I’m often put in charge of booking flights for holidays abroad and I tend to be quite good at confirming everything is correct before hitting the pay button. The odd time I’ve made a spelling mistake with a name I had booked directly with the airline and they changed it free of charge.
I recently booked flights with Virgin through BudgetAir.co.uk (which is the UK version of Vayama.ie). I chose the UK site as it was pricing out €10 cheaper per person compared to Vayama.ie. The flights were a combination of Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic which meant I couldn’t book it directly with Virgin. I selected the flights, entered in passenger details, double checked everything and hit pay. As soon as the eticket arrived I realised my mistake – I had entered in Geoff instead of Geoffrey. I tweeted Virgin and they confirmed the name had to match exactly with the passport and they couldn’t change the name as the ticket was owned by BudgetAir. As soon as BudgetAir’s customer service opened I rang and it was a bit of an experience getting it sorted.
The first agent said that no name changes at all were possible but they could cancel the ticket and then rebook it with the correct name. I would receive a full refund minus a £55 service charge. The option to cancel was only because the ticket had been issued within 24 hours. After being put on hold for fifteen minutes I was then advised that the ticket could not be cancelled and there was nothing they could do.
I did what I normally do in these situations and HUCA (hang up call again). The next agent told me I should ring Virgin, get them to add a note to my reservation stating they were happy Geoff and Geoffrey are the same name and then BudgetAir could change the name for a fee of £55.
I rang Virgin who said they could not do this and the request had to originate from BudgetAir. The lady on the phone from Virgin was one of the worst customer ‘care’ agents I’ve ever spoken to and wouldn’t let me finish a sentence. I was left with a very bad experience with Virgin.
I went back and rang BudgetAir. This agent told me to email in a copy of Geoff’s passport which I did. While still on the phone he verified they received the passport and said he was send it on to the Name Correction Department who will get back to me within a week. I would be charged £55 to correct the name. He was brilliant – friendly and very efficient.
This all happened on a Saturday. Sure enough, on the following Tuesday I received an invoice from BudgetAir for £55. I paid the fee and then checked the booking on Virgin and Aer Lingus’s websites – the name was now showing correctly as Geoffrey. Overall the experience was a bit of a mess, if I had spoken to the last agent the first time I rang BudgetAir I would have had a much more positive experience.
I know if I had booked directly with Virgin they would have corrected the name free of charge but I didn’t even try to negotiate the fee with BudgetAir. They make it very clear during the booking process that names must match the passport exactly. They also offer a ticket service for £10 per booking which would mean changes like this would be completed free of charge. This was fully my fault so I’m willing to stump up the ‘stupid tax’.
This ticket was for a friend – if it had been my name that was shortened I don’t think I would have bothered changing it, instead just turn up to the airport and see what happens. I’d be pretty confident it would be changed on the day free of charge. I’d be willing to take the risk but wouldn’t be willing to potential ruin a friends trip!
I’ve been left with a positive experience with BudgetAir and would use them again. However, the one agent with Virgin really put me off using Virgin again – I was booking another 3 passengers for slightly different dates, while the Virgin and Aer Lingus combo priced out at €25 per person cheaper we still elected to go with another airline.