Online Booking Leaves Fliers In Wrong Lafayette Associated Press March 1, 2003 LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Booking flights online has led some travelers bound for Louisiana far afield of their intended destination -- about 761 miles astray. About once a month, a passenger who had expected to step off the plane in Lafayette, La., shows up at Purdue University Airport in west-central Indiana. "Most of the people speak very little or no English," said Chuck Burns, general manager of AmericanConnection, the commercial carrier at the Purdue airport. "We try to accommodate them the best we can and get them down there. A lot of the people are pretty distraught." The problem apparently lies with travelers who use the Internet to book flights and choose the wrong three-letter airport code, confusing West Lafayette's LAF code for Lafayette, La., which has LFT as its code. "You get on Travelocity or one of those sites, the first Lafayette code it gives you is LAF," said Jason Devillier, deputy administrator of the Lafayette Regional Airport in Louisiana. Some people overlook the distinction. The problem with misdirected fliers was more frequent when Northwest Airlink had operations at the Purdue airport, because the airline served both Lafayettes until it pulled out of Purdue in December. Northwest even offered misdirected fliers a special fare to the other Lafayette, Purdue airport Director Betty Stansbury told the Lafayette Journal and Courier. Laura Lowry, a travel agent with Travel Pointe in West Lafayette, said most passengers who book flights know how to avoid the problem. "Since we're here, we're familiar with the Lafayette codes, but a lot of people may not understand," Lowry said. "We've had people who have been on the Internet and not realized the code didn't come up right. They call and say, 'What can I do?' " Similar problems have occurred at airports in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Grand Rapids, Minn., as well as in Rochester, Minn., and Rochester, N.Y., and a host of other U.S. cities. "You feel bad for the people," Burns said. "It's not their fault."

source: Associated Press, 3/1/2003 tags: Mistake, Travel