Booking a UK trip through Flight Centre proved to be anything but plane sailing for two Consumer members.
In May, Paul Kolston rang Flight Centre to book two business class tickets to England, flying with Cathay Pacific and Air France. He provided his and his wife’s full names, including his middle name (which appears on his passport), to the travel agency.
A Flight Centre consultant issued the invoice using Mr Kolston’s full name, but when the tickets arrived, his middle name was absent.
Concerned about the error, Mr Kolston contacted the airlines, which advised he could be denied boarding if the name on his ticket didn’t exactly match the name on his passport. So he contacted Flight Centre, expecting it to remedy the problem.
“Flight Centre’s response was unacceptable. It was not willing to correct a mistake even after it was pointed out by the airlines themselves,” Mr Kolston said.
After he sought our help, we reminded Flight Centre of its obligations to provide its services with reasonable care and skill under the Consumer Guarantees Act.
Four weeks after Mr Kolston raised the problem with Flight Centre, the agency finally agreed to issue him a new booking using his full name.
“A common argument used by travel agents is that if things go wrong they provide additional protection and assistance over and above [what’s provided] if one has booked direct with airlines. My experience is exactly the opposite of this,” Mr Kolston said.
In response to our inquiries, a Flight Centre spokesperson said the ticket was re-issued “as a precautionary matter”. The agency was “pleased that we were able to assist [to] ensure that [Mr Kolston’s] journey went smoothly”.
Travel agencies offering services to New Zealand customers are required to provide their services with reasonable care and skill.
If an agency makes a mistake with your booking, it’s obliged to correct that error at no charge to you. If it refuses, you can file a claim in the Disputes Tribunal to recover any financial loss. If you’re a Consumer NZ member, you can also contact our advice line for help.
While omitting your middle name might be fine with one airline, we think it’s safest to always ensure it appears on your ticket if it’s also on your passport.