No middle name for Air Tahiti Nui - what a puzzleWhen someone books a ticket he or she should be extremely accurate when input personal data – names, country of origin, telephone number, e-mail, etc. As customers we are encouraged also to provide as much information as we can for our undisputed identification during the check – in. Unfortunately, sometimes too much information translated in confusion and real problems during check-in.
I have used an on-line travel agent from Spain for booking a return flight from Auckland (New Zealand) to Fa'a international airport, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia. During the booking I’m asked to provide as mandatory my “First name” and “Surname”. I typed correctly all of them. There is a separate space to input “Other name(s)” where I typed my middle name. It seemed everything was OK, as appeared on my booking form with the e-ticket containing my names typed correctly as following sequence: First – Middle- Surname without type mistakes and space among them.
The flights are codeshare between Air Tahiti Nui and Air New Zealand. The onward flight is operated by Air Tahiti Nui, the exclusive carrier of French Polynesia. When I check-in the officer behind the counter tells me that there is a problem with my reservation. I’m explained that in their system my surname appears as a mix of my inputted middle and surname, all together without space to separate both words. This considered as a major obstacle for my flight and for the moment I’m denied of boarding till I solve the problem. My trip to Tahiti and Bora Bora is on stake not to happen at all.
I was advised to buy the same ticket once again and to apply for reimbursement the same amount from my on-line travel agency which I have already paid for the same flight. This was insane as it was groundless to apply for reimbursement based simply on sole Air Tahiti Nui claims that something with my names is wrong as the facts (reservation, passport) showed that everything have been executed correctly. I refuse this advice though I was pushed to accept it and threatened not to board otherwise. Please note, we are talking about relatively expensive return ticket (EUR 535) as there is no competition in this part of the world and other options to reach the luxury destination of Tahiti and Bora Bora by other air company simply don’t exist. I refuse the proposal, it was totally inappropriate. I needed an advocate at this time!
For me it’s a matter of “mutual understanding” between my on-line travel agency software and Air Tahiti reservation software. I couldn’t explain why and how did it happen as it’s not my duty to maintain neither software AirTahiti Nui software nor the other software and I couldn’t adjust them to achieve “better communication”. It was obvious that was a technical problem. I showed them my printed e-ticket and my passport and there is full consequence of spelling my names. Why my middle name and last name form a brand new surname and confuse the airline staff I couldn’t explain. I insist that I did everything correctly and I wave my printed paper and passport as a proof. I didn’t step back, I refuse, I resisted.
The officers (they become many involved with my case, including the supervisor) agreed with me that I might be right but still rejected me from boarding. Second option is that I needed to call my on-line travel agency in Spain so they to input my names once again. The staff was so helpful that they offered me to use their smart phones on their expenses for suggested international call. But then comes the issue with difference in tome zones. At that moment the time in New Zealand was 12:00 p.m. which meant 2:00 a.m. Central Europe Time in Madrid.
It was almost half an hour non-stop arguing. Finally they gave up. One of the officers corrected my last name in their system manually on the computer. It was matter or couple of minutes. They could do it manually immediately – without international phone calls, without arguing and stretching my nerves. I’ve been allowed to board on the plane to Papeete. The flight itself was nice and there were no problems on my return flight back to Auckland. Next time I should skip putting my "Middle" name for sure.
By Valentin Iliev for Connectionreview.com