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Don't sabotage your vacation
VANCOUVER - Colin and Claire James were very excited about their summer vacation to Europe until they got to Vancouver International Airport to check in.
"I scan my passport and nothing showed up," said Claire James.
There was no record of her in the system. Colin scanned his passport and up popped the reservation in both their names. But that wasn’t the end of it.
Air Canada refused Claire boarding.
"That was when we realized: 'Oh, we made a mistake when we’re booking,'" said Colin.
Claire’s Korean passport didn’t match her name on the ticket. She has three names: her English name Claire; her Korean name, Yihyun Kim, listed on her passport and her married name. The tickets were in her married name.
She had her driver’s licence, credit card and a copy of her marriage certificate on her cell phone to prove her identity.
"We didn’t think that’d be a big deal and so we thought it’d be a quick fix," explained Colin.
But it was a big deal. In order to get Claire on the flight, Air Canada said it would have to cancel her ticket and she’d have to buy another a new one at a higher price, even though she already had a reservation and seat booked on the plane.
Claire says the Air Canada ticket agent told her if she had booked a higher class fare, making the name change would not have been difficult.
But Air Canada told CTV News it does name changes all the time, "regardless of fare type." The company said the problem was with the original round trip ticket. It involved both Air Canada and Brussels Airlines. It required a cancellation and rebooking due to two different reservation systems.
"If there are two or more airlines, then it’s more difficult because both airlines have to agree to the change," explained Richard Job of Flight Centre.
The online world has made things a lot faster for booking tickets and usually you’ll get a warning to make sure the reservation name matches the travel documents.
But Job says name mistakes happen all the time.
"Absolutely, and people often go by nickname, Jim instead of James or something like that. So, yeah, just make sure you’re using the name on your passport rather than what you go by, it might not be the same thing," he said.
Mistakes caught in advance can be fixed, sometimes with no change fee, depending on the airline. Simple typos are easy to change. Complete name changes can be more difficult and will require documentation to prove the different names are linked to the person holding the ticket.
"Moral of the story, I guess, is be careful when you’re booking your tickets and always read the fine print," said Colin.
The couple’s vacation wasn’t completely ruined but it was costly. They say Air Canada wasn’t very helpful in offering booking alternatives, so Claire went online and found her own ticket spending another $2,200 but they had to fly separately. She arrived at their destination eight hours later.
Another important thing to keep an eye on is the expiry date on your passport. It must be more than six months after the final day of travel. Anything less and many countries could deny you entry.