It’s sad that it has come to this, though since it has, I figured I might as well share my experiences so others can learn from my mistakes.
One of the things that I think makes my blog a bit different than others is that I like to blog “live.” In fact, it’s what I enjoy most about blogging, from making a live post while onboard a plane, to sharing what a douche I am for wearing pajamas in an airport, to posting my upcoming travel plans in hopes of meeting some readers (which, on my most recent trip I did in Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore, and had a truly spectacular time). That awesome global interaction wouldn’t be possible if I just posted trip reports weeks after the fact.
However, it’s clear to me that there are some malicious people out there with a bit too much free time on their hands.
A couple of months ago I had an itinerary booked, and the evening before my flight I went to check-in, only to find out my itinerary had been canceled. I called up the airline, only to be told by the agent that I had called in to cancel the itinerary an hour prior. Fortunately the itinerary was restored within minutes when I explained the situation to the agent. I assumed it was an isolated incident, and even tried to convince myself it might have been an error.
Well, this evening I went to check-in online for my trip on American Airlines to Paris tomorrow. This is the trip that will earn me Executive Platinum status with them.
I logged into my AAdvantage account to view my reservation, and noticed that the record locator for my Paris trip was actually for a ticket from Raleigh to Los Angeles in a few weeks in coach. I chuckled, since it wasn’t the first time an itinerary for someone else had popped up. After all, the internet can be a funny place. I opened up a new browser and entered the record locator and my name again, and the same itinerary came up. I was shocked.
I called up American Airlines right away, and was informed by the friendly agent that I had called at 3:52PM central time to change my itinerary (which was about an hour after I called). I explained to her that I hadn’t, and she immediately escalated my call at least a few levels since she realized the gravity of the situation.
Jeff, a manager in the Tucson call center was conferenced in, and he couldn’t have been more helpful.
He did some digging, and while I won’t get into all the details, let’s just say the person that decided to change my itinerary isn’t the brightest. The only smart thing he did was give an incorrect email address, so that when the ticket was reissued for the new itinerary (from Raleigh to Los Angeles in coach instead of Tampa to Paris in first class) it would bounce, so I wouldn’t even know my itinerary was changed.
I’m sure he was hoping I’d show up at the airport tomorrow morning totally out of luck, though fortunately Jeff was a savior and fixed the itinerary in about 75 minutes (and it was a lot of work, since there were some British Airways codeshares and upgraded segments involved).
Anyway, my point here isn’t to spite the person that did this. With the help of Jeff I already managed to figure that out. My point is to remind bloggers (and others) to be careful with what they post. And I’m the last person that should be giving that advice, since I think I share just about all my rants, viewpoints, and just about everything else on the blog. Hell, it’s kind of tough not to share everything in this day and age of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. What am I supposed to do, tweet about my massage from the TSA a day after it happens? That wouldn’t be very fun, now would it?
I won’t change that, however, and I won’t change the fact that I like to post my travel patterns in advance. It’s what makes blogging fun, and trust me, that’s the main reason I do this.
But there’s a real lesson to learn here. For one, it’s far too easy to change airline reservations for other people. As Jeff explained to me on the phone, it’s a tough situation for the airlines — they want to make planning travel as easy as possible without compromising security. Should they have asked a few verification questions when my Tampa to Paris first class ticket was changed to a Raleigh to Los Angeles coach ticket? Probably, given what an extreme change it was, though I think it’s very rare for someone to change someone else’s ticket purely out of spite, so I don’t blame them for assuming the best of intentions.
But here’s the good news — you can password protect just about any reservation with any airline or hotel chain. It’s actually what I’ve spent most of my evening doing. You can have it so that in order for anyone to even call in about an itinerary, they have to provide a password of your choice, and the same goes for hotel reservations. The exact process all depends on the program. Some airlines and hotel programs will let you password protect only specific itineraries/reservations, while some airlines and hotel programs will let you password protect your account so that you need to verify the password in order to even have a conversation with them.
So in the end I won’t be changing anything. Yeah, each reservation is taking me a bit longer as I have to call up each time I book an itinerary to add a password. Hopefully the sorry soul that’s changing my itinerary gets some satisfaction out of that.