Here’s the first hand story from someone who managed to make a mistake on her plane ticket to the US. If this has happened to you, it might be helpful, it might not, but this is my story.
Warning; There WILL be foul language used, caused by my genuine FURY and extreme distress over this experience.
Warning to my mother; I did not tell you any of this as I knew you would freak out and be sleepless for weeks with no power to do anything about it.
I found a really good deal on flights from Oslo Gardemoen – Los Angeles LAX, for a little less than 5000 NOK ($875 & £540) which is awesome. On a website called Bravofly.com and so I booked the tickets and, remembering a previous traumatising experiences with flight tickets to the US, where somehow, as I refreshed the page, my return date changed. AND I managed to put my middle name as a surname because,
· I have two surnames and one middle name, but in ones passport only one name can be put as surnames. I DIDN’T KNOW THIS.
So, my travel agent company wouldn’t help me as I hadn’t bought their insurance guarantee shizzle, (because I have my own travel insurance and I didn’t think this was gonna happen goddammit)
And after a lot of hassle I was allowed by Air France, somehow
· Who is delightful to fly with btw, great service, nice seats, great food
To change my my name for a fee, and I just thought I’d buy a new return ticket when I got to the US, maybe I could get them for a cheaper price.
Now, I had three changes, the first two flights were with delightful Air France, and when I got to LA, I was supposed to change to America Airlines. THE BASTARDS REFUSED TO CHANGE MY NAME ON THE TICKET! So, my travel agent told me ALL tickets HAD to have the EXACT correct name spelling and order as your Passport, especially in the US, as they are super strict. So I had to buy a NEW ticket from LA to Hawaii, my final destination.
· American Airlines, in my experience, was a cramped plane NOT built for a flight as long as from the mainland US, to the Hawaiian islands. The crew were grumpy, no free food and the boarding took FOREVER. SHIT SHIT SHIT. I reckon they are the American equivalent to Ryanair, you kinda gotta know what you’re getting, and be prepared for it, and in the end it will save you some money, if you get it right.
This time, I got the dates right, but God forbid I’d get it all right, RIGHT?! So, of course, I stare at my passport for my passport number and dates etc. BUT. As I remember from last time, there was only one name allowed in one of the fields, and I, being all high and mighty, thinking, Yeah I KNOW this shit, put only my FIRST NAME, in the category “Name:” and my middle names and surnames as “Surname:” Yeah. Go ahead. I know.
· So my names were SPELLED correctly,
· In the RIGHT order
· ALL names that are in my passport was on my ticket
BUT, I put them in the wrong category.
I freaked. I emailed Bravofly’s customer service, because THIS TIME, I frickin bought the guarantee/insurance crap. JUST IN CASE. Buuuuuuut, this obviously didn’t include ANY help with this at all. So this is how it went;
1. I email them about my mistake, stating my guarantee costumer number, and two days later I email them again. Two days later again, I get a reply to the second email saying this;
With regard to your request we inform you that the majority of the flight companies give you the possibility of change of trip, date or passenger.
You can visualize the change fee of all companies visiting http://www.bravofly.com/content/en/informationairlines.html.
If the price of the ticket is higher than that of the original reservation, the flight company will add the price difference to the change fee (also if you change name).
If you have already reserved your tickets and you want to make a change you can contact Bravofly customer service calling (please find our number according to your country visiting www.bravofly.com)
Hahaha. Yeah right. I check the website, my flight company is Lufthansa, and the whole thing left me rather confused. So I tried their costumer service helpline thingy, but I hang up instantly as I hear that they are gonna charge me like crazy.
And THEN I get a frickin reply to the first frickin email;
yes that will be a problem, the names on the tickets need to match precisely the names on the traveling documents. Unfortunately, the ticket you bought doesn’t allow any kind of change (including name change), This means we can’t change it.
Ahh. What a cunt of an email.
2. So I decide to call the bastards and ask for help. I purchase some calltime from my Skype and call this terribly expensive helpline and reach a person who I can barely understand and get told that I need to contact my airline with my problems, as they can’t do anything for me.
I read my guarantee thing in anger and realise it doesn’t include any help of the sorts when it comes to this change of ticket business, and I start thinking about flaking and ask my doctor to sign like a frickin thing for me saying I’m too ill to do the flight that day to get refunded and buy a new ticket or whatever, so, basically starting to loose my mind. I cannot actually afford another 5000 NOK.
3. So I call LUFTHANSA. Again. Very unhelpful person with a difficult broken English accent, who tells me in a rather unpleasant tone to talk to my travel agent company, even though I said I was referred to my flight company by my travel agent company blab la bla.
I start researching. I find this article; http://www.dinside.no/869864/navnebytte-kan-bli-dyrt
“Hos Lufthansa kan man endre navn på billettene ved å betale 50 euro, som tilsvarer 388 kroner med dagens kurs. En slik navneendring er derimot ikke tillatt av verken British Airways eller KLM.”
At Lufthansa, you can change the name on the tickets by paying 50 euros, equivalent to 388 million at current exchange rate. Such a change, however, is not allowed by either British Airways or KLM.
“Også Lufthansa og KLM sier de retter opp i denne typen feil gratis, og KLM sier dette også gjelder hvis man har for eksempel har byttet om på rekkefølgen på for- og etternavn, eller har skrevet mellomnavn framfor etternavn.”
“Lufthansa and KLM also state that they will amend these errors for free, (Misspelling name) and KLM says this also goes for errors such as swapping the order of middle names and surnames”
I contacted the reporter that wrote this article, and asked who she got this information from, and she said she was told by the Lufthansa press agent,
and recomended me to mention that statement.
4. I CALLED Lufthansa again, and told the unfriendly person this thing, and asked to speak to someone else, but she AGAIN said that I had to call my travel agent, as I hadn’t booked my ticket directly from Lufthansa, which meant they wouldn’t help me.
So I gave up. I GAVE UP.
I thought to myself, FUCK IT. I’m in a situation where I’ve booked on a date four days BEFORE the date I actually HAVE TO BE THERE, so I can take my chances at the airport. I’ll show up, try to check in and see what happens. If they stop me at check in or at the gate, and they refuse me, I’ll just have to buy another ticket. If not, I’ve saved myself that money, I am NOT buying a new ticket just in case. NO.
HAPPY ENDING: I am in the US now! It worked! I consulted my boss at work, who also happens to work at airports as well, and he told me it should be fine, and guess what? IT WAS. At Gardemoen Oslo, the check in now is automatic and you do it on a machine. I was trembling as I was pushing the buttons, but it gave me no problems and spat out my boarding card. BY THE WAY, I have four names on my passport, so they couldn’t all fit on my ticket and were all jumbled together and two letters missin on my surname, and my first name wasn’t even ON there. Dropped my luggage off, no questions asked. Went through security, smooth sailing. Lined up for boarding annnnnnd, they barely frickin LOOKED at my ticket. They SCANNED it, AND my passport, and…. Nothing. Have a nice flight. And I did. NEXT STOP, Frankfurt. Well, it might go wrong here, so don’t take it too easy. NO. No problem. And I knew for a FACT they don’t look at your ticket when you arrive in the US, (although the security there is a Whoooole nother story) so, to all you fretting travellers who’ve made the same mistake as me,
If you’re in a similar position where you can afford to take the chance, (time wise), DO it. You are likely to be OK.
*And it has to be said that LUFTHANSA were rather a good flight company when it came to the flight itself. Good service, nice screens, seats, fast boarding, BUT, weird too German food for my taste, but constant refill on drinks.
*ALSO, has to be said, you can find excellent bargains on flights on Bravofly.com , just KNOW that they are unhelpful bastard, and there is NO need to buy their guarantee if you have your own travel insurance.