A sad story from Canada, where a man’s trip to Ireland was ruined because he used his nickname instead of his full legal name when booking his airline ticket. I find it absurd that three missing letters cost him his trip, but it is an important reminder to always use your legal name when purchasing airline tickets and to insist that a ticket be corrected should you make a typographical error. An airline ticket spelling error, even just one letter, can end up costing you your trip.
Irish Holiday Ruined After Airline Ticket Spelling Error
Doug Lee planned a trip of a lifetime to Ireland. The Canadian resident booked a ticket for him and his wife to Dublin from their home in Halifax. They planned to join another couple for 10 days in Ireland.
They booked a ticket on Air Transat from Halifax (YHZ) to Dublin (DUB) via Toronto (YYZ), with the first segment operated by Porter Airlines. The trouble began at check-in. Lee’s full name his Douglas, but he put “Doug” on the ticket.
Porter Airlines staff said they could not check him in because of the mismatch. For the next five hours the couple (and their children) frantically worked to correct the error. Porter Airlines could not help. The travel agency they used to make the booking (unknown) claimed it could not help. Air Transat said updated the name on the ticket and reissued it, but Porter Airlines could not see the correction and refused to check-in him for the flight.
So they forfeited the trip. Air Transat did refund the tickets and also promised it is working to create a more seamless information exchange with Porter Airlines to avoid precisely this type of problem. But it also reasonably noted that the booking was made months in advance via a travel agency and that this should have been caught earlier and corrected by the travel agency.
I generally loathe using travel agencies (even online agencies like Orbitz or Expedia) because any little change (like a typo on the name) becomes a major drama to fix. Furthermore, when something goes wrong (like a flight cancellation), airlines tend to push consumers back to their travel agents, creating a needless layer of complexity and wasted time.
When possible, always book your tickets directly. It is rare that you will see a travel agent offering a cheaper price for a ticket.
Always remember that the name on your ticket should match the name on your ID.
The fact that Lee is a senior citizen and a very rare air traveler does not absolve him of the situation. Even so, it sounds like there was no mechanism in place to update a name on the issuing carrier (Air Transat) and push it to the operating carrier (Porter). I would think after all else failed, Air Transat could have canceled the original booking and created a new booking with the right name.
There are mechanisms in place to update your airline ticket if you spell your name correctly. Do not leave it until the last minute…check and double check your tickets and make changes immediately if you notice an error to avoid precisely this scenario.
A couple lost their dream trip to Ireland because of three missing letters on an airline ticket. As tragic and unnecessary as I find such a situation, it is a good reminder to always double-check your ticket and book directly with the airline when possible instead of via a travel agency. Hopefully, the Lees will have a chance to return to Ireland next year.