My oops moment: booked a wrong ticket!

Just a couple of days back, I was watching a rerun on Up In the Air, and there is a part where George Clooney a.k.a. Ryan Bingham says

I do not do anything till it does not affect my mileage balance

And I think just the next morning I felt inspired to take on some more on my plate. I got a call requesting me to book a ticket for someone’s international travel, since they knew I could get them a good deal within a short amount of research, and this one was willing to let me book it on my credit card. WOW!

The next thing I know is a time crunch, and between meetings and all of a working day, I had to get this ticket sorted out. And I tried working it on the mobile app of an Indian OTA, where with a coupon and everything else, I’d have gotten a sweet deal.

I thought I had it in the bag, except when I called my friend back to read them out what was ticketing, I was horrified…when I realised…

I had booked a wrong date, in error!

My friend said to me, hey it is okay, I can manage a day here or there.

Except, I’d booked this ticket off by 6 Months! Totally way off base!

Gulp!

I was totally staring at a big loss, because apparently I booked non-refundable tickets in a hurry. Just the kind of stuff you need to sort out at the end of a long week, and a month-end to be precise.

How did we sort it out?

Fortunately, I was left with just a slap on the wrist. Read on to find out how…


I first made a call to the OTA concerned, and I had a call drop after 20 minutes. Next thing my friend did was to call the airline. The mistake was explained, and the airline came up with the solution,

VOID this ticket

They said they would not be able to do this themselves since the travel agent controlled this ticket, but to call the OTA concerned and get them to Void the ticket as soon as possible.

Voiding explained

When you book a ticket, it first generates a PNR which is basically a record of your travel schedule on the airline where you are booking the ticket with. When your ticket gets ticketed, i.e., an e-ticket number is generated, this means the flights have been confirmed with all the other carriers involved, via various intermediary companies such as the Airline Reporting Corporation and so on and all the airlines now have a record that you will fly with them on a particular date and time. They are also assured their payments will be settled.

This is a rudimentary explanation of airline ticketing. When there is a mistake that is made, for whatever reason, you can Void the ticket. As per the Airline Reporting Corporation:

A traffic document which has been spoiled or canceled.

This means, the ticket goes away as if it never existed. Airlines and travel agents can help with this option if you make a ticketing in error such as a wrong name, wrong destination, and so on. But there is a catch, you got to act quickly and rectify the situation on the same or next-business day to be able to get through with this.

Because after this, the airlines do a sort of a reconciliation on a periodic basis, and the ticket has been confirmed as paid to all the other airlines (if applicable), and it is a big mess to even try removing it from them.

The process and timeline remains the same if you have a single airline or multiple airlines in your tickets, because they all ride on the same type of backend systems (GDS systems), and hence guidelines are common.

What I guess happened in my case

The ticket was issued on a Friday, and once I contacted the OTA, they moved into their GDS systems and worked the VOID command. They were able to close the entire exercise in two hours and also issue a refund the same evening to me, however, there was an INR 1500 charge for it, which I gladly paid!

I know this is an uncommon thing to make mistakes. But just in case you did, now you know what to do.

What have been your oops moments and how did you resolve them?

Join over 4000 people who check-in daily to find out about the best in travel.
Free emails (once-a-day) | RSS Feeds | Facebook Updates | Twitter | Instagram

About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

More articles by Ajay Awtaney »

Comments

  1. This post saved my life!

    Last evening, I booked a ticket from BER-BLR-BER on EY and I forgot to enter the full name of the passenger. Missed out on the Surname and entered the middle name as the surname. It was a non-refundable ticket and was booked through a leading OTA. Realised the mistake only after making the payment. Called the OTA and Etihad within 10 minutes after making the booking and they refused to help. Prayed hard and called back again and this time Etihad asked me to contact a separate helpline. The agent on the 2nd line said that Voiding is possible and asked me to contact the OTA. This time around, the OTA agreed to Void the booking for a fee of Rs. 1150 plus fare difference. Ended up losing about 3000 instead of 43000! Phew!!!

    Thank you AJ!

  2. You were probably lucky. OTAs are mostly either too dumb to understand this or don’t want to do this.

    I recently did a hotel booking in Budapest through Goibibo and by mistake booked my stay a day earlier than intended. Even after almkst 5 hours of calling, Goibibo did not do anything and told me that hotel is unwilling to do a date change. I finally called up the hotel directly and the needful was done within minutes!

  3. Ouch. 6 months off! Though my mistakes weren’t so grave, I goofed up on the gender (selected Mr instead of Ms) and was off on one syllable (i instead of ee) for two separate bookings. However, I immediately called the airline (IndiGo in both cases) and they rectified it without any additional charge. All they required was verification for the tickets booked.

  4. It might be useful to know that in the UK (and I think the rest of Europe), any airplane ticket can be cancelled for no charge for 24 hours after booking it: its the law.

    I once managed to book a ticket for the wrong date as well: but a call to customer services will sort it out (they’re only obliged to cancel it, not rebook it).

    I believe there is a similar law in the US.

  5. @ Ajay – Very informative post. Thanks Ajay! I am sure this insight will be of great help to all your followers.

  6. You may already know this, but…

    In case of “NO-SHOW”, Domestic non-refundable tickets, like we saw for Spicejet sale (INR 899/- RT) an amount of non used taxes towards the Passenger Service Fee, User Development fee and Airport Fee paid on the ticket are refundable.

    Eg. say in case for a 899/- RT ticket, if you have choose not to fly, rather than asking for cancellation, which will attract cancellation charges of INR 1500/- or so, you may call the airline after the travel date for a “no-show”. You will get back the above taxes.

    I got back approx INR 500 for a non-refundable 899 RT ticket from Spicejet. 🙂

  7. I had an almost similar issue on an international ticket, where the name was off by one alphabet. Called up the OTA M** within 2 hours, asked them to void this ticket. They were totally unhelpful and had no idea of what to do, even their senior agents. After days of toing and froing, managed to get an OSI in the ticket. All through this the airline was willing to void at zero charge to the OTA. Never going to use this company again.

    • @agarwal yes, AI, Vistara & 9W for sure because they work on GDS systems. not sure about Indigo, GoAir and SpiceJet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *