Booked on a Flight to the Wrong State

November 25, 2010

in Airport Stories

In 2004, I was living in Pittsburgh, PA and attempting to come home to Joplin, MO for Christmas. It was the first time I had ever flown alone. My mother booked me a Delta flight from Pitt to Kansas City connecting in Cincinnati on December 23rd. I was dropped off at the Pittsburgh airport by a friend about 2 hours before my flight was due to depart. However, there had been a huge blizzard in Cincinnati the night before, and my flight had been canceled before I even arrived at the airport. I waited in line, along with every other Delta passenger trying to go ANYWHERE that day.

After 30 minutes in line, a nice agent told me that they had booked me on a flight to Dallas, but the connection to Kansas City was actually an American Airlines flight so I would have to go check in with their agents. I trundled off along the terminal with all of my baggage in tow headed for the American Airlines check in which was, of course, at the opposite end of the terminal. I wait in line there for a further 20 minutes, at which point their agent rather rudely informs me that I had NOT been booked onto the Dallas to Kansas City flight, but placed on standby. That flight was full and also the last one that night, so I would most likely be stuck in Dallas overnight. I got the impression that she was rather put out by Delta booking me onto an AA flight. She seemed almost gleeful that I probably wouldn’t make it. Spending the night in the Dallas airport wasn’t high on my list of things I wanted to do, so rude AA agent sends me back down the terminal to Delta.

Trundle. Trundle. Bags in tow. Another 10 minutes in line. I tell the Delta agent that I don’t really HAVE to go to Kansas City. I am really going to Joplin, a town about 2 1/2 hours away from KC. Agent tells me she cannot change destinations, but to call the Delta help line from a courtesy phone. I head over to the courtesy phone and dial the number. I tell the agent on the phone that I would be more than happy to fly to Tulsa, but Tulsa is fully booked. I’m not surprised; it is December 23rd. I try again. St. Louis: Booked. Springfield: They don’t fly there. Joplin: Booked. I am running out of airports. Then I have an epiphany! What about the Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Fayetteville, Arkansas? Delta agent replies with surprise in her voice that there are seats available for the Fayetteville flight. I will leave in 3 hours, connecting in Atlanta. Excellent.

I receive my boarding passes, check my bags, and all seems in order. I go grab some breakfast while I wait, then board my flight and arrive in Atlanta on time. I check my boarding pass for my connection’s flight number. At this point, it is important to say that the only identifying information on the boarding pass was an airport code. I do not have the airport codes for every airport in the US memorized. My life would have been easier if I did! I find my flight number on the departure board and my heart stops. The Delta agent I had spoken to on the phone had canceled my flight to Kansas City, Missouri, and rebooked me on a flight to Fayetteville, NORTH CAROLINA!!! And now I’m in Atlanta. At least Dallas is only 6 hours from Joplin. Atlanta may as well have been the moon.

Not knowing what else to do, I go to the gate for the North Carolina flight. I approach the gate agent with the words, “I have a HUGE problem.” I then, rather embarrassingly, burst into tears. I explained my predicament to the agent at the gate. Apparently, it was a rather familiar tale. According to him, this happened all the time. Although I said “Northwest Arkansas Regional,” all the booking agent heard was Fayetteville. I can’t really explain her total lack of geographical knowledge that let her believe that flying to NC was just as good as flying to MO. Anyway, the very understanding gate agent got me a standby ticket on the next flight to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and this time the blizzard in Cincinnati helped me out. So many people missed that flight that I got on easily. I called my dad to let him know I was finally headed home. The pilot overheard me telling my dad to google directions to the airport and actually took my phone to give my dad directions. It was pretty cool. I thought my ordeal was finally over.

I arrive in Arkansas. My dad is there. It’s just an hour drive back to Joplin.

My luggage was in North Carolina.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Beverly November 27, 2010 at 5:56 am

At least Fayetteville NC and Fayetteville MO are only separated by 1000 miles. I'm sure people have accidentally been booked to Portland OR instead of Portland ME which are 3000 miles away from each other!


Dina November 28, 2010 at 11:02 am

I've heard stories of people meaning to book flights to Sydney, NSW, Australia and ending up in Sydney, NS, Canada. Now THAT'S far!


ps November 29, 2010 at 6:21 am

Then you have the flier that instead of Oakland went to Auckland a few years back…


JK November 27, 2010 at 9:40 am

I had a Mom and Dad fly in from Africa to Springfield, MO (SGF) instead of Springfield, IL (SPI). They didn't have a drivers license that would work in the States and had to hire a taxi to drive them to their daughter's house in IL. I tried to get the airline to change the return ticket so they didn' t have to come back to SGF but they wouldn't budge!

I had another guy that was suppose to be in Springfield, MA. Imagine flying from England and ending up in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri instead of the east coast.


madachode November 28, 2010 at 5:21 am

If you don't know where you are going, stay at home, don't leave the house and add to the other stupid people that wander around without situational awareness.


Stephanie November 29, 2010 at 2:19 am

It's not easy remember all the codes you know — and if you're at all familiar with the midwest, it's not always easy to get a flight to your destination.

I can't count the times they've canceled flights into ICT only for me to be stuck going to MCI (another 4 hours away from the first airport and another 2 past that) or TUL (way south and too far east – additional 6 hours drive time) or even more common OKC (ok just up I-35 but still quite a drive)

Confusing the Fayettevilles is pretty common…even when you *do* give them the airport code (XNA as opposed to FAY).



Geesh April 16, 2011 at 9:17 am

Madachode, grow up. This person knew where she was going. The worker at the airline did not have a clew that two, or more, cities have the same name. Instead of posting stupid comments on the Internet without bothering to understand what you are commenting on, stare at the ceiling like all of the other stupid people out there.


whodunit68 October 6, 2016 at 5:41 pm

A clew? What the … is that?


Carl March 17, 2013 at 5:36 pm

How long did it take before your baggage was delivered to you?


Derek October 12, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I facepalmed at the last line.


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