A salutary tale for the unwary traveller. A film crew recently tried to check in at an airline desk only to find that the airline had voided several of their tickets because one of the passengers’ surnames was misspelt. By one letter! Despite their protestations, the crew had to buy new tickets at the desk before they were allowed to board.
Of course, the airline was only ‘following the rules’ which stipulate that the name on the ticket must match that on the passport. If it doesn’t’ then they are entitled to cancel the ticket. In these circumstances, the only way you’ll be allowed onto the aircraft, as in this case, is to buy another ticket, but making sure all the passengers’ names are spelt correctly!
It could have been just as costly for the film crew had they alerted the airline before they arrived at the airport. Even changing just one letter on the ticket represents a ‘name change’, which most airlines will charge you for. In Ryanair’s case, it will cost you, according to their website, £110. A quick scan of some online forums on this topic revealed some even bigger horror stories, including Emirates, which wanted to charge a passenger £500 for changing her name from ‘Magaret’ back to the correct ‘Margaret’.
So it seems there is no standard charge here and airlines are entitled to charge varying amounts. To be fair, some will waive the fee as a gesture of goodwill, but we suspect not before the passenger has raised merry hell with the airline first.
We can only see this problem getting worse, as travellers increasingly use their smart phones and tablets to book their tickets, instead of their laptops or PCs. The QWERTY keyboard may be old fashioned, but it does help ensure accurate spelling, whereas touch screens don’t.
And at the risk of appearing ageist, we at Explorer Travel Insurance do note that those clients requesting backpacker insurance tend to have more spelling mistakes on their forms than those submitted to us from clients buying Cruise travel insurance. Enough said.
Here’s six tips to help prevent this sort of thing happening to you.
- Don’t book the tickets online if you’re overly tired, jet-lagged or intoxicated. All of those conditions will affect your ‘finger control’
- Get someone else to check over the form before you submit it.
- If the system allows you to, save the data, then check it over again before submitting it.
- Make sure you read the email sent by the airline confirming your ticket as soon as you receive it and, if you spot an error, notify them immediately.
- Don’t try and bluff your way out of the situation or claim ignorance. Being turned away at the airport won’t add to your holiday experience.
- Make sure you know how to spell your partner’s name. And don’t be afraid to ask them if you don’t know or have forgotten! Its better to have a minor argument at home than a major one at the airport!