In the world of travel, we’ve all witnessed our fair share of unique requests and peculiar passenger stories. From passengers trying to bring emotional support peacocks on board to the endless battle over reclining seats, the airline industry is a treasure trove of oddities. But here’s a tale that takes the cake – a traveler’s decision to flaunt his recently acquired title of “Lord” led to some unintended consequences with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
You see, thanks to the magic of the internet, you can now purchase a minuscule plot of land in Scotland or Ireland, measuring just one square foot, and be dubbed a “Lord” or “Lady” for the princely sum of approximately $35-50. The idea might sound like harmless fun, but when you decide to incorporate that honorary title into your frequent flyer account, you’re playing with fire.
One adventurous American gentleman, whom we’ll call John Doe for the sake of anonymity, thought it would be a splendid idea to adopt the title of “Lord” on his British Airways Executive Club profile. BA, being the good sport it is, accepted this grandiose moniker as the man’s title/salutation without a fuss. However, when Mr. Doe encountered the TSA, they weren’t quite so accommodating.
The TSA, renowned for its ironclad adherence to security
theater procedures, wasn’t quite amused by the passenger’s newfound nobility. This seemingly frivolous title had created a mismatch with his Known Traveler Number (KTN) for TSA PreCheck. On his boarding pass, he appeared as “John Lord Doe,” and the TSA, well, they don’t appreciate any deviation from the script. Your name on the ticket must be an exact match with what you submitted when applying for trusted traveler programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, as well as a match to government-issued ID. Even if you don’t use these programs, the new credential authentication (CAT) machines at the airport likely won’t be able to locate your reservation when your ID is inserted.
What followed were hours of phone calls and negotiations with British Airways to rectify the situation. All for a fanciful title that probably had the opposite end result of what he intended.
But here’s the kicker – these purchased titles of “Lord” or “Lady” may not hold much, if any, legal weight at all. The scheme has drawn the scrutiny of members of the Scottish Parliament who are quick to point out the sheer absurdity of it. As former Green Party Member of the Scottish Parliament, Andy Wightman, eloquently put it, “First and foremost, you are not the owner of any land in Scotland despite what this company might have led you to believe. You have also not been given any right to style yourself Lord or Lady of Glencoe. Highland Titles has no authority or power to bestow such a title on you.”
Highland Titles, one of the companies behind this entertaining charade, insists that purchasing a plot of land grants you a “personal right” to that land, claiming it’s a “settled legal position.” However, with the backlash and the fine print now being amended on their website, they describe the whole affair as “harmless fun.” Over 300,000 “Lords and Ladies of Glencoe” exist, each having paid at least £30 (a little over $36 USD at time of writing) for their square foot of land in Scotland.
So, while you’re welcome to play the lordly game and acquire your own square foot of Scottish soil, it’s probably best to leave your noble title off anything official enough (like an airline reservation) that might cause you unnecessary headaches with security or immigration.
In the world of travel, the creative things people will try know no bounds, and this title fiasco serves as a humorous reminder that when it comes to air travel, simplicity (and humility) are often the best policy.