Travel Troubleshooter: Expedia misspelled infant's name; it and airline haven't fixed it

Question: My husband used Expedia to book us a trip to Greece  this summer. Our flight is on Air Canada.

He called Air Canada to pick seats, since we will be traveling with a 9-month-old baby. Air Canada informed us that our child was booked under only a first initial and last name instead of the full name on her passport.

He asked Air Canada to change the name. An Air Canada representative said Expedia has to do it. Expedia refuses.

We did not enter any of the information incorrectly when we booked and have the confirmation emails to prove it. Expedia left a voicemail saying that the airline will not allow it to make a change until 72 hours before the flight. Expedia would need me to send it a copy of my daughter’s passport this summer. The agency claims it can fix her name then.

We have no guarantee to sit together unless seats happen to be open together at the time Expedia fixes the name. We also are afraid to wait until 72 hours before the flight. We can’t risk not being able to fly with our baby.

We just want to get to Greece without having to buy new tickets. We either need the name on the ticket corrected or another ticket issued without cost to us.

  Answer: Expedia should have correctly spelled your child’s full name on the ticket as you provided it, as is shown on the purchase confirmation emails you received. Your online travel agent should have worked this out with Air Canada.

Travel agencies, and particularly online agencies, like to pretend we’re all victims of the airline industry’s onerous ticket rules. Truth is, the large online agencies have entire departments dedicated to bending these airline rules. In at least one online agency’s case, it’s called the “waivers and favors” department.

It looks as though you emailed Expedia and it called you back, delivering the bad news about your ticket change. That’s unfortunate because you have no written record of your conversation.

Executive contacts for Air Canada and Expedia are on my consumer-advocacy site: www.elliott.org/company-contacts/air-canada  and www.elliott.org/company-contacts/expedia. An appeal to one of them might have helped, although I can’t  guarantee you wouldn’t get a voicemail from the same person, again. Sometimes, that’s just how it works.

Airlines love to make money from name changes. Their preferred solution is for you to buy another ticket. Too often, travel agencies are complicit in this moneymaking scheme. When it involves the ticket for a 9-month-old, it’s especially  troublesome.

I think Expedia should have fixed this for you quickly. No excuses.

I checked with Expedia. According to its records, the agency made a ”truncation error” on your daughter’s ticket (read: Expedia misspelled it).

”We contacted Air Canada and, per the airline’s policy, they won’t allow a name correction until 72 hours prior to departure — to make any changes earlier would require canceling and rebooking the mother’s ticket, since the infant’s ticket is associated with hers,” a representative told me.

Expedia says you’ve decided to wait until the company can make the name correction 72 hours in advance of your trip.

”We understand the inconvenience and anxiety this has caused, and have applied a $100 travel voucher to the customer’s account as compensation for the inconvenience,” the representative added.

I’m not 100 percent happy with this resolution. I think Air Canada and Expedia can do better. If you experience even the slightest problem on your flight this summer, please let me know.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the author of ”How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, www.elliott.org, or email him at chris@elliott.org.