British man changes name & gets new passport to avoid paying airline admin fee

Inside an aircraft cabin. Source: Supplied

A student from Manchester in the United Kingdom changed his name in 2015 and ordered a new passport after finding out it would cost under half the fee an airline was quoting him to fix a typo on his flight ticket.

According to reports by local media, 19-year old Adam Armstrong was told by Ryanair, a popular European budget airline, that it would cost him £220 (US$270) for them to fix his name on a return flight to Ibiza.

Instead of accepting the exorbitant fee, Mr Armstrong joked to friends and family that it would probably be cheaper to just change his name and get a new passport to match the incorrect name on the ticket. As a bit of fun, he decided to look into it, and was shocked to find it was indeed cheaper – a lot cheaper.

Changing his name by deed poll turned out to be completely free, and getting a new passport only cost him £100 (US$120). Faced with this option, Mr Armstrong went ahead with the name change and was able to fly under his new name.

Mr Armstrong spoke to reporters about the experience, highlighting how ridiculous the situation was that it was cheaper for him to change his name rather than the airline fix the error.

“Ryanair pride themselves on being a customer-centric business, it just seems like a joke when they wouldn’t change the name,” he said. “I just thought it was completely ridiculous. All they needed to do was hit the backspace key on a keyboard and they want to charge me £220?”

Ryanair is not alone in charging a fee to correct a misspelled name – but their price is far higher than many others in the industry. On average, the typical fee is between £25-£40 for each sector that needs correcting. In the case of Mr Armstrong, he would have had to pay £110 for each leg of his return trip to Ibiza, for a total charge of £220.

A statement from Ryanair said: “Customers are asked to ensure that the details they enter at the time of booking are correct before completing their booking and we offer a 24-hour grace period to correct minor booking errors.

“A name change fee is charged in order to discourage and prevent unauthorised online travel agents from ‘screenscraping’ Ryanair’s cheapest fares and reselling them on to unwitting consumers at hugely inflated costs.”