Booking Flight From Wrong Airport?

Filed Under: Air Canada, Awards

Remember the story of the couple that booked tickets to Granada, Spain, and ended up in Grenada (in the Caribbean)? Or the couple that booked their “dream trip” to the World Cup, and ended up in San Salvador, El Salvador, rather than Salvador, Brazil? Well, I had my own “episode” of that today, except I caught it shortly after making my booking.

If you’re a road warrior, chances are that you’ve done a lot of dumb $*&% over the years. I know I’ve:

  • Boarded a flight to the wrong destination
  • Arrived at a hotel assuming I had made a reservation when in fact I didn’t
  • Gotten the date of my flight wrong, and missed it as a result

But today was a first for me. I was trying to redeem Aeroplan miles for a one-way ticket in Lufthansa first class to Europe, and wasn’t displaying the connection I was hoping for, even though the space was available on the individual segments.


So I called up Aeroplan’s contact center, and said I was looking for a ticket out of Washington Dulles Airport. “Where, sir?” “Dulles Airport,” and I proceeded to give the agent the flight numbers and times.

After typing for a few minutes, she came back with a mileage total and price, both of which sounded correct, so we proceeded to issue the ticket. Usually phone agents will read back the itinerary before ticketing, but this was a straightforward itinerary, so stupidly I didn’t ask her to repeat it (and she didn’t proactively do so).

I pulled up the reservation on Lufthansa’s website and everything looked fine (because I wasn’t looking closely enough, apparently) — both segments I was hoping for seemed to be on the record.

Then I went to look at the load for the flight I was booked on, and noticed the inventory hadn’t changed, and the same number of first class seats were still available for sale. Hmmm, odd…

I looked at the itinerary a bit more closely and noticed that the agent had booked me out of Dallas and not Dulles.


So I phoned back Aeroplan, and the agent agreed — as a “one time exception” — to rebook me and waive the change fee.


Happy I figured it out shortly after making the booking as opposed to while trying to check-in.

Have you ever booked a flight to/from the wrong airport, and if so, at what point did you figure out?

  1. I once booked a flight for the wrong date. Showed up at the airport only to find my flight was the next day. Fortunately it was London-Belfast, so I wasn’t going far, but the hassle and expense was so annoying.

  2. Been there – done that myself. Was looking to book CMH to PHL on Delta and instead booked JFK to PHL. To this day I do not know why. I did not discover the error until well after Delta’s 24 hour grace period for changes. Change fees would have exceeded the cost of the ticket I had purchased (just over $100), so I just canceled the ticket and ate the cost. But the lesson was learned and now I triple check everything before pressing the “buy” button.

  3. I thought I was smart, booking a two day day trip from Eindhoven to London (Ryanair). We had a great day in London and at night it was time to go home. When we arrived at the airport, the security guy looked really weird at us and after a while said ‘you know you’re flying tomorrow, right?’.

    Yep, I booked the return flight a day later. No wonder it was so cheap ;). Ended up paying Easyjet 320 euros for two one-way tickets to Amsterdam and then the train to Eindhoven (where my car was)…

  4. Always, always, always give them the airport code (not the airport name) and spell the 3 letter by using the NATO phonetic alphabet. “Washington Dulles Airport, airport code IAD: I as in India, A as in Alpha and D as in Delta” šŸ™‚ It never hurts to overkill on these situations.

  5. Not a flight but funny anyway. We had an assistant from Italy working for us and the boss asked him to get five sheets of Foamcore. An hour later he proudly returned with five phone cords.

  6. Being in Dallas I’ve had the “Dulles??” question quite a few times. Like someone else above said, I always go by airport codes. Not worth the risk!

  7. had a coworker who took his wife on vacation to brazil. neither of them bothered to check visa requirements. they flew all the way down without visas to GIG and were sent right back to the US. how they were even allowed to board astounds me!

  8. Ben, do you tell the agents the airport IATA codes when making a booking? I always do that if there’s any possibility of confusing airports, like Dallas and Dulles. Even that isn’t perfect – I’ve had agents hear “CDG” vs. “CVG” and vice versa, so I always try and use city and code.

    Anyhoo, the worst blunder I’ve made is one time showing up at Dulles when I actually booked a ticket out of National.

    I *have* shown up a hotels a couple of times having forgotten to make a reservation, but these have always been hotels where I was a regular, so getting accommodated was never a problem.

  9. @ pavel

    I did that once some time ago – I had booked a ticket Buenos Aires to Asuncion, Paraguay, and only at EZE did I find out I needed a visa; my corporate travel department booked it and simply didn’t inform me of the visa requirement. Shame on me I suppose, but it just didn’t dawn on me, so that was a lesson learned.

  10. Am I the only one disappointed that Lucky is booking a direct IAD-FRA flight? Shouldn’t it be a RTW trip through Asia and Middle East? šŸ˜›

    @ Lucky – were you not being more careful because odds are very slim DFW-FRA would have LH F on same dates as IAD-FRA?

  11. TravelinWilly,

    My wife and I did just the opposite one year! Showed up at National for a BWI flight! Agent was great and we some how got out of National without losing our shirts in fees. Also done the wrong hotel date thing too.


  12. @ Ivan Y — I guess when you book same day availability is excellent across the board. šŸ˜‰

  13. @ TravelinWilly — I almost always do, though for whatever reason didn’t today. Learned my lesson!

  14. Booked a hotel one night too early due to passing the dateline from Tahiti to Auckland. Got to remember to double, triple check US to AUS arrival dates.

  15. @ sam

    Thanks for making me feel better! Though I’m sure that we’re not the only ones, what with three airports that serve the metro area. I imagine it may be the same thing for our NY City brethren, with EWR, LGA, and JFK.

    I my case I ended up just buying the ticket at IAD and then using the National ticket a few weeks later. Travel does that to one, as you know! Oh, and I have a humblebrag: At one point in my life I was flying out of IAD so often that the TSA guy working the lines (for several years they would have people looking at IDs in the lines before you formally presented them) would say hello to me by name every week without me even showing my ID. I’m sure it was a game he played with lots of regulars to keep himself occupied, but it made me feel important. Yes, I feel important easily. šŸ™‚

  16. I’ve fortunately not booked the wrong flights or dates (yet – knock on wood!), but I did have issues with a waitress once when ordering lunch. The exchange went something like this.

    Me: I’d like a cheesesteak.
    Waitress: A what?
    Me: A cheesesteak.
    Waitress: Ok.

    10 minutes later, she shows up with a cheesecake.

    Me: I ordered a cheesesteak.
    Waitress: Right, a cheesecake.
    Me: No, a cheeseSTEAK. The sandwich.
    Waitress: A what?
    Me: A cheesesteak sandwich.
    Waitress: We don’t have that on the menu.
    Me: Yes you do. It’s right here (pointing to item) – philly cheesesteak sandwich.
    Waitress: Oh, you mean a philly.

  17. Like that old Seinfeld episode AM/PM.

    The flights run every hour and I’ve booked 100 of them but one time I ended up booking 8:15AM rather than PM. The change fee was $760 so I ended up having to take the Limoliner.

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