen found an unbelievable room rate of $58 a night at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago — and on a holiday weekend, no less — he was thrilled. “This was to have been an anniversary trip, and my wife would love to stay at a high end hotel at a great price,” he says.

But the price, which he found through Travelocity, was unbelievable. Turns out it was a fat finger rate. A Ritz-Carlton employee had misplaced a decimal point, turning $580 rooms into $58 rooms. Oops.

Although Ritz-Carlton tried to make it up to him by offering a discounted, but significantly more expensive rate, Whalen is unhappy.
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“The woman seemed mad that we had made the reservation through Travelocity”

It’s a common problem with an uncommon resolution. Stephen Andrews accidentally typed his name as “Stehen” when he booked a package tour through Travelocity, and he thought a quick call to the airline might fix the problem. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

“The woman seemed mad that we had made the reservation through Travelocity and was adamant that neither she or anyone else at her call center could change the spelling of my name,” he says. “She said that Travelocity had to fix it.”

Whoa. Why would Hawaiian be mad that anyone booked through a travel agency? (There are many possible answers, but I’ll save that for another post entitled “Travel agents versus airlines: The untold story.”)

Until then, let’s just say the Hawaiian employee should have kept her opinion to herself. How the airline feels about online travel agencies is no concern of their customers.

A solution to his his ticket typo? That concerns anyone reading this site.
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“It is a blatant ambush of personal credit card information”

The pop-up ad Kathy Agosta says she saw after finishing a reservation on Travelocity recently looked like a confirmation screen from the online travel agency, and it offered $20 cash back if she signed up for a service. Although she never shared her credit card information with the advertiser, she found a troubling connection.

“As it turns out, merely clicking on the hyperlink to get more information about the offer apparently allows the advertiser to charge a fee on the same credit card just used to purchase the airline tickets from Travelocity’s website,” she told me. “There is no credit card approval step on this pop-up to warn the Travelocity customer that a charge will be placed by this advertiser on the credit card they just used.”

Is this a more sophisticated version of the opt-out scheme, which Travelocity and other online agencies practice? Or perhaps another shady post-transaction marketing scheme, which may be about to become illegal?

Maybe. Maybe not.
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No airline cookie conspiracy? What about this trail of crumbs?

Airlines and online travel agencies surreptitiously use computer “cookies” they’ve implanted on your Web browser to track your activity on their sites and then raise prices when it appears that you’re interested in a fare. That’s the rumor, at least.

I inadvertently resurrected a long-simmering controversy over this rumor a few weeks ago, when I blamed airfare fluctuations on a practice called “caching,” which lets airlines or travel agencies store a copy of all fare information on their sites. Caching is efficient and cost-effective for the company, but less than 5 percent of the fares may no longer be available.

So what’s really going on?
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Help! My baggage didn’t make the connection

Question: I am a Marine based in Nicosia, Cyprus. I have a situation, and I am looking for some guidance.

I recently bought tickets from Travelocity for my fiancee, Cara. Her return itinerary had her flying from Cyprus to Athens and then on to Munich on a Lufthansa flight operated by Aegean Airlines.

Her stopover in Athens was 50 minutes, which was not a problem. But when we checked in at Cyprus, she was only given a boarding pass to Athens and was told to pick up another boarding pass in Athens after retrieving her luggage. It didn’t make sense.

To make a long story short, I contacted Travelocity but Cara missed her connection in Athens and had to pay $250 to change her flight, and had to stay in a hotel for the night until the next day, which also wasn’t cheap.

I don’t know if this is just a mix up and we just got the short end of the stick, or if there is something we can do. Any help would be greatly appreciated. — Joshua Smith, Nicosia, Cyprus

Answer: Cara should have been able to check her baggage all the way through to Munich, no questions asked. When you phoned Travelocity, they should have given you a straight answer about why that wasn’t possible and helped you and your fiancee figure out a solution.
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“How can this possibly be legal?”

At first glance, Deanna Dawkins’ flight itinerary from Jacksonville, Fla., to London looked perfectly normal. There was only a change of plane in New York, according to Travelocity.

But neither she, nor her father, Robert, examined the schedule closely. If they had, they’d have noticed a small notation: “Airport change from New York La Guardia (LGA) to New York J F Kennedy International Airport (JFK).”

That’s right. Dawkins would have to take a cab across town.
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