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!
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.
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?