Queensland couple charged thousands after making simple mistake on plane ticket booked


A Queensland couple were forced to shell out thousands of extra dollars on their European holiday after they made a simple mistake on their plane tickets.

Phil and Kate were excited to visit family in the UK and spend a month travelling through Europe but hit their first roadblock before they’d boarded their flight.

Phil had booked their flights for what he thought was a good price through a third-party travel website called Student Universe in July last year.

However, when filling out the details for their tickets, he accidentally used his wife’s nickname, Kate, rather than her birth name, Katherine.

The couple were flying from Brisbane to Melbourne with Virgin, then Melbourne to London via Doha on Qatar Airways for the cost of $2,400 each, return.

Virgin spotted the name on Kate’s plane ticket didn’t match the one on her passport,  and informed her she wouldn’t be able to board without fixing the discrepancy.

The information needed to be the same so it matched the rest of the couple’s documents, including their visas. 

While most airlines offer detail changes for a small or administrative fee, third-party websites often charge exuberant rates for the service.

The couple claimed Student Universe told them to cancel Kate’s original ticket, from which they received a small refund, and buy a new one with the correct information. 

‘They didn’t have time, that was their reasoning, to issue a name change on the ticket – but they had time to sell us a new ticket,’ Phil told A Current Affair.

Queensland couple Phil and Kate (above) were forced to spend thousands of extra dollars on their European holiday after using Kate's nickname on her plane ticket instead of her birth name, Katherine

Queensland couple Phil and Kate (above) were forced to spend thousands of extra dollars on their European holiday after using Kate’s nickname on her plane ticket instead of her birth name, Katherine

However, because they were now buying a last-minute flight, Kate’s new ticket cost $4,700. 

‘I begged them on the phone: ‘Please, you can’t do that – that’s all our holiday money gone in a flash’,’ Kate recalled.

While Phil has taken responsibility for the mistake, the pair feel they’d been unfairly undone by Student Universe.

‘They’ve just taken advantage of the entire situation, particularly peak travel season and time was of the essence,’ he said.

When approached by Daily Mail Australia for comment, a Student Universe spokesperson said it is ‘obligated to adhere to the change and cancellation policies as set by the airlines’.

The couple (above) booked the ticket through Student Universe and were told to cancel it and buy a new airfare

The couple (above) booked the ticket through Student Universe and were told to cancel it and buy a new airfare

‘In this instance name changes were not permitted, meaning the only option was to cancel and rebook the ticket,’ they said.

‘As we were only made aware by the customer of their error within three hours of the flight departure, this led to further airline imposed charges which could have been avoided by the acting earlier. 

‘We advise all customers that they should carefully review and advise us immediately of any errors in names.

‘In most cases where an error is flagged on the same day as the booking is made, the customer would incur no penalties to cancel and rebook inline with standard airline policy.’



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