People misspell words all the time. It’s human nature. (Just ask readers, friends, and family who send me “Hey-You-Screwed-Up-On-This” messages.)
But one family’s painful mistake should serve as a valuable lesson (or reminder) to all of us.
A Very Costly Error
One additional letter on a flight reservation was all it took to derail a family’s special trip to visit a sick relative.
CTV News’ Jenn Base reports the Perea-Melendez family planned to visit South America.
Ludwing Perea-Melendez said his father was “fading fast” and he wanted his own dad to “meet all of my kids.”
No one wants to be in that situation.
So, Mr. Perea-Melendez used Expedia to book WestJet tickets from Toronto International Airport.
But when the clan showed up to check in for their flights, that’s when he realized he made a spelling mistake.
“It showed an extra ‘d’ on the last name and that is when I thought, ‘Oh this is going to be a problem,'” he told Ms. Base. “The third-party website told me they could not change it unless it is 24 hours prior to the trip.”
Not the Family’s First Rodeo
In June, they were featured in another Jenn Base CTV News story. Why? They needed passports.
“This reminds me of when I was back in my country and you had to wait in long lines for a piece of bread, some vegetable oil,” he apparently told the article. “This is not the Canada I came to live in.”
What Can We Learn?
Let’s think good thoughts for the Perea-Melendez clan — and learn from their mistakes.
Better to Book Directly Through the Airline?
Purchasing travel through third parties (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.) can complicate matters. If, you know, you make crucial mistakes like spelling a name incorrectly.
So, bypassing the middle man might save you a little hassle if you make a mistake.
But many of us enjoy redeeming points and miles through programs like Amex Travel and Chase Ultimate Rewards® and Capital One. Are we completely out of luck? Not if we’re careful — and double-check our work.
Double-check everything on your bookings as you make them. Do it again several hours afterward (time permitting). If possible, ask someone else to look over your booking and make sure everything is in order.
Some reservations are made in haste. Maybe you’re emotional when purchasing the trip (excited, grief-stricken, etc.). Perhaps it’s a last-minute booking. Either-or-both can your mental situation and make you prone to mistakes.
I’ve misspelled my name and incorrectly booked travel dates while scrambling to book travel. It’s not common (especially with autofill options these days), but it’s happened a couple of times.
But please, please, please double check your name, birthdate, travel dates, and loyalty program number once or twice after you book. This can save a lot of trouble. Trust me.
Take it a step further: check your travel plans every week or so. Maybe while you’re having coffee, outside at the grill, on the subway, whatever. Make sure your seating assignments and schedule are what you expect (hello, #ScheduleChangeSaturday!) so there are no unpleasant surprises.
Where’s Your Passport?
Next: get a passport (or renew a current passport before it expires). Don’t wait until you need one. (Like, sick relatives living internationally.)
Seriously. The cost is worth the investment, emotionally and/or economically.
Check-In 24 Hours Before Your Flight
A few hours before your trip is not the time to discover major problems.
Check in online 24 hours before your flight to ensure everything is good.
A colleague learned this during a recent business trip. He learned at 11:25 AM on a Sunday now departed at 8:00 AM on Monday. (This is why it’s important to pay attention to #ScheduleChangeSaturday.)
A well-intention man made a couple of mistakes, like many of us do. He wasn’t ready for last-minute travel. His lack of preparation cost him several thousand dollars and a lot of stress.
But we can learn from his experience — and be better prepared for our travels in the future.
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