Orbitz, TSA and I

The Ohio State University
                                                         THE Ohio State University

I took a trip on Sunday to Ohio State University to give a lecture on Leonardo da Vinci and his place in the history of anatomical dissection. I had been invited by my last Ph.D. student, who is now an Assistant Professor there, and her first Ph.D. student who just graduated. So I have my first grand Ph.D.! In contrast to actually getting to Columbus, the lecture was a breeze.

It began when I asked my husband to print out my boarding passes on Saturday night. It was then that he noticed the reservation through Orbitz had been made in my maiden name. Now I have been married for many decades, and Hubs made those reservations. No way he would have used my maiden name. I water-boarded him asked him repeatedly to make sure. We still can’t figure out how it happened.

Hubs got on the phone with Orbitz and I could hear him for the next hour trying to reason arguing with them to re-issue the tickets in my married name. Several supervisors later, no dice. Next he went to American (my first flight to LaGuardia) and then United (my second flight to Columbus). More reasoning arguing, more supervisors. Then the suggestion that we just go to the bank and get my birth and marriage certificates. This was such an intelligent stupid idea: it was Saturday night and my flight left on Sunday.

In the meantime, I was trying to work through the lecture to make sure the visuals co-ordinated and that at least one of my thumb drives would accept the power point presentation (a big one). We were both listening to TV in the background, and the Tar Heels were getting beaten by Virginia which was not improving either of our tempers.

The best hubs could do by reasoning arguing was to get a note put in the airlines’ computers, somewhere, that I am who I say I am.

Sunday morning, I arrived at the airport early and tried to get my ticket reissued in my married name at the American counter. No dice. But the ticket agent assured me there would be no problem with TSA. I had brought a Mass booklet from our wedding Mass (the only thing we could find with my maiden name on it)) and that would certainly do the trick. Not. The TSA agent looked at my un-matching ticket and passport while I tried to explain what happened.Two agents later, the supervisor arrived.

Angry Guy Throwing Temper Tantrum - Free Retro Clipart Illustration

By now, Hubs was jumping up and down outside the screening area, trying to explain in a loud voice, to great no effect. I yelled at him to calm down.The supervisor disappeared and came back with a form, which I filled out.Then she made a phone call to somewhere in Washington where all of our past and present names are stored, and after some back and forth with lots of notations of their names and some numbers, I was cleared to go.

Hubs left, and I was escorted through the X-ray machine after removing all some of my clothes under close supervision, then I was wanded and given a very thorough pat-down. Most of the stuff in my carry-on was removed and tested for explosives and my toothpaste was thrown out. I slept all the way to LaGuardia, but since I didn’t leave the boarding area, was spared having to repeat that process.

My travails were not over, because I had to repeat the whole thing at the Columbus airport the next day for my trip home.This time I knew what to expect, and Mr. Higgins, the TSA supervisor, was so kind and nice about the whole thing that it was lengthy but not onerous. Plus I got patted down by a pretty blond agent named Summer Flowers. I’m saving that one for a book! Mr. Higgins may get in one, too.

The morals of this story:

  1. Always check your flight confirmation as soon as you get it.
  2. Consider bringing your passport with you– my driver’s license wouldn’t have cut it.
  3. If you’re a married woman and do not use your maiden name, have something handy with your maiden name on it.
  4. Don’t use Orbitz. One of their poltergeists may change your name.





36 thoughts on “Orbitz, TSA and I”

  1. Wonderful – a grand-PhD!! I thoroughly enjoyed this Noelle. I have been blessed with the priceless gift of being able to laugh at the misfortunes of others!

  2. How exasperating, Noelle. Fortunately, your trip still went forward. My husband looks “international” – as though he could belong to a variety of ethnic groups. He gets pulled out of line routinely for the double check. Fortunately, we always leave lots of time at the airport and he enjoys bantering with security. I think he likes the attention!

  3. I think Summer Flowers has to either be transgender or to have murderer her parents for obvious reasons. And the names on your ticket crap. My surname is French for a ways back; we spell it as two words. Every *&^5674io airline issues tickets with the gap closed, however I complete their forms. And my passport shows the gap. Several times it ahs been queried. I’ve taken a copy of the screenshot of the form as I filled it in and the completed one but apparently it is my fault. I was told if I used a hyphen the gap would appear and all would be sweetness and light. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  4. Ugh, the perils of travels, but you handle it so well, and the bonus is the line “…I got patted down by a pretty blond agent named Summer Flowers.” I would buy that book 🙂

  5. Hahaha, so happy they let you board.
    When I had my audition in Glasgow my Dad calculated that a flight would take less time and be virtually the same price as a train, so he booked them. It was internal UK so he didn’t think we’d need the passports (we required our passports/picture ID) a real palava trying to sort that out because Dad has a driving licence without a photo on it! Then the plane was grounded with a mechanical problem, two hours later, the plane was fixed, we taxied on the runway, “No go” says the pilot, “it doesn’t sound right”. Off we all get, at this point other passengers were calling it a day. They found another very small prop plane to use, we got split up because they wanted my Dad to sit next to the emergency exit and balance out the weight on the plane – very scary – everything was saying don’t fly today hehehe, we made it two hours late and had kept the Conservatoire informed so they saw me.

    Hope the presentation went well and congrats on your grand phd that must be super.

    1. Oh, Charlotte, what a story! We don’t fly unless the driving would take a lot more time (so like to Chicago or Boston or to the west coast. We tried the train here once – to New York – and it ended up taking twice as long as if we drove! I almost drove to OSU – it’s a seven hour drive and if I’d left when the plane left I would only have been an hour later!
      We once hired a small plane with some other passengers from a cancelled flight. And it was scary! I’m so glad you were safe!

      1. There are good low cost flights from Glasgow to the outskirts of London, but once you’ve added in the train transfer to Central London, the bus to Glasgow airport etc it starts adding up in time. My brother will sometimes drive to pick me up if I catch a late flight. I’ve used the night bus a couple of times and tried to get some sleep on it because it takes 7.5 hours.
        My Dads always driven up since but parking and petrol is really expensive.

        1. S0unds like Glasgow is not the easiest place to get to! My daughter used to take a slow train from Baltimore to Durham, NC, just because she would work and sleep along the way.

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