So sorry you lost your ticket, not sorry we are now sticking it to you!
June 14, 2006 4:15 PM   Subscribe

I watch Airline on A & E a lot and a common problem is that people loose their ticket. The result is that if they want to fly they MUST BUY a new one. This seems downright completely and utterly wrong to me. Please explain why this policy has lasted through all of the trouble I am sure its caused.

It seems to me that its very easy to look up on the system and see that you yes indeed booked a flight with us today. I am so sorry your ticket was lost, yes of course I will print a new one. Oh - you don’t need to worry about someone else using that ticket, their ID wont match it and it becomes void when I print this new one out. Thank you so much for flying _________. Please choose us again!


Now WHY would that be such a hard outcome to accomplish? In today’s age with everything on the computer it seems only right... What here am I missing?

(P.S This has not happened to me, but boy would I be livid if it did!)

Also - Second question. If airlines overbook flights (I understand why that would happen) is there a way to Guarantee that your ticket is NOT the one kicked off? I know buying super cheap flights online normally put you at the bottom of the pole... also what’s the lay regarding compensation if you are involuntarily denied boarding for such reasons?
posted by crewshell to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If airlines overbook flights (I understand why that would happen) is there a way to Guarantee that your ticket is NOT the one kicked off?

Usually it doesn't come to this because they ask for volunteers and are able to sucker a few idiots who can refuse anything that's free. However, when that doesn't work, I have seen it happen that the last to check in are the first to get booted. So I'd say check in early.

people loose their ticket


The word you want is "lose" with one "o." Sorry. Pet peeve.
posted by scarabic at 4:19 PM on June 14, 2006


There is a solution: electronic tickets.

As to your second question, the way to guarantee (or at least gretly increase your chances) that your seat is actually available is to check in as early as possible.
posted by pmbuko at 4:19 PM on June 14, 2006


uh... that's

a few idiots who can't refuse

posted by scarabic at 4:19 PM on June 14, 2006


It wouldn't be hard for the airline to just give you a new ticket for free. But they wouldn't make all that extra money, so why would they make that accommodation for someone?

The answer to nearly every question like "why does [business name] do [business practice]?" is "because they think it will make them money."
posted by JekPorkins at 4:20 PM on June 14, 2006


that's exactly how e-tickets work. if I lose a boarding pass, I can just go to the self-service podium and reprint them.

scarabic: "
a few idiots who can't refuse
"

so, you're saying a free flight voucher and a bump in service class, usually, aren't worth a few hours of my time?
posted by kcm at 4:23 PM on June 14, 2006


Well, with Southwest, you will get a free flight voucher, but there is only one class of service, so you're S.O.L. in that regard.

As a frequent traveller for both business and leisure, I have given up my seat on more than one occasion for overbooking. If I am on a return flight and have no need to be "on time" to my destination, I'll wait a bit longer and take the free ticket for future travel. The airlines have put me up in hotels before, put me in first class, paid for nice meals, and even entertainment (the trick is knowing how far to push the gate agent into giving out freebies). I prefer other airlines to Southwest because I like having the assigned seat, but it is no guarantee of a seat on the flight.

But, overall, you'll typically find a few people on the plane who have more flexible plans which allows this system to work.
posted by galimatias at 4:29 PM on June 14, 2006


I'm guessing the "lost ticket" scenes are pretty old because in my experience lately, it's standard to get e-tickets. All you need is a picture ID which is required anyway. No more lost tickets.

But lost tickets are interesting I guess, so they show the reruns?
posted by Doohickie at 4:30 PM on June 14, 2006


Seems I'm a suckered idiot. I flew for free all the time during university by purposely booking flights that were usually oversold and then took the travel vouchers, often only waiting an hour or two for the next flight. But then again, I thought I was the one suckering the system. All up to the viewpoint, I suppose.
posted by meerkatty at 4:30 PM on June 14, 2006


To the initial question, though, a paper ticket will not be replaced due to security/fraud/liability reasons. The idea here is to guarantee that only one is in circulation, and a lost/stolen ticket defeats that system. This policy is a bit heavy handed, but might be a remnant of the old paper system before any computer records existed. Hence, "Oh - you don’t need to worry about someone else using that ticket, their ID wont match it and it becomes void when I print this new one out" becomes impossible. This, however, is only my speculation and is not being stated as any fact.

With an electronic ticket, though you can print it out, the paper is worthless. Your real record is in the airline's computer system, and the electronic tracking from check-in to boarding allows them to account for you. Aside from the boarding pass that you print to get through security (USA), you don't need anything but your record locator ID number to actually board the plane.
posted by galimatias at 4:35 PM on June 14, 2006


Read something in the Times about this a while back...somehow, the link still works.

It seems e-tickets are becoming the norm for domestic flights, but internationally paper tickets still dominate.
posted by Brian James at 4:44 PM on June 14, 2006


Yeah, I somehow lost my printed out e-ticket right before boarding the last time I flew, and they just printed a new one and let me on anyway. No biggie.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:48 PM on June 14, 2006


I once forgot that I had a paper ticket instead of an eticket, and went to the airport without my ticket. Instead of making me purchase a new ticket, they took my credit card number (which wasn't the one used to purchase the ticket) and issued me a new one. I believe this was with delta or AA. I would assume that this would be standard procedure for a lost ticket as well. Either way, in the end I wasn't charged anything for a replacement ticket.
posted by bigdave at 5:14 PM on June 14, 2006


Can you even still get paper tickets for domestic flights? I thought not?
posted by dmd at 6:57 PM on June 14, 2006


You all seem to feel the way I do, and have pointed out that in your personal experience you can jsut get a new ticket... but in teh wrong situation on the wrong airline they totally screw you over.. I think thats really poor poor customer service.. If it ever happened to me, you better believe I would never fly that airline again, even if it meant paying more for a ticket someplace else.

as a side note. I would give up my seat for a pump in service class ABSOLUTELY!

Another question, I want to fly to NJ, or NY from LA, how do i pick a flight thats going to be over booked :) hehe I want to work the system too~!
posted by crewshell at 7:54 PM on June 14, 2006


This happened to me a few years ago, definitely before 9/11. I think it was on southwest. I was flying from salt lake city to LA and I went to the airport with my soon to be wife. We both went to the ticket counter, I checked in gave her my bags etc... and walked toward the security area. I realized that I didnt have my paper ticket and so I went back to the counter... this was maybe 2 or 3 minutes later. And they wouldnt give me a replacement ticket. I yelled, asked for a supervisor, asked for the supervisors supervisor etc... we tried everything by the time we got done arguing the plane took off. They "let" me purchase a discounted ticket for a flight the next day, but there was no way in hell they were going to give me a replacement ticket.

To this day both my wife and I swear the lady behind the counter never gave me the ticket, but we were sad to leave each other so its possible I oculd have gotten the ticket and dropped it somewhere in the 50 feet to the security area. Either way, it sucked. Im in the system the lady knew I just checked in, its on record that I paid... my bags were on the freaking flight already and still... nothing they could do.
posted by skrike at 10:13 PM on June 14, 2006


That's strange. I got paper tickets (on British Airways) because the connecting airline (to Goa) did not have electronic compatibility with the BA one.
I was told that if I lost those tickets, they would charge me $100 per leg to replace them...
posted by Arthur Dent at 12:46 AM on June 15, 2006


skrike - it sounds like you're confusing "ticket" with "boarding pass". The ticket is the thing that you bring to the desk when you drop off your bags etc. The boarding pass is what gets you on the plane.
posted by antifuse at 12:47 AM on June 15, 2006


see

"nothing they could do"

is more

"nothing they WOULD do"

that kinda of customer service really pisses me off
posted by crewshell at 12:47 AM on June 15, 2006


I watch Airline on A & E a lot and a common problem is that people loose their ticket. The result is that if they want to fly they MUST BUY a new one.

I doubt it's common, the times when people don't lose tickets, or when they do and just get given a new one probably doesn't make for "good" TV. So each time you see it, there's another 99 times everything went smoothly.
posted by RevDanCatt at 2:51 AM on June 15, 2006


Airlines are about as good, or bad, as phone companies (maybe exceptions exist). It doesn't help that the business has become so cut throat. Hard for old-line companies to compete with new companies running discount flights on the most popular routes.
posted by Goofyy at 5:35 AM on June 15, 2006


Being forced to buy a new ticket (when you've lost yours) is bad. Being made to buy a business class replacement ("because economy class is full sir") is worse. I happen to know that there's a spare seat in economy - it's mine! Thank you British Airways, I will never fly with you again.
posted by grahamwell at 6:45 AM on June 15, 2006


It could be worse. Also, a potential explanation.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 7:40 AM on June 15, 2006


"nothing they could do" is more "nothing they WOULD do" that kinda of customer service really pisses me off - crewshell

Well, yes and no. From working in customer service, I know that there's times when a customer wants me to do something that my system won't allow me to do. There's no way to trick the computer into doing what the customer is asking for. My hands are acutally tied. While the company could program it differently to allow this operation, they won't, and so they set up a system where I can't. Then the customer takes it out on me like I just am an asshole that won't because I don't feel like it. So be careful in assuming that the agent you're dealing with just doesn't want to help you. Sometimes they WANT to, but actually can't. (Or maybe there's a way in the computer to pull it off, but maybe they'll get fired if they get caught doing it. Is your problem really so damn important that the person working for an asshole company should be unemployed just so you get your way? Calm down.) Remember, sometimes the person you're dealing with is actually a dick, but more often it's the moronic company that they work for. The person at the counter doesn't make the rules.

/customer rant
posted by raedyn at 7:43 AM on June 15, 2006


It's always confused me when I've watched the program, too, particularly because you can print a replacement boarding pass at any kiosk, and a lot of airports (Midway, for example) has kiosks past the security checkpoints. I've lost boarding passes (I fly Southwest A LOT) and printed a replacement with ease, although I've never lost the boarding pass once I've been past the metal detectors. It has a big "R" on it to indicate that it's not one-of-a-kind, but was processed by the gate agent without comment. Reading the thread seems to indicate that they're only paper tickets, which makes sense to me.

Southwest has an interesting customer service philosophy, by the way. Management believes that their ultimate responsibility is to their employees, and an unreasonable customer can go screw for all they care. So, getting angry and asking to talk to their boss is exactly the wrong thing to do. You're virtually guaranteed to get your ticket refunded and told to take a hike. As someone who has been in airports twice a week every week for years, it's really refreshing. Airports bring out the worst in people.
posted by MarkAnd at 8:42 AM on June 15, 2006


This happened to me a few years ago, definitely before 9/11. I think it was on southwest. I was flying from salt lake city to LA

I'm pretty sure that SWA began flying to Salt Lake City in 2004.
posted by oaf at 9:16 AM on June 15, 2006


I'm pretty sure that SWA began flying to Salt Lake City in 2004.

I'm pretty sure they were flying to SLC for at least a decade before 2004.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:39 AM on June 15, 2006


Wait a second...you are taking a TV show and anecdotal evidence, much very old, over reading someone who knows or checking airline websites for their policies?
posted by QIbHom at 12:41 PM on June 15, 2006


My wife and I had the same problem as you, grahamwell. We flew America West last Thanksgiving, and forgot our damned paper tickets at home. (For some reason, it was all we could get from Orbitz or Expedia, can't remember which). After realizing that no, they weren't going to let us check in without the tickets, no matter what ID or credit card we showed them, we asked to buy new tickets. "I'm sorry, sir, the flight is full." Fortunately, we were able to buy our seats again -- for twice the price -- and got refunded after we sent them our originals.
posted by DakotaPaul at 4:20 PM on June 15, 2006


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