Even the most discerning travelers can find themselves in the middle of a vacation nightmare, especially after two years of absence. This happened to me recently in New York. I forgot to bring a credit card. No problem, I thought. I have several payment cards stored in my phone wallet and I had two plastic debit cards with me.
I checked into the Pod 51 hotel in Manhattan at 11 p.m. and handed over a Starling Bank debit card. Decreases. Then my RBS debit card. Decreases. No problem, I told the tired clerk, I’ll pay with the Halifax credit card on my phone.
âWe need to see a physical payment card,â she said smugly. âIf you can’t pay, you can’t stay.
I accept that this was a cheap hotel (for NYC) but he already had the security of keeping my credit card details in his reservation system.
As visions of sleeping in a doorway on Third Avenue swam past me, RBS sent a message. âDid you just try to pay Â£ 482 for the Pod 51 in New York,â the bot asked? I returned a Y for Yes and my account was reactivated immediately (it may take up to 10 minutes) and I collapsed in my bed. Lesson learned.
Here are 10 common mistakes that can turn your vacation dream into an expensive nightmare. All are storylines regularly experienced by readers who reached out to Ask the Experts for help.
You put the wrong name on a plane ticket
This is mistake # 1. It is easy to do. You book a ticket for a friend called Jon but his passport name is Jonathan. Your in-laws surprise you with tickets to the Maldives for your honeymoon, but reserve them in your groom’s name before you apply for a new passport.
Airline tickets must be issued in the exact name written on your passport. Otherwise, the trip will be refused by the airline.
Some airlines correct names for free, or put what they call a ânote on reservationâ for a small mistake; others charge up to Â£ 200. A few still insist that the ticket is canceled and reissued resulting in high cancellation fees.
If you booked through an agent (except Trailfinders) you will find them very unhelpful in this regard. It will be a battle of wills for the change, even if the airline allows it.
You buy the wrong flight
I know it might sound condescending, but it really is a really bad idea to buy a plane ticket at night. This is because: (a) you are tired; (b) the cut-off time to correct an error free of charge is often midnight on the day of the reservation, and (c) the correction will likely need to be made by calling a call center, which will have closed for the day. Not all airlines allow you to change dates or destinations after you click “Buy”, but many allow a 24 hour grace period.