the simple flight booking error that cost a BA customer more than £730

<span>The incorrect name entered on the BA booking may have been blamed on computer auto-fill.</span>Photo: True Images/Alamy</span>“src =”–/yxbwaWq9aglnagXHBMRLCJT3PTK2MDtoptu3ng–/https Commission/en/ACA48F66C40412C 17eddee143e8f3 “data-SRC = “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/″/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Autofill on computer may have been to blame for entering the wrong name on the BA booking.Photo: Trueimages/Alamy

A week before a family holiday in Lanzarote, Raluca Hamilton realized that there was an error on her two-year-old son’s flight ticket: instead of his first name, her own name had been entered.

But what she thought was a simple mistake cost her more than £730 to fix, leaving her feeling like a “cash cow” for British Airways.

She believes the mistake occurred when the autofill feature on her laptop filled in her name instead of her son’s. When she contacted the airline to try to rectify it, she found that the only way to remedy the situation was to get the tickets back, and then buy them again, but higher price.

Hamilton, who lives in London, later discovered that the same problem had occurred with another flight booking, this time for a trip to Crete, and again she had to get a refund and rebook. again.

The minor changes to the two flights added £731 to her bill for the two days of the holiday. She criticized the airline for its inflexibility in charging her for what she says was a small mistake.

“I have been flying for many years – alone, with my husband, with my children and as part of wider groups. It has never happened to get a wrong name on a booking,” she says.

“Despite being a loyal BA customer for years, that is clearly not enough, and hundreds of extra pounds have been charged to BA’s coffers in the name of a policy that is, at best, vague and, at worst, a cash cow. for the benefit of BA.”

Last November, Hamilton booked flights for herself, her husband, mother and two young children for a holiday in Lanzarote at the end of March. When she went to choose her seats a week before departure, she discovered that her son’s ticket was for “Mstr Raluca Hamilton” instead of “Mstr Adrian Hamilton”.

‘If it was my son Max or Rex this update could be done for free. Because he’s Adrian, he couldn’t’

Raluca Hamilton

The airline told her that she could not change the first name, but that she could get a refund on the ticket and then buy the seat again at that day’s price. “During that call to customer services, I effectively gave them back a ticket for £463.87 and they sold it back to me for £969.07 – plus £19 for a seat,” she says.

After the call, she discovered that the same problem had occurred on the second booking: a holiday in Crete at the end of last month. To correct this ticket, she was refunded £790.08 and then charged £996.99 for the new one.

Hamilton asked customer services if the only solution was that she had to buy the ticket again, as she was changing her first name. She says she was told the airline could change three letters, but not six.

“My understanding was that if my son was called Max or Rex or Kay, this update could be done for free but, since he’s called Adrian, they couldn’t go ahead.”

The only explanation for the problem she can think of is that the computer’s autofill function entered the wrong name.

She says: “Why don’t BA have any built in checks to raise red flags and prevent customers from completing their booking when the same name is listed twice, which is obvious is it human error?”

British Airways says the airline has a “24-hour cooling off period” after the flight is booked during which passengers can make changes or correct mistakes, such as the wrong route or wrong name. After that, “minor changes” are allowed, such as changing a name from Sean to Shaun or from Lindsay to Lynsey.

“It is the customer’s responsibility to ensure they book a ticket in the correct name,” he says. He did not respond to suggestions of inequity, or whether there are any internal checks to highlight such problems.

Hamilton’s mistake is a cautionary tale for travelers to check their details after booking. Other airlines have similar policies, and some are more lenient.

EasyJet has a similar 24-hour cooling-off period during which passengers can make changes at no charge. After that, they have to pay £55 to change one name (£60 if done through customer services) for each flight, plus the difference in fare, like BA. Spelling mistakes can be corrected, he says, and he uses discretion about how many characters can be changed.

Ryanair charges £115 for name changes online up to one day before departure, and £160 if done through a customer service agent up to two hours before flight. Up to three characters per name can be changed for free once.

Virgin Atlantic says passengers who make a mistake like Hamilton’s can change their name for free with no time limit.

“We accept name amendments for obvious errors, such as spelling mistakes or customers accidentally booking under their married/married name which is not on their passport. This would be free,” he says.

Coby Benson, a solicitor at law firm Bott and Co, says the problem of accidentally putting down a wrong name is frustrating and happens often.

“We understand BA’s position – if passengers could easily change names, companies could book flights at the cheapest prices with a proprietary name like ‘John Doe’ and then sell those flights to someone else on for profit,” he says.

“It’s a cautionary tale to check and check both before completing the booking, and then right after.”

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