Stupid Tip of the Day: Ensuring the Correct Date When Traveling Internationally

A sale is currently in effect with which you can save at least $1,480.00, as Lufthansa is offering a companion special through which you can book two seats in the business class cabin on select flights from Germany to North America for as low as 2,999 euros when traveling between Friday, March 1, 2019 and Monday, November 11, 2019 — but you must book your tickets by Friday, February 22, 2019; and the departure airport must be located in either Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Bremen, Dusseldorf, Dresden or Hamburg.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Ensuring the Correct Date When Traveling Internationally

The reason why that sale was mentioned is because I used a random example to test that promotion — along with a screen shot to illustrate it…

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: Lufthansa.

…but because dates are formatted numerically in the format of month/day/year in the United States, the departure date — which is outlined in red in the screen shot shown below — initially appears to be October 4, 2019 to an American…

Click on the image for an enlarged view. Source: Lufthansa.

…when the actual date is really April 10, 2019 because dates are formatted numerically in the format of day/month/year in much of the world outside of the United States — and Lufthansa is based in Germany.

Summary

Some Americans have been known to be confused by the numerical formatting of dates in other countries — to the point where they have missed flights or approached places on the wrong days — and I would bet that people from other parts of the world tend to be confused by the format currently used in the United States. Fortunately, that has never happened to me — but I do know of at least one person who missed a flight because of not showing up at the airport at the time of departure; and that can potentially be a costly mistake.

I attempted to find out why the United States is the only country in the world which uses the month/day/year format — whether or not the format is numerical or in the fashion of February 27, 2019 instead of 27 February 2019 — but I could not find a definitive answer. I could only find weak suppositions with little to no factual basis supporting the explanation.

Note that the times used in the aforementioned example are formatted in military or 24-hour time, as is done in much of the rest of the world — whereas many people in the United States use 12-hour time.

Then again, the United States is the same country which basically does not use the metric system; but in some cases, it is forced to convert more to the metric system as companies shrink their packages to avoid raising prices at the grocery store — as well as other reasons.

Why the United States is resistant to conforming with the rest of the world on certain measurements, I will never know — but perhaps that should be considered to avoid confusion in the future?

In the meantime, whether you are an American booking travel at an Internet web site outside of the United States or a person who lives elsewhere in the world booking travel at an Internet web site within the United States, simply take an extra moment to ensure that the information — especially the date — is indeed correct.

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “Stupid Tip of the Day: Ensuring the Correct Date When Traveling Internationally”

  1. Mike D says:

    Another related stupid tip is to be sure that you are clicking on the correct “day” when using a calendar format. Everyone else’s week begins on a Monday (I.e., the leftmost column is Monday, with Sunday on the far right). I have accidentally been off by a day on my reservation when I blindly poked what I thought was the Friday column. Oops

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That is an excellent addition, Mike D.

      Thank you.

  2. FinnSailor says:

    Neighbors once expected overseas guests on July 6 (7/6/xx) but they arrived on June 7!

  3. Blind Squirrel says:

    The reason for the date difference is simple. The English language not only has ample usage of possessives but encourages it. Non-English languages? Not so much. It is also much more common in English to use active voice vs passive. We say Mexico City. However, it’s called el ciudad de Mexico in that country. It’s United States here but Etats Unis in French. Or Estados Unidos in Spanish. So dates follow the much more common, established grammatical format used in non-English languages. El seis de Febrero for example is standard Spanish. One would never say Febrero seis in Spanish.

    Blind Squirrel

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