I Never Thought I’d Make THIS Travel Mistake

people in a terminal

Out of all the mistakes I’ve made, booking my flight for the wrong day has not been one of them. Until last night. When I’m in India at the Chennai Airport around midnight. On February 10 with a ticket for January 10.

But it gets better. Chennai is one of the airports that will only let passengers with a valid ticket enter the terminal which is where all the ticket counters and customer service desks are. (Guests can pay $1 to go in with passengers, but can’t take any bags, which ruled out that option for me.)

people in a terminal

The worst part is, I didn’t even realize what I had done until I was talking to the security personnel, politely pushing back when he kept pointing to the Jan 10 date on my itinerary. <sigh> It’s a problem when it’s clear you really need a vacation because you’re making stupid mistakes. Worse when those mistakes are mostly on your vacation planning.

But, here’s where my dilemma takes a positive twist. The two security guards took pity on me and one of them went inside and made an airline representative come out and talk to me. I gave him my information and he disappeared for about 15 minutes, finally coming back outside to vouch for me to the guards and telling me they’d get it worked out.

Because it was one of the few times in my life I’d actually bought the refundable business class ticket (because it was $380 or 60,000 award miles). Since it was a flexible ticket, they had no problem eventually changing my tickets to that night and getting me on my way. If this had happened at any other time, I would have been traveling on an award ticket where changes aren’t possible once the trip has commenced or in the US on a non-refundable ticket where the agents would show no mercy.


Trying to plan a working vacation in the midst of a major career change was clearly not a good idea as the incident above was only of the many mistakes I’ve made. You can look forward to feeling superior when you read my trip posts in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made booking flights?

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  1. My husband rerouted himself in the middle of a multi-leg trip, which forced him to rebook his final leg. He was in so many cities that he forgot he had departed out of Portland (where his car sat in a parking garage) and not Seattle. It wasn’t until he was walking to the parking garage in Seattle that he realized he was in the wrong airport. Too tired to fly another hour and then drive two hours home, he took an expensive cab ride home and then we had a road trip the next day to get his car!

    1. Apparently the normal price for a one way ticket to Southeast Asia from Chennai is ~$380. Had no idea til I was booking this trip!

  2. I bought a one-way ticket for Dec 2 instead of Jan 2. I was a broke college student and got to the airport only to discover my horrible mistake. I could have sworn I double and triple-checked the dates, but when you’re looking at 12/2 and 1/2, it’s easy to see how your brain could misread it!

    I had to call a family member to pay for a new ticket right there – it was wholly humiliating and embarrassing.

  3. I showed up at the airport at the departure time for the first leg of a 3 leg international business class award trip. I had awesome American Airlines ticket agents work with me for about an hour and ended up on better flights. It cost me about $350 but that was inconsequential given my error.

  4. Funny. . . . same thing happened to me 2 weeks ago – was in Bali for the weekend and was all set to fly back on February 2 only to get to the airport and be told that I wasn’t on the flight and when I pulled up my itinerary, I had March 2! Like you, was on a J ticket so was able to easily change. Rookie mistake, rookie mistake. LOL!

  5. Flying out of Prague after the European Final four, I discovered that my ticket to London is for Jun 1st. Luckily I got to the airport very early (the people I was with had an earlier flight to Tel Aviv) and since it was really May Day and the flight to London was almost empty they just put me on that flight (took about 90 min for them to find the right person and deal with the exchange).

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