Can this trip be saved? Southwest Vacations mailed my paper tickets to the wrong address

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By Christopher Elliott

Mistakes were made when Tushar Advani booked his Southwest Vacations trip from Chicago to Las Vegas. He admits he accidentally entered the wrong address — a simple typo that resulted in the paper tickets being sent to the wrong apartment.

Wait a second, did I just say paper tickets? What is this, 1995?

Yes, I did — and no, it’s not.

Anyway, none of that should have mattered because Southwest Vacations and its agency, Mark Travel didn’t exactly follow their own procedures, either. I’ll get to the details in a minute.

But this case raises some interesting issues, including what should happen when both parties make a mistake during a transaction. Who shoulders the blame?

After Advani finished the reservation, he had no reason to believe he’d made a mistake. He picks up the story:

As per the confirmation email we were supposed to receive paper tickets to the credit card billing address.

I did not realize I had entered an incorrect apartment number until several days before my flight. (Instead of apartment 813, I entered 913). The tickets were wrongly delivered to the resident of apartment 913, he returned it back to the concierge, and she mailed it back to Southwest Vacations.

Southwest Vacations has not received the tickets back in the mail yet.

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We took our credit card statement, the printout of the reservation confirmation number and our photo IDs [to the airport] this morning and in spite of our names on the reservation, since we did not have the paper tickets we could not board the flight as we did not have the paper tickets.

We called to speak with the agent and the supervisor of Mark Travel but they kept insisting that we will not be allowed to board the flight, and that we had to repurchase the tickets.

I understand that I made a mistake in the first place by putting in the wrong apartment number, and I also realize I should have checked to see the nonarrival of the paper tickets earlier than three days before the trip. The problem I have with Mark Travel is that they say in their confirmation email “Travel documents including flight tickets for your vacation will be mailed to your credit card billing address …” why were the tickets not mailed to the credit card billing address?

Secondly, if the tickets were so important, why were they mailed in regular mail? And why did the email not mention that the mailing address that the tickets were being sent to?

In these days of travel, when boarding passes are paperless, it seems antiquated to ask for paper tickets, and then having charged my credit card and having our names on the reservation, but not allowing us to board the plane is reason enough for anyone to get mad.

He’s got a good point. The airline industry bid farewell to paper tickets back in 2008. I can’t think of a good reason why Mark Travel or Southwest Airlines would be using them, let alone sending them by regular mail.

Also, if Mark Travel promised to send the tickets to Advani’s mailing address, then why didn’t it?

Then again, Advani shouldn’t have entered the wrong apartment address, and as he notes, he shouldn’t have waited until only a few days before his flight before making inquiries about the missing tickets.

Should he go through the missing ticket paperwork as punishment for the typo, or does Southwest Airlines and Mark Travel share the responsibility for this problem?

In a survey of 600 readers this morning, a majority (just over 80 percent) said I should mediate. I will.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Los Angeles.

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