BRITISH AIRWAYS redeemed itself when I arrived with a companion at Hamburg airport only 20 minutes before the last flight of the day to London: the airport bus driver had somehow got involved in a fight which slowed us down. During the kerfuffle, my friend lost her ticket. In the remaining minutes before take off, the staff managed to reissue the ticket, free of charge, and get us checked in and on board. A triumph for BA, especially compared with the treatment received by Jeremy Mitchell of London. He mislaid his ticket on the way to Belfast City airport, where he was booked on Air UK from Belfast to Stansted.

Air UK's policy on lost tickets is less forgiving than BA's. 'I had to pay an extra pounds 25 for the airline to re-issue the ticket, which only took three minutes,' says Mr Mitchell, and had to fill out an indemnity form, agreeing to reimburse the airline if someone else subsequently used the ticket. 'If airline computers these days are as sophisticated as they claim, can't they tell if someone's trying to travel on a stolen ticket?'

The indemnity form did not just hold him responsible for the price of the ticket; it also contained a phrase agreeing to indemnify Air UK 'against all costs, damages, expenses or liabilities arising directly or indirectly out of the use by any person of the said documents'. Mr Mitchell, keen to get home, signed. He later took legal advice, which suggested that if his ticket was used by a hijacker he would technically be liable for the cost of the aircraft.