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The Time the Airline Gave My Boarding Pass to Someone Else 

I have a very common last name,  but a very uncommon name overall–at least in the US. 

So I haven’t run into many cases of mistaken identity with my name.  

I had a curious incident on a flight last year.  I’m reminded of it because I was on the same flight and same aircraft, and I was sitting in this same seat. 

I was (and am)  sitting in an aisle seat,  which is my preference. Near the end of boarding,  someone boarded and stood next to my seat expectantly.  After a little, he said,  do you want to scooch in to the window? 

I get asked that relatively often and it annoys me.  I don’t know if the people who say it think women automatically prefer the window or just believe they are more entitled to the aisle seat.  Either way,  I hold my ground pretty strongly. 

I did the same thing in this case.  I firmly (but nicely)  said,  no, I’ll get up. 

And I did. 

The passenger sat at the window and didn’t seem too pleased at me.   He kept texting and the paranoid part of my brain wondered if he was complaining about me. 

And then the person who the window seat belonged to arrived and, well, wanted her seat. 

My seatmate pointed out that I was actually in his seat,  and I firmly held my ground that I wasn’t and pulled out my boarding pass. 

The passenger said that we must have been double booked and pulled out his boarding pass that said 2C. The Flight attendant was walking over at this point. 

I glanced down at his boarding pass and noticed something familiar on it.  Namely, my name. 

It turns out I was currently seated next to John Hoffman.   If you know the pronunciation of “Jeanne,”  it is actually pretty similar. So I wonder if that had something to do with it. 

He seemed embarrassed at that point,  but I laughed out off so he did too (and he eventually got his own seat). But it made me wonder a few things. 

First,  how did he get my boarding pass on the first place?  (note: the entire plot of an episode of Murder She Wrote revolves around this premise).  Though,  I was handed someone else’s boarding pass before too. 

 Second,  how did he not notice?   I wonder if he was in a rush and/or just dealt with a cancelation in a hurry.

Third,  why wasn’t this caught when scanning his boarding pass?   It would have alerted the agent that I already boarded. 

But ultimately,  it worked out fine.   We both were going to the same destination,  so it was good that he didn’t get on the wrong flight!   I think we just happened to suffer from having very similar names. 

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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7 comments

  1. What a weird situation, one would think there’s some security issues with just handing out the wrong boarding pass? I’m surprised this wasn’t caught at least somewhere along the way! How did he get through security with an ID that didn’t match the name on the boarding pass?

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I think he had his connection reissued in the airport, so this wasn’t what he went through security with.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      Oh, and the time I got someone else’s boarding pass was when an agent proactively handed me my upgrade, except they grabbed the wrong boarding pass. That’s problematic, too.

  2. Weird situation. My guess is the gate agent did this after security in haste which would also explain why nobody checked the name.
    I wouldn’t get too paranoid about the whole window seat thing. I’m an aisle preference guy and i get the same treatment about changing seats so I don’t think it’s a gender discrimination deal.

  3. Two weeks ago I checked in with Virgin Atlantic for my business trip redeye to London. Then later in the day I got an email from Awardwallet (NOT directly from Virgin) saying that my flight had changed from 9/8 to 9/22. I called up Virgin customer service and had to wait about 2 hours for them to get back to me after investigating. Turns out there was someone else on the flight with the same name, and HE had called in to change his flight, and they changed the wrong reservation. In the end everything got sorted, but let’s just say there was much extra consumption of alcohol that afternoon…

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