I was contacted by a follower who asked me about airline booking name changes with a question that has featured as a big issue with Ryanair with apparent glitches in their software.

BACKGROUND

“How are you with airline bookings? My wife has just booked 6 airline tickets with (firm) on a BA flight for October with her friends. On the confirmation e-mail she has noticed that one of her friends has the last letter of her surname missing. She is adamant that it was correct when she entered it but it is missing off the booking now.

I called (firm) immediately within 2 minutes of receiving the e-mail but they are making it difficult and saying that she will have to pay for a name change. Her friend may also lose her seat in the party as they will have to drop her off the booking to amend it and this may mean that whilst they are doing it that the seat may not be available when they come to book her back on.

On the booking it states that the booking is non-refundable but I was wondering if there was a legal cooling off period in things like this that would allow us to cancel the booking altogether and rebook? I have tried BA but they cannot help as it was made by a third party”.

COOLING OFF PERIODS

My initial thoughts were that there has to be a cooling off period of at least 14 days in line with the purchase of insurance policies, although according to the Association of British Travel Agents (‘ABTA’) this isn’t the case at all and there is no cooling off period for flight and holiday bookings.

Nevertheless, I am sure that firms such as Jet2 would do it free of charge as their customer service is exemplary speaking from personal experience and has won awards for that. However, this is the exception rather than the norm.

Incidentally, there is also no cooling off period on contracts entered in to in stores such as mobile phone contracts.

OUTCOME

The customer had to pay £30 to enact the amendment and whilst it may be in the terms and conditions, the outcome has left a sour taste in his mouth and he is unlikely to make any future bookings meaning that this firm has lost future commissions and recommendations.

I am more inclined to deal with firms that offer good customer service and have a proven track record in doing so and give cowboys such as Ryanair a wide berth, knowing how cavalier and arrogant they are in dealing with legitimate complaints and issues. It is hardly a shining example of how to encourage customer loyalty.

There is lesson for firms there in managing customer complaints and that is to offer a degree of leniency and goodwill, knowing that bad experiences travel much faster than good experiences and it’s more difficult to obtain new customers than it is to retain existing customers. It costs nothing to amend a booking and this is just a con designed as a side-line to extract money from unwitting customers.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you had a similar experience with airline booking name changes? If so, what was the outcome?

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