A spelling error made by a travel agent left a mother and her young son stranded in Iran when they should’ve been in Vancouver celebrating the boy’s birthday. At least it was a birthday to remember.
The parents, Arman Aria and Azadeh Lotfifar, allegedly pointed out the mistake in the now-two-year-old boy’s middle name to the employees at the Richmond-based Plan-It With Pam agency back when the tickets were booked in October 2017. But, according to a member of B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal, the employee told Lotfifar “that the middle name is not always that important, as airlines look at the first and last names.”
That, it turns out, was pretty bad advice. Here’s why: When the mother and son duo attempted to board their British Airways return flight back to Canada’s West Coast from Iran–getting there on Lufthansa wasn’t a problem–they were stopped at check-in and told they would not be allowed on the plane.
Aria told the CBC that the experience of speaking to his distraught wife and son on the phone was “awful” and that “the whole time my son was crying in the airport….he was constantly crying because he was sick.”
Most people can attest to the fact that being stuck in an airport for any amount of time stinks. Imagine having a kid with you! Like if Tom Hanks had to look after a screaming child in the movie The Terminal, it would’ve been a different film.
After Aria called around the airport to try to find a way around the problem, he was told he’d have to deal with it through the company that had booked the ticket incorrectly in the first place. But management at the Plan-It With Pam agency was less than receptive, denying the family’s accusation that the misspelling was the cause of the missed flight and blaming instead on the fact that Lotfifar was carrying two passports. However, an email from British Airways to Aria eventually cleared up the confusion, stating that “…the name of your child on the booking and on the ticket did not match. This was the reason for you not being allowed to board your flight.”
As a result of the ordeal, the Richmond travel company was ordered by B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal to pay over $1,100 for negligence, covering the flight of the extra ticket the family was forced to purchase, plus $200 for food and hotels in Iran. But Aria claims he’s yet to receive any funds.
The moral of the story? Always, always, ALWAYS make sure your whole name is spelled correctly on your tickets, even your middle name, even if your travel agent insists it isn’t important, and especially if that agent works at Plan-It With Pam in Richmond, B.C….allegedly.