Airline Rebooks – Passenger Forced to Buy New Ticket

By | December 26, 2006

The Consumerist brought to our attention a story of schedule changes. in this case, American contacted the passenger to rebook due to a schedule change. The new itinerary caused a change of airline from Swiss to SN Brussels. The passenger asked if they needed new paper tickets and were told no.

When they arrived for the flight, they had to purchase a new paper ticket, as they did not have one for the correct flight. They had to purchase one. As the article comments, some airlines require you to have them. That is an oversimplification. If you have a paper ticket, you need that paper ticket to travel. The preferred alternative, which will eventually eliminate paper tickets entirely, is the electronic ticket. Airlines are working to implement electronic ticketing between carriers.

Not long ago, for example, Delta terminated its ticketing agreement with Airtran, because issuing Airtran flights for them required paper, although Airtran disputed that was the primary reason.

For these passengers, if they had a ticket issued by American, American had to reissue it, or at the least endorse it over to the new airline. SN Brussels could not reach American to arrange this, and opted not to accept the ticket on the passenger’s say-so, as it was technically not valid for that flight. This would be an issue if it was paper or electronic, although if it was electronic, American could reissue without having to regain possession of the original paper ticket.

In the end, American admitted their mistake and issued a refund. In these cases, remember to keep all documentation and consider purchasing travel insurance. If there is a schedule change that involves a change to a new airline or a change of routing, make sure the ticket is reissued, especially if it involves paper. Usually, if the ticket is for the same carrier, they will accept it if it is merely a time change.