Thursday, May 23, 2013

I Call Bullshit on Flight Pax Destination "Mix Up"

I was comparing notes on a news story the other day with Crosscheck. I think she sent it to me, I can't remember. Anyway, here's the story:

Airline mix-up sends passengers to wrong continent

Supposedly, this couple booked a trip from LAX to DKR - that's Dakar, Senegal, which is in West Africa. But they connected via IST and then – somehow – boarded a flight for DAC - that's Dhaka, Bangladesh, just to the right of India.

And it's not like they had the right tickets but boarded the wrong flight - they had purchased tickets to Bangladesh and didn't know it.

My take: Bullshit!

I don't believe this was the airline's fault. Here's why:

There are more than half a dozen places between planning a trip and boarding a plane where the destination's name - not just its airport code - is clearly listed. Let's walk through the process:
  1. Flight search: When you check for flights, you see the city and country name. 
  2. They may have used a travel agent - although there is a bizarre reference to leaving voice mail for the airline, about which more below. A travel agent or airline ticket agent would send or show or tell the customer an itinerary with the city pairs, country name, etc.
  3. Based on the pax approval, presumably, the agent or airline issues the tickets and sends them to the pax. The pax can look at the ticket - which has the city name - and make sure it's right.
  4. Tickets are accompanied by a final itinerary that shows the places to be visited. Again, it includes the city and country names, spelled out.
  5. They get the boarding passes, probably from a ticket agent at the airport. See below for a sample of Turkish Airlines boarding passes.
  6. When they get to IST they have to look at the departure board to find their connecting flight gate.
And finally, they have to look at the sign at the gate itself. City name listed.

By the way, have you seen a Turkish Airlines boarding pass? 

Check these out. Do you see the city listed anywhere?

Yeah. That was my reaction too.

So it would be tough to miss that it says DHAKA and not DAKAR. Best case scenario here is that yes, the airline somehow messed up, but these pax are still guilty of passenger stupidity.

The last weird thing about this story was that the airline supposedly searched its voice mail for a message from the couple - and then agreed to compensate them. I assume the compensation was to make the plaintiffs go away so the story wouldn't gain legs.

But who the hell books an airline ticket by LEAVING A VOICE MAIL FOR AN AIRLINE?


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