22 Oct, 2020
JERUSALEM WEATHER

A woman named Isis has had her flights cancelled by three different online agencies, and she now suspects discrimination, reported several British media outlets Saturday. The woman, whose legal name is Rani Isis Lake but who has always gone by Isis, was named after the Egyptian goddess.

Lake, 29, had no trouble booking a ticket from London, England to Toronto, Canada for December 18, 2016 to begin a year volunteering abroad. The problems began when she decided she wanted to spend Christmas in Vancouver and tried booking a domestic flight online.

She first tried to book with Expedia, an online travel company, but was stymied once she entered her name. According to the UK Daily Mail, she was told there were “technical problems with taking bookings.” Her calls to customer service were not returned.

Lake then tried Lastminute.com and successfully completed the transaction, paying £190 ($283), but half an hour later got an email reading, “As you requested your flight has been cancelled.”

“I called and said I hadn’t cancelled it, but they said ‘sorry, it has gone now’ and they gave me a refund,” she told media outlets.

Next, she booked with CheapOair, but again received an email, this time the next day, saying the flight had been cancelled at her request. When she called to complain, she was told the airline was no longer accepting bookings from CheapOair, despite the fact that their flights were still being advertised on the site.

Lake suspects her name – or more accurately, its association with the Islamic State terror group by the same acronym – is the reason behind the repeated cancellations. “’I’m a bit incensed. It’s completely ridiculous and completely unfair,” she said. “I don’t want to change my name and I shouldn’t have to. They can’t do that. It is sort of discriminatory.”

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Ultimately, Lake’s mother booked her flight for her, using her legal first name of Rani. “I’m just lucky I have a different name to use,” she expressed. “I hope it’s not discrimination, but I can’t see how it can’t be – it’s too suspicious.”

All three agencies deny that Lake’s ticket was cancelled because of her name. Both Lastminute and CheapOair blamed the discount airline Sunwing for the cancellation.

A spokesperson for Lastminute.com said, “The reason for the cancellation is that the airline itself has simply cancelled the booking for that flight.

“We as an agent are subject to airlines’ cancellation policies and pass these onto customers as relevant, as in this instance. We can also confirm that at Lastminute.com we do not cancel bookings due to that particular first name.”

At CheapOair, the spokesperson apologized for the frustration, adding, “CheapOair understands that the cancellation was as a result of Sunwing Airlines not accepting a booking made by an international agent.”

Sunwing, however, denies that it is behind any cancellations. According to Janine Chapman, vice president of marketing, Sunwing Travel Group, “We can confirm that we have never cancelled a flight for this customer.”

Expedia representatives also apologized on behalf of the company’s customer service department for not getting back to Lake as promised. “We are happy to speak to her and see if we can provide any assistance for her upcoming trip to Canada.”

Lake, a chef from Kent, worries buying the tickets is only the first hurdle she will have to face. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen when I go through the airport – I am worried – but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”