Mark S. Rasmussen
Oct 20

On my way home from the PASS Summit in Seattle, I had a layover in Amsterdam before continuing onto Copenhagen. For various reasons, we were about one and a half hours delayed, and I arrived in AMS at 9:30, my CPH flight departing at 9:35. As you’d probably guessed, I missed my flight.

To fix it, I was told to do a check-in at one of the self-service counters at the transfer desk. Apparently these both do normal check-ins, as well as (supposedly), get you a replacement flight in case you missed the normal one. I stuck my passport into the scanner and it gladly popped up with a new flight to Copenhagen about 4 hours later. Great! Well, except my name wasn’t on the check-in list, two other (unknown to me) Danish names were. However, I did share a surname with one of them.

After asking one of the attendants I was told, “Oh, that’s because your flight has already departed, it’ll try to find the nearest match”. Áha, so if there’s no 1:1 match, it’ll just try to find the best match of an existing booking to a non-departed flight – and apparently the best it could find was a two-person ticket for a flight 4 hours later. Now, it was for the same destination, and I did share my surname with one of the passengers, but it surely wasn’t my ticket. Still, I was able to check-in as them and confirm “my” ticket.

So this leaves me the question, what in the world do they (Delta/KLM/AF) use as the primary key for their ticketing system? Once my passport is scanned, and they’ve got my passport number, how can there be any doubt as to who I am? How in the world can I get to check-in two completely, to me, unrelated passengers on a flight I’m not going on myself?

I ended up getting booked for another flight to another (closer to my home) destination in Denmark, but it did require manual intervention from the service desk.

Mark S. Rasmussen
I'm the CTO at iPaper where I cuddle with databases, mold code and maintain the overall technical & team responsibility. I'm an avid speaker at user groups & conferences. I love life, motorcycles, photography and all things technical. Say hi on Twitter, write me an email or look me up on LinkedIn.