Why was my ticket home canceled?

I knew that something was wrong on Sunday morning when I didn’t get the confirmation email from Continental informing me that I was checked in for my return flight to Newark on Monday morning. I figured that my reservation was messed up thanks to the chaos at Newark on Friday trying to get out after the snow there and that it wasn’t too big a deal. Most likely just out of sync and a relatively trivial task for the agent to resolve when I called in. I was out at the NASCAR race all day and didn’t have time to deal with calling until around 8pm and that’s when I received some rather disturbing news from the reservations agent I spoke with. According to her I had “requested to cancel the reservation because I would be traveling on an alternate carrier instead.”

Say what?

Yes, I spoke to a dozen or so different agents throughout the day on Friday trying to get a new reservation put into place. But at no time did I actually ask for the ticket to be canceled. And the agent I was speaking with on Sunday evening continued to insist that was the case. After a couple minutes of my explaining that there’s no reason I’d cancel the return only and that I had actually flown on my original flight to get to Las Vegas she got a supervisor to reinstate the reservation so it wasn’t too big a deal. But it was definitely a bit disturbing to hear that I was talking to agents and requesting things, especially when I knew it to be untrue.

Even more strange was the time of the supposed request I made. I made a second call in to Continental to try to get some more information about the cancelation. Specifically, I asked what time I made this supposed request since they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give me the name of the agent who I told to cancel the trip. Apparently Continental is the first airline to offer cell phone service in-flight in the United States as I was en route to Las Vegas on a Continental flight at the time.

Eventually the second agent and I figured out what happened. For some reason I was marked as a no-show on the outbound flight and the remainder of the ticket was forfeited. This is pretty typical of most airlines (jetBlue is the only one I know of that doesn’t do this as a matter of course) though it was definitely worrisome that I was listed as a no-show for a flight I actually took. I wonder what the other 220 folks on my flight had to deal with to get home. At least the second agent was willing to actually read through the details of the reservation history and get to the bottom of the situation, unlike the first agent who really seemed more focused on blaming me for canceling the trip.

All’s well that ends well, though this past weekend was certainly not Continental’s finest moment in terms of handling irregular operations.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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