Alright everyone, gather round and let me share with you the pain of living with a hyphenated name. Occasionally it’s fun and amusing, a third nipple stapled to your ID. Occasionally, it’s a miserable nightmare, as Yarn Harlot Stephanie Pearl-McPhee learned when she wasn’t allowed to board a flight after an anonymous airline’s computer severed her hyphenated name. Neither passports, a conversation with the booking agent, nor a printed receipt showing the proper hyphenated name could convince the airline gate agent that Pearl-McPhee was anything more than a foolishly named terror.
I don’t want to change my name, I just want to shuffle Pearl from my middle name there — over there to the next box, next to McPhee. Simple, yes?
No. That’s a name change. They can’t change it. I cant change it. Only the agent who booked it can change it. I call Andrews McMeel (who are the agent who booked it and also eight flavours of awesome through the whole thing) and tell them what’s happening. They check the original booking, and find that while they provided my name correctly, and yay, verily, it is even correct on their receipt, something has shifted in the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH [Airline-Whom-I-Shall-Not-Name-Because-I-Am-Too-Angry-To-Give-Them-The-Google-Hits] computer. We agree that this is crazy pie, but that it sounds simple to fix. They call AWISNNBIATATGTTGH and point out that all of my names appear on the ticket. (This, it turns out is sheer folly, since I had already tried the superweapon of logic on AWISNNBIATATGTTGH, and they were undefeated.) AWISNNBIATATGTTGH replies that it does not matter, since my last name on the ticket is McPhee, and McPhee is not my last name. (On this, we all agree.)
For my part, while they are on the phone with the lady from AWISNNBIATATGTTGH, I pull out various pieces of ID with my name on it, and brandish the sword of calmness and information. It is fruitless.
Kathy from Andrews McMeel eventually figures this out too, after a very, very noble attempt to be sensible in the face of it all, and she finally snaps, and tells the AWISNNBIATATGTTGH lady (who is now on the phone with AWISNNBIATATGTTGH head office and Kathy, one phone to each ear) to forget it. The name is wrong. It does not matter why or how it is wrong, the degree of wrongness doesn’t matter. We get that we can’t change it. (The reasons for this are unclear, but the name now cannot be changed. Possibly because there are about 14 seconds until the flight closes. Who knows.) Kathy tells them to forget the ticket. That ticket is dead to us. We don’t know any McPhee lady and we don’t want to. We wipe the slate clean and say that we would like to buy a ticket to Florida please… a whole new ticket. A ticket that has nothing to do with the other ticket, and the lady from AWISNNBIATATGTTGH smiles a little, because she has won on the name thing, and then she says:
“Sorry. There are no seats available on that flight.”
Pearl-McPhee finally gave up and walked away from the mystery airline so she could instead book a ticket with Air Canada.