Wrong name on a United Airlines ticket? No problem!

By | June 3rd, 2008

There’s no shortage of sob stories about airline passengers who bought a ticket under a wrong name — like a maiden name or nickname — only to discover they’re holding a worthless piece of paper. So when an airline reverses course and allows a name change for free, then you have a legitimate man-bites-dog story.

The carrier, in this case, is beleaguered United Airlines. The passenger: longtime reader Cliff Ruddick. Here’s what happened:

I booked award tickets on United Airlines’ Web site and I accidentally interchanged my traveling companion’s first and last names on her reservation. When we got to Los Angeles, we tried to check in curbside, but since the names were interchanged on her reservation, the agent sent us into the chaotic ticketing lobby, but told us to find the ticket line for “Quick Clips”.

Uh-oh. Were they about to extract an outrageous change fee from Ruddick at a quick clip? That’s certainly what it looked like.

We explained the problem and the agent behind the counter took about two minutes to fix it in the reservation system. Then — and here is the amazing part — she met us at the end of the reservation counters and personally escorted us upstairs to the lightly-used security line on the second floor and brought us up directly to the front of the line.

Ruddick is neither a million miler or a VIP, so when an agent went the extra mile for him, it took him by surprise. He wrote a letter to the airline, praising the employee. “United gets trashed regularly about its customer service,” he told me. “But I have found they really employ some gems as well as some clunkers.”

Well, let’s hear it for the gems.

We want your feedback. Your opinion is important to us. Here's how you can share your thoughts:
  • Send us a letter to the editor. We'll publish your most thoughtful missives in our daily newsletter or in an upcoming post.
  • Leave a message on one of our social networks. We have an active Facebook page, a LinkedIn presence and a Twitter account. Every story on this site is posted on those channels. The conversation ranges from completely unmoderated (Twitter) to moderated (Facebook and LinkedIn).
  • Post a question to our help forums or ask our advocates for a hand through our assistance intake form. Please note that our help forum is not a place for debate. It's there primarily to assist readers with a consumer problem.
  • If you have a news tip or want to report an error or omission, you can email the site publisher directly. You may also contact the post's author directly. Contact information is in the author tagline.