Uh-oh! Ava’s airline ticket says “Eva” — is a notation enough?

By | July 12th, 2010

Not again.

Pearl Castellino’s daughter, Ava, has a ticket with the name “Eva” — a ticket her travel agent admits he misspelled. “I told him to double-check the names,” she remembers. Apparently, he didn’t.

We’ve seen this before. What makes this situation more complex is Secure Flight, the new government program that requires your ticket match the name on your ID.

Will “Eva” be allowed to take her Lufthansa flight from San Francisco to Mumbai?

The agent says yes, and promised to make a notation in the system.

The airline? It wants her to buy a new ticket. According to Castellino,

The airline says that the ticket was a special fare and so they cannot make any name changes. The ticket would have to be reissued. I can’t believe my only recourse is to cancel the existing booking and book on a higher fare just for one spelling mistake on a three-letter name.

I checked with Lufthansa (here’s its FAQ section) and although there’s no mention of changing an individual reservation for a fee, it says group reservations can be fixed for $200. The standard operating procedure among airlines is that when there’s an innocent mistake, a notation can be made for free.

I suggested that Castellino contact Lufthansa again and explain that the ticket didn’t need to be reissued. This time, it sided with her travel agent and agreed that the notation would be sufficient for her to fly.

A happy ending, right?

Maybe. I’m sure Ava will make it to Mumbai. But this is the first time I’ve ever heard of an airline trying to argue that the a discount ticket couldn’t have a notation on it. I realize that airlines limit outright name changes — but notations? Come on.

Are we about to enter an age of super-restricted airline tickets, where even notations for honest mistakes can’t be made without either paying a hefty surcharge or buying a new ticket? I hope not.

(Photo: Anushruti RK/Flickr Creative Commons)

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