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Plane ticket mix-up leaves vacationer stranded at home as friends depart on dream cruise

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) — What’s in a name? A lot when it comes to your passport – and such a mix-up of names cost a widow her dream trip.

The Walnut Creek woman arrived at the airport nearly four hours before her scheduled departure – but that wasn’t enough time to deal with an unexpected problem.

Araceli Santos soaked up the sun at the Rossmoor retirement community in Walnut Creek.

She recently moved to the Bay Area to be closer to her family after her husband passed away in her former Southern California hometown.

Last July, she arrived at the airport excited about her cruise from Norway to the Arctic Circle and the British Isles. It was a kind of reunion with his best friends from Los Angeles.

“They’re all very close to me. We travel a lot. We all travel,” Santos said.

The four have traveled all over the world, visiting many continents.

Her friends were all flying out of Los Angeles and going to meet her on the cruise ship in Norway, but this trip was not supposed to happen.

The trouble started when Santos checked into the United terminal and greeted a ticket agent.

“Then he printed my ticket, then he said your ticket didn’t match your passport. So I said, how can it be?” said Santos.

His passport correctly listed his name as “Aracelli Santos”…

But his ticket listed his name as “Santos Santos”.

The ticket agent told her she should call Expedia, the booking company Santos uses, to take care of it.

The call turned out to be frustrating.

“Four times I left a message. I received no response or email,” Santos said.

United offered to rebook her flight, but she would have to buy a new ticket for $1,800.

She refused.

It became apparent that she would miss both her flight and her cruise.

“I was so frustrated. I even feel like crying right now. Just, you know, what happened to me,” Santos said.

She would see her friends’ photos of the trip they had planned together. All her friends are smiling, but without her.

Not only was Santos unable to go on the trip, but she lost all the money she had paid up front – nearly $5,000.

She decided to contact 7 On Your Side. We contacted Expedia.

The company told us, “The name on the ticket reflected the name that was entered during the booking process. We know how disappointed Mrs. Santos was to miss her cruise, so we are happy to help her book again.”

Expedia offers her a free cruise for two from anywhere in the world.

“I would like to thank everyone at Channel 7. Everyone,” Santos said.

Check out more stories and videos from Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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