The Return Trip

You may recall that my trip to Berlin was filled with twists and turns. I naively thought that this intriguing part of the trip had passed: the Berlin to London to Boston trip went smooth as silk, and the weather in Boston and New Hampshire miraculously cleared for the brief periods I needed to travel up to Yankee.

This morning, after a stirring Yankee “Publishing Star” awards lunch (this quarter honouring Heidi Stonehill, an excellent senior associate editor at The Old Farmer’s Almanac) I made a beeline for Logan and made it down in record time, despite the weather earlier in the morning being a combination of rain, sleet and snow.

I returned my car, got my boarding pass (not checking my bag, per my vow as a result of the earlier debacle) and went through security. After 10 minutes packed into the crowded Air Canada waiting room, I heard my name of the public address system.

I reported for duty, and was told by the friendly but harried agent that there was “a problem with my ticket.” He took my boarding pass, and I overheard him trying to get British Airways on the phone: the evils of inter-airline wrangling had returned (you may recall that I am traveling my entire journey on a British Airways ticket, despite flying parts of the trip on Air Canada).

It seems the source of the problem was this: when Air Canada was late into Montreal two weeks ago, causing me to miss my British Airways connection to London and necessitating travel 24 hours later on the same flight. Apparently when I was rebooked British Airways actually “reissued my ticket,” which meant that the “ticket number” changed (this is a long multi-digit number, not the “booking reference,” which didn’t change). It seems that when they did this, somehow my Air Canada ticket, at least in the Air Canada computer, didn’t follow along, so my trip from Boston to Charlottetown was attached to a ticket that no longer existed.

To repair this required that the agent get the new ticket number from British Airways. Which he had troubles doing because he couldn’t get anyone on the phone (apparently there is no special airline-to-airline hotline for this sort of thing). Fortunately I’d asked Maritime Travel in Charlottetown to double-check my reservations before I left Montreal for London and they had the presence of mind to email me my new ticket number. So I solved my own problem and obviated the need for the agent to call British Airways by digging out that email.

He told me that I was lucky, as if I hadn’t found the number, I would have had to pay for a new ticket.

Moral of the story: the benefits that I assumed would extend from having a travel agent book a complicated multi-airline trip on the same ticket seemed only to add complication to my travels. Granted, I did benefit when the “one ticket” meant that British Airways had to rebook me because Air Canada was late. But they didn’t exactly make it easy.

Oh well: I’m none the less for wear (although Catherine told me earlier that the Charlottetown Airport has closed, so my flight home tonight might leave me in Montreal again). And without travel intrigue what would I blog about.


Edward Hasbrouck's picture
Edward Hasbrouck on January 28, 2008 - 18:05 Permalink

I sympathize — I’m about to go to the issuing airline to get a ticket for myself and my companion reissued with 9 fl&#305ghts (segments) on 6 airlines. Fortunately, I asked and was able to get my tickets issued as paper tickets. I think your problems may have had less to do whether your tickets were issued by an airline or a travel agent, and more to do with thier having been issued as electronic tickets rather than paper tickets. Problems getting “interline” tickets changed, reissued, or rerouted are common, especially when, as in your case, (1) the tickets are electronic, (2) the reissue &#305s by someone other than the original issuer, and (3) the airlines involved are members of rival alliances (&#305n your case, BA Oneworld and AC Star Alliance) who focus their implementation of smoother interline e-ticketing on their own alliance partners. It isn’t always a choice, but whenever possible, get paper tickets. Airlines lose e-ticket records, especially interline e-ticket records, far more often than they are willing to admit. For sufficiently complex and expensive tickets, *most especially* interline tickets, it’s worth paying an extra fee for paper tickets. If you need a ticket reissued or rerouted, try to have it done by the same airline or agency thyat issued the original ticket. For more on the prpblems of e-tickets, see…