“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