no knitting or crafting of any kind lies ahead
Remember how much trouble Stephanie Pearl-McPhee encountered at the airport because her airline screwed up her hyphenated name?
I don't know how many other people were incensed by this, but I certainly was. As a fellow hyphenated-namer, I have terrible troubles entering my legal name on travel websites (among others). With the new TSA requirements, your travel documents are supposed to match your government IDs exactly.
When I booked a recent flight on Southwest, I encountered problem after problem entering my information into their forms: "special characters" and "unacceptable" information were cited as reasons. Yes, entering my legal name, as recognized by the U.S. government, as well as the states of Minnesota and Illinois, is impossible in their system.
This is their response to my complaint:
Jerks! Why don't they fix their system? Shouldn't the airlines have competent computer programmers? Is this a ploy to have a significant portion of their customers not earn their Rapid Rewards points?
Thank you for your e-mail. Unfortunately, there are various programming issues in our reservations system that prevent us from allowing special characters (such as hyphens). Accordingly, we cannot accept hyphens or other special characters as part of the name on a Rapid Rewards account or when a Customer books a reservation. Please know that our Technology Department is aware of this limitation.
As part of the new Transportation Security Administration's data requirements with Secure Flight, Customers' names must match their government-issued ID. Please know that Customers who have a hyphenated name may enter a space rather than a hyphen. It is also important to note that the name on your ticket must exactly match the name on your Rapid Rewards account in order to receive credit for your travel. If you need assistance obtaining past flight credits because the name you used in your reservation does not exactly match the way your name is listed in your Rapid Rewards account, please feel free to contact us at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).
[XXX], Southwest Airlines
Or, more likely, is this a form of discrimination against women, especially professional and academic women?
I've even received an impromptu lecture from an employee at the Illinois DMV on my name, as she argued that my hyphenated name showed that I wasn't fully committed to my marriage. She then proceeded to misspell my name on my driver's license, to boot.
I fully recognize that it was my choice to hyphenate my name and that it's a bit long and unwieldy. That said, it's my legal name, and hyphens aren't some sort of crazy, newfangled punctuation, and hyphenated names are nothing new -- the Brits have been using them for centuries, albeit not necessarily for the same reasons.