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Ryanair passengers complain of name-change 'glitch' which could cost them £115

Some Ryanair customers who've booked flights for groups have reported a bizarre problem which apparently results in the group's surnames being changed to be the same – and those affected could face a £115 fee to correct the booking.

MoneySavingExpert.com has seen multiple reports of this issue in the past week, with Ryanair passengers travelling with partners or friends with different surnames claiming that their companions' surnames were automatically changed.

Passengers who book Ryanair flights with an incorrect name have 24 hours to correct it for free. But if they spot the problem later, the fee to change a name is £115, which can be significantly more expensive than the original cost of a ticket.

We first asked Ryanair about this issue on Monday, and on Friday – after we first published this story – it finally responded to say it had been unable to replicate the problem. It insists there is no problem with its booking system, and says customers whose booking is in the wrong name will have to change it within 24 hours or pay the full fee. 

See our 20 Ryanair tips for help mastering the airline's mega-strict rules and charges.

What is the issue?

We've seen eight complaints to Ryanair about this issue in the past week, and MoneySavers have also emailed us about the problem. The affected customers we've spoken to all say they had booked flights for the same group of passengers with Ryanair before, meaning the passengers' details were saved to their Ryanair account.

This meant that when they booked they were able to select passenger details from a dropdown list, rather than filling them in manually.

The passengers we've spoken to claim the details appeared correctly at this stage, but after completing their booking they found other passengers' surnames were listed as being the same as the lead passenger, even though this was incorrect.

Bookings made on both the website and the app have been affected. It doesn't seem to be a universal problem though – when MoneySavingExpert tried to book a flight to replicate the issue, all passengers' names were recorded correctly. 

Mike Peters, 58, from Guildford in Surrey, told MoneySavingExpert he'd spotted the error on not one but two Ryanair bookings where he'd used the automatic dropdown – and strangely, only his female fellow passengers' surnames were changed to Peters.

While Mike managed to spot the errors within the 24-hour window for free name changes, others who didn't notice until later now face a £115 charge to change each incorrect name.

'It was our anniversary – now we can't afford to go'

Jon Hill, 27, from Nottingham, and his partner Rachael Smith, 24, booked a trip to Berlin for their anniversary next month after spotting a deal on Ryanair flights.

Rachael booked several weeks ago using the automatic dropdowns on the Ryanair app and says the details initially appeared correctly. But the couple later realised Jon's surname had been changed from Hill to Smith on their booking – and Ryanair refused to waive the £115 fee to correct it.

Jon told us: "Ryanair are adamant we need to pay £115 to change the name, when the flights were originally only £9.99 each for each way. We'd planned a trip for a romantic anniversary – now we can't even afford to go and will need to get a refund for our hotel."

In its response to the couple's complaint, seen by MoneySavingExpert, a Ryanair customer service agent wrote: "Although we sympathize [sic] with this unfortunate situation, we regret that it is not the responsibility or liability of Ryanair... It is each passenger [sic] responsibility to verify the information before completing a booking.

"Our internet reservations procedure is such that all flights are booked by the customer themselves and once all details have been ascertained they are displayed for verification, (including flight numbers, times, dates, destination etc.). Customers must then check a box to confirm they have read all of the restrictions, and the booking is not confirmed until such verification is received.

"Given the above, Ryanair cannot accede to your request for a free of charge name change in this case."

Meanwhile, other Ryanair customers have reported similar problems on social media:

What does Ryanair say?

We first contacted Ryanair about this problem on Monday and have been asking for a response all week, but only got one after publishing this story on Friday.

A spokesperson said: "We were unable to replicate this apparent issue, but we can confirm there is no 'glitch' with our booking system.

"We offer a 24-hour grace period from the time of original booking to correct any minor errors (ie, spelling of names, incorrect routings/dates). Fees will be applied to changes made outside of the 24-hour grace period. The name change fee is a preventative measure 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."

Have you been affected? Let us know

If you've encountered a similar issue when booking a Ryanair flight, let us know at news@moneysavingexpert.com