I cannot think of anything more aggravating than spending hours upon hours constructing and booking an award reservation only to find the tickets were issued incorrectly and the prospects for correction are slim.
I have been working all week on a complex Continental Airlines award reservation for four people from the East Coast to a city in Asia. The requirements were strict: narrow date range, four passengers, business or first class, everyone on the same flight.
While it took extensive research, I was able to piece together a nice outbound at the saver level that included Lufthansa First Class and Turkish Business Class. Finding four seats on the same flight, let alone four first or business class saver seats, is a tall task, but I succeeded and the clients were thrilled.
The return was even more difficult and in the interest of time, the clients elected to go with a Standard Award/Easy-Pass option.
With itinerary in hand (the outbound was too complex to book on CO.com), I called the airline and the agent found the flights. I gave him the OnePass numbers of the passengers and to confirm the names, I spelled out the name of each passengers as it appeared on their passports. He said he had everything recorded and issued the tickets.
The confirmation e-mail arrived a few minutes later and 3/4 of the names were misspelled–two of them royally misspelled. I immediately picked up the phone and called CO, but it was too late–the tickets had already been issued. I presented the problem to the reservations agent and she placed me on hold for over 30 minutes while trying to deal with it.
She came back stating she has been working with two supervisors and that my “best bet” was to stop by the airport and have them change the name. That’s ridiculous–I told her if the airport can change a name on a ticket, so could she. She argued that was not the case.
I floated the idea of changing the outbound to an “Easy-Pass” award on UA/CO metal and she put me on hold and came back agreeing to do so–but then she proceeded to tell me there no space at all on the flights I wanted. I had the computer in front of me and told her she was searching for Saver-Space, instead of Easy-Pass space. Nope–she replied that the flights I wanted were “completely sold out” in business class.
Referencing the computer screen in front of me, I told her there were plenty of Easy-Pass (i.e. revenue) seats available and that she should check again. She placed me on hold and came back stating she could only book “the higher award level” on Continental flights, not United flights. Again, not true.
She proposed a new routing through new cities with an economy connection to the destination. I knew that would be unacceptable so I refused. By now two hours had passed and I was tired of talking. I asked that the records be carefully documented and was urged once more to go the airport to change the ticket.
I called Continental back and got a guy who first said, “There’s no need to go the airport until the day of travel. They’ll be easily able to change it there–it’s noted in the reservation.” I did not buy it and stated, “But the first operating carrier is US Airways and they won’t be able to see the CO notes on the reservation.”
Silence, then more silence. I proposed being moved to a Easy-Pass award on the outbound at the Saver-Pass level and was told that wouldn’t be possible “because the names aren’t off by that much.” Actually, they were.
Placed on hold, at least the agent agreed to check with his supervisor. 25 minutes later he came back stating that the Easy-Pass award was not an option (apparently the last agent did not document that), nor was changing the name at the airport. “You’re right sir, if we can’t do it, they can’t do and anyways, US Airways is the first operating carrier.” Brilliant Holmes.
So I asked, “What do we do now?” More silence, then this: “Well, let’s wait a few days and see if that inventory goes back into first and business class.” I asked what he meant, because the tickets were issued and will not be cancelled until I have a solution. The agent had no answer. I actually knew what he meant: when you cancel an award, sometimes the award seats go back into inventory, but that is never a guarantee and in my experience does not happen on Lufthansa flights. And I was not about to cancel the award, on the slim chance that the space would returm.
In the end, the Continental folks had nothing they could offer me. I’ll keep calling and plan to stop by at the ticket desk tomorrow in Frankfurt, but I am really not happy about this situation nor optimistic about a positive outcome. I’ll probably be told that without passports, the agents cannot help.
But while I am not optimistic that the ticket in its current form is fixable, I am hopeful Continental will work with me to resolve this issue–even if takes hours on the phone.
The thing that makes me most angry is that I spelled out the names, yet the agent still misspelled them–both first and last on one poor guy. At the end of the last name on one reservation, he added the first four letters of one of the client’s first name. Such a sloppy error…
The point of this post is not to rip Continental, but as a warning to you: check, double check, and triple check names on awards before the tickets are issued, because once they are issued, it may be too late.
Let’s see how this one turns out. Stay tuned.