Belgian non-profit organisation Test-Aankoop/Achats which promotes consumer protection is taking legal action against ten airlines. Reason? Anyone booking a plane ticket but mistyping their (sur)name in the booking reference must pay up to €160 to correct it.
“Airlines sometimes force passengers to incur very high costs to correct a typo in their (sur)name when booking a flight,” says Simon November of Test-Aankoop/Achats, adding that the practice is illegal: “We have sent a letter of formal notice to ten airlines requesting that this practice be terminated within 15 days, otherwise we will bring the matter before court.”
“Many airlines provide for the possibility to correct typos but passengers have to pay a certain amount. Brussels Airlines (€25 to change up to two characters), Emirates Airline (€30), TAP Air Portugal (€25 to change up to three characters) and Ryanair (€115 online or €160 at the airport).”
Worse, at British Airways you have to pay the fare difference if the price of the ticket has risen in the meantime. The same case at Vueling, which also charges a fixed fee of €50. “And those who do not pay the extra charge will not fly,” Simon November warns.
The Belgian consumer association thinks that this practice is no more than an additional source of income for the airlines and has – in fact – nothing to do with an additional service for the passenger.
At Brussels Airlines they advise every passenger to always check online reservations very carefully. “If you detect your error within 24 hours after the booking, you can adjust it for free,” says spokeswoman Kim Daenen to Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws. “Otherwise, there is indeed an additional charge, for the simple reason that staff is involved to correct such a mistake.”