So summer is in full swing here in Idaho and its feels wonderful. People are in better moods, clients are getting closer to their summer vacations and overall it’s a fun time to work. As I have mentioned in the past, I love what I do but of course some days are better than others.
This month my struggle has been airlines and their policies when it comes to typos in the name on the PNR as well as reissuing tickets when the airlines change the schedule. As we all know, everything has to match the identification the client will be using when checking in exactly. When travelling domestically it’s usually a driver’s license and when travelling internationally it’s a passport. Sometimes mistakes are made; after all we are only human and we don’t live in a perfect world as much as we would like to think so. So, a mistake was made this month and I went to my always-there travel agent forums to see how other agents manage these errors. I had a family travelling to Japan, China and Hong Kong next month and although I ask my customers to review all the names and spellings on their itinerary before I issue the ticket, the customer can oversee things too. I had a leg booked on Alaska Airlines, then Korean and then later on in their trip –China Eastern. One of the names of the children had one letter error. His name was ‘Jonathan’ and I had ‘Jonathon.’ Since the ticket was validated on Korean they were my go-to airline to correct the error. They instructed me to divide the record and rebook a new PNR with the correct name and then exchange the ticket as an even exchange. If only it was as easy as that. 10 days and counting, I was still trying to fix this with cancelled records and non-confirmed PNRs. I shan’t mention we get no commission from the airlines, so it’s like working for free. Korean did their part eventually and although it was validated on them the China Eastern segment could not confirm the original class of service. I spent hours on hold listening to a lovely message explaining how important my call was and how they were just a brief moment away. Ha! 3 hours later I was still on hold trying to speak to a supervisor. A few times when I did get through, my line would drop and I would lose the call. I felt my hair turning grey every time I had to re-explain my situation to yet another new person. This has been a thorn in my side and cost me a lot of my time at work; not to mention the anxiety at home thinking about it. I did end up requesting the class of service through the GDS with China Eastern and it finally came through confirmed on my end so that I could do the even exchange.
Surely there has to be some easier way of doing this. I have friends who have worked for Delta and United in the past and have heard how they change it simply enough in their system. So why does it have to be so hard on our end? Why can’t the airlines issue an approval code to put in the PNR and verify it that way?
I posted my issue on a travel agent forum and my response from other agents was “the airlines can simply put in an “OSI” letting TSA know that there was a typo – not a misspelling, and the TSA is fine with that. In fact the airlines didn’t even notice the 2 records as having a misspelling when they pulled it up; I pointed it out. Many agents confirmed their frustration as well. So what is the correct way? Is there a correct way or does it depend on who you talk to on the other end?
So what is the procedure we should follow? Aren’t we all supposed to be in business with each other as partners helping each other? I sometimes wonder….
I would love to hear of others’ mishaps and headaches in the world of airline ticketing and how they were resolved. I thought travel was to be fun for all involved not about penalizing you when you make a small mistake and then charging you an arm and leg to change it? Or am I just a naïve, hopeful travel agent looking for more simplicity within my job?
Nikki Smith works in a Boise based brick and mortar agency, Global Travel, a Virtuoso Agency. Nikki got her start in her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland when she started in the industry as a flight attendant. She has also worked as a guide for ski and snow vacations worldwide.