Double-booked because at this age I tend to forget things

Daryl Preston and his wife are flying from San Francisco to Rome this summer, and they have tickets on Lufthansa. Four tickets, to be exact.

“We’re double-booked,” says Preston, a retired physics professor. “The names, method of payment, departures dates, return dates, and the flight numbers on the two bookings are identical. Copies of the tickets are attached.”

No copies were attached.

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How did the Prestons end up with four tickets instead of two?

Well, at my request Accent On Travel, a travel agency, made the first booking on January 2, 2012. On January 7, I made the second booking via Expedia.

Why did I do such a thing? Well, I am 73 years old and my short term memory is not as good as it used to be and I had forgotten the first booking. In addition, Accent On Travel did not notify me of their booking until February 1.

The double booking was an honest mistake.

Preston wonders how two reservations can be made in the same name, considering the sophistication of the reservations systems and the state of airline security. That’s a valid question.

Lufthansa is willing to offer the Prestons credit for a future international flight after a $500 rebooking fee.

“I seriously doubt that we will make another international flight,” he says.

Preston wants me to ask Expedia to refund the Lufthansa tickets. I’d like to help him, but I’m not sure if Expedia is the right place to start — or even if I would be successful at fixing this.

Double-booking cases fall into two general categories: those created by the website, and those caused by human error. The technical ones are usually easy to take care of, but not always. Here’s a rare triple-booking case that took a whole year to resolve.

When it comes to mistakes made by people, airlines and online travel agencies can be considerably less forgiving. But again, there are exceptions. Here’s a case with similarities to Preston’s, except that the double-booking was made by a 17-year-old who was confused. Delta refunded the money, even though a majority of voters said I should stay away from the case.

Incidents like these make me wonder if too many people are trying to book their travel online. Whether you’re 17 and just confused or 73 and forgetful, it seems you should be staying away from the PC if you think you might make a purchase you’d regret. And if you can’t do it, then maybe there’s someone in your life who should either restrict or supervise you when you’re surfing the Internet.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying Preston needs a babysitter when he’s on the computer. He’s obviously a brilliant guy. But if he’d simply decided on Jan. 1 that he’d shift all of his travel to the bricks-and-mortar agency and deleted or disabled his Expedia account, then this wouldn’t have happened.

I think if anyone’s going to refund the second ticket, it’ll be Lufthansa. But should I take this case, even though technically, Preston is responsible for both reservations?

200 thoughts on “Double-booked because at this age I tend to forget things

  1. I hate to be hard on the OP because Chris has already brought out the salient points, but if he can’t remember what he did 5 days earlier, this seems to imply that whatever kind of trip he’s taking in Rome will be a package and/or handled by someone else (at least I hope to heaven it is).

    Can I vote for: Mediate but not too much?

    Have a go at it, but if the airline doesn’t budge, then just leave it. And yes, the OP probably should not perform any complicated transactions via computer where there isn’t a real live person to help. Oh, and carry around a notebook at all times.

  2. Why should he expect Expedia to refund a product they have no control over?  These were NONREFUNDABLE tickets. Expedia would have to contact the carrier and they already told the OP what they would do for him. 

  3. I’m nearing my 70th birthday and, while my mind is still very sharp when it comes to travel matters, there are other facets of my life where I do forget some things. This is happening to many of my friends as well. We jokingly call it CRS disease which stands for Can’t Remember Sh_t.

    Lufthansa needs to show some compassion is this case. The flights are scheduled to take place this summer, several months away. It is very possible that the excess seats will be sold to other customers, perhaps at a price greater than what the OP has paid. Mr. Preston should be given a refund on the second set of tickets less Lufthansa’s actual expenses including a commission paid to Expedia. It just seems like the right thing to do.

    1. what is your basis for the need for compassion? His age? We are getting into difficult territory here if we start to say that ‘those of a certain age’ are not being held to legal contracts (i.e., purchasing a plane ticket).

      1. With many contracts he’d obviously be stuck, but double-booking plane tickets with the same dates and name…with the same airline? How much more obvious of an error could this be?  If he hired the same roofing contractor to do his roof twice in a couple weeks time, would you think it fair to stick him for that, too?

        1. Yes, it would, actually. The roofer might look at him strangely and say, “Are you SURE you want me to do your roof again?”. Too bad the computer doesn’t do that. Oh, wait. It DOES.

          The OP needs to deal strictly with compassionate people, not mindless machines. Is it fair that he was double-booked? Yes. Would it be nice if the airline refunded him? Yes. Should they be shamed into doing it? I don’t think so.

          Step away from the computer, gramps. Leave the arrangements up to your kids / grandkids.

  4. Sorry, but I have to side with Expedia and the airline on this one. They did nothing wrong – not a confusing website, misleading deal or unscrupulous agent – NOTHING. If the situation were reversed, I’d expect the business to not only reimburse the traveler for what they lost but also something additional for aggravation, so it feels hypocritical to ask them to let the professor off the hook. 

    I also hate to point this out but with his memory problems, perhaps this gentleman shouldn’t have free access to the kind of spending power that allows him to make these kind of mistakes. As distasteful and awkward as it may be, this man’s family and friends have a responsibility to make sure that his age-related deficiencies don’t bring harm to himself or others, whether that harm is physical (such as driving) or financial (such as this). 

      1. The fact that the airline acted improperly in their dealings with another customer (in my opinion) doesn’t mean that I have to give license to this gentleman to treat the airline improperly in this case. It’s not fair (again, in my opinion) to look at the airline’s behavior cumulatively when we can’t and don’t do the same of the passenger. 

        1. Reading your comments in that thread (“Move on”) , it appears you completely condoned Lufthansa’s behavior at the time even though the customer “did nothing wrong.”

          Seems like a double standard to me.  Airlines can “fix” honest mistakes after the fact and customers can’t.

          1. I honestly don’t remember that discussion but it was obviously me and, in retrospect, I’d have to say I was wrong. If they were quoted a price and payment was offered and accepted, the airline should have honored that price. Mea culpa. Still doesn’t change my perspective about this case.

    1. Although I agree completely, double bookings would normally cause red flags, and only the original is considered valid.  That being said, I think LH should refund the 2nd set (Expedia) tickets minus a cancel fee.  That would be fair to both sides, I think.

  5. I’m sorry, but I don’t think Chris should mediate. The LW claims they didn’t receive confirmation for one of their bookings until Feb. 1st, a full month after the reservation was made. So during all this time they never realized they had a duplicate booking?  And they never questioned the 2nd large charge on their credit card?

    I’m sorry the LW is forgetful, but since he’s aware of this, he should let someone else handle things like bookings on his behalf.

  6. I may sound mean, but if they make an exception and refund the OP because the OP made a mistake, then they will have to refund anyone who makes a mistake.  It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s also a non-refundable ticket. Had they realized within 24 hours they could have gotten a refund, but I am guessing they didn’t.  I voted not to mediate, I thought Chris was here to advocate for people who were wronged by a business, not by people who made a mistake and want a business to break its own rules.
    If the OP used a travel agency to begin with, why would they then go book on expedia?  That just baffles me even more; why not go back to the agency first?  My grandmother is 94 and she writes down everything she does to make sure she doesn’t make such a mistake, and she always goes back and looks at her logs.  Her hand writing has gotten horrible and her notepads huge so she can read them, but she always makes sure because she knows she doesn’t remember things as well.  Perhaps this will help the OP not make such a mistake in the future.
    As far as the double name?  I often see people on my flights book 2 seats for one person to get the extra room.  So I don’t’ think they airline is going to stop someone from booking two reservations.  I am curious how this works with one booking coming from a travel agency and the other from expedia, but I don’t think the airline has a responsibility to stop someone from buying two tickets in their name as there are legitimate reasons to do so.  It would be no different from buying 2 of the same book from an on-line book retailer in my opinion, you buy to, and you get two.

    1. “…if they make an exception and refund the OP because the OP made a mistake, then they will have to refund anyone who makes a mistake. ”

      And you wouldn’t want to confuse everybody by introducing the idea of customer service to the airline business, would you now?

      1. Really it is only in the Travel industry that this is even a debatable issue.  By the letter of the contract Lufthansa would be correct in denying a refund, and frankly they won’t come off looking any worse than any other airline.  Which is to say they all suck.

        This was a reservation made in January/February for a Summer airfare.  The cost to Lufthansa to refund this ticket is precisely zero.  Now if the booking were made 3 days prior to the flight, the argument that the airline didn’t have a legitimate opportunity to resell this would be a bit more realistic.

        Why not refund any customer who makes a legitimate mistake? What slippery slope is that going down? Particularly in this case when that customer is still giving you buisness? Its not even like they are second thinking an impulse vacation purchase, they are going on the trip either way.

          1. Ok so in this day of paperless ticketing,  I’ll give them their 10 cents for the data entry and $3 dollars for the CSR agents time/overhead.  Is that more appropriate?  Seems like a pretty minor nitpick.  Or do you think the costs are much higher than that?  Explain why you think the costs are actually higher than that. 

          2. The cost of the systems is why the airlines have been complaining for years, so you are off base on that, as ANYONE who uses a GDS would tell you.  Just because YOU don’t get a paper ticket, doesn’t mean there is not more inbvolved on the airlines’ side.  And it is far too difficult to explain to someone who does not understand anything about the industry.

          3. The cost per ticket is approx $35-50 to issue, even as paperless for an agency.  More for the airline’s as their pay is higher.  There is more to an issue or a refund even if it is papeless that you don’t see or know about.

    2. “I may sound mean, but if they make an exception and refund the OP
      because the OP made a mistake, then they will have to refund anyone who
      makes a mistake. ”

      Absolutely untrue.  The airline, like any other business can make exceptions as it sees fit without being bound in future situations.

      “As far as the double name?  I often see people on my flights book 2
      seats for one person to get the extra room.  So I don’t’ think they
      airline is going to stop someone from booking two reservations”

      Again, untrue.  When a passenger requires or desires a second seat, the airlines have special ways of handling the situation. But booking two seats under the same name causes chaos.

      I learned this the hard way, when my the airline cancelled my ticket because I was traveling with my father who has the same name.

      1. I think a small business can make decisions on a case by case business, but a large corporation has policies and procedures in place to allow for constancy.  I think it would be a problem if they issued a refund to one customer when they customer made a mistake, and not to another.  That would lead to a higher call volume of people calling back and trying to get nicer agents and more law suits where people are suing because so-and-so did get a refund and they didn’t.  It’s just not a good practice for a business to follow. Maybe don’t have to base future decisions on one decision; but when I managed a call center, we had to ensure that policies were followed and design the system to not allow employees to make exceptions as it could lead to chaos.  Now if the airline tricked the customer, or the airline made a mistake, they better make good on it.  But if a customer accidentally books two non-refundable tickets, then refunding them would open up a can of worms.
        I also disagree about two seats under the same name causing chaos.  The OP booked two separate reservations that happened to have the same name.  I bet there are many flights a day with multiple people on separate reservations with the same name.  Extra seat or not, they shouldn’t be canceling reservations that could be legitimate.  The airlines gave people the power to book their own tickets on line; I don’t think the airlines should be manually checking every single ticket to see if someone accidentally already booked on under that name.  If they canceled reservations anytime there was a duplicate name on the same flight a lot of John Smiths and Mike Smiths, and so on would be very unhappy.  Recently I booked a second seat for Mrs. Emanon.  She had to work on the flight and needed extra space and the 1-way fare was incredibly low.  I booked a second ticket for her, separate reservation, with the same name and the seat next to her.  She checked in twice, printed two boarding passes, scanned them both, and had extra room to work. She would have been upset if thy canceled her second reservation. 

        1. ”  I think it would be a problem if they issued a refund to one customer
          when they customer made a mistake, and not to another.  That would lead
          to a higher call volume of people calling back and trying to get nicer
          agents ..”

          That already happens.  That’s the basic gospel of flyertalk.  If you don’t like what agent 1 said, call back again and again

          “…and more law suits where people are suing because so-and-so did
          get a refund and they didn’t…”

          Highly unlikely.  That would make for a crappy case.  I can’t imagine any of my colleagues accepting such a frivolous a bad case.

          1. I don’t think they would be using a lawyer.  They would be sending letters to the airlines legal team and possibly starting Facebook pages.  Then some may actually sue in small claims court.  Regardless, I think it’s a bad idea for a large company to break a published policy, especially one that stipulated in the contract.  I would love to see them waive the change fee, but I am opposed to a full refund.

          2.  Suing in small claims court because a company waived a contractual obligation for someone else but didn’t extend you the same courtesy is a quick way to get thrown out of court.  Its simply not done.

          3. I’ve been designing customer facing and employee transaction systems for 15 years now and almost every client I have had has had their legal counsel ask for constraints to be put in place to prevent employees from violating policy because they are concerned that if they violate a policy, it will make the policy meaningless and open the door to law suits.

  7. I voted no. 

    This guy made a big mistake and he doesn’t want to take the consequences for his errors. Being faulty on short term memory, he probably shouldn’t be making reservations or spending time on the internet. And, it sounds like he had an agent, so did he not trust the agent or what??!?!

    I mean, c’mon. “I forgot because I’m old”– the lamest excuse I’ve heard in awhile.

    Also, YES…airline tickets can be booked in the SAME name on the SAME flight.My brother’s wife and my sister have the SAME name–down to the middle initial. Strange, right? When we traveled as a family for a destination wedding, I did the bookings on CO. I emphasized they were two separate people and notes were made on the records. Still, I received calls from CO asking if the booking was a double or a mistake you know, back when they had customer care and not whatever UA calls their weak excuse for assistance. (I should note this booking this was before “secure flight” where you have to enter a birthdate)

    1. We already know that when the shoe is on the other foot, Lufthansa won’t accept any consequences when it makes a mistake.  They can retro-actively blackmail the passenger for more money: 

      Seems like a double standard to me, even before we factor in any common sense compassion that this case screams out for.


      In terms of tickets booked under the same name on the same flight, how often do they also have the same date of birth, the same billing address, and (likely) the same credit card number?

      The fact that CO proactively called you when you had a case of (only) a duplicate name works against your argument…

      1. yes, all that info would prove a double-booking, which is unacceptable to the airlines.  BUT – since this is from 2 separate sources, what LH should do is refund minus a cancel fee, and I think that is the best solution for both sides. 

  8. This guy should stay at home if he can not remember things like this! I am 78 but at least I have enough sense to know when I should let someone else make my travel arrangements.
    Shame on him!

  9. There should be no expectations here, but I think (based on personal experience with relatives) he might be in the early stages of Alheimers, which is a disease, and it couldn’t hurt to ask the airline to be nice in this case.  And, as some stated, if airlines weren’t on fire to collect every last buck, they would raise a red flag for double bookings.  With flight security and TSA checks, they now know when its not just people with the same name, & they know people can’t travel twice on the same exact flight.  In fact, as bad as flight security is, you’d think they would think that its suspicious (ex. identity theft) for the same info to be used twice to book seats…

  10. Airline software is programmed to enforce the industry’s bizarre ticketing rules by detecting ploys like hidden-city travel. So why can’t it yell when a passenger books the same flight twice? 

    Lufthansa is basically knocking an old man down and running off with his change purse. Stay classy!

    1. Because a great number of people do this intentionally to ensure an empty seat next to them or to travel with a musical instrument.

      1.  That’s no reason not to have a software warning system.  If, if the software warns you that you have double booked and you did so purposely to have an empty seat next to you or to rest your tuba, then then program can allow you to check the box to keep the double booking. 

        1. Well the other issue here is that they booked this as separate reservation in a separate booking.  Would you want anyone with the same name as someone else on a flight to get a warning?  So Sally Johnson goes to buy a ticket, and gets a warning that there is already a Sally Johnson on that flight?  That would be a big privacy issue.

          1. Yes I still would want them to get a warning.  A simple statement that you may be double booking, please check your records would be better than nothing.  Cross checking addresses, etc, would make the warning necessary only in very limited cases.

          2. Building a modification to the airlines reservation system to do that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars; I know because that is what I do for a living, adding new features to companies systems.  Also, such a change would easily be turned down because of privacy concerns.  Say someone has a protective order against them, they could know the person they are after is traveling, they could start searching flights and looking for a double booking message to find out what flight that person is on.  These are the types of conversations I have to have with clients and lawyers all of the time when a change to a public facing system is proposed.  So we build this change, okay, now it will only work when someone uses the airlines website.  Will this integrate into Expedia?  No.  Will it integrate into a travel agents system? No.  So again, building such an elaborate cross checking feature is expensive, risky, and will only work with one website.  As for airlines allowing expedia to pull the data directly from the airline to find out who is on each flight so they can compare a booking, that will NEVER happen.

          3. The carriers already do this by sending a message to the ticketing agency.  We will get the message, ‘possible dupe reseervation’.

          4. Right, but this was booked by an AGENT, and then by EXPEDIA  — hence the overall problem.  Frankly, LH should just refund minus cancel fee – makes both sides happy.

          5. With the same date of birth and the same billing address (and most likely) the same credit card?!

          6. So when you book a ticket on expedia, you expect the airline to open its system and allow expedia to pull the name, date of birth, address, and credit card number?  That would actually put the airline out of compliance with PCI DSS and they could no longer take credit cards period.  Why does everyone expect companies to put data at risk, and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars putting modifications in place that will possibly prevent 1 out of thousands of people from making a mistake they could easily avoid in the first place?

          7. No, you’re assuming a particular solution.  

            No requirement to automate anything, at least get it right when it’s brought to your attention.

            As a few other posters have pointed out with personal anecdotes, airlines have for many years proactively followed-up with passengers who appeared to have double booked.

          8. Perhaps when a customer walks up they say something, or when they are on the same reservation made at the same time and appear to be a duplicate they may send something as it’s a single booking.  But if you expect airlines collectively to review each of the 3,000-5,000 flights per day over the upcoming 8 or 9 months every day to look for duplicates and reach out to the customers, I think that’s a lot to ask.  If someone wants that type of hand holding, they should charter a jet, not fly in a public bus in the air.

          9. But that was in a SINGLE system – here, he used an AGENT, and then used EXPEDIA.  No sane reason to believe both were one and the same.

          10. You are hung up on defending the TA/OTA. 

            The airline can see that THEIR system has the same passengers twice.  

            And it’s entirely within their capability and discretion to fix an obvious error like that when it’s brought to their attention.

            Again, they have no problems going back days later and fixing their own errors that went in the customer’s favor.

          11.   Lindabator is not defending, but presenting facts that you, the lay person don’t understand.  Very different!  

          12. What part of what I wrote about the airline’s system do you disagree with?

            Are you calling Raven and Carver liars when they report they were contacted about possible duplicate  reservations?

            Or are you trolling?

            Edit: I thought so. From your lame reply below you don’t disagree that LH can see the pax’s twice on their own system (Duh! indeed)

          13. But that is when it is on ONE SYSTEM – whether BOTH with LH, BOTH with Expedia or BOTH with the agency.  NOT one with one and one with the other!  DUH!

          14. NO – I am trying to explain how the systems work, but you refuse to acknowledge that this is not as easy as you believe it is.

      2. It’s a “great number” only because lots and lots of people fly. It’s still a 1% (or less) sort of thing where some percentage will always be mistakes or a glitch in the system. It’d be very easy to trigger an automated email saying “It appears we already have a reservation for you on this flight, click here to confirm this purchase or to contact customer service.”

        And different people with the same name would be easy to trap for because you wouldn’t just base it on the name but would also look for the same contact and/or payment info.  

        1. “It’d be very easy to trigger an automated email saying ‘It appears we already have a reservation for you on this flight, click here to confirm this purchase or to contact customer service.’”
          Building a modification to the airlines reservation system to do that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars; I know because that is what I do for a living, adding new features to companies systems.  Also, such a change would easily be turned down because of privacy concerns.  Say someone has a protective order against them, they could know the person they are after is traveling, they could start searching flights and looking for a double booking message to find out what flight that person is on.  These are the types of conversations I have to have with clients and lawyers all of the time when a change to a public facing system is proposed.  So we build this change, okay, now it will only work when someone uses the airlines website.  Will this integrate into Expedia?  No.  Will it integrate into a travel agents system? No.  So again, building such an elaborate cross checking feature is expensive, risky, and will only work with one website.  As for airlines allowing expedia to pull the data directly from the airline to find out who is on each flight so they can compare a booking, that will NEVER happen.

          1. “Say someone has a protective order against them, they could know the person they are after is traveling, they could start searching flights and looking for a double booking message to find out what flight that person is on.”

            You’ll have to explain that one a little more clearly. Where would an outsider find this message?  I’m referencing the airline contacting the purchaser back via phone or email the same way any business communicates with customers–it’d be basically the same thing as a confirmation email/call.  The outsider would need access to either the airline’s systems or the purchaser’s email/voice mail to get the message.

          2. One of the things we have to take very seriously when designing customer facing systems, are if they will allow one person to find information about another person.  You may think this is an extreme example, but it is something that comes up a lot in designing systems. 
            Let’s say Father is trying to kidnap Daughter and daughter has a protective order against father.  Father knows that daughter is traveling to grandmas, and could start booking flights with daughters name and info, but fathers e-mail to try and get this duplicate passenger message or e-mail.  Father now finds out what flight daughter is on, and can go to the airport to kidnap daughter, or buy a ticket on the same flight. 
            The airline telling an agent that the reservation is a possible duplicate is one thing, but releasing info to a customer doing a booking that there could be someone else with the same name on the flight is far too risky.

          3. Interesting stuff, but we’re clearly not speaking the same language. I don’t see anybody here suggesting that every John Smith get contacted when another John Smith is on the plane…they’d need to have other info that also matched.  

            Thus, father would never get contacted unless he reserved using daughter’s email/phone…AND he’d need access to her email/phone to ever see the confirmation. No added security risks, nobody getting anybody else’s flight information, just a double-check to see if the identical order was intentional.

            Maybe that’s not possible from the systems side, particularly if orders are placed two different places like in the OP’s case. However, enough info is collected and it would surprise me if airline’s were that in the dark about who was flying.

          4. Then you really DON’T understand the system in play here.  Sorry, but they just don’t have the capability of matching multiple areas of information – especially over multiple booking systems. 

          5. EXCELLENT point!  When I worked for the airline, it was NEVER allowed to give MRS flight’s info to MR flight – regardless of the relationship.  The privacy referred to the name(s) on that booking only.  So they need to be very careful about potential problems.  And you are right – it would cost a FORTUNE to build such a ridiculous system to track the one person in a million FOOLISH enough to book the same reservation with multiple agents.

    2. Not to mention people with the same name DO end up booked on the same flight and on the SAME reservation/PRN.

      See my post above.

      Imagine if we had traveled to the airport only to discover CO had canceled one of the tickets in the same name. That would’ve been a MAJOR problem!

          1. I have put the information in the PNR and have gone to the airlines website and pulled up the reservation and it doesn’t show.  Several agents have had the same experience.  There is a glitch somethere and it is not consistant.  One PNR was even mine.

          2. When my MIL booked on expedia recently against my advice, her safe travler info was all missing on the airlines reservation.

          3. Interesting. Ticekts can’t be run without the information so not sure what is happening with info.

          4.  yep, i don’t think it’s always the TA failing to enter it. some systems perhaps haven’t caught up to communicating that part of the res?

  11. Even though I am not nearly 73 years old, I still forget things sometimes. (And who doesn’t?)  Like the time I sent my niece two checks for her birthday, one week apart.  Like Lufthansa in this case, she cashed both checks without asking me why I sent her two of them when it was clearly a mistake.

    I totally agree with DavidYoung2 and others that an OBVIOUS double booking should not result in an unfair gain for Lufthansa.  They clearly have time to resell those seats (and you can’t tell me that they will have trouble filling a plane to Rome in the summer).  No matter what the poll outcome is, you should definitely mediate this case, Chris, and please report back what you decide to do.

  12. I know we now live in a digital age, but nobody has stopped making paper and pens/pencils that would prevent the OP from writing stuff down.

  13. This is a case for human kindness.  Help the guy out without trying to figure out who is to blame.  The airlines customer service should be able to do this.  Chances are the Expedia file and the Lufthansa file don’t “talk” to each other until late in the game, so double booking may be a flaw in their system.

  14. The concentration here seems to be on the Expedia booking.  Can the booking with Accent on Travel be refunded, instead?  Just a thought.

  15. I too wonder why the reservations system would not pick this up but if I was called John Brown and my reservation was held up because another John Brown was booking that flight too, I might get a little peeved so I can imagine why it was not flagged. I sometimes buy stuff that I already have at home….my fault. Nothing to mediate.

    1. Even people with more unique names are subject to this. My SIL and sister have the same name and trust me, our last name isn’t anything close to “Smith.”

    2. If John Brown was using the same email/phone as you listed and/or using the same credit card, I’d hope it would get flagged.  They have more info on you than just your name.

      And buying stuff for your home is a whole lot different than buying two plane tickets for the same flight. 

      1. So how does Expeida access to every credit card and address that the other agent has on file to check for duplicates?  How does Expedia have access to the name, address, phone number, and credit card number of everyone on the plane? I personally hate expedia, but you are expecting for the impossible. 

          1. I am aware they don’t, but several people on here keep saying they should be checking all of this before it lets them book a flight.

          2. I haven’t seen many getting on Expedia–I think they’re in the clear on this one–but the airline should have enough info to figure this out. Expedia may not provide the payment info to them, but at the very least they must be getting basic contact information along with the name.

          3. Customer gives info to agent, agent books ticket.  Customer gives info to Expedia, Expedia books ticket.  Eventually the airline has two sets of tickets, on two separate reservations.  It would be impossible for either the agent or Expedia to know at the time of booking that there are duplicates.  The last time someone I know used Expedia, they didn’t capture DOB info, the customer had to go to the airlines website and add it.  The airline could not compare customer Credit Card info against other customers, even if the name matched, that doesn’t follow PCI-DSS standards, so that information could not be looked at.  They could possibly run a system process periodically that looks for duplicate names and address on a particular plane, but doing such a search would be pretty system intensive based on all the of the scheduled flights and customers buying tickets.  The airline would have to look at whether or not this is a good use of system processes, it could potentially make other processes slower.  They would also need to look at security issues, would telling someone there is someone with the same name on the same flight a security risk, I believe it would be.  They also need to look at staff time and programming effort to either call people, or send an e-mail allowing people to cancel their duplicate ticket.  Also there is a timeliness issue, if the customer has 24 hours to cancel, they would need to inform the customer within 24 hours.  Could customers use this as a way to cancel a ticket they really didn’t want?  In the Ops case, since they didn’t remember booking a ticket and realized it a while later, would they have canceled or simply confirmed to continue booking? Then the most important part, will you have more customers with the same name and info on a flight, or more customers who accidentally book the same flight two times unintentionally?  If you have more customers who are legitimately booking a flight with duplicate reservations than those who made a whoopsie, do you want to spend a lot of money and system time developing and running these processes only to annoy more people than you will help?  I would think not.  The FAA website states that there are approximately 50,000 to 70,000 flights per day in the US, with people booking 8 or so months out, that is a lot of data to continuously look through.

          4. This was in march 2011 when my MIL used it. I had to help her go add it on the US Airways site.

          5.  it may be a “required field”, and the person booking online may indeed enter the necessary info, however that info doesn’t always transfer over to the airline’s system. strange, but true.

          6. And according to the Expedia link I posted, the airline can unilaterally cancel your ticket if they don’t have your DOB. 

            So if the DOB really didn’t carry over to the airline, they can (and should) cancel the OP’s ticket on those grounds.  

            Which would be an ironically appropriate resolution to this case.

          7. A step you don’t know about is that tickets can’t be issued without the DOB.  So the fact that the ticket number shows in the PNR, means the information was entered just not relayed.  This is fixed when you run the boarding pass and have to provide the information again.  Yes, it is a PITA!

          8. True, but what system are they linked to?  Probably not the same one as the travel agency, so no way the airlines flag this as a double booking – just don’t expect normal folks to go to multiple sites and book duplicate bookings.  That’s very strange, to say the least! 

  16. “Sometimes I forget things. Who I am, where I am–unimportant things. But I’m not insane.” –‘The Tick’

    Showin’ my age with that one.

  17. This falls under the category of “personal responsibility.” While I feel for the guy and think it would be nice if the airlines flagged and questioned this unusual double booking prior to making the booking, they shouldn’t be expected to play the role of geriatric nurses. If you think about it, if they do this for him they’ll have to do it for the 22 year-old who makes the mistake of booking a flight with someone he now despises. That’s what travel insurance is for anyway.

  18. I am really surprised and actually saddened at the voting response and most comments on this matter.  No one would purposely double book the same flight/itinerary for themselves because the two extra tickets would be worthless.  The facts of life are that good and intelligent people–older folks, busy executives, overworked secretaries, frazzled moms–forget things now and then and make big mistakes.  This does not mean they are senile or incapable of carrying on independent lives as many of you suggest. And for those of you who think it does, “just wait.”   In the very specific circumstances of this case, Expedia/ Lufthansa should have immediately put their customer service hat on, recognized the truly innocent error, and refunded one set of fares.   I don’t get this blame game that so many enjoy playing when they find an OP less savvy or sophisticated than themselves.  Granted, neither Expedia nor Lufthansa made any errors with respect to the booking, but I don’t believe that makes it acceptable for them to practice “gotcha” business and reap this windfall.  It may be legal, but it is not equitable.  I can’t imagine a better case for Elliott to mediate.

    1. I don’t see how this is a gotcha business practice.  This is simply a customer buying something they already had.  I wish I could get my money back everything my wife buys something on clearance or on eBay (Non-returnable) that we already have.  But it’s not going to happen either.  They can change their ticket and use it for future travel.  They don’t even have to use the credit for international travel; they can use it for domestic on code-share within the Star Alliance.

      1. If you don’t see the difference between this situation and you wanting to return “something” you already had or your wife buying a non-returnable item on ebay,  I can’t explain it to you.  I did note that in the “very specific circumstances” of this case, they should have their money refunded.

          1. You were correct here, but in your comments below you contradict yourself and defend the carrier and attack the idea that they are even capable of confirming the double booking or doing anything about it.

        1. But that is not up to Expedia, as they did nothing wrong.  It is up to LH, who does not have to do anything in cases of “oops” even though we may feel they should.  Personally, I think they should refund minus a cancel fee, and both parties would be happy.

    2. This is not a case of “gotcha” – He has a travel agency book and ticket him, then a week later has Expedia do the same.  BOTH are legitimate bookings, and it is neither the agency’s, Expedia’s nor LH’s fault that the client chose to go to multiple sites to book.  Had it been done with only one source, this would not have been an issue, as it would have been recognized as a dupe booking.

      1. Had it been done with only one source, this would not have been an issue, as it would have been recognized as a dupe booking.

        If you scan through the other comments, several of your travel agency and airline colleagues insist otherwise.

        1. It would have been recognized as a dupe right away in the same system and not have been issued after taking the message and checking.

          1. Read flutiefan’s comments about double-clicking and bodega3’s approval of her comments and then get back to me.

        2. The airline’s audit (bot) system MAY only catch this if the 2 duplicate reservations were still NOT TICKETED. Since one or more of the dupes was (were) already ticketed then the audit will not catch this, period.
          Remember the audit is looking for “ILLEGAL” BOOKING ACTIVITIES of agents. What happened was not a booking violation at all.
          That said, what you are wanting the airline to do (search for duplicate TICKETS) is a waste of airline resources and will never happen. The airline will never stop you in purchasing multiple NON-REFUNDABLE ticket on the same name since they have your money and don’t care what you want to do with the extra seats.

          1. Repeating myself, my comment was in reference to flutiefan’s and bodega3’s comments below, which defend the notion that a consumer who double-clicks and gets charged twice is responsible for their “error”.

            Quote: ” i’m out of luck for getting their money back. THEY were the ones who clicked twice “

            You agree with THAT? (Looks like Lindabator “liked” the quoted comment at the same time that she contradicted it).

          2. I never said that.  A double click isn’t the same as using two different booking sites. The OP didn’t double click.

  19. I voted yes only because it does seem wrong that one can book two IDENTICAL tickets in this age of advanced technology! If he had booked different dates, or on different airlines, for example, then I’d say, there’s a chance he’s not really forgetful and trying to “get away with” changing his booking fee-free. This is obviously not the case, so please try to get this man’s money refunded however you can, just this one time. 🙂 

    1.  why???? the computer doesn’t know it’s the same person. they were on separate reservations, made days apart. you think you’re the only “Christina Conte” out there???

      1. The airline’s computer should know, provided that there are several bits of info identical between the two reservations. Email, phone, payment info…if any/all of those are the same along with the name, they’d know it was the same person. Now, that person might actually want two seats on the same flight, but that’s a rare enough occurrence I think really good customer service would entail them checking to make sure.  Not legally required, but it’d be a nice practice.

        1. The only information in the PNR that would prove two different passengers is the date of birth, now required for all tickets to even be issued and possibly a frequent flyer number.  CC, phone, address don’t prove it.

        2.  bodega is right, provided that info actually transmits from the agency to the airline’s PNR.  as we’ve seen before, sometimes it just doesn’t.

        3. But you have NO idea what information is sent over to the airline from either of these two systems.  And everyone is assuming he used the same credit card, which may ALSO not be the case.  Too many variables for ANY airline to track from multiple vendors.  And CLEARLY this man’s fault.

  20. Short term memory is not an excuse.  Ask for help — someone could do that without any trouble to make sure you did not make a mistake.  Before the fact of needing help afterwards.

  21. I voted Yes because I think the airline could show a little compassion here for an obvious (to me) accidental double booking. But I strongly agree with other posters that this gentlemen has reached a point where he needs guidance in his financial endeavors. I hope his wife has more on the ball, or they could be in trouble on their trip.

  22. it’s nearly impossible to purchase anything but non-refundable tickets on Expedia, so I’m inclined to think that the agency should be more receptive to cases like these.  

    1. I don’t understand your comment.  An agency doesn’t own the tickets they sell.  They have to follow the rules of the fare or they get fined.  They would have to contact the carrier just like the passenger already did. 

    2. But this was a legitimate booking for them – they have no power to refund when the airline refuses to, and why should they be on the hook because he’s forgetful?????

  23. I am loyal to Expedia because I booked a flight once on the wrong day and they switched it w/o penalty.  Preston just needs to call them and BEG for help.  That’s what I did, although it was the next day, not months afterwards.  Another instance when I had to cancel a trip, they got the airline tix’ taxes refunded.

    Expedia could reap a huge amount of positive publicity from helping one of their customers. Everyone is so sick of being mauled by the airlines, this could be a very positive thing.  Expedia could actually institute a marketing campaign that they have a given number of “freebies” annually for their customers and each case is decided on it’s individual merits.  It wouldn’t be too difficult to set up a system that did not require endless hours on their part, have it all done via email with strict deadlines etc.

    1. We have a 24 hours leeway on canceling and rebooking, so you lucked out by calling when you do.  What many of you must understand is that ticketing agencies can’t willy nilly refund, change tickets on NONREFUNDABLE tickets.

    2. Actually, the more they publicize this, the more likely other people who want to change a booking will phone up and demand the same treatment. They’d get the good graces of this particular gentleman, but then again, he probably doesn’t travel very much…

  24. Hmmm… as small as airline seats are now-a-days, have the airline put the 4 seats together in the middle, or 3 in the middle and 1 on the opposite aisle, then the pax & his wife can take turns laying out and sleeping.    Cheaper and as comfortable as business class.

  25. The OP doesn’t seem concerned about the money since he didn’t mention it. Maybe he should look at this as an opportunity to take the airline up on their offer and schedule an additional trip to Europe. Isn’t that one of the great benefits about being retired? You get to do lots of travel.

    1.  I think the fact that Mr. Elliott was contacted is proof that he is “concerned about the money.” Also, maybe the OP or his wife will be unable to travel overseas after this trip due to circumstances unbeknownst to us.

      As difficult as it is to imagine, there are many people who are not bitten by the travel bug; although you and I would love to do lots of travelling upon retirement, one cannot assume everyone else will choose to do this.

      1. I disagree. I think contacting Chris Elliott is a “fix a mistake” which could be financial, customer service, or a myriad of mistakes that can be made by travelers and suppliers. Usually the finanicial ones are accompanied by sob story of what impact not having that money will do to them.

        While I agree these may not be travel bug people, I’m saying this could be a lemons=lemonade situation.

  26. I’m a huge advocate for the elderly and always consider, when interacting with them, “How would I want my mother treated?”  

    In this instance, my mother did something very similar before her death and considered it a lesson learned.  She contacted the airline, made them aware of the double purchase, they offered her exactly what the OP was offered and she took it.  She planned another “vacation” for six months out.

    She also became much more fastidious about notating when she did something big like buy plane tickets.  This woman had so many sticky notes on her computer screen…

    At the age of 73, I don’t understand why the OP is saying they’ll never take another international trip?  If I had done this I’d be peeved at myself for doing it but it also means another trip overseas.  (I’m not 73, though, but 47 so my thoughts are skewed due to my being younger)

    I really don’t believe this should go any further and I’m with Raven, the “Gee, I forgot because I’m old” thing doesn’t exactly fly with me.  It seems too convenient… And I SURE wouldn’t be using that travel agent again.

    1. We don’t know the state of their health.  This could have a bearing on their decision not to travel internationally in future. 
      Another thing, I spent 9.5 years visiting my mother almost daily in a long-term care facility.  She had Alzheimer’s along with 90% of the residents there.    I will never forget all that I witnessed and I will never be able to explain how the experience has changed my outlook.
      The prevalence of dementia in our society is going to grab everyone’s attention sooner or later and it is lamentable that we are not going to be prepared  to deal with it.  The predictions are that the number of cases of all types of dementia will double in both the United States and Canada in the next 20 years.  I have also read that predictions being made now are believed to be on the conservative side.
      As a senior citizen myself and still a sentient being (mostly), what I do know is that I would be too proud to use my age unjustifiably to excuse one of my failures of cognition.  At the moment, I am more interested in developing mechanisms to help me stave off and cope with any mental deficits. 

      1. Was there a comment here about the article?

        And as sorry as I am about your mother, dementia isn’t exclusive to you and your world.  My 88 year old FIL currently suffers from Alzheimer’s and is getting worse.  He is aware he has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t travel because of it. However, he is also becoming less aware he has the illness and is starting to talk of traveling to see us here in Arizona. We work to discourage it all the time but also don’t do anything to encourage it for the sake of his ego.

        1. I regret that my response came across as making a claim for any sort of exclusivity where dementia is concerned.  I know full well that dementia is “no respecter of persons” and has either touched or in time will touch the lives of everyone directly or indirectly. 
          The impression that I failed to convey was that based on what I had witnessed as a layperson, I could never take the POV that someone like the OP who entered into a contract, has no grounds for breaching the contract and if the other party refuses to release him from the contract, it is sad but he has no one to blame but himself.  He must also stand the consequences.
          Quite soon our societies are going to have to adopt new paradigms in order to interact with the unprecedented and increasing numbers of people who will be afflicted with dementia.  Scientists are working feverishly to zero in on causes and cures.  Until that happens, however, our current health care, legal, financial and other systems are going to have to change.  Not the least, we are going to be forced to become kinder and gentler towards each other.  (BTW my name is not Pollyanna. It can and will happen.)

    2. But why the slam on the travel agent?  They booked and ticketed him when he GAVE THEM HIS CREDIT CARD.  Then he decided to book with Expedia, and they ticketed him WHEN HE GAVE THEM A CREDIT CARD.  No one conked him over the head, stole his info and bought it for him.  the fact that he is going to multiple sources because he is forgetful doens’t fly with me, or he wohave “forgotten” the exact flights/dates as the original booking.  He’s forgetful, but not totally gone.

      1. You know, I think where that came from was the length of time it took the agent to get back to him but…  For some reason I thought it was a month later that they actually learned of the agent’s booking.

        What got me in the thing was – he thought to call a travel agent the first time, why not the second time?  This was a huge mess and IMHO the OP should be the one to pay for it, not the airline, not the travel agent.  Had he called the TA the second time, that “Doh” moment would have seared it into his memory.

  27. My initial thought is that the contract for one of the pairs of tickets is unenforceable based on the legal theory of impossibility of performance. Lufthansa cannot fly the same person twice, at exactly the same time and place, nor can the passenger do so either. It would have been impossible for Lufthansa to fly this couple twice at the same time. If neither party to the alleged contract can perform, the contract may be unenforceable.

    The situation might also be one of mutual mistake. Certainly, the intending passenger was mistaken. But Lufthansa had in its reservation system duplicate records for the same two people. Did Lufthansa think that these duplicate records were for distinct people, who just happened to have the same names and birth dates? If this is a mutual mistake, then the contract may be voidable.

      1. Good thought. We might want to know if Lufthansa assigned ad additional adjoining seats to each of the passengers involved, or if the additional seats were elsewhere in the aircraft.

    1. But – how is the airline resposnbilbe for his going to 2 places for tickets?  He may also have used 2 different credit cards – are they supposed to check with banks as well?  Too many strange variables here, and in the end – the client goofed, not LH.

  28. If CO can call Raven to make he sure there wasn’t a double booking, would it be too much to ask for LH to call the OP? Just sayin’

    1. But that is when BOTH bookings are made from the same source – this was made by 1) an agency and 2) Expedia – TWO DIFFERENT SOURCES.

  29. I voted yes, in terms of give it a try, but if no success let it go.  The OP is at fault.  I’m almost 70 and sometimes forget, and like him “know” that I forget.  Therefore I keep receipts, write down confirmation numbers and other important things. If he doesn’t, can’t or won’t have someone take care of important business for him, like airline tickets purchases, it’s his responsiblilty to have tangible backup at hand so he knows what and when he did.  When I don’t keep documentation at hand and I screw up it’s my fault and I don’t look to others to bail me out.

  30. Everyone knows this was a mistake, so Lufthansa should do what everyone knows is the right thing.

    Sure, it’s a slippery slope. Airlines can’t correct every customer mistake. They can’t refund a ticket if a customer calls and says they mistakenly scheduled a trip during a time when they have a meeting to attend, because that’s too hard to verify and too open to abuse. Nor should they issue a refund if a customer says they were too naive to search harder and could have found a lower fare. But this case has no such ambiguity.

  31. It appears to me that Mr Preston is a college science professor.  How would his college expect him to handle a grade for a student who claimed to have made a mistake on a test and wanted the grade changed after getting their test back?

    1. This is an erroneous analogy. I don’t believe you can make a correct analogy to a college classroom situation. It would be more along the lines of a college student paying to take the LSAT, and accidentally paying twice to take the same exact exam which he/she could only possibly take once that day. It would only seem fair to refund the $ in that situation.

      1. I disagree.  He made a mistake according to him.  A student made a mistake.  Why any difference?  Everyone thinks travel arrangements don’t have costs.  He made a mistake, he new the tickets had fees, so stand up and take it like man.  Take a second trip and have fun!

    2. You concocted an artificial scenario where the student’s claim would not be verifiable.

      The OP’s scenario (assuming DOB and source of payment match) is completely verifiable.

      1. Mistakes happen. What doesn’t happen very often any more is being responsible for your mistake. The airline is allowing them ot reuse the value of the tickets for another trip, less a fee. Same as they would for you or for me.

          1. Not consummated YET because her credit card was not charged.
            IMO the extra amount charged plus the cost of her OLD ticket was not enough to cover cost of NEW ticket for NEW reservation.
            The discovered the error on the agents manual calculation so they called her back. Too bad, airlines do not stand by verbal quotes. They will always refer to tariff, sorry.

          2. Her credit card WAS run (payment was stopped at the back office).

            Would you call back a customer to demand additional payment days after you ran their credit card and verbally confirmed their reservation?

            It’s a double-standard any way you look at it, because the customer can’t go back after verbal confirmation and a mutually terminated conversation and say oops (other than the new 24 hour rule which wasn’t in place at the time).

          3. For as long as no tickets are actually issued, and no money was taken from the customer, the credit card merchant and credit card company is (free to) negotiate how their transactions can take place. I don’t know what she meant by payment was stopped. Was it really charged or not. Mere taking down of your credit card over the phone or online doesn’t mean it actually GOT CHARGED.

            In fact I have seen worse, a ticket is actually ISSUED and then VOIDED (credit card charges reversed immediately) because a mistake was found by accounting somewhere or the wrong amount was keyed in.

            By the way, the 24 hour rule has been there for ages if your payment is settled by ARC. In fact in the early days, you had till Tuesday each week to screw around.

          4. I don’t know what she meant by payment was stopped.

            Isn’t it the phone agent’s responsibility to run your card for the amount stated before they confirm the transaction and end the conversation?

            Since Ms. McGowan wasn’t contacted promptly and since LH itself said their NY office “stopped payment” I suspect that was their euphemism for one of those reversed credit card charges.

  32. i’m gonna echo the others here who have said the airline did nothing wrong.
    i’m also gonna point out the “2 tickets with the same name” thing. we all know i work for an airline, and this very situation has happened at least 3 times to me in the past month, and i’m sure more times to my coworkers.  in one case, there were 2 men with the same name. traveling on the same date. to the same destination. and they weren’t related and didn’t know each other.  imagine if man #2 went to book his ticket or check his itinerary, only to discover we had canceled it? not cool.  another case had a father and son traveling on different PNRs, so they had the same name, the same contact information, the same email reference. since they came up together, it was easy to process.  what if we’d canceled the son’s ticket? not cool.  and the 3rd one i can recall was for 2 women. same date, same itinerary. one of them was a travel agency reservation, and somehow the Secure Flight info wasn’t saved.  how do you tell which one is which?  thankfully, the other reservation had a middle name which wasn’t this woman’s, and we could distinguish the 2.  but at 1st glance, they looked like a double booking.  what if the travel agency res was canceled because of that appearance? not cool.

    we also see true double bookings often. many times it’s on consecutive flights, because the passenger doesn’t know which one he can make on time and wants to have a reservation on both.  and sometimes the customer has booked online, the click “pay” or whatever the final button is, and then they feel it has taken too long so they click “pay” again (even though the page clearly says NOT to click again and to just wait). that impatience has just led to 2 reservations and 2 charges on their credit cards.  on the day of departure, can i go in and cancel those reservations? of course i CAN. but should i? NO. it may be an odd situation with the same name and even the same birthday, and i don’t want someone screwed over because i assumed.
    now, i can cancel the res if i tell them they have 2, but if it’s a nonrefundable ticket, i’m out of luck for getting their money back. THEY were the ones who clicked twice (or, like the OP, forgot about the 1st).  the airline didn’t do anything wrong.

    1. the airline did nothing wrong

      What did the customer do wrong in this previous Lufthansa case Chris wrote about? — 

      Lufthansa obviously believes that it’s okay to go back and undo a reservation when THEY made a mistake and the shoe is on the other foot.

      I also noticed that none of your anecdotal  examples of duplicate names involve the same date of birth, the same billing address, and the same credit card.  I assume you haven’t seen that scenario occur legitimately, have you?

      Regardless, no one is criticizing Lufthansa for failing to unilaterally cancel the reservation without speaking to the customer.  They’ve been notified by the customer — months in advance of the flight — about an obvious case of human error.  And they’ve demonstrated in the past that THEY deserve to be allowed to go back and fix THEIR human errors at will.

      1.  i’m not commenting on that other case you mentioned. i said here, and i stand by it, THE AIRLINE DID NOTHING WRONG.  did i say “ever”? no.

        and yes, i have had the scenario occur when people book themselves multiple times, same cc, same DOB, same address. i said that at the end. they are impatient for the transaction to process, or they “forget” they’d already made that reservation.  guess what? if it’s a nonrefundable ticket, then they don’t get a refund for the mistake of booking themselves twice.  maybe some Customer Service Relations agent will take pity and process a refund, but it’s not likely.

        1. Notice, I wrote:
           I assume you haven’t seen that scenario occur legitimately, have you? 

          The nonrefundable double-charge for clicking twice is gouging, pure and simple.  If the customer uses a credit card, they can rightfully dispute it as a duplicate charge.

          If you get too much change back from a cashier at the store, do you fix the error or do you pocket the money?  There’s the right thing to do, and there’s the greedy thing to do.  I guess we know which choice (at least some) airlines have made….

          1. Dont assume credit card protection on a mistake.  There are rules to the ticket and those hold weight for the airline against a credit card dispute.  He didn’t get over charged as he booked the tickets through two different places.  While I think the change fees are excessive, especially since the carriers don’t think we should be compensated by them for handling them as they once did, the rule of the fare is there and by clicking you read the terms and conditions, you have signed a contract!

          2. The merchant agreement with the credit card company is a contract too (but maybe you think business owners are special and free to ignore that).

          3. Actually, it is only a duplicate charge if charged same day, to same source.  This was a week later, to another agency (Expedia)

          4. I was responding directly to flutiefan’s contention that double-clickers “don’t get a refund for the mistake of booking themselves twice. “. (Those would all be on the same day, unless perhaps if it happened at 11:59:59.999 pm)

          5. AH!  Yes, in that case the airline should actually see it, and if they don’t drop it, the credit card company should.

      2. But you ASSUME the airline was given the same info (how do YOU know its the same credit card?) and/or that it even moved INTO the airline’s booking.  It often does NOT.

        1. It would be really surprising if the DOB’s didn’t match or if at least the credit card billing addresses didn’t match.  If either were the case, Lufthansa could make that argument.  But they’re not making that argument….

  33. Lufthansa should process a refund without penalty; obviously, it’s a double-booking.  How can any of the airlines justify “penalties” when it can’t be much more work than hitting the delete button on a reservation.  It’s just as vulgar when they charge to correct a spelling error.  Do we get to charge them when we get bad service, from any of their employees?  Nice idea, but all we get is a form letter – if that.  The airlines continue to hold the consumer hostage and financially extort us, every chance they get. 

  34. Whenever I am looking at several variations on an international trip, I may reserve (put on hold) several similar trips on  Of course, AA tells me they are already holding a similar reservations before I buy or even “hold” a second one.  AA is smart with regards to purchases through the same on line system.

    The fact a real travel agent booked the first and the customer booked the second does not mean they both don’t end up in the same Lufthansa computer.  Especially nowadays with so many international security measures including your passport number, date of birth, etc.

    I doubt the professor has a frequent flyer number with the airline or one of its alliance partners.  That, too, might have alerted Lufthansa that the same passenger was traveling twice.  So if you are going to be booking on your own, always join the FF program.  

    OK, try as much as you can.  But the $500 deducted from two tickets which probably cost around $1200 to $1700 each is not bad.

  35. I actually feel very badly for the OP.  But while this is mostly his fault, why the heck didn’t his TA tell him that they had booked the flight?

    As for the offer from Lufthansa, they don’t have to fly internationally to use the credit, they can book a flight using code sharing – book with Lufthansa, but fly with United or US Air.

    1. He has two tickets, so he must have given the travel agency his credit card.  If he forgot about it and booked it with Expedia, he may have forgotten what they told him. 

    2. Getting his credit card number and billing information would BE how they ticketed him, so he had to know he had a ticket.  He in fact never disputed that!

  36. Take it and help them and I will tell you why. I am not anywhere near his age and I do similar things. It is not the age it is the many things that are filling up our brains. We all do multi-tasking to extreme. Making it nearly impossible to remember everything and that is the way it is. Be honest, have you forgotten where your keys are, where you are driving to, your coat or even the kids. Its the extreme multi-tasking. Remembering everything we find ourselves wondering what we did or did not do. Ok, you can write it down, I hope you know where you put the paper you wrote it on…and so it goes. So give folks a little leeway, We are not robots or computers, but we treat our minds as if they are just an extension of our computers. 

  37. It would seem to me that if Lufthansa was smart, they could have made four customers happy:  Preston and his wife (who get a refund for the two seats they don’t need) and two passengers who really need and want those seats.  Instead, the airline makes everyone unhappy and gets some “bad press” via Chris’ Website.  

  38. Mama gump was correct-  stupid is as stupid does. . . . and forgetting is the same thing.

    Yep, its harsh.  Yep, I’ll get old one day too.  And yep, I’ll end up paying a stupid tax on something sooner or later – 

      1. So I suggest that the OP did something stupid and needs to pay for it – whereas you suggest that I die. . . . there is an Obama supporter for you.

        The one bit of advice that I would strongly give our OP is do not cancel – show for the flight and see if its overbooked in economy.  Then you can volunteer one of your PNR’s for a free flight and a voucher – its summer travel season and international trips are often overbooked in economy. 

        If they refuse to do that then you have REAL claim for a refund . . . .

        otherwise-  you should each occupy 2 seats and be comfortable for the flight –

        Lets not also forget that our retired traveler was such an awesome computer expert he could not attach copies of the tickets to the email – and we should not feel sorry for the guy when he bought 2 duplicate trips?

        1. I’m just replying to your offensive comment with an offensive comment of my own. Stupid is, as stupid does, right Joe?

  39. i should also add that my dad is 71 years old, and i could never see him making this mistake  (“i forgot”).  and if he did, he would suck it up.  i’m just saying that age doesn’t allow for an excuse.

    on that note, i checked in an 81 yr old passenger last week who was as spry, alert, and put-together as any of the other middle-aged folks i help. she was awesome!

    age ain’t nothing but a number.

  40. Why it’s too bad there’s no preventing this from happening

    A few points y’all need to understand about airline reservation systems:

    (1) The Reservation (your booking) and (E)Ticketing systems are separate .

    (2)  Most airlines have bots that scan the Reservation systems for UNTICKETED  duplicated bookings because these bookings may result to space not being able to be offered to others.

    (3) Online Reservations must usually be ticketed on the same “session”, so unsold bookings are usually deleted immediately.

    (4) Travel agent booked INTERNATIONAL reservations (using a GDS) are usually kept alive by the airline for at least 72 hours (if departure date is out in the future) before they are auto-cancelled. It is during this time when the bots search for dups. Remember once a reservation is ticketed there is no reason for the airline to recheck it since it’s money in their pockets already.

    (5) The reservations done by the OTA and the Travel agent have absolutely nothing to do with each other (even if they were on the same GDS company i.e. Sabre, Amadeus, Worldspan, Galileo, etc.). The GDSes will never search for dups. That’s the airline’s problem.

    (6) Your Date of Birth (DOB) is NOT STORED in the GDS system. It is passed to the airline as an SSR message so the airline can comply with the Secure Flight Program of the TSA. It’s only purpose is to be passed to the TSA or Immigration Authorities.

    (7) The airline’ reservation system is pretty dumb about passenger names. It protects itself by NOT allowing changes to pax names after a reservation (booking) is created. The original purpose for collecting a pax name is to simply identify the pax for check in and for boarding pass printing.

    That said, there was no system out there that would have caught this duplicate and there is no economic justification for the airlines to make one. Remember an airline wants to sell tickets. It will sell you multiple tickets if you want (who knows if you want to seat alone and buy the whole row for yourself).

    Maybe we need to ask the OP why he went to an OTA AFTER he already told his travel agent to buy him tickets? Did he have duplicate hotel bookings, too?

  41. I voted in favor of mediation.  This case illustrates something that has bothered me for quite a few years now.  The number of people over age 65 is increasing; the number of people being touched by degrees of dementia is also increasing.  What measures are businesses adopting to meet this challenge?  Are businesses providing customer service training in how to deal with seniors specifically?  The term “business” here covers the broadest spectrum – government, retail, banking, service professionals and non-professionals – in fact, operators in every aspect of our existence. 
    The same sort of thing that happened to the OP is occurring relatively unnoticed hundreds of times per day in our communities.  People who have maintained their independence for all their adult years begin to lose capacity slowly in one or more areas.  They are not in need of caretaking and they do deserve to retain their dignity and to have allowances made for them.  They also deserve to receive consideration when they make mistakes as the OP clearly did.
    For more times than I have cared to, I have witnessed seniors being treated with an utter lack of respect.  They are shouted at, talked down to, sneered at, dismissed and sometimes ignored.  Customer service people issue streams of information and instructions rapidly which younger people would be hard-pressed to process and absorb.  There are times when I and others have intervened on their behalf and even then we have sometimes been told not to interfere as it is none of our business.  It is pretty harsh when you observe this sort of thing happening in a physician’s office.
    Quite often seniors are derided for not embracing technology.  When they do, they have to memorize umpteen user IDs and passwords which they are told never to commit to writing.  While standing in line at the bank one day, I remember asking the woman ahead of me what she thought was going to happen to most of us when we could no longer  remember all our passwords, etc.  She had no solution other than to say we should adjust now to having one ID and one password for everything.  Perhaps she is right.
    Anyway, the OP has obviously made a mistake.  I cannot believe that Lufthansa would not refund all the money he paid for the duplicate ticket.  From what I know of this company, I am indeed surprised that they would be so unrelenting.

    1. I understand what you are saying.  Just a couple of weeks ago in our area, an elderly man with dementia went to a local car dealership and bought a nice, little, slick, high performance car.  He isn’t permitted to drive any longer, but he took off with a car a the home he was staying at, drove to another town and made this purchase.  After a lot of pressure, the dealership, which said, once a car it taken off the lot, they don’t take them back, took it back.  So I guess with our aging society, we will now need mistake insurance to cover our unfortunate purchases.

      I wonder if the OP would have been so understanding with his students if the turned in their research paper the last week of the semester that was due at mid term? 

      We all make mistakes.  The problem is, we don’t want to be responsible for them and using age; oh he is only 2, oh he is only 18, or he is 72 is our excuse?

      The airline has a plan already in place for something like this and they are allowing him to reuse the fare, minus a fee. Why is that unreasonable?

      1. I wonder if Lufthansa would be so understanding if they made a mistake in the customer’s favor?  Would they take responsibility for their mistake?

        Well we don’t need to wonder.  If you’ve followed Chris’ blog, we know they don’t believe in taking responsibility for their mistakes when they make one in the customer’s favor: 

        Basically, the passenger is responsible for any mistakes (no excuses). But Lufthansa is not responsible for its mistakes (and it doesn’t even need to bother to offer an excuse).

          1. Life doesn’t work that way MIchael.  My guess is you are not in business for yourself.  You do look at things differently as a business owner than as the customer.  Hopefully you try and make things work for both.  It seems that LH has done that with their change fee. 

          2.  he’s acting like a troll, and keeps pointing out that single case over & over. it’s no use.

          3. If your “real” argument boils down to:  

            business owner >>>> customer

            then stick with that and don’t make up phony moral arguments about “taking responsibility for mistakes” that you wouldn’t hold yourself to.

          4. The real argument here is that there was a mistake made by the OP and he isn’t accepting the airlines offer, which is their policy on NONREFUNDABLE tickets.

    2. just because they are old is no excuse for not entering into a legal contract and being subject to its terms.  

      Now if you are arguing he lacked the legal capacity to enter into the contract – that is something different – but that would have all sorts of other consequences which I am sure the OP does not want to approach at this point in their life. 

      So all you are saying is that they are old and forgot.  So – if I forget is that ok?  Or do I need to be old?   or disabled?  or maybe just forgetful?  or perhaps I just lost my job? 

      How many exceptions do you want to put in the contract?  Perhaps Delta or Lufthansa and can ask for more money because they incorrcetly estimated fuel prices, or perhaps they just needed a new engine for the airplane?  Or the cost of water went up, or agents compensation, or ATC has new fee.  Why not? 

      If we are going to have exceptions based on status, then why can’t the airline also have exceptions for the unexpected? 

        1. unless their contract of carriage has been amended since I last looked at – no.  Delta is barred by DOT regs and LH and DL Are barred by Euro regs.  So they can’t. 

          1. Doesn’t stop LH apparently… even Chris couldn’t do anything about it. Case dismissed.

        2.  Michael, I honestly believe you might be misreading the LH case of Melinda McGowan.
          (1) IMO, She originally had an L class ticket
          (2) She had an emergency and LH was fair in giving her a pass – they allowed her fare to be reused.
          (3) At the time she was ready to rebook, an LH agent gave her a quote for $388, BUT the agent HAD TO BOOK HER ON A HIGHER PRICED BOOKING CODE (S class) and incorrectly calculated the quote.
          IMO this is an easy mistake to do because you have to first autoprice the new reservation CORRECTLY and then find the old ticket price and subtract it from the price of the new reservation; then ADD penalties if any.
          (4) From the AIRLINE’s perspective you need to pay the NEW PUBLISHED TARIFF and they do not care if their employee made a mistake adding or subtracting numbers. For as long as NO TICKET HAS BEEN ISSUED YET, all quoted fares can LEGALLY change at any time. I assure you that clause is in the tariffs and COCs. This is the reason why there aer PUBLISHED tariffs. What is published is what you pay (the agent cannot change any fare because they do not have the authority to do so).

          It would have been a much different case if a ticket had been issued at the incorrect price.

          1. Who takes responsibility for mistakes?

            If the customer verbally agrees to a fare and the phone conversation mutually ends, can the customer come back more than a day later and say “oops?”

            Does it cut both ways or not?

          2. I really don’t know the answer. It seems to me the airline can always cancel your ticket and give you your money back if it does not want you. But getting your money back is not that easy after 24 hours. Fair??? Not really but that’s the way it is since the gov’t allows it so the greater population can fly.

  42. The honest mistake by a senior makes me say yes to assistance Christopher.  At least as far as contacting Lufthansa directly for a refund.

  43. It it was the same itinerary, i.e. the same flight numbers, same dates, etc. airline should have flagged double booking.

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