/ Travel & Leisure

Why are ‘name change fees’ on airline tickets sky high?

Ticketing sign in airport

If you make a mistake typing your name when booking a flight online it could cost as much as £100 to fix it. So, if you leave the auto-fill function on, or accidentally use your nickname, it could prove very costly…

If you’re anything like me, booking an online flight can make you feel as though you suffer from an obsessive compulsive disorder.

Before I click that all-important confirmation button, I tend to read, re-read and then read again all my details to make sure they’re correct. This might seem a little over the top but I don’t want to risk being charged a huge fee to amend my name or to correct a simple mistake.

And with good reason – my partner and I have been stung by these name-change charges in the past, when he booked a flight for me from Glasgow Prestwick to London with Ryanair.

While he was making the booking, he had the ‘auto-fill’ function enabled on his computer which meant the flight was booked in his name instead of mine. He noticed this after receiving the e-ticket and contacted the airline immediately to amend the booking. But, he was told he had to pay a name-change fee. In the end it worked out cheaper to buy a new ticket instead of changing the name.

Charges vary between airlines

If you mistakenly book your flight in your married name instead of your maiden name or in the name of Kate when your full name is Kathleen, for instance, then you’re likely incur a fee. And name change charges can vary significantly between airlines.

Monarch and Ryanair charge a flat fee per booking of £100. Bmibaby, Easyjet, Flybe and Jet2 charge a flat fee per single flight plus any difference in price between the day you booked and the day you make your amendment.

This difference could end up being quite a pricey charge, especially if you bought a really cheap ticket to begin with.

Errors shouldn’t be penalised

Airlines say they charge a name-change fee to prevent anyone from buying up large numbers of the cheapest tickets, changing the names and then selling them on for profit – which makes sense.

But, there is a difference between an overall name change and a simple error or amendment. Bmibaby, Flybe and Thomson do allow a 24-hour grace period for genuine spelling errors. But if you don’t notice your spelling mistake until you print out your e-ticket, this grace period will probably have elapsed.

Easyjet and Jet2 told us they would correct spelling errors at no extra cost while Monarch and Ryanair said they would do so on a case-by-case basis.

Unfortunately, the only way to guarantee dodging a hefty charge is to double check that all your details are entered correctly. So I’ll just have to put up with being a little obsessive when booking flights in future…

Antrich says:
17 May 2011

The fees are high, however, bear in mind that Airlines have to submit a Passenger Manifest before departure on International Flights outside the EU; and that has to be accurate. Those Manifests within the EU also have to agree with the Passport Details on those travelling on that mode of transport – those errors do cost money to correct, but NOT the sums that the Airlines claim!

Woolly Liberal says:
18 May 2011

..before departure. That does not excuse the charges made well in advance of departure. They cost nothing, and there should be no charge.

Becky says:
21 May 2011

I booked a holiday with jet 2 last month, I was unable to complete the booking online so I booked over the phone. The lady took our details and completed the booking. when I recieved confirmation I notice that she had put two l’s in a first name in which their should be one. I called up and they said fine, and amended the name. I then checked the amended confirmation and noticed that she had put my son as a miss! again I called and they said fine. It was only today I went on jet2.com to book in online and it states that there is 2 amendment fees of £65 each. Am I right in thinking this is their mistake not mine. Thinking about it now she never actually double checked spellings of the names with me and I dont recall if she asked the *** of the children, although I would imagine the name jordan lewis would give away his gender? I am going to ring them tomorrow but any advice would be great. I also realised that she never asked for middle names but now dont dare ring to add them incase I get further charges!!

John says:
23 May 2011

I was charged £30 by British Airways for changing Mr. to Mrs. where the “s” had been omitted and adding the first name initial to a ticket. It took the clerk about 90 seconds to do this.
Being a frequent flier with BA, to say that I was disappointed by the airlines attitude is a gross understatement.

I flew BA last year and the holiday company put me down as a “Mrs” rather than a Mr.
They checked with BA who said this wouldnt cause any problems and didnt need changing.
No problems on any of the 4 flights.

I seem to remember that airline sites just say “ticket name must match passport name” and there is no title ( Mr, Mrs, Dr..) on my UK passport so Mr/Mrs/Miss should make no difference.

Karen Orwell says:
26 May 2011

Hayes and Jarvis wished to charge me £490 to amend three alphabetical mistakes! These were largely errors by our travel agent. E.G. Ann put down as Anne etc. H and J said it was a charge being made by Virgin Atlantic and they stated that they made no charges. Travel Agent delayed in making change and held us to ransom and would not release tickets until we paid up. This was for a party of 52 people who had booked and paid almost a year in advance! Eventually they reduced the fee to £190 and this had to be paid before I got the tickets.

Advised by ABTA to fight the charge when we returned and have been doing this ever since – this was not our fault and we have stated we are prepared to pay a small admin fee – not £190. The saga goes on. I would add that another of the group noted a small error as she checked in and this was done at Virgin desk free of charge!! So just who pocketed the £190!!

Robin Bacon says:
30 May 2011

BMI baby charged me £165 to change a mistake of Mr Robin B to Mr Robin Bacon – this is on an UK flight and the process took 5 minutes! I was particularly annoyed as the they accept that it is a genuine mistake by taking in to account that you are the payee of the original fare. It may well be legal but it is not fair, just or proportionate to the error.

Mike says:
31 May 2011

Clearly the travel Industry is keen to replace estate agents and banks at the top of the “least popular ” tree.

a relieved Kate says:
3 July 2011

I panicked this morning when entering my API for Monarch and realised I had put Kate (instead of Katherine) when booking last October. The fee with Monarch is £100 but I called them and explained and a very kind lady changed it right away for me – no trouble. Has restored my faith in airline customer service and have learnt my lesson.

Annie says:
11 March 2014

My 20 yr old daughter made exactly the same mistake booking through Netflights which is part of Thomas Cook, Katie should have been Katherine, they refused to change it, then put Catherine with a C! To cut a long story short, whereby she has been passed from piller to post the flight that originally cost £350 has now cost her £830! An absolutely outrageous amount and I think they have preyed on the vulnerability of a young person! No kind lady here!

I am so angry that she has been taken advantage of for a silly mistake! Yes, fair enough she should pay a reasonable admin fee but this is appalling!

Christine Pearson says:
13 July 2011

My friend has booked us and three others on a trip to Prague in late November this year. When she booked it she gave my middle name as that’s what I’m known as and never use my first name, even my parents never used it (silly sods why call me that then?). Jet2 now say they want £70 to change it, I have said to the agent it is not a change merely an addition and it was a genuine mistake but they won’t budge. Feel like telling them to stick it.

Eileen says:
11 August 2011

Booked flights on 11th August 2011 for holiday in July 2012. Within seconds clocked I had one of the first names wrong. Contacted Jet2 immediately who want £82 to change the name or £40 to cancel the booking – I know which I will be going for! They will have done nothing with the booking as it is nearly a full year away so it seems outrageous that they get away with this – so much for good customers service!!

BarodaVisitor says:
31 August 2011

Just been charged £50 by Thomson Fly /TUI to change my wife’s name which had a straightforward typo. Over a month to go to we fly.
Very annoyed having spent >£5k with TUI this year so far. Guess who won’t be spending with them next year! So much for customer service. Their loss.

Ameer says:
14 October 2011

The world’s so called best airline Emirates with rubbish customer service boxed me into paying them £100 because I had used middle name for surname. I realised the mistake within an half an hour. I was asked to cancel the ticket and then get it reissued. Spoke to everyone including supervisors , managers, customer service. I will try my luck in court as I feel it was totally unfair and the cancellation fee was not mentioned in the terms and conditions . Worse thing is that they need 4 weeks to refund my money after deduction of 100 pounds. I will ask them to pay interest on my money in their possession for four weeks. Apparently they make millions with cancellations and changes.

paul woodcock says:
9 December 2014

wow found your comment on google .
Ive the same problem ! how on earth did we both use our middle name as surname ???
I don’t think i did ! but they are trying to charge me now .

It asked me to enter ” name appears on passport ” So i did this is something to do with it i’m sure. yet there is only 2 boxes , for in effect 3 names paul william woodcock fb me ,
I even entered my skywards number that is individual to me so they can see it was an accident!
I’m even tempted do do the box of chocolates to the check in staff at the airport to try and aviod this charge ( chocolates go a long way id found with checkin staff )
I’m sure this is all a website glitch !!
And to top it off if i’d have not rung them to find out why i had not got a confirmation email for this flight i would have never known.

Tracey says:
7 February 2012

booked a holiday online for the algarve in may for me my husband and two grandchildren one and four years old, the four year old changed her mind so we opted to take the other grandchild who is three. The name change will cost £140. Phoned monarch airlines so they could try and justify the amount , you guessed no comment, i thought we were flying economy not first class.

Mrs crosss says:
20 April 2012

I made mistake by forgetting putting my surname for my daughter when I booking and normally we only use my husband surname in daily life so forget there is my surname on passport. I think you will be lucky if the airline allowed you to change the name. I had a bad experience yesterday and I booked ticket through the travel agent leaving London to Beijing and there is two flight involved, Lufthansa and
British Midland: Lufthansa is ok with name changing but British Midland has the policy which does not allow name change. I would like to pay the fee to change the name and does not matter how much charge but there is no possible. At end Lufthansa is unwilling to change the name as another airline cannot do it so I have to cancel all ticket and rebook again and it cost me so much and I do not understand why British Midland does not allowed to change name as another airlines and they just simple told me that cancel it and rebook again and for the refund the money, the problems is after 24 hours and you can only get the small amount back- and I hope British Midland one day can change the policy and I feel I was punished by my small error by the most unhelpful and stupid policy. I hope one day British Midland can change the policy and allow people make mistake and not heavy punish them.

Mrs A Joy says:
20 April 2012

Hello, I booked two flights to St Lucia a couple of months ago and put in my husbands christian name instead of Nicholas my son’s name( we always travel as a family and so used to putting us first I didn’t think). Ive just gone on the site to add the passport info etc to see the mistake I made, so I haven’t added anything yet. I called BA and they said that I have to cancel that flight and buy another one..loosing the majority of the money..So unfair. I have travelled so many years with them and of course have managed not to make a mistake until now. I thought at worse it would be a fee of some sort to adjust the name..but now stung for almost the entire ticket. Does anyone have any suggestions ? or have I just got to loose 100’s of pounds ? Thank you arlette

yvonne says:
9 May 2012

i booked my holiday with Thompsons a few months back on the web, when i finally managed to get onto the manage my booking i noticed i had missed the s off the mrs. rang Thompsons 3 weeks ago and explained i had overlooked it. i was told it was ok and it had now been updated and would,nt have to pay a fee. just got my e ticket and it still had a s missing off the mrs. I made 3 phone calls to Thompsons and was told i had to pay £25 to put it right which was put right in seconds and another email was sent out to me. .i was spoken down to and all she kept saying is you should of checked it and you signed the terms and conditions . i am so annoyed with Thompsons and myself but also shocked that their can do this.. their are as bad as the greedy bankers and must be making a killing on peoples silly mistakes..

Chris says:
5 June 2012

I’ve just noticed that my name is not the same as my passport! i’ve used the short version of my full name Chris instead of Christopher i fly out in 4 days time and I’ve been told that i might be charged £1000 the price of the ticket again 🙁 my spending money ! I’ve noticed many airliners and travel agents would only charge a £25 fee at any stage including 3 hours before departure! I will definitely not be using Thompson again if this is the case i find out tomorrow what the damage is, like you said their very rude and unhelpful ! i know its my error but £1000 why do they need to cancel my ticket and re sale me another one.

Thomas Crook says:
22 May 2012

Thomas Crook are attempting to charge me £300 to change two letters (wrong way round)
We noticed this spelling mistake 9 months ago and asked them to correct it, we were told that there may be a small fee and if so they would send out an invoice which we have never received.
Went to collect the tickets today and when we enquired about the name change we were told they knew nothing about it and we would have to pay the fee, we have also been told that if we do not pay it today it goes up by 75% tomorrow.
Funny thing is they were adamant that they keep a record of all calls until we managed to prove that we called them on that date 9 months previous (phone bill)
We’ve pretty much been told by the miserable faced store manager that if we don’t pay it we’re not going on holiday.

Chris says:
5 June 2012

I’m due to fly out to Thailand on the 9th of June 2012, I’ve just noticed today 5/6/12 that i have used my abbreviated version of my full name i.e My full name on my passport is Christopher instead I’ve got Chris on my e-ticket as I’m so use to using the shorter version to my full name, an error on my part and would quiet happily pay and admin fee however that might not be the case with Thai airways/Thompson worldwide.
Spoke to Thompson today it appears i may not be able to change my name and that i would have to purchase a whole new flight ticket possibly a £1000 🙁 just because i’ve used the short version of my name! i will be stunned if that’s my only option as there’s no real justification for purchasing another ticket just for my name! i will find out tomorrow as its bank holiday today they were unable to contact their representatives at Heathrow airport !!!!!

Chris says:
5 June 2012

I’m due to fly out to Thailand on the 9th of June 2012, I’ve just noticed today 5/6/12 that i have used my abbreviated version of my full name i.e My full name on my passport is Christopher instead I’ve got Chris on my e-ticket as I’m so use to using the shorter version to my full name, an error on my part and would quiet happily pay and admin fee however that might not be the case with Thai airways/Thompson worldwide. Spoke to Thompson today it appears i may not be able to change my name and that i would have to purchase a whole new flight ticket possibly a £1000 🙁 just because i’ve used the short version of my name! i will be stunned if that’s my only option as there’s no real justification for purchasing another ticket just for my name! i will find out tomorrow as its bank holiday today they were unable to contact their representatives at Heathrow airport !!!!!

Sally says:
10 June 2012

I have just changed a spelling typo with Jet2 (one letter was written incorrectly). I contacted Jet2 within 17 hours of booking and the change was free of charge. I was told that it was free of charge as it was just a spelling error, although perhaps after more time they would have been less happy to do so. I have to say that I am very relieved, and see this as a positive and sensible move – I would not have been happy to get charged to change a “B” to an “N”!

Chris says:
26 July 2012

Unfortunately, when booking online with Virgin Atlantic I did not input my full first name but an abbreviated, more common version. As this was not the same as that in my passport I fell foul of the £30 charge. Virgin refused to waive the fee or credit it towards a future booking, insisting that they would stand by any mistake they made and I needed to do the same. Here’s the irony…that same night we attempted to do our online check-in with Virgin but the system failed. Despite several calls it was the same in the morning, forcing us to check-in at the airport with two unhappy young children. A couple of emails later and Virgin make a cursory apology for the online check-in failure but that’s the extent of it. Why couldn’t I have just “apologized”, saving my £30?! Double standards are alive and well with Virgin Atlantic.