What’s the cost of a misplaced ‘e’? Not a lot, I’d have thought. If I misspell my name ‘Grey’ and then correct it to ‘Gray’, it takes a split second. So why can it be such a drawn out and costly affair for airline passengers?
Which? member Frederick Hubbard missed an ‘e’ out of his name when he booked a flight on Lastminute.com.
He thought it’d be easy to put right, but when he told Lastminute.com, he was informed he’d have to pay a £45 admin charge plus the full £540 cost of the return ticket to Detroit. He would get the £540 he spent on his original ticket back, but potentially not for four months.
So that’s £45 plus potentially being out of pocket by more than £500 for a third of a year. That’s a lot of money to loan to a travel company for four months, and as Frederick told us: ‘it might be £540 I don’t have’.
‘The whole principle of having to pay a charge as well as buy another ticket and wait that long for a refund, just to make a small spelling change, is lunacy,’ he added.
Shouldn’t it be free to correct a spelling mistake?
Now, I understand that changing airline tickets isn’t always as simple as you might think. And airlines also have to guard against agents bulk-buying tickets, who then sell them on to customers and changing the names as they do so. But surely a tiny change like inserting an ‘e’ should be free? The European Commission thinks it should and is planning to reform the rules governing name changes on airline tickets so that spelling mistakes will have to be corrected free of charge.
I’m all in favour of the change, but I don’t see why airlines and travel agents like Lastminute.com can’t stop charging now.
When we looked at airlines’ T&Cs to see what they could charge, we found many reserved the right to levy between £20 to £50. Monarch reserved the right to charge £120 for a name change made through a call centre, and Ryanair reserved the right to charge £160.
Both said that that size of payment wouldn’t apply to simple spelling errors. Monarch said there could be no charge at the discretion of customer services, and Ryanair said minor errors would be just £10.
Other airlines also told us they wouldn’t charge for spelling mistakes. However, if you want to have the best chance of getting the change for free, call the airline or agent customer services and argue your case. Don’t rely on their website.
Have you had to correct errors after booking an airline ticket? How did you find the airline or travel agent handled it? Did you get charged?
Should spelling mistakes on airline tickets be corrected free of charge?
Yes (87%, 276 Votes)
Maybe - the charge should be reasonable (11%, 35 Votes)
No (2%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 316