December 21, 2008

Deluged by Devin Difficulties: Part III
Devin, Bulgaria

Previously: Part One, Part Two

American Airlines Ticketing Nightmare

Between enduring crippling power outages and sifting through countless CouchSurfing profiles with me, Tatiana was hard at work trying to get herself sorted on flight out of Istanbul to Miami. I showed her the types of things I do to search for flights, and let her take the reins.

It's not as simple as typing in your start and arrival destinations into Kayak.com and purchasing the top flight choice. Properly researching/costing an international flight path takes time and creativity. Different days; hub cities that can be traveled to with a low cost carrier; calculating layover durations and making connections work; roundtrip tickets that can actually cost less or the same as a one way—it gets complicated.

Tatiana was doing a good job, but was getting frustrated dealing with misleading quotes (where exorbitant taxes added a hundred or two dollars onto the bottom line) or the inability to add a lap child (infant) to the booking.

I suggested to her that an 'open-jaw ticket' might work in her favor (this is where the traveler returns from a city other than the one he or she arrived at, or in which the final destination is not the same as the original departure city), or perhaps something similar that tried to pull a discounted roundtrip fare into the mix.

She was having pretty good pricing results between Europe and the U.S. off the American Airlines Web site, so I searched for a flight plan that would take her from Istanbul to Miami and then back to London. This was thought to be optimal, as I'm not exactly sure where I'll be in early April when she plans on returning to me (and I can get her from London to pretty much anywhere without too much hassle).

Well, lo and behold, three or four dozen decent flights popped up that matched this path (using a mixture of their partner airlines and domestic AA flights), most for less than $600, before tax and infant ticket.

OK, the searching was rather stressful, but we got that out of the way and figured we were in the clear.

…But we most certainly weren't.

AA Ticketing Nightmare: You're Off the Christmas Card List!

It was two days ago, on Friday the 19th, that she went through the process of purchasing her flight off the AA.com Web site.

Tatiana was already annoyed that she couldn't add Aidric as a lap child as a part of her ticket purchase (not an available option), but when she received an automated e-mail from American Airlines later that day stating that her ticket request couldn't be completed (instead of a standard purchase confirmation e-mail), it was the start of a long battle that's still unresolved.

The AA e-mail stated that because her credit card was using a billing address in Peru, they needed to have her DNI (Peruvian national identification number—like a driver's license number) on file to complete the transaction.

No, never mind that there was nothing Peru-related booked on her itinerary—she wasn't flying anywhere near it yet. This was simply because of the billing address for the card.

And so began the terrible process of trying to get her ticket processed.

Looking at Tatiana's Skype message history, over the past three days she's had to make 17 international calls to the airlines (only four of which were less than a minute in duration—connection problems).

…Seventeen!!

At every turn their support representatives were either clueless or incapable of assisting us.

We'd get responses like: "…apparently this is new legislation and our systems aren't capable of entering the data"; "…I've never seen anything like this before"; "…perhaps you should speak with British Airways"; "…you're going to have to call the American Airlines office in Lima to have this taken care of"; or (the always fun) "…I'm sorry mama, but no one is picking up the phone in Lima."

Fucking Peru! Fucking incompetence!

We couldn't even get Aidric's information added to the flights until her ticket was officially processed. Meanwhile, we weren't even sure if they'd charged her card or not. Sometimes it takes time for that to hit the banking statements available online.

Battling the airlines and our sketchy call quality with Skype was exhausting. We called Lima ourselves several times, trying to get the matter resolved. In typical Latino fashion, people only answer the phones whenever they're not too busy picking their noses.

Yesterday Tatiana spent the better part of twenty minutes on the phone with a woman in Lima trying to work out the problem. She seemed happy when she got off the call, apparently being told the ticket would be issued within the next few hours.

36 Hours later… and we still have no idea what's going on. The credit card has been charged, but no confirmation e-mail of issuance has been sent. Purchased, but not issued. eTicket limbo.

Meanwhile, we have to worry about every day burned costing more for Aidric's flight. No one could give us a straight answer regarding how much Aidric's ticket will cost. One representative told us they charge 10% of the ticket price the day it's purchased—not your ticket price, but market value for the ticket. So the longer you wait, the higher price will be.

Another told us that Aidric's ticket will only cost the taxes and fees for the flights.

Another told us that they don't issue electronic tickets for infants, and that we'd have to provide a mailing address in the U.S. if we wished to purchase it over the phone so that they could send it to us.

Completely FUBAR.

So, we're putting all this on hold until we get to Istanbul. Tomorrow is a travel day, so hopefully we can get some resolution on the 23th. I'm worried that anything involving Peru will only worsen as the Christmas holiday approaches.

<end of rant>

Comments:

Canada

Maya

February 20th, 2009

Oh dear! Same story here Planning my holidays in Orlando last October. I was unable to buy any ticket with my chilean credit card, because the aitport wasnt a chilean one, or because i wasnt deprting from chile or because the billing adress didnt match Jeff's residence (That i put as our departure point).. you name it, i heard everything… what a joke! We had to use Jeff's mom credit card… so sorry Tatiana had to go trough all that, is just a pain!

The United States

a

March 18th, 2010

Sounds like the American airlines companies are working under the Patriot Act. Look it up and thank Bush for it.

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