Couple forced to pay thousands after husband books flight under wife’s nickname

Phil and Kate, from Brisbane, were pulled aside as they tried to board a flight to London

Barney Davis
Monday 08 January 2024 10:31 GMT
Brisbane Airport
Brisbane Airport (Brisbane Airport Corporation)

An Australian couple were forced to pay more than £2,500 to fly to London after they mistakenly used a nickname on one of their plane tickets.

Phil and Kate, from Brisbane, bought two return tickets to London for 4,800 Australian dollars on a travel website named StudentUniverse.

But as they tried to board the flight they were pulled aside and reprimanded because Phil had booked his wife’s ticket under “Kate,” but the name on her passport reads “Katherine,” Australia’s Nine Network reported.

“It was an administrative error — I think I married Kate in church and not Katherine,” Phil said.

Virgin initially told the aggrieved couple that they could alter the booking for a small administrative fee.

But with just minutes to take off booking agent StudentUniverse told them they would need to cancel Katherine’s ticket and buy a new one under the correct name at a cost of AU$4,700 (£2,468).

“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 the programme adding he felt exploited by the fee being charged.

Katherine added: “I begged them on the phone: ‘Please, you can’t do that. That’s all our holiday money gone in a flash.’”

A StudentUniverse spokesperson told Business Insider it could only go along with cancellation policies set by airlines.

“In this instance, name changes were not permitted, meaning the only option was to cancel and rebook the ticket. As we were only made aware by the customer of their error within 3 hours of the flight departure, this led to further airline imposed charges which could have been avoided by acting earlier,” they said.

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