"Mike's" mistake costs him $1000 extra on Air New Zealand flight

travel 30/08/2018

It's a simple mistake anyone could make, but Mike paid a hefty cost for the error.

The frequent flyer, who wished to stay only known as "Michael", is warning others to be careful when making bookings online, after he paid an extra $1000 for flights due to a simple mistake.

The Auckland man was booking a trip for a colleague to New York, and he noted down Mike instead of Michael - which was the man's name on his passport.

When he contacted Air New Zealand he was told he couldn't change the name because one leg of the flight was on United Airlines, NZME reports.

''I was informed even if I have made a typo spelling Micheal instead of Michael, it would not be able to be changed. 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 anonymous man told NZME.

So he was forced to cancel the ticket and repurchase the flights, which cost $1000 more because a sale had ended.

Air New Zealand waived the $300 cancellation fee for the man, and explained that spelling mistakes on bookings that only involve its services can be changed free of charge.

''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," an Air New Zealand spokesperson told NZME.

Flight Centre retail general manager Sue Matson said when it comes to changing names on airfares, what happens next depends on the airline and type of ticket.

"If you're flying with a different airline for part of your trip, such as on a codeshare flight, the process to change can become very ambiguous and complicated," she said.

"Typically with low-cost carriers and more basic fare types, there's a significant cost to change a name. In some cases, they just won't allow you to and an entirely new ticket is required. The new ticket will need to be purchased for the current rate available, which is often higher than what was originally paid due to availability."

She said tickets are "very seldom transferable so the best advice is to assume that they're not".

Ms Matson said common errors include using the name you use on a daily basis rather than your full name, entering a married name rather than a maiden name or vice versa, and only entering the first part of a hyphenated name. 

"Those with no last names and very long surnames can also run into problems. Typing letters in the wrong order is also a common mistake. Some airlines also require middle names to be included," Ms Matson said.

A simple typo can become a big deal. It's important to always triple check the spelling that you input online, or give it to your travel expert carefully.

She said Flight Centre travel agents always asks to see a passport at the time of booking to help to avoid errors.