I’m finally wrapping up my travel plans for my trip to Germany and Singapore. I already booked Singapore Airlines from New York to Frankfurt and from Singapore to Los Angeles (more on that later). I was going to stick with Singapore Airlines for my flight between Germany and Singapore but the cost of a business class seat was ridiculously expensive with both miles and cash. Looking at the choices it was a decision between Finnair, Etihad or Qatar airways.
With Finnair, the flights from Munich to Singapore involved a 26 hour layover in Helsinki with one leg flown in European Business (think economy my the middle seat blocked). The only reasonable choices left seemed to be Etihad or Qatar Airways. The prices for the two flights were comparable and what my decision really came down to was which city I wanted to layover in, Abu Dhabi or Doha. I’ve already been to the UAE (when I flew back from Ghana on Emirates) so I chose Doha and Qatar Airways.
Booking the Flight
I chose to book my flight directly with Qatar Airways. Normally I would have booked using the Chase Travel Portal so I don’t have to deal with Chase’s Fraud alerts. Sometimes the fraud alert system denies the transaction then asks you verify you did the transaction, other times it approves the transaction and emails you afterwards. I really didn’t want to go through this but I had to due to an issue with Chase’s ticketing system concatenating first and middle names on tickets. When I travel domestically, this usually isn’t a problem because airline and TSA employees understand weird things happen with names on tickets. Since my flight would be originating in Germany, I didn’t want to take the chance.
I went through the purchasing process on Qatar Airways site and paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Immediately after the purchase was approved and the ticket was issued, like clockwork, I get a Chase fraud alert. The transaction was approved on Chase’s end I just had to verify I actually made the purchase.
The Fun Part
Everything seemed fine. My flight was booked, my meal was chosen. Then I received an email from Qatar Airways about payment verification with a link to form to send my passport and credit card information. This seemed weird to me so I jumped on FlyerTalk and to see if anyone else have received this type of email. Sure enough, there was a whole thread devoted to this very issue. Reading through the thread, it seems most of the time when payment verification was required when the credit card used to pay for the ticket was not in the name of the passenger traveling.
I decided to call up Qatar’s customer service and they didn’t know why payment verification was required but would note my file to stop me from getting future payment verification emails. I thought everything was fine until I went to login to change my seat when I noticed a notification at the top of page saying that my credit and passport would need to be verified at the airport. Everything seemed normal until I looked at the credit card number and name..THE NAME AND CREDIT CARD INFORMATION WEREN’T MINE.
I immediately tried calling Qatar’s Reservation line but there was a wait. I looked on their website site and noticed their airport office was opened at O’Hare. I decided to take the ‘L’ and go. I get to the airport and I’m told the office doesn’t open until 3:30pm. It was 1pm at the time and I really didn’t want to spend the day at O’Hare so I headed home and contacted Qatar on Twitter. After more than a few messages, I was told to email support directly. They open up a ticket for me and I ended up sending a copy of my passport, a screenshot of the payment clearing on Chase’s website and my original ticket receipt. After a couple of days I received an email from Qatar Airways saying my payment was verified.
The lesson learned from this experience is don’t book Qatar Airways revenue flights directly on their site use an OTA or partner airline just to avoid any kind of payment verification headaches.