A passenger ended up with a costly lesson when booking with Air New Zealand. Picture: Simon Casson
A passenger ended up with a costly lesson when booking with Air New Zealand. Picture: Simon Casson

The typo that cost a flyer $1000

A PASSENGER who made a booking for a colleague through Air New Zealand's website is warning of the danger of getting the name wrong on reservations.

The man, a seasoned flyer who has done a lot of his own travel arrangements, said he was asked to make a booking for a colleague for a trip to New York.

It was a booking in premium economy at a time when Air New Zealand had a sale fare of

$NZ4877 ($A4460) on offer. However, the colleague soon informed him the name on the passport was Michael and not Mike as it had been booked under.

When the man contacted Air New Zealand he was told the name couldn't be changed because the Los Angeles-New York leg was on United Airlines. This was despite the airlines having a deep commercial agreement and both being members of Star Alliance.

"I was informed even if I have made a typo spelling Micheal instead of Michael, it would not be able to be changed," said the man, who did not want to be identified.

"I asked whether it was possible to cancel the United flights and rebook them under the correct spelling and keep the Air NZ flights."

The only option was to cancel the ticket and Air New Zealand said they would waive the $250 fee to do so. However, the premium economy sale was over and the same flights cost nearly $1000 more.

"It seems ridiculous with airline partnerships and seemingly seamless travel that a genuine mistake can't be quickly rectified, by changing names."


But Air New Zealand says names on international bookings must align with the name on the passport, for security and legal reasons, especially on tickets that involve travel on another carrier.

A spokeswoman said that on a booking that only involves travel on Air New Zealand operated services, minor spelling mistakes are changed free of charge.

"However a fee is charged to change names where it is the same person travelling, for example, if they are booked under a married name and the change is needed to align with their passport.''

The charge covered the time taken to verify ID and cancel and reissue a ticket.

"We believe encourages customers to provide correct information at the time of booking, in order to limit time spent later on updating incorrect tickets,'' she said.

"We are unable to make name changes on tickets that involve international travel on another carrier. In this case, the ticket needs to be cancelled a new one issued.''

This story originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was republished with permission.

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