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When two call centres go to war…

When two call centres go to war…

So, via eBookers, I booked a flight to take my parents to the United States. But when I checked the booking details later, the middle names of my parents hadn’t been transferred over. Although the middle names of my sisters *had* been transferred over.

So I called the eBookers call centre (which turns out to be in Manila) to query this, and after speaking to a curiously disembodied woman on the other end who was either Dutch or Irish, but was definitely in the middle of a sandstorm in the Sahara desert, I was told that:
– their GDS system didn’t allow for the insertion of a middle name
– (eventually) that it didn’t matter anyway, since the names on a ticket don’t need to match the passport.

Then I called Air France to check on this, and was told that yes, the names on a flight ticket DO need to match the passport if you’re visiting the United States.

So, back to eBookers. They end up putting me on a conference call with Air France, and asking to speak to an Air France supervisor.

After 30 minutes of being on hold, I’m eventually told that:
– it’s recommended (but not *essential*) for the names on the ticket to match that on the passport
– because it’s recommended – but not essential – then I’d essentially have to cancel the ticket and buy a new set of tickets, according to Air France
– eBookers aren’t willing to make the name change, because it’s not essential

and then I get cut off. After 50 minutes on the phone. I then try to call eBookers back, only to find that I’ve been put through to a different call centre in Bombay. (!)

The upshot of it all is that Air France would probably allow my parents onto the plane, but not necessarily. Especially if US immigration insists that the name on the plane ticket matches the name on the passport.

Does nobody know anything any more?

3 Comments

  • Shari

    YAY! YOU ARE COMING TO NEW YORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (and that isn't just 'cause I'm hoping to get more hobnobs!)

  • Ian Fenn

    Virgin Atlantic – who I'm flying with shortly – advise that names must match those in the passport for trips to the USA. They say 'For security reasons it is absolutely essential that the name on your booking, ticket and passport are exactly the same. If not, you will be unable to board the flight. This also applies to marriage or maiden names; we can no longer allow passengers to travel by accepting marriage certificates or decree absolutes in conjunction with a passport.' You also need to have completed ESTA for each passenger…

  • Ian Fenn

    Oops. And then they add, 'Your booking and ticket must reflect your first and last names only. Middle names are not required. If a mistake has been made, you can amend the name on your booking and ticket to reflect the correct spelling in your passport, up to 2 hours before the flight is due to depart. However you cannot transfer the ticket to another person. To amend the name on your ticket please contact your travel agent, tour operator or our contact centre. There will be a charge of £30 to amend each name.'

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