5 Common Airline Ticket Errors And How To Avoid Them

Despite security headaches and rising fuel costs, air travel is still a popular way to get to your destination. But because of heightened security, a simple error on your ticket can result in extra fees or even leave you grounded. To help you avoid some common ticket-buying pitfalls, CNN Travel has complied 5 common ticketing errors and how tells us how to avoid them. Check them out, inside…

As far as mistakes go, the one Janet Gordon recently made didn’t seem like a big deal. She booked an airline ticket from Toronto to London under the name “Jan.” “It was a major hassle,” remembers Gordon, a human resources director for a college in Swansea, England. At almost every turn, the couple had to explain why the name on Jan’s ticket didn’t match her passport. “The computers wouldn’t allow us to check in and issue a boarding card,” he says.

1. Wrong name on the ticket.
Before 9/11, a nickname or maiden name on your ticket would usually slide. Nowadays, it can leave you grounded unless pay a correction fee which can be up to $100. To avoid this error, make sure your browser doesn’t auto-complete forms with incorrect or outdated information. Double check to make sure the name on your ticket matches exactly with your ID.

2. Booking the ticket on the wrong airline.
Believe it or not this happens, sometimes through the fault of the traveler or sometimes the travel agent. People also get confused about “codeshare” flights which is buying a ticket for one airline and then flying on a partner airline. To avoid this error, research your ticket and look for any codeshare designations. Also, try to use only experienced travel agents.

3. Selecting the wrong city on your ticket

People often select the wrong city pairs or sometimes they’ll book a ticket for city B to city A when they really wanted city A to city B. How can this happen? People can get mixed up with the 3 letter airport identifiers. Also, every airline’s web site is slightly different which can often lead to confusion. How to avoid it? You can use a qualified travel agent instead of doing it yourself. Read your travel agent’s confirmation immediately so that you can quickly address any errors.

4. Buying a ticket that’s too restrictive
Don’t buy a non-refundable ticket if you think you may need to change your travel plans. This can happen because airline web sites usually assume you want the cheapest ticket possible, so the first tickets listed are usually the cheapest and the most restrictive. Typically, the more expensive tickets with refund options are hidden deeper in the site. How to avoid this? If you can’t find a ticket with refund options, the right travel insurance might protect you if you need to change your plans.

5. Wrong date on your ticket
Whether you are distracted or just confused about which is the 6th month of year, many travelers have purchased tickets for the wrong date which often results in an added fee for a correction. How to avoid it? Pay careful attention to dates on the screen and consult with an old-fashioned calendar if all the different months confuse you. Always, carefully recheck all your information before you hit the “book” button.

Five common ticketing errors — and how to avoid them [CNN]
The Insurance Question [Elliot]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Things are so strict now, you fear arrest for any flaw – reagardless of fault

  2. PinkBox says:

    Travelocity somehow made my first and last name meld together as my first name, then had my last name seperately. (example: John Doe would be Johoe Doe)

    I was lucky that they let it slide, I guess. I’m not sure how it even happened, since all of my information was correct on Travelocity when I checked later.

  3. bonzombiekitty says:

    Number three is silly. Are we all really that dumb? Instead of using a qualified agent why don’t you just read the damn departure and arrival cities before you click “OK”?

  4. RandomHookup says:

    @bonzombiekitty: Ask the qualified agent who booked my return trip from SAN instead of SNA. Same state, but not commutable.

  5. juiceboxonfire says:

    It makes me really sad that people can’t book flights to the right city or on the right date. It’s not that hard. If you can’t get that right, you shouldn’t be allowed to fly because you’re probably also the jerk who keeps frantically pushing the service button wanting to know when the drink cart is coming.

  6. I’ll admit to #5 (wrong date). My wife and I were searching for tix to Rome over a couple different dates. Well, I had decided on some, but upon using the back button, the field autocompleted with the some older data and that was that.

    Luckily, I booked for two days EARLY, so we opted to just spend a couple extra days in Rome (hotels/food were cheaper than the tix change fee!). Not a bad mistake in the overall scheme of things.

  7. RoboSheep says:

    This advice is inconsistent: Points 1 and 5 say do it alone, Points 2 and 3 say waste your money, and Point 4 says really waste your money.

  8. lihtox says:

    My wife once booked a flight to Ontario, California, when she wanted to fly to Ottawa (in Ontario, Canada of course). Easy mistake to make. Fortunately she realized the error quickly (checking the flying time is a good sanity check), called the airline, and had it fixed w/o hassle.

  9. TWinter says:

    I think the moral of the story is double check, then triple check the details before you hit the purchase button. Every travel website I’ve ever used has a final screen with all of the info summarized before you purchase. I’ve caught many mistakes at that point because I stop and recheck everything.

  10. Murph1908 says:

    #1 is good advice. My wife has to deal with that every time she flies. Maryland doesn’t give you a new license in the case of a name or address change, just a suppliment card with the new info.

    The rest are just lame. “Be sure to choose the right date and airport. Pay a travel agent if you are too dumb to check your work.”

  11. Murph1908 says:

    I feel I need to make my point a bit clearer. Mistakes can happen. Telling someone to make sure they don’t make a mistake is pointless.

  12. Grive says:

    @RoboSheep: What? What are you going on about?

    You can consistently summarize all five as: Be careful and double check every single field.

    Advice 4 is not “waste your money” – it’s make a correct value assessment. I fly a lot with a mexican airline called Aeromexico, despite them being considerably more expensive than alternatives when I’m flying in Mexico.


    Because in the flights I use the most, they have a policy where you can trade your ticket for one of any flight that departs before the one you have to the same destination, for free. So I just book the cheapest and latest reasonable flight and then just go to the airport whenever I’m done.

  13. yetiwisdom says:

    My wife nearly got sent back to the US in Prague after they discovered her passport had her maiden name. After some phone calls and the requisite “I am a US Citizen!” malarkey, they finally let us in.

  14. I’ve seen a case like #1 that was the result of differing romanization of a foreign name (in that case Korean, but could just as easily happen to other languages). Passport used older romanization standard, ticket used newer standard, name didn’t match exactly. It eventually got straightened out.

  15. iMike says:

    6. Being an absolute idiot and not checking the details of a few hundred to few thousand dollar purchase before confirming it.
    7. Not realizing that most if not all airlines will void a ticket for you, either within the same calendar day or within 24 hours, if you’ve made a boneheaded error.

  16. cheesebubble says:

    Despite your own best efforts as a traveler, I highly suggest looking over your own boarding pass after the airline agent prints it off and gives it to you. Check departing city, destination, times and flight number. If I hadn’t done so during a recent trip, then I wouldn’t have noticed that the wrong information that was printed off and provided to me. A major headache was avoided!

  17. ab3i says:

    #3 and #5 are ridiculous and hopefully not a common occurance

  18. FilomenaHelenus says:

    I’d just say that I’m a relatively experienced traveler and have made
    the date mistake. (AQ’s (Aloha’s) website auto-incremented the date
    widget for me, so when I hit the “31” I was in January rather than

    Also, a potential mistake that many people won’t check is that your
    layover arrival city is the same as your layover departure city. Case
    in point — I booked a SAN – GVA that had a layover in London. Only
    when I looked REALLY closely (which I do now after the date thing),
    did I notice hat I arrived at London Heathrow and departed from
    London Gatwick 2.5 hours later. I would have had to collect my bags,
    take a train, then checkin, with no time for things to go wrong.


  19. aphexbr says:

    So the advice is: don’t rush things, make double sure that you entered the right information before confirming the booking…

    This isn’t really hard, surely? If booking on your own, most travel sites let you search by city rather than airport code, select a date from a graphical calendar and show a final page for confirmation before final booking. Read that last one carefully, and you’ll be set. If not, you probably deserve the fees!

    If you’re booking through an agent, you’d hope they get the information right but it always pays in the long run to make sure they have done everything correctly either way. I never use them, but surely there’s some recourse if they make a mistake? Just check the info before arriving at the airport…

  20. My name can be spelt with one or two ‘s’s (it’s not a Western name). Half the time when I book my ticket, my name has been spelt with 2, the other half, one. I carry around a notarised document from the home office stating the multiple spellings. I’ve had to produce it at some of my less-frequented airports, but haven’t had any real problems.

  21. JDAC says:

    CNN about to feel the wrath of the Welsh contingent for placing Swansea in England…

  22. Another common error is booking to the wrong city with the same name (e.g. Springfield, Illinois instead of Springfield, Missouri or Rochester, New York instead of Rochester, Minnesota).

    Watch out for that one. If you (or your travel agent) make that mistake get it corrected immediately. It’s such a common mistake that you can often get change/refund penalties waived (often, but not always) but not if you wait a few hours (or a few days).