The following is a true story.
It’s also a highly embarrassing true story. So embarrassing, in fact, that I’m going to offer Ahmet the gift of anonymity.
He can thank me later.
Ahmet contacted me recently with a problem. Seems there was a little issue with the Lufthansa tickets from Ankara to San Francisco that he’d booked for his mother through Expedia.
“Her name is Hülya with an accented u,” he explained. “I filled in the forms with the correct spelling, because Expedia warns multiple times about using the exact spelling with the identification documents.”
But that’s not how Expedia issued the tickets.
“A week later, I checked the Lufthansa confirmation for the actual flight information and noticed that her name was spelled wrong — Huelya with an extra e.”
Misspelling your mother’s name? Oh, Ahmet, now you’re in trouble.
He explains what happened next:
I contacted Lufthansa. They said yes, the name can be corrected for a fee of $100. But only the booking agency can do it and they referred me back to Expedia.
I called Expedia and they decided that it was actually my mistake and I misspelled my mother’s name.
They told me they will fix it and waive the $100 change fee but they asked for a fare difference of $226 for the same flight because it was my mistake.
I finally agreed to all the fees and fare difference because I was told there are no other options.
If this case doesn’t make you say, “What were they thinking” then I don’t know what will.
First of all, there was no need for a name change.
The “ü” is automatically turned into a ue when the ü character is unavailable. Likewise, the “ä” becomes an ae and the “ö” turns into an oe. So Hülya would have had no trouble boarding her flight or getting through security.
Airlines also commonly allow a typo in a name to be corrected, if not when the error is spotted, then before boarding.
In other words, Expedia and Lufthansa had absolutely no reason to charge Ahmet extra for the same ticket.
But perhaps the biggest “d’oh” moment in this entire episode was the timeframe for discovering this alleged error (I say “alleged” because some might say this was a computer-generated “mistake”).
Why wait a whole week before looking at your reservation? If Ahmet had reviewed the confirmation after Expedia emailed it to him, then he could have fixed it right away, thanks to the 24-hour rule.
So Ahmet, I think everyone screwed up on this one, including you. Think of the $226 you paid to Expedia as tuition. But there’s a lesson for the rest of us in there too.
Read your confirmation — now.