How I wish you were here

“The computer shows your name is Kelly Malloy. I can’t issue you a boarding pass with both your first and last name on the reservation spelled incorrectly.”

Those were the words I heard, or at least I think that is what we were told at 5:30am Sunday morning after I had already checked both our bags under my name for our flights from Monterey to Miami.

I checked our two bags at 5:15am under my name for free as an elite American Airlines AAdvantage member for the 6:00am flight from Monterey to Los Angeles. I then left Kelley to check in for the flight while I drove the car up the hill several hundred yards from the airport to a street with free parking. One of my travel goals is to pay as little to park my car as possible while traveling around California and from California airports. There are plenty of free parking spaces around Monterey Airport within ten minutes walk, so I checked in and checked our bags and left the terminal to park the car.

I was quite surprised to return 15 minutes later and find Kelley still trying to check in for our flight to Miami. It was now 5:30am. The American Airlines agent was on the phone trying to access a supervisor to find out how to override the name discrepancy.

I had no reason to even suspect there might be a problem. The flight record locator and Miami itinerary displayed her name spelled correctly on her American Airlines frequent flyer account. The travel itinerary from American Express Business Travel in my documents showed her name spelled correctly.

But the computer told the AA agent Kelley was ‘Kelly Malloy’ in the American Airlines reservation system and the agent said she could not issue a boarding pass with both her first and last names spelled incorrectly.

The final boarding call announcement for the 6:00am flight to Los Angeles was announced at 5:45 am and the ticket counter agent said to me, “Are you going to Miami or not? If you are going to Miami, then you have to get on the plane now.”

I hated making a “Sophie’s Choice” decision. At 5:45am on a Sunday morning, after only a few hours sleep, I had to make an instant choice of cancelling the Miami trip and risking a heavy cancellation penalty or spending Christmas alone in Miami with Kelley alone at home in Monterey.

This trip to Miami is actually a business trip since the primary purpose of the trip is to stay at the St. Regis Bal Harbour as part of my SPG Amex Stars contract. The St. Regis hotel stay is free as long as I arrive and stay as scheduled. Visions of a $2,400 hotel bill for a last minute cancellation at the St. Regis Bal Harbour after the 100% cancellation penalty deadline made the decision for me.

I handed Kelley the car keys, gave her directions to where I had parked the car and I walked to airport security. I abandoned my wife for the Christmas holidays.

Sometimes travel sucks.


Looking up through lobby skylight at InterContinental Miami

Christmas Day at 4am in the morning and I am looking at the 20-story lighted message on two exterior faces of the InterContinental Miami Hotel about two miles away, where I can clearly see the words “WELCOME TO MIAMI” scrolling by, in between the displays of silhouette images of a dancing lady against a backdrop of red or blue lights.

I am here in Miami alone on Christmas Day. Kelley is home alone in Monterey.

This trip was not planned to be this way.


Dancing lady projections on skyscraper is actually the InterContinental Miami Hotel seen from Hilton Miami.

How I wish, how I wish you were here

We’re just two lost souls

Swimming in a fish bowl

Year after year

Running over the same old ground

What have we found?

The same old fears

Wish you were here.”

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »


  1. Oh boy. I had a similar thing happen on my return home from Christmas holidays last year with my son’s ticket. Though the error was the airline ticket agent’s fault, I should have caught it. We were able to get the award ticket name changed and all sorted out.

    Sorry to hear of how you ended up. Why not issue an AAnytime award and have her fly out tonight? If you show your travel agent itinerary, you could probably get the points back and a full refund on the paid fare (assuming paid) in arrears.

  2. Merry Christmas – I enjoy your blog and Inside Flyer articles! I hope she can join you soon – keep us posted.

  3. 20/20 hindsight, but since both bags were checked under your ticket, couldn’t she have checked in online or at a kiosk, no ID required? She’s still have to get past TSA with the typo, but at least there’s a chance it works.

    Meanwhile, here’s a bluesier version of that song that fits the mood:

  4. I think you chose poorly. It would have had to be one hell of an important trip for me to do that.

  5. Hate to say it, but it would have been time to pull out the credit card & pay the price.

    How did the name get entered incorrectly in the first place?

  6. Unfortunate… confusing. So, I assume that your wife’s name in the AA system (ie. her Advantage account is spelled correctly, and that you used the AA number when booking this trip… so all should have been good. If the name in AA’s system is wrong (I doubt you’d be that careless) then the fault is yours.

    In any case, an agent should have let such a minor name discrepancy go… and chaulked it up as a typo… really absurd they refused her to board the plane.

    Im in FLA today as well… great weather today… enjoy!

  7. This is the first ticket in 15 years that a travel agency booked for Kelley. The same people who booked my travel and all travel for the bloggers participating in 2012 SPG AMEX Stars booked Kelley’s ticket.

    The kiosk would not allow her to check-in for the flight and did not allow her to print a boarding pass either.

    The itinerary provided by American Express showed her name spelled correctly. It was only at the airport we learned of the problem. Monterey is a small airport and there was only one agent for American Airlines.

    Kelley’s last name is spelled Meloy, like the singer Colin Meloy of the Decemberists.

  8. If you feel that American Airlines needs a good consulting company to find a solution for this crappy business process, I would recommend ACCENTURE 🙂
    And I would tell them another…

  9. Sorry to hear that Ric, but chalk it up all the more reason to check in the night before at home and print your boarding passes . . . if you caught it at home the night before maybe it could have been fixed in time to fly . . .

  10. I checked in and printed my boarding passes the night before. Kelley’s boarding pass would not print and there was no explanation why they didn’t print. I really did not suspect a problem. I assumed Saturday night computer maintenance which is common.

  11. Obviously you couldn’t try this AFTER the name discrepancy was discovered, but since it’s apparently possible to fly without ID, would “I misplaced my wallet” be an option in situations like this?

  12. How we’ve been trained by bad computer folks to assume it’s just a temporary computer problem and not a real issue. Maybe with enough complaints we can get them fired and have some good folks design a reasonable system.

    Of course, the bigger question is: Is Kelley still talking to you.

  13. @Charles Clarke – With Kelley missing out on the Miami trip which was specifically rescheduled from October to December to accommodate her school schedule, I think I can only redeem myself by getting her to Europe in February.

    She would trade a Miami trip, even with this gorgeous December weather, for just about anywhere in Europe anytime of year, sun or rain.

    We have been talking frequently while I have been in Miami. This is probably the worst travel screw-up we have ever had in our 70 or so flight trips together.

    She knows this incident was not my fault.

  14. @Charles Clarke – I am kind of annoyed that American Airlines didn’t notify us there was a discrepancy between the name on her ticket and her frequent flyer account name.

    Seems to me that is something that should be flagged in the computer system and some effort made to contact the flyer before they arrive at the airport.

  15. I’m glad you and Kelley have such a good relationship that this is just a hiccup.

    Yes, American Airlines should have notified you/her of the discrepancy. An email to both the booking email address and the email address on the frequent flier account is the minimum they should do.

    I’m assuming her Secure Flight Information in her AA frequent flier account is correct. I see they’ve added birth date and gender since I had updated it before.

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