Airport code confusion source of one man's headache

October 10, 2011 9:05:30 PM PDT
A mix up over travel arrangements marred what otherwise would have been a perfect family trip for one Bay Area man.

An East Palo Alto man tried to arrange a trip to Houston to see his grandson get married. One year after the wedding, he was still dealing with issues surrounding the travel arrangements

James Hill is one proud father. Pictures of his family are all over his house. His grandson's wedding turned out just the way he wanted. But getting there was another story.

"I made a reservation to go to Houston Hobby, and the tickets stated I had a ticket to Houston International, instead of Houston Hobby," Hill said.

The two airports are as far apart as Oakland and SFO and he told the agent he would miss the wedding if he didn't get into Houston Hobby. He says CheapOAir wanted to charge him an additional $100 for the cost in fare to change the flight.

"I told them that wouldn't be acceptable because I'm not going to pay $100 for an error they made," Hill said.

CheapOAir explained it the mix up this way: It says Hill went online to book his flight typing in the airline code for Houston Hobby -- HOU. Unfortunately that's also the airline code for the city of Houston. CheapOAir says Hill was then given the option of several flights out of both Houston Intercontinental and Houston Hobby. He chose Houston Intercontinental not noticing this was not the airport he wanted.

Hill finds the explanation unacceptable. Problem was he was booked by CheapOAir to fly Continental but Continental doesn't fly into Houston Hobby.

"If they didn't fly to Houston Hobby, they should have stated that when I went to make my reservations they should have booked me on another airline," Hill said.

CheapOAir sent him an email apologizing for the poor service experienced with the company.

Continental, which has since merged with United, agreed to extend the credit for his unused flight for one year. But it wanted to charge him a $175 rebooking fee.

Continental wrote in an email, "The ticket you are inquiring about is non-refundable. Therefore we cannot issue a refund." So he contacted 7 On Your Side.

"I think 7 On Your Side is a great asset," Hill said.

7 On Your Side contacted United and Continental and they refunded his ticket of $427.90 the company said, "We ultimately thought it appropriate to issue a ticket refund due to the circumstances."

CheapOAir says its happy to hear Continental Airlines agreed to refund Hill's money. In case you're wondering, Hill made other arrangements to get to his grandson's wedding.

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