Airline’s harsh name change rule stuns flyer: What are the hidden costs?

I made a mistake with my name when I booked flights online and now the airline says I’ll have to cancel my ticket and buy a new one. Surely that’s not correct?

This comes down to the airline and how they want to play ball. I’ve had name corrections with Vietnam Airlines which were easily done free of charge, but I’ve paid a fee for changes to my name on a Jetstar flight.

While some airlines will allow you to make changes within 24 hours of the booking, others will not allow you to make any changes so the passenger has to buy a new ticket at considerable cost (particularly if they’ve only noticed their error at the 11th hour).

Usually, airlines allow a name to be corrected if it’s something like a maiden name to a married name, swapping a first name for a surname or correcting a spelling mistake, says Haydn Long, Flight Centre Travel Group public affairs manager.

“You may need to provide a government-issued photo ID to confirm the correction will not result in a different person travelling, and you may be required to pay fees and any applicable airline and tax differences,” she explains.

Name changes on bookings made via an online travel agency are more complicated and can attract additional fees on top of whatever you’re being charged by the airline.

So, why are you being punished? In some cases, airlines require customers to book new seats in the correct name to “merge” the tickets, Long says.

“If the flight is sold out and there is, therefore, no seat to hold in the correct name, little can be done. This is a genuine possibility right now, given the lack of capacity and high load factors for airlines.”

Keep chatting to the folks at the airline about your situation and remember to turn on the charm offensive – you’re far more likely to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.

This story originally appeared on Escape and is republished here with permission

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