jess knows best

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Airports annoy me.

I feel like we've reached a new point in world airline crappiness and inefficiency.  One that still has me a tiny bit outraraged.  No, its not the caardboadr, tasteless airline food.  Nor is it the fact that you can't take liquids through security (although I still think this is an utterly stupid rule that always seems to deprive me of half a bottle of of my elixer of life-- diet coke-- for at least 15 minutes and never fails to make me grumpy.  Like terrorists haven't thought to bring their explosives in powder form and mix them with the little glasses of water the underpaid stewardesses  so generously offer (note to would be terrorists: I'm kidding.  It won't work, so don't try it.  At least not on my flight.  Why are you reading my blog anyway??)).

No.  The inane new 'policy' I'm talking about here is the fact that you can't change the name on your ticket once its booked without buying a new one.

My dear, lovely, utterly fabulous parents and grandmother, Honey, have generously used their frequent flier** points to secure me a ticket to fly to Texas in November to spend Thanksgiving with my family.  Unfortunately, Honey booked the ticket under the name 'Jessica Markham'.  Nine times out of ten, she'd be right.  Work thinks I'm 'Jessica Markham', my drivers license and home loan are in the same name, and I introduce myself as a Markham to everyone these days.  But according to the US government, at least where passports are concerned, I'm still 'Jessica Rigby'. 

I called United airlines tonight to see if this was going to be a problem.  I've got official, government issued identification indicating that I'm both a Markham and a Rigby***, and have a fairly official marriage certificate indicating the name change, but evidently this is not enough.  No.  Because this is an international, long haul flight, I have to have a passport indicating that I'm 'Jessica Markham'.   Here's how the conversation went:

Me (in cheery, I'm-a-happy-customer-who-just-wants-a-break tones): "Hi, my grandmother just booked me a flight using my married name but my passport is still in my maiden name.  My passport still is in my maiden name, but I've got ids and a marriage certificate in both my maiden and married names.  If I bring them, its not going to be a problem, is it?"

Airline rep (who only very recently learned to speak English and is clearly fielding my call from a center from somewhere United doesn't fly):  "Your passport will need to be in the same name as your ticket to check in"

Me (slightly annoyed):  But my passport isn't in the same name.  Can I change the name on the ticket? 

Airline rep:  Let me get my manager (this exchange is somewhat abbreviated.  Go with it.)

In case you're wondering, 'let me get my manager' is airline rep speak for either 'My command of English isn't good enough to deal with anything other than requesting vegetarian meals or a seat change' or 'I can tell you're an unhappy, pushy bitch and I'm not trained to deal with you'.  In this case, obviously, it was the later.

Airline rep (after an obnoxiously long hold):  We cannot change the name on your ticket, but I can cancel the ticket and re-issue it for a fee.

Me (seriously annoyed):  'But I'm the same person.  Jessica Markham is the same as Jessica Rigby.  I'm actually Jessica Rigby Markham.  How much is the change fee?

Airline rep:  'The change fee for a reward flight is $150.  You said your grandmother booked the ticket?  She will need to call and make the change.'

Me:  'That's outrageous.  The flights were only just booked today.  You're telling me it will cost $150 to change the name on a ticket that was booked less than 12 hours ago?!'

Airline rep:  'United policy states blah blah blah blah blah blah'.

She didn't get much further as I hung up. 

I just googled to see what the process would be to change my passport to reflect my married name. 

Turns out, its easier and cheaper to get issued a US passport in Australia that changes a name I've been known and loved by for 24 years than get a name changed on an airline ticket that was issued less than 12 hours ago. 

My passport was my last bastion that exists to my maiden name.  To be honest, I haven't wanted to change it.  Not that I don't like being a Markham, I do, but I like being a Rigby too, and I quite liked that I could still officially be a Rigby.  I'm not normally an overly sentimental or pedantic kind of person, but changing my name officially for the last and final time sort of gets to me in a fundamental, quasi-feminist, who-I-am sort of way.

I'm still going to get the change made, mostly because the thought of having to pay a hundred and fifty bucks overrides my sentimentality, but still... I'm annoyed.  I think I will change it to 'Jessica Leigh Rigby Markham' instead of 'Jessica Leigh Markham' just to feel vindicated.  But it still burns. 

On another airline related note, I flew to Sydney today for a work conference.  I'm one of those people that, no matter how diligently I pack or how innocent I look, I still get picked for those annoying additional security checks.  I'm the person that always forgot about the nailclippers stashed in the bottom of their purse or the little packets of jam swiped from the airport cafe.  Sure enough, what do you know, I was stopped for an additional security check.  People with turbans, bloodshot eyes and hidden swiss army knives swarm past, but me?  I get stopped.  I'm pretty sure its a ploy.  Like 'look at us, we're not racial profiling.  We stopped the pale, curly blonde girl with the pink cardigan.  Don't accuse us of racial profiling'.  So, a note to all the other pale, curly blondes out there... don't go into drug smuggling.  You'll totally get caught. 

** My spellcheck thinks this word is 'flier'.  I think its spelled 'flyer'.  I've gone with spellcheck here, but note that, in the event that you disagree with my spelling, I disagree too.  Not a reflection on my grammatical skills and abilities, which are fabulous.  

 ***  Interesting factoid:  'Markham' is acceptable to my spellcheck, but 'Rigby' is not.  They want my maiden name to be 'Rugby', 'Ruby', or 'Rig by'.  As if. 



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