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Short story

My girlfriend is currently on a business trip in India. Due to issues with her reservation, she is concerned she might have troubles checking in for the plane back home. However, seeing as she is mid-itinerary and on the return leg of the journey, is it the carrier's responsibility to bring her home, similar as to a passenger being denied entry to the destination country?

Longer story

Her trip is booked through a travel agency (company policy). The carrier is Lufthansa, but the operator for the first leg of the return journey is Air India (and later SAS).

Before departure, she noticed her ticket doesn't actually carry her exact name as in the passport but an abbreviated form (example: Kate instead of Catherine, except her name is uncommon in the English-speaking world). She was advised that the ticket could not be changed, so she would have to take her chances.

She did get to India, however presently she is not able to check in online for the return trip, as her reservation does not exist in the system (using the booking reference or any version of her name).

Lufthansa says they cannot help further, as the reservation was made through a travel agency, but points to the operator for check-in. The operator (Air India) doesn't have her booking.

Normally, this would be an issue that should be contested at the airport, however apparently there is currently a security check at the entrance of the airport, and you will not be admitted without a printed ticket matching the passport.

The travel agency has advised her that she should either buy a new ticket, or take her chances that they will magically find her reservation at the airport.

They also say that in the event of problems (reservation cannot be found, or she is denied boarding due to naming issues), she should argue to the carrier that it is their responsibility to bring her back, as it is a return journey.

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    The explanation provided by the agency makes little sense, it's only a return journey if they assume there is a reservation, in which case they simply have an obligation to honor it. But there is no obligation for them to bring anyone home per se, not even when you are refused entry. How would that work? You prove you are German so you can demand to be put on a flight to Germany that you haven't booked? Or only on the carrier that brought you there, even if you booked a one-way ticket? – Relaxed Sep 7 '17 at 9:57
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    It is the same booking for the outbound and return journey. She has already flown the outbound flights, and all documentation shows the outbound and return flights as the same booking. The main issue is, that somewhere this booking got lost in the system, and now no one wants to take responsibility for it. So the question is, seeing as she has already travelled half of the flights, is it the carriers responsibility to uphold the rest of the flights? – Nix Sep 7 '17 at 10:03
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    Does she have her boarding pass for the outbound journey? – phoog Sep 7 '17 at 11:09
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    Travel agents still exist only because they are able to sort out issues like this. She should contact the travel agent and get them to confirm that the reservation they made is still valid, and if they are not sure about that the travel agent should book another flight at their expense. – DJClayworth Sep 7 '17 at 13:59
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    @GiacomoCatenazzi how can she check or change anything online if she cannot retrieve the reservation online? Also, I'm skeptical of your assertion about the passport number. Every reservation lookup I've ever done has been by name; passport details are not usually required at booking; and furthermore I routinely use different passports for different portions of the same booking without this ever having been a problem (indeed, I don't remember anyone even so much as commenting on it). – phoog Sep 7 '17 at 17:14
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As I wrote as comment, typos on names are very very frequent, but to answer you:

No; the airline will transport you to destination, if you comply to rules. Failing such rules, there are no more obligation from your airline.

Missing passports, tickets, etc. are some reasons, but also health reason (also if you just fall in the stair on airport) (or drunken). Also governments could restrict you (or your airlines) to carry people in a certain zone. Natural disasters and wars also cancel obligation of your airlines. They doesn't need to provide you alternative transportation.

  • Thank you. The fact that her ticket carry a different name is unfortunate, but it is not the main issue. The issue is, that after travelling to the destination, the booking seemingly has ceased to exist. The argument from the travel agency has been, that seeing as the carrier has already flown her two of the four flights, it must be a valid booking, and the carrier are obligated to resolve it. Obviously, the carrier claims no responsibility, as they are not operating the flight, and the operator doesn't feel responsible for a booking that (for some reason) does not exist in their system. – Nix Sep 7 '17 at 15:50
  • @Nix: Did you check in Lufthansa website. They should have all itinerary. Note: the web system is different to client support: the first works for all people (but ev. some changes are blocked), the second one requires that you bought ticket with them. – Giacomo Catenazzi Sep 7 '17 at 15:59
  • Lufthansa does not allow checkin, as they are not operating this particular flight. They also do not allow ticket changes, as the booking was not made through them directly. The itinerary is there, though - it just does not exist in Air India's systems, who are operating the flight. – Nix Sep 7 '17 at 21:41

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