A recent conversation with a colleague of mine reminded me of why I’ve fallen into some of my travel habits.  Basically, her assistant had made a last-minute reservation for flights the afternoon before a trip she needed to take.  Our hokey travel system can’t process reservations with less than 24 hours notice, so the assistant had to call our corporate travel agent directly.  The colleague assumed she was all set, but she went to delta.com to check in that evening, there was no reservation showing up.  She had no confirmation number and no ticket number, so there was nothing to aid in searching for her reservation.  A call to Delta confirmed that she had no reservation on the flight she thought she was booked on.

One thing I learned in my years at the airport working for an airline is that there are a few things every traveler should have in their pocket.  Two of the most important I can think of: your airline confirmation number (add your travel agent confirmation number to this if you have to use a T/A, as the agency confirmation number is not always the same as the airline confirmation number) and your ticket number.  For any number of reasons, having your airline confirmation number on hand is always a good idea.  Sometimes it makes it easier to find your reservation at the airline kiosk, and if you have to deal with an actual agent at the airport, it can make it more likely that they will be able to find your reservation.

OK, you get having your confirmation number, but why bother with a ticket number?  Glad you asked.  Airline reservations are stored in computers, and we all know nothing ever goes wrong with computers, right?  Thought so.  While by no means a frequent occurrence, sometimes your reservation or passenger name record (PNR) and your electronic ticket can become separated or disassociated as we called this phenomena at my airline.  While airline computer systems have a search function that usually allows the agent to find your disassociated electronic ticket and then reassociate it with your reservation, this search function is not always successful.  Having your ticket number on hand will help make your travel go smoother should you ever run into this scenario.  Not to mention, knowing your ticket number will give you the peace of mind of knowing that your travel agent or the airline did their part of the job and actually processed your ticket.

So there you have it, the two things I never head for the airport without.  Probably sounds like a pain to keep up with all this, but is it?  No!  If you haven’t already, sign up for Tripit.  Tripit is a wonderful service that can help make your travel better.  Simply forward your airline (as well as hotel and rental car) confirmations to plans at tripit dot com once you sign up, and they will be merged into a sensible format and you will have instant access to your confirmation and ticket numbers right on your BlackBerry, iPhone or home computer.