Save your airline ticket after a flight

Last month, I traveled to the Pacific Northwest for a very enjoyable week.  The trip included airline flights on Alaska Airlines from San Jose, CA to Seattle, WA and back.  As usual, I booked my own airfare.  The day before departure, I attempted to check in for my flight online.  I ran into a little difficulty on the Alaska Airlines web site when I tried to pay for a checked bag at the time I checked in.  For some reason, their system would not accept my check-in after I entered my credit card to pay for the checked bag fee.  So I went back and tried to check in again without paying the checked bag fee in advance.  Success!  When I arrived at the airport the next morning, it was easy enough to pay the checked bag fee at the automated kiosk.  I was issued a receipt for the bag fee and issued my boarding pass.

For the return flight, I didn’t check-in in advance because I was at a hotel and didn’t want to hassle with using their printer.  At the airport, I again used an automated kiosk, paid the checked bag fee and was issued my boarding pass.  Except for the fact that I wasn’t ready to go home because I had such a nice vacation, the flight home was enjoyable and uneventful.

When I return home from a trip, I always check my credit accounts to ensure there are no extra charges that were generated during the trip.  I noticed on the credit card I used for Alaska Airlines that I had 3 charges for checked bags instead of the 2 that should have been.  One charge was made on the day I checked in online, one was made the day of departure, and the third was on the day of my return.  Apparently, when I checked in online using my credit card to pay for the baggage fee, the system charged my credit card even though it would not check me in.

Easy enough to fix, right?  I called Alaska Airlines and was able to reach a live person in a relatively short period of time.  But there was a problem because I had not saved my boarding pass.  The operator at Alaska Airlines could not find my flight information from my itinerary code because the flights had been completed.  Apparently, once all flights in an itinerary are completed, the record locator code is no longer useful.  The code I needed was the actual ticket number, which would have been on my boarding pass.  The Alaska Airlines operator was polite and suggested that I could call back once I had received my statement from the bank, which would likely show the ticket number on the charge record.  After I disconnected the call, I discovered that I could find the ticket number in the charge record of my account online.  I called back to Alaska Airlines with the number and they were able to find the record and reverse the extra baggage fee.

So, next time you fly, don’t immediately shred your boarding pass when you get home.  Save it for a couple of months in case you need to revisit your flights for some reason.  Without the ticket number, it may be very difficult to resolve an issue that comes to light after your flights have been completed.

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