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Ticketing Errors, Schedule Mix-ups, and Wrong Destinations

by on July 8, 2014 · 30 comments

in Airline Industry, American, Delta, Elite Status, JetBlue, Southwest, TPG Contributors, United, US Airways, Virgin America

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Today TPG Contributor Nick Ewen looks at common ticketing errors, how to avoid them, and how to survive them if they happen to you.

As a travel enthusiast and die-hard soccer fan (still smarting from last week’s dramatic US-Belgium result), I couldn’t help but cringe when I read about the Australian couple who thought they had booked a dream trip to the World Cup in Salvador, Brazil, only to be sent to San Salvador, El Salvador after a travel agent error.

I’m a seasoned traveler, typically on the road for work (or for fun) about 150 nights a year, so I can’t imagine making this mistake myself. However, it got me thinking about common mistakes that arise when booking flights. In this case, the couple eventually made it to their intended destination, and appear to have been compensated for their troubles. Unfortunately, not every such story ends happily. This post will take a closer look at amusing travel snafus as well as more costly mistakes, including some tips on how to avoid them and an overview of what it takes to remedy them.

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Those who’ve been to travel hell would rather not go back. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock.)

When I hear or read stories like the one about the Australian couple, a simple question arises that needs answering: who is at fault, the airline or the passenger? As you can imagine, many scenarios aren’t clear cut. It’s important to remember that airlines are in business to make money. If they can pass the blame onto the passenger, they probably will, since correcting such mistakes can be a drag on their bottom line. That puts the burden on us as travelers to be extremely careful when locking in travel plans. As points & miles enthusiasts, we tend towards more complicated itineraries that need to be booked over the phone, adding another layer to an already complex process. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common errors that occur when booking flights.

Wrong Name(s)
Getting your name right should be one of the simplest aspects of booking a flight. Unfortunately, any simple mistake can cause minor headaches (no TSA PreCheck because I left off my middle name!) or major issues when traveling. If you’re traveling domestically, small errors might not derail your plans. The FAQ page at TSA.gov states:

“If the name printed on my boarding pass is different than what appears on my government ID, will I be turned away at security and unable to fly?
Boarding passes may not always display the exact name you provided when booking your travel. The name you provide is used to perform watch list matching before a boarding pass is issued, so small differences should not impact your travel.”

However, anything beyond a simple name swap (first name listed as last name and vice versa) or an errant letter or two could raise red flags in TSA’s Secure Flight program, which attempts to prevent those on various terror watch lists from traveling on domestic or US-bound international flights. At the end of the day, it may come down to the individual airline or TSA employee to identify if “John Smith” can travel when his ID spells his name “Jonathan Smyth.”

passport

Another aspect of this involves legal name changes for marriage, divorce, or other reasons. My wife and I took a honeymoon immediately after we got married, but we made sure to book her flight in her maiden name to avoid any travel issues with her passport. Per the state department website, processing a name change on a passport can take up to 6 weeks. Since we didn’t have our marriage license until a few days before departure, we chose to wait until after we returned to change her name.

Wrong Date(s)
Another common mistake is booking a flight for the wrong dates. When booking flights over the phone, any attempt at reconciliation can quickly devolve into a “he said, she said” argument. You may swear six ways to Sunday that you said September thirteenth, but the phone agent may hear September thirtieth. This can also happen with online booking. Consider, for example, what happens on AA.com when trying to book a flight for this coming February: if you aren’t paying close attention, you may miss that the calendar jumps from showing January and February when choosing the outbound flight to showing February and March when choosing the return flight. Thus, your weekend trip to New York becomes more than a month long!

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Virgin Atlantic (and some other airlines) attempts to idiot proof its website by forcing passengers to select travel dates directly from a calendar.

Another aspect of the date mistake phenomenon involves different formats. While most American-based airlines use the Month/Day/Year format, most international carriers put the day first. Fortunately, pretty much all airline websites have made it much harder to make this mistake. Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa, for example, won’t even allow travelers to type in their desired travel dates manually, making them instead select from a calendar. British Airways, on the other hand, does give you the option to manually input the departure and return dates. However, the format depends on the “home country” you select when you navigate to their website. Typing in “01/02/15” and “01/04/15” on the UK site gives you a trip from February 1 through April 1; the same dates on the US site yields a trip from January 2 through January 4.

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Flying to Sidney? You might want to double check the airport code.

Wrong Airport
This error is more of a gray area when it comes to responsibility, especially with phone bookings. Whether we like it or not, there are many airports with the same (or similar) names, as the Australian couple mentioned above found out with their Salvador, Brazil/San Salvador, El Salvador gaff. Here are some other ones, including links to articles where mistakes have occurred:

-     Sydney, Australia and Sydney, Nova Scotia (see herehere, and here)

-     Birmingham, England and Birmingham, Alabama (see here)

-     San Jose, California; San Jose, Costa Rica; and San Jose (del Cabo), Mexico (see here)

-     Dakar, Senegal and Dhaka, Bangladesh (see here)

-     Grenada (island in the Caribbean) and Granada, Spain (see here)

-     Columbus, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; and Columbus, Mississippi

-     Albany, New York and Albany, Georgia (see here)

-     Manchester, New Hampshire and Manchester, England

-     Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon

-     Charleston, South Carolina and Charleston, West Virginia

-     Columbia, South Carolina and Columbia, Missouri

-     Melbourne, Florida and Melbourne, Australia

-     London, England and London, Ontario

-     Panama City, Panama and Panama City, Florida

-     Oakland, California and Auckland, New Zealand (see here)

-     Jacksonville, Florida and Jacksonville, North Carolina

Of course, each of these airports has its own unique three-character code, but when you search for cities on many travel sites (both airlines and third-party booking sites), all of the options will show up, and if you’re in a rush, it’s frighteningly easy to select the wrong one! For example, my corporate booking site (Egencia) will list Melbourne, Australia first, and if you type in “Columb” when searching for an airport, you’ll see both Columbias and all three Columbuses!

How to avoid these mistakes
Obviously, you are your own first line of defense when it comes to avoiding these mistakes, immediately recognizing them when they occur, or minimizing the damage that they cause. Here are some simple tips:

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Familiarity with airport codes can help you get to the right destination.

1)     Know your airport codes. When you search for flights to Portland or Panama City, the search engine should list each city along with its three-character IATA code. This can help you verify that you’re traveling to the correct city. Most sites allow you to actually search by typing in the code, and many include a lookup tool to facilitate this process. My personal favorite site for such information is simple and lists the name of the airport, its three-digit code, and the city in which it’s located.

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Make sure your itineraries are correct both before and after you purchase!

2)     Double- and triple-check your itineraries. This should go without saying, but when you’re booking a flight either online or over the phone, verify the dates, destinations, and passenger names twice or even three times before locking in those details. Then, when you get the e-mailed itinerary, scan it again to make sure it looks good. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires airlines to issue penalty-free cancellations within 24 hours of booking, so if you notice a discrepancy and immediately call to report it, you should be able to fix the itinerary with limited hassle.

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Consider refundable fares, but only when they’re economically viable.

3)     Buy a refundable ticket. There’s no question that refundable tickets are more expensive than non-refundable ones. However, if the price difference isn’t too large, the additional flexibility might be a good idea (though be sure to look at the price difference between coach and first, as the above example indicates!). I did this once with a tentative wedding date for a friend, and I’m glad I did, since the date was eventually changed! Cancelling and refunding the ticket was a simple process with no fees or hassle.

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Choice Plus fare on American Airlines

Another option to consider is purchasing a Choice Plus fare on American Airlines. When they were first introduced, they offered more flexibility at a much lower cost, though as the linked post above indicates, they were significantly devalued earlier this year. Still, they offer significant savings over a truly refundable ticket. Remember that even though Choice Plus fares waive the change fee, a fare difference may still apply.

Finally, if you’re traveling domestically (or to select international destinations) you can always just fly Southwest Airlines, which leads the industry with its no-fee change and cancellation policy, even on award tickets. If only more airlines would follow suit!

4)     Consider travel insurance. Last year, TPG commissioned Princeton Survey Research Associates International to study travel insurance, and the results were quite interesting. The most common reason for purchasing travel insurance was trip cancellation coverage, with over half of the respondents citing this rationale. You can generally get this coverage from airlines directly as well as independent providers (see TPG’s post from last July for more information). We all see these options when we check out on airline websites, and many actually have separate sites devoted to them. However, be sure to read the fine print carefully, as simple mistakes when booking may not be covered. Unfortunately, the travel benefits offered from credit cards as well as the new AirCare program from Berkshire Hathaway will not help with these issues, as they mainly apply to snafus that occur while traveling.

5)     Use common sense. I think sometimes we can get a little carried away as points & miles enthusiasts, but it’s important to remember that common sense has to prevail. In the above example with the Birmingham mix-up, the first red flag for me would’ve been the price. How in the world can we fly from England across the Atlantic to the Caribbean and back for just £400 per person? The second would have been the flight times. Birmingham, England to (insert connecting city here) to Trinidad obviously would require much longer flights than those leaving from Birmingham, Alabama.

What to do after the fact
Unfortunately mistakes will happen, not only with us but also with airline employees. If an error was made and you didn’t catch it immediately, there are a few things to keep in mind as you try to sort it out:

1)     It doesn’t hurt to call and ask for help. I’ve been in the points & miles game for several years now, and I have had phone agents at Delta, American, US Airways, JetBlue, and Southwest all bend the rules for me at some point or another. (Quick disclaimer: I am not a “Do You Know Who I Am?!” type of traveler; in all cases, I simply called and politely asked for some leniency.) This should be your first step when you find any type of error on a flight reservation. If you are nice to an agent, explain the error, and very politely ask for help, you may find a sympathetic person on the other end of the line. If they can’t or won’t help, you can always try to hang up and call again, but don’t push your luck; three “No’s” in a row probably indicates that your problem can’t be fixed as easily as you’d like.

How this phone call unfolds also depends on who is in the wrong. If the airline clearly made the mistake and I find a phone agent unwilling to help, I’ll politely ask to speak to a supervisor. They can usually offer be more flexible than a regular agent. Be firm but respectful; no one will want to help a traveler with an attitude.

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Itinerary changes can let you off the hook from booking errors.

2)     Keep an eye out for schedule changes. For the most part, significant schedule changes are a points & miles enthusiast’s worst nightmare, as your meticulously planned itinerary (which may include hard-to-change hotel reservations or non-refundable, pre-booked tours) goes up in smoke. However, if you have a trip booked with some type of significant error (like those mentioned above), a schedule change can be a lifesaver. Most airlines allow fee-free cancellations or rebookings when a schedule change results in a missed connection or when an airline drops a direct flight. My wife and I were supposed to visit Istanbul this past New Year’s using Delta miles, but they dropped their direct JFK-IST flight and wanted to rebook us on Air France’s 6 am flight to CDG or KLM’s 5:45 am flight to AMS. On the morning after New Year’s Eve? No thanks! A big change like this (or even some smaller changes) may afford you some additional options.

3)     Take advantage of elite status (or free changes anytime). Most airlines offer some type of fee waivers for certain tiers of elite status. Some apply to paid tickets, while others apply to award tickets. Here are some additional details:

Delta: Waives cancellation and reticketing fees on award tickets for Platinum and Diamond Medallions.

American: Waives change and reinstatement charges on award tickets for Executive Platinum members.

US Airways: Waives mileage redeposit fee for unused award tickets for Chairman’s Preferred members.

United: Waives change fees for date/time/cabin/carrier modifications made at least 21 days in advance for Silver, Gold, Platinum, 1K, and Global Services members; waives change fees for last-minute changes and origin/destination changes for Platinum, 1K, and Global Services members.

JetBlue: Waives change and cancellation fees for Mosaic members on both paid and award tickets.

Virgin America: Waives mileage redeposit fee for Elevate Gold members.

Southwest: Has no fees for changing or cancelling paid or award tickets.

Keep in mind that changes to existing paid tickets on JetBlue (for Mosaic members) and Southwest (for all travelers) might still cost more due to a difference in fare; the policies described above pertain only to avoiding additional fees.

4)     Get ready to pay. Southwest is currently the only US-based carrier to not impose any change or cancellations fees; in fact, the trend in recent years has been for most carriers to increase these fees. Most legacy carriers in the U.S. now charge $200 for changes or cancellations to domestic tickets outside the 24-hour risk-free cancellation window, and international change fees can get up to $750! These change fees are a BIG reason why it’s so important to check and then re-check every bit of information that you provide to the airlines when booking flights.

There’s no question that airlines are in the business of making money, so as savvy travelers, we have to pay very close attention to avoid these mistakes or catch them soon enough to avoid costly penalties and the potential to ruin vacations.

Do any of you have funny stories (or nightmares) related to these types of mistakes? Please share them in the comments below!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Kallie S

    One issue I personally seen close to this. I was checking in for my trip and there was a couple one counter down from myself. They were all ready to go and then the agent told them they had no reservation in the system. One handed the agent their itinerary and she looks at it and says, you see this, it says itinerary only, not ticket. At this point the people were getting pretty upset. The agent then told them to call the help line because she had other customers to check in. So I guess also make you actually booked your ticket before your trip date.

  • Drew J

    @TPG the article links about the airport code section are not working, also where is the video for the aa.com portion? Editor sleep in today?

  • Guest

    Also important to know is that fares booked from the US are fully refundable for 24 hours (unless the airline gave you the option of a 24 hour hold before purchasing). If they refuse to allow you to cancel penalty free – document with screen shots everything and contact the U.S. Department of Transportation. I have been through that before when booking on Avianca and the US Dept of Transportation was able to “convince” them to refund my purchase price when I bought the booked the wrong dates and attempted to cancel w/in 24 hours. However, the gentleman at the US Dept of Transportation informed me that I didn’t have time stamped screen shots and emails he may not have been able to help me.

  • Kimberly Rotter

    All links go to an OWA site.

  • LMP

    Also important to know is that flights booked from the U.S. are eligible for cancellation for 24 hours from booking (unless you were given the option of a 24 hour hold before purchasing). If they refuse, you can contact the U.S. Department of Transportation and lodge a complaint, and they will help you. I had this happen earlier this year, when I booked flights to South America on Avianca for the wrong week. I attempted to cancel w/in hours, and go the utter run around. Luckily after the phone calls were chaotic with the airline, i attempted to cancel online and sent email confirmations and took screen shot of everything. The officer at the dept. of transportation was VERY helpful when Avianca was refusing to cancel, and was able to convince them that they needed to cancel to be in compliance with US. Transportation rules. However, the gentleman at the US Dept of Transportation
    informed me that if I hadn’t of have time stamped screen shots and emails., which I did, he
    may not have been able to help me.

  • Nick Ewen

    Absolutely right, and you’ll see that is included under the “Double- and triple-check your itineraries” section. Good to know that the policy actually has some teeth!

  • Santastico

    Here are my tips to reduce chance of mistakes:
    1) I always have a print out of the NATO phonetic alphabet in front of me and I use those universal words to spell airport codes, my full name, etc… It may be an overkill but travel agents are used to those terms and it helps them to get it right;
    2) Always write it down the airport codes, spell them using the NATO alphabet and confirm. I travel a lot to Sao Paulo, Brazil. This is how I talk to the agent: I am flying to Sao Paulo in Brazil, airport code GRU and I spell GRU (G as in Golf, R as in Romeo and U as in Uniform);
    3) For dates, I never say third or thirteen or even worst the thirtieth. I say “April thirteen” and repeat “one, three”.
    4) I always do my research online first. In the case of this couple that got to San Salvador instead of Salvador, I am pretty sure that it would be easy to catch the mistake if they had a clue of the following: flight time, time of take off and landing, connections, airlines. I can guarantee you that if they knew a flight to Salvador, Brazil would land in the morning or afternoon, what airline flies to that city, how long it takes from departure to destination they would have figure out they had the wrong booking;
    5) Ask someone to triple check your itinerary. When you spend too much time researching for a vacation you may lose track of details and even having the wrong details you sometimes can read many times and won’t see it. I always ask my wife to read all the details of what I am booking since she was not involved in the process so she can easily pick a silly mistake;
    6) Most of airlines allow changes or cancellations within 24 hours. Use that time to check all the details.

  • http://wang.yuxuan.org/ Yuxuan Wang

    Regarding the wrong airport, there’s a good one at China: Yinchuan and Incheon. They have a very similar pronunciation, and a very similar IATA code, too (INC vs. ICN)! KE once had an INC-ICN route, we suppose it’s for picking up poor people who booked the wrong flights

  • http://www.thepointsguy.com PR@TPG

    I was trying to provide meta-commentary pertinent to the subject material about the fickle nature of computing. Also, I slept in.

    Everything should be A-ok now.

  • Ivan Y

    Hmm… Is there an item that says to not trust anything a phone agent says unless you get it confirmed in a written notarized affidavit?
    A return flight on my US Airways award had a schedule change and I was given an option to accept changes or not accept them (I already traveled on an outbound flight). Online system didn’t explain what would happen if I declined and asked to call them. I spoke to TWO different CSRs who both claimed I’d get back half the money and half the miles. Since I know that US doesn’t have half-prices one-way awards, I double-checked that I’d still be eligible for mileage refund before declining changes (was more convenient for me to take a paid later flight).
    Well, lo and behold, no miles have been returned yet and now all agents claim that no miles are supposed to be refunded even though they all agree that it’d make no sense to cancel a return flight and lose miles just to save $5. Per their instructions I submitted a contact/complaint form and hope it gets resolved but this is still unacceptable. This is not limited to US Airways or airlines in general but how many CSRs do I have to poll to get correct info? :(

  • Richard

    You also need to check the dates when you use the Expedia website for bookings. I booked a flight DBN-CPT-DBN and wanted the return trip on the same day, so flying down in the morning and flying back in the afternoon. I selected the dates correctly when I entered them, after I selected the first flight (early in the morning), their system changed the return date from my date without flagging this to me. I only noticed after I had completed my booking and then had to call back and spend more than half an hour and another $300 to get the return flight I actually wanted. The system had automatically changed the return date to the next day AFTER I had selected my first morning flight without even flagging this change to me. I even tried this again while I was on the line with their representative and it did it again, so nothing I had done wrong in entering dates. Totally unimpressed with using Expedia site, and just want to make other people aware of this flaw in their system when booking same day flights.

  • Nick Ewen

    All great suggestions. At the end of the day, it really is “buyer beware” when it comes to booking tickets, and the more informed you are, the less likely it is that you will make these mistakes. Some may think these steps are overkill; I say it’s just another layer of security to make sure that travel plans go smoothly!

  • Nick Ewen

    Interesting…I can’t even recall the last time I used Expedia (although my company uses Egencia, which is part of Expedia). I wonder if this was a glitch or if your unfortunate experience led them to fix it, as I can no longer replicate this issue.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Nick Ewen

    Unfortunately, many phone agents just don’t know the rules of what does and doesn’t happen with these types of awards. If I were in your shoes, I would’ve had one of the reps verify with a manager and then go ahead and have him/her cancel the ticket on the phone. Whenever I’ve cancelled an award ticket on Delta, the miles tend to reappear instantaneously, so I would’ve stayed on the phone with the agent so he/she could see that their advice was incorrect.

  • Richard

    This happened to me on 3 April 2014, so quite recently. I have not booked again with them since then. After this experience I now use them merely as a search engine and then book directly with the particular airline or hotel that the search results come up with.

  • Nick Ewen

    Good call. I remember when I first started traveling (and didn’t know any better), I would book through these sites quite frequently. That stopped when a Virgin Atlantic flight from NY-London and back did not earn me any Delta miles because it was booked through a third-party site! This was way back before the DL-NW merger when Delta was a Virgin Atlantic partner…funny how we’ve come full circle in less than a decade!

  • Megan

    I booked a vacation with Expedia to the Turks and Caicos for my daughter and myself by phone–I couldn’t do it online because it wouldn’t allow me to put in two different return dates and I was traveling to Haiti for a week before coming home. Expedia mixed up our return dates and when my daughter got to the airport Jet Blue told her her ticket was for a week later. She figured out they mixed up our returns but Jet Blue told her to just stay another week and that they couldn’t help her! Eventually she bought a new ticket. Expedia said they couldn’t help with my return ticket and it was up to Jet Blue. Jet Blue wouldn’t help…. Check and double check your travel documents!!

  • KHALID

    I think it is better to buy a non refundable ticket with a lower change/ cancelation fee than buying a refundable ticket . I think Emirates and Qatar airways have a low cancellation fees

  • http://www.twototravelandtango.com Two to Travel and Tango

    We’ve all been there. The worst I ever had was missing a flight by a few minutes in Rome, but being told there was another flight leaving 5 minutes later to Milan. I got on that flight, breathed a sigh of relief and then when I landed, I couldn’t find any signs that showed my connecting flight to the United States. Turns out the folks in Rome just wanted to get me off their hands, and so rather than send me to Malpensa airport, they sent me to the tiny Linate. After 2 days, and a lot of stress, I finally got home and learned an important lesson about not just trusting the airport staff, and getting to the airport on time. =)

  • John Hill

    I did this in April with a train from Florence to Rome. It had been a long day already but luckily we were able to travel within a few hours.

  • Nick Ewen

    This is one of the big problems with these third-party sites…it’s easy to pass the buck to someone else! Expedia can blame JetBlue, JetBlue blames Expedia, and the traveler ends up with the short straw. Sorry to hear about your experience!

  • Nick Ewen

    Absolutely, but the problem is that many cheap tickets can be entirely consumed by cancellation/change fees! I can’t find details on Emirates’ fees, but Qatar Airways has info online (http://www.qatarairways.com/sites/english_united_states/ancillary-fees.page), and they range from $75-500, depending on the fare class. Southwest really stands alone in this regard, though that won’t help if you are traveling overseas!

  • Nick Ewen

    I think I flew into that airport when I studied abroad! Again, we have to be SO cognizant of these things, because airlines (and many of their employees) just aren’t going to do it for us. It rarely is intentional or done with malice, though it does sound like your situation wasn’t just a misunderstanding on their part. Sorry you had to learn the lesson the hard way! At least it’s a nice story to tell, and I’m sure it’s a lot more amusing now than it was at the time…:-)

  • cotoneloc

    I’ve encountered two versions of this. Once my corporate travel agent booked an itinerary but not a ticket, which I only learned after approaching the counter to check in in New Delhi. Fortunately, I was traveling for work and didn’t personally get stuck paying for a last minute business class ticket to Hong Kong. Second instance was back in college when my girlfriend missed her 2:00pm flight from Seville to Florence, thinking it was at 4:00pm, after misreading her ticket which indicated a 14:00 departure.

  • http://www.twototravelandtango.com Two to Travel and Tango

    Nick, it was crazy! And slightly shameful since my dad worked for the airlines for years and by that point in my life I should have known much, much better! Thanks again for the great blog!

  • Nick Ewen

    You know, we have all been there. I once made it three-quarters of the way from my flat in London to Heathrow only to realize that I had forgotten my passport! I flew back as quickly as possible but wound up missing my flight to San Francisco by about 10 minutes. Virgin Atlantic was great about rebooking me to LAX; then I paid $200 for a one-way Southwest flight to Oakland. That’s a lesson I only needed to learn once!

    Thanks for reading and commenting! Stories like yours help everyone on here.

  • Nick Ewen

    Traveling for work does add a nice layer of “security” since we know that the corporate card can absorb some of these errors. You also bring up a GREAT point about the 24-hour vs. 12-hour clock. Again, we need to check, re-check, and triple check our itineraries to make sure that things are as they seem!

  • Ivan Y

    Just to follow-up on my comment: got an email from US Airways and they did redeposit half of the miles as a “one-time exception”, but I guess this brings up a question — what would happen if the schedule change was severe enough they couldn’t accommodate me?
    A few weeks ago Delta cancelled some flights on my revenue ticket and proposed changes that made no sense (i.e. I would get into SLC 4 hours after my SLC-SEA flight departs). There were no alternatives time-wise that would work for me so they ended up refunding me that leg even though it was a nonrefundable ticket.
    Inability to do the same with US Airways rewards is baffling, frankly, but I hope AA+US joint program keeps AA rules on one-way awards and makes this a non-issue.

  • KHALID

    you need to make a dummy booking on Emirates web page , after you choose the flights then you will find a Fare condition link on the the same page ,

  • Marisa

    My family and I were set to leave this morning on a US Air 7:50am flight from DCA to PBI and we didn’t realize until we were at the counter checking our luggage that I booked the 7:50PM flight. The 8:40am flight had 6 seats left (4 1st class and 2 coach) and the supervisor was unable to help us. They said in order to fly stand by and use the seats on the earlier flight we had to be within 6 hrs of our original flight. The desk agent as well as the representative I spoke with on the phone both quoted us 2 different fares ($900 and $1200). We were online on Expedia and their fare for these seats were $274. We were however unable to book them online since the supervisor said they might not be ticketed within the hour. I don’t travel for work, but regularly take this flight 2x a year with my family and was very upset that no one was willing to be helpful. It’s frustrating that they would rather fly with 6 seats empty than give good customer service.

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