I proudly presented my passport to the Air Canada gate agent in Charlottetown. After many months of planning, I was finally starting my round the world adventure.
“What flight are you on?” the agent asked after more keystrokes and time than should have been necessary.
“Toronto,” I replied. I had never been asked this before and it was the only Air Canada flight departing Charlottetown for the next several hours.
“Who booked your ticket?” she asked.
“I did,” replying with trepidation. “It’s a round the world ticket. I even selected my seat on-line: 1A.”
“Oh, O.K.,” she said. “When you booked your ticket, you put your first name in the last name field and vice versa. That is why I couldn’t find it under Stevenson. This isn’t good at all. You have to get this fixed. I’ll let you board this flight. I’ll call the gate to advise them, but this is the last flight you will board on this ticket.”
This was a major hit to my frequent flyer ego. I called Star Alliance Book and Fly Customer Service. Katja immediately answered. I explained my situation, offering that I was a seasoned traveller and couldn’t believe I had made such a mistake.
“We’ll have to reissue your entire ticket, Mr. Stevenson. There’s no other option,” Katja said.
My brain processed ‘reissue’ as ‘repurchase’ and my entire financial life flashed before my eyes.
“I am going to have to charge you $150 to reissue the ticket. Can I charge the credit card on file?” Katja asked.
“You bet, Katja,” I said with relief.
I considered it an idiot tax – a small price to pay in the big scheme of my overall trip budget.
I knew I would face challenges and obstacles on my trip, but certainly thought I would get out of PEI before the first one. Humbled, I boarded my flight and took my seat in 1A.
One of the gladdest moments of human life, methinks, is the departure upon a distant journey into unknown lands. Shaking off with one mighty effort the fetters of habit, the leaden weight of routine, the cloak of many cares and the slavery of home, man feels once more happy. – Richard Burton